Im usually the one behind the camera capturing beautiful weddings, but was recently in front of the camera as a bride myself. My husband and I got married this past November an it was beautiful and a memory that will last a lifetime. The best part? We planned it all for about 5K. Here I will give you insight on what we did, what we compromised on, and how we pulled it off. With that said, pricing varies depending on where you are located for some vendors and what you are wanting to have.
Johnny and I had what is considered a "small wedding" (a total of about 80 people including us and our bridal party). If our wedding could be described in 3 words they would be: relaxed, intimate, and vintage inspired.
First: The Venue
We saved ourselves thousands of dollars by choosing to have our wedding in our own backyard. The house was on about 1 acre of property, but it was just enough space for our attending friends and family. If you do not own a house on land, ask around your friends and family to see if they will be willing to let you use theirs. Another cheap option is researching event friendly local airbnb's to keep costs low.
Second: Decor & Details
I would like to consider myself a pretty creative person and DIY'd what I could alongside using things that I already had or could find cheaply at thrift stores or markets to incorporate in our wedding decor. I knew planning our wedding I wanted fall vibes with vintage touches so I started off with what I advise all of my clients to do, start with a set color palette and work off of that.
The Ceremony Setup:
We kept costs extremely low and used a large dyed cheese cloth runner (the same one as we used on the tables) to drape the main tree in the yard that would serve as our ceremony arch.
We did not want the extra work of doing dishes so we opted for disposable plates, napkins, glasses, and plasticware. If you put in the research, you can find some amazing quality and nice looking products that can be incorporated into any wedding style which I will tag the exact products we used below. For the table runner we used a dyed cheesecloth runner and sporadically placed vintage amber bottles and brass candlesticks that I had collected at local thrift stores, antique malls, and flea markets over the years. To finish off the look and add some romantic light during the dinner I added tapered candlesticks to match our warm fall color scheme in a variety colors (we purchased 36 total candles)
Third: The Bride & Bridesmaids
Cost: $850 (Bridal Only, Bridesmaids purchased their outfits)
I did not include the dress in the wedding total.
The second we got engaged I scheduled my bridal appointment I was so excited. My main goal was to find something that was vintage inspired while still being classic and simple enough that I could pass it along with my veil to my children or grandchildren later on in life. Secondly, I wanted my bridesmaids to feel themselves as well when looking for something for them that went with our style/theme. My sister was amazing at doing makeup so I asked her to do our makeup to help cut costs. We didn't have a makeup artist or hair stylist so I used my connections and asked friends and family. How did I know what I wanted to do for my makeup? I went to Sephora a few weeks before the wedding for a makeup appointment where they do your makeup, suggest products, etc. After that I purchased the products they recommended and recreated what they did on the wedding day. I did not include the makeup products into my wedding budget as it was mainly just foundation and makeup staples that ended up in my regular makeup routine.
I went to one of the best known bridal shops in the DFW area that I had admired for years to look for a unique dress and that same day, I found it. I was so excited as it was a sample dress (aka on discount) but still totaled over 4K! I loved the dress, but something didn't sit right with me. Maybe the price? Maybe the style? I wasn't sure so I decided to sleep on it and after deciding I would get it, planned to pick it up the next morning. On our way there, I decided to stop by my friends bridal shop Wed Bridal Boutique that was on our way to say hi and just browse what she had. I told her I wanted something simple but had a slight 70s flare. A dress was brought, tried on, loved and purchased. The best part? It was a sample dress that only cost me $700! I did have one thing that I wanted incorporated into mine and the bridesmaids look, pearls. Knowing this I ran and found myself the most beautiful pearl veil and hoop earrings to accessorize with.
On the more traditional side of things our bridesmaids and groomsmen were responsible for purchasing their wedding outfit When looking for my bridesmaids outfits I wanted them to be comfortable, unique, and trendy. The answer: Jumpsuits. I did what I could to make their costs as cheap as possible since out bridal party were taking on the cost of their attire. If your looking for a great dress, jumpsuit, or whatever you have planned be sure to take a look at some online retailers and their sale section! Two places I found that had a large variety of unique options were Lulus and ASOS. Looking back, some of the items we had are no longer available or out of stock so I have tagged sim liar items below.
Fourth: The Groom & Groomsmen
Cost: $140 (Groom Only, Groomsmen purchased their outfits)
When we decided to do a backyard wedding, we knew weather would be a big factor. Like the bridesmaids I wanted our groomsmen to feel comfortable, look nice, while not having to spend tons of money on their suits. I also wanted Johnny to stand out with a slightly modified look so that it still looked cohesive.
Honestly, Im not a big fan of tuxedos. It may be from the many years of concert band in middle and high school, but my wedding was not the place the iconic tuxedo would be making a return. I wanted something stylish for the guys that was on the more casual side as the entire wedding would be outdoors. A big thing that I found out when purchasing Johnnys suit for the wedding was that purchasing him something he loved and could keep was actually cheaper than renting a suit from places such as Mens Warehouse and when I say cheaper Im talking hundreds of dollars cheaper! Stores such as Macy's has ongoing sales on a huge selection of their suits throughout the year that are amazing quality. I do suggest going into your local store to try on before purchasing as every brand and style fits differently.
Johnny and all of his groomsmen purchased the same suit/suit pants. I made this essential because there are a large variety of blacks and their under hues which next to each other can made them look purple, green, etc. The groomsmen were responsible for the pants, ties, a white button down, and suspenders. I shopped around to make sure that these pieces were easy to purchase and on the cheaper end since the bridal party paid for their own wedding attire. Most of the groomsmen wore black dress shoes that they already owned, but for those looking for some new shoes I have tagged a great pair below.
Fifth: The Wedding Rentals
Our main rentals were the dining tables, cocktail tables, chairs, and linens. We made its easy by getting all of these from one place, Aladdin Rentals, who were super easy and helpful when it came to renting, delivery and pickup. I chose an ivory linen to cover both the dining tables and cocktail tables with matching white chairs. What we did that really helped us some cost was using the same chairs from the ceremony as our seating for the reception way we only had to rent 80 chair versus 160 chairs, cutting our costs in half. Remember that when you do decide to rent tables to take into account the tables needed to hold you sign in table, desserts, drinks, and catering.
Sixth: The Catering & Desserts
Reception Dinner & Cocktail Hour:
Tacos. Every occasion... tacos. Why not, they are delicious. We used our cocktail hour to take our bridal party and family portraits. During this time, we served a chip and salsa bar with 8 different kinds of salsas for guests to choose from, some homemade and some purchased from the store. Just keep in mind, when having an outdoor reception or food outside at anytime make sure that it is refrigerated or kept inside until right before the cocktail hour or reception begins to keep them cool if need and away from flies/bugs. Our reception dinner was catered by a local taco shop, Costa Vida. They arn't the most expensive as it was a taco bar and not a plated service but we really went with Costa Vida because of their high quality food, great service, and the fact that guests had the ability to get however much or little food that they wanted. Our dinner average about $13/per person (with that said we were eating leftovers for almost 2 weeks after the wedding there was so much). Another place where we saved money was that we did not have an open bar at the wedding, but instead purchased beers, canned cocktails, white claws, etc. from the store that we kept to the side for those who wanted something to drink during the reception/dancing. We also served coffee from Kindred Coffee Co. and a variety of hot teas since it was the middle of the fall season and wee wanted to incorporate coffee into the mix since I am also a barista.
Desserts & Cake:
Since we had a lower guest count I wanted to give different options for the dessert table. Personally, Im not the biggest cake person but Johnny loves it so I wanted to have a variety of different sweets so that I could eat something other than cake. We got our cake and desserts from Texas Star Bakery in Hurst, TX. An amazing local small business that I highly recommend. I had an idea of exactly what I wanted when ordering our cake: a small two-tier cake (assuming people will have plenty with cake and the other desserts) completely covered in sugar pearls for a vintage feel. The store didn't have sugar pearls in stock but said if I found some and brought them in they could line the cake with the sugar pearls as a finishing touch. This was a cheaper option as they only had to make a white frosted cake and did not charge to cover it with pearls. We did this because I knew that I wanted to decorate the cake with a variety of loose florals to match our bouquets and bring some color and texture to the cake.
Seventh: The Photography
The one thing that I will advise every client or friend on, don't hold back your budget when it comes to a photographer. As a wedding photographer myself, I value the work of other photographers and vendors in the industry, but out of all the wedding vendors I will say that photography should be you #1 investment as it is the only vendor that is the gift that keeps on giving, having photos that last a lifetime. Make sure when you do hire someone that is someone who's work you really love and admire. Our photographer, Local Nomad, captured our day amazingly. There were a few things that I wish were including in the photographs that we received back, but overall I was happy with the turnout of what hshe and her associate captured.
Eighth: The Day of Coordinator
Two words: WORTH IT.
The last thing you want is for you, your bridal party or your parents to be stressed on your wedding day. Its a celebration and should be a day of joy and happiness, not stress. Make sure everyone is present and enjoying their time together. One of our friends was available and offered to help out so of course we paid her for her amazing hard work the day of. Why is having a coordinator so great? While everyone is inside getting ready, this individual helps guide arriving guest on where to sit, make sure vendors are ready to go and in place, helps stick your veil back in your hair (at least mine did) and helped regulate & call up family members when it is their turn during the family portraits which always feel like they will last a lifetime.
Ninth: The DJ/Music
We hired an amazing DJ , Matt Blake, for the ceremony and open dance floor. While this put us slightly over budget, its was great having someone there. A way to cut costs is to create a Spotify playlist of your favorite songs, connect them to a speaker, and rock on.
Tenth: The Florals/Florist
I am incredibly blessed for this lady pictured below, my Oma. A woman of many trades my Oma used to work as a wedding florist and offered to fly into town a few days before the wedding just so she could do our wedding flowers. Since she offered to put them together for free all we had to pay for was the cost of the flowers themselves. We went to some local flower shops, grocery stores (Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Central Market, Costco, etc) and foraged while on walks around the neighborhood to find some amazing floral to use that were within our color palette. While not everyone has someone within their family or friend groups that are experienced florists there are always other options. 1) Get in contact with a local florist vendor and discuss with them your budget, if you are willing to compromise on what kind of flowers you are wanting they may be able to work within your budget. 2) Purchase wholesale flowers from local markets and stores and hire some friends to help you put them together, just be sure to do your research on what you can use to make the job easier (floral frogs, stem wire, floral tape, etc.)
Was everything perfect, yes. Were there changes I would make looking back at it now, yes, but very few. We planned the entire wedding with the help and support from our friends and family and could not have done it without them. It brings me joy when my mother-in-law still mentions it as her favorite wedding she has attended. While everyone has a different budget, a different amount of guests, different styles, and different wants for their big day; always remember to make sure that you do what you want and don't let anybody convince you otherwise.
Our Wedding For 5K
Total Cost: $5365