budget wedding

Don’t have $26,000 for the so-called ‘average’ wedding? Don’t have even half of that? Then don’t be average!

You can pull off a dazzling, unforgettable, meaningful event with awesome wedding photos to prove it – for only $5,000. An event that is just as stylin’ as any big buck wedding. The key? Go small. Don’t believe me? Here are a fourteen $5,000  and under real intimate weddings that will inspire you to be far from average.

budget manitoba wedding Cara and Ken’s Manitoba cabin wedding. Cost: $5,000

florida beach wedding Amanda and Tyler’s $3,000 Florida beach wedding.

new jersey inn wedding Jessica and Paul’s $5,000 NJ inn wedding.

small wedding in austin texas Sibriena and Doug’s stunning Austin, Texas wedding for $4,700!

napa valley wedding Kristen and Matthew’s  $3,500 Napa Valley elopement.

small austin wedding Kelly and Steve’s $5,000 Austin wedding.

bridal veil lake wedding

Elisabeth and Jeshua’s Oregon Lake wedding.

texas elopement Karie and Marcus’ Texas elopement. The cost? $2,675.

cabin wedding Anne and Jim’s MN cabin wedding for $5,000.

colorado small wedding Daniel and Kellie’s $3,000 Colorado elopement.

new orleans wedding Erika and Christopher’s $1,200 New Orleans wedding.

at home wedding Sean and Sarah’s $1,000 wedding in WA.

chapel wedding Shannon and Damien’s historic Houston chapel wedding for $3,000.

big sur wedding Rachel and Sky’s Big Sur forest wedding for $3,300.

Want to see more? Check out these real weddings.

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39 Comments  |  Filed Under: Budget Brides

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  1. Posted by Amanda W on February 17th, 2012 at 10:42am

    Our wedding was for about $5,000, and I wouldn't change a thing. It was perfect, and now, we're not in debt!
  2. Posted by Christina on February 17th, 2012 at 3:37pm

    Cool Amanda! I hope others will be inspired by this post to do what you did!
  3. Posted by Dalanna on February 17th, 2012 at 11:45pm

    sure, when you have less then 50 guests a wedding should cost NO MORE then 5,000

    This is a great post but how do you do a full sized wedding on a budget? we are currently planning a wedding for 150 people and we are trying to stay under 8,000 and let me tell ya, it is tough
  4. Posted by Doerman on February 18th, 2012 at 1:12am

    Hi! Great write-up. I found this on Reddit and wanted to add a wedding. I'm a wedding photographer and one of my ABSOLUTE favorite weddings was exactly $5000. The couple did everything right and it turned out to be perfect.

    Here's a link for details on how they did it http://www.doerman.com/nashville-wedding-photographers/wedding-photographers-in-nashville-sewanee-wedding/
  5. Posted by Christina on February 19th, 2012 at 1:00am

    Doerman, thanks for sharing this incredible wedding! I'd feature it in the real weddings section, but it looks like there were more than 75 guests.
  6. Posted by Christina on February 19th, 2012 at 1:02am

    Dalanna, did you check out the link Doerman sent over in the comments? Stunning - and it looks like there were quite a few guests. Hopefully this will inspire you!
  7. Posted by Hannah on February 22nd, 2012 at 2:59am

    Dalanna, there are plenty of ways to save money when it comes to a wedding. I had roughly 350 guests at my wedding and we spent about $9,000 so it can be done. I was very satisfied with most everything. It also helped that my Aunt does wedding cakes for a living and only charged us $200 in materials to make out massive cake. Also, my brother-in-laws Uncle was a photographer and gave us a better rate. My husbands Aunt is a florist and gave us 25 percent off. Other than that we paid for everything full price. There is a great website called recycled bride. I did not use this for my wedding because I found out about it after I got married but there are great deals on there. Knowing people is the key. Also, knowing the appropriate corners to cut when saving money. I know the wedding dress is an important gown and that was the single most expensive thing at my wedding that we paid for but my good friend found an amazing designer gown on sale (like major sale) I was so jealous that she was able to save so much money by finding a gown that was more budget friendly. Keep in mind my figure did not include the rehersal dinner. My only regret would have to be the photographer though. Even though he gave us a great deal I wish I would have pick my own photographer because my vision and his vision were not the same. Knowing what I know now, I would have spend the extra 500 bucks to have AMAZING pictures rather that good pictures from a great camera.
  8. Posted by Mitchel on February 22nd, 2012 at 7:34am

    wonderful images i love this
  9. Posted by Christina on February 22nd, 2012 at 11:39am

    Hannah, thanks so much for taking the time to share your wedding day wisdom!
  10. Posted by Bonny on February 25th, 2012 at 12:53am

    I was married Dec 2011 and we spent around $5.5k w/100 guests. I posted a summary of what I did on our blog: http://www.jamesandbonny.com/2012/02/25/all-in-a-days-work-our-wedding/
  11. Posted by Karen on June 11th, 2012 at 9:10pm

    I'm sorry, but if there's only going to be 20 people invited to my wedding, there is no way I'm paying anywhere near $5000 for it. I'm having about 250 guests and I have a budget of $6000. It's not hard to have an awesome wedding, but the thing that makes it awesome is not the venue, the music, the food, the dress, the flowers, or how much you spend on it. Its the people. If you only want 20 people, awesome, because those are the people you want with you! But, there is no need to spend $5000 for it, because the most important part is that you invited people to be apart of this momentous occasion!!
  12. Posted by Tiffany on June 13th, 2012 at 2:58pm

    My wedding had about 300 guests and it had everything any other wedding would have for only $5000! It definitely can be done you just have to know how to do it
  13. Posted by Chelsea on June 22nd, 2012 at 12:52pm

    Absoutely amazing article! Completely changed my thoughts and feelings on what I want for my wedding! I can't wait to start the planning!
  14. Posted by Lynn on June 22nd, 2012 at 3:22pm

    If you're going to elope like some of these people did, why in the heck would you spend $5 grand!! On what! Thats way ridiculous! My first wedding we had about 150-200 people and only spend $3000.
    I am getting ready to have my second marriage and am looking to stay on a budget under $5 grand including honeymoon and know it can be done. I think the biggest problem people have is they focus on the guests instead of themselves. You don't need a lavish meal for all your guests to try and impress them, if theyre still hungry, let them go out afterwards and pay for their own dinner. Who cares if your guests aren't impressed, that should not be the focus of your wedding, it is you and your spouse's special day, not theirs. By doing your own food and decorations you can cut out hundreds, even thousands there. You don't need to spend $10 grand or even $5 grand on a dress. My last wedding dres was $300 and it was absolutely gorgeous. It can be done and my mother made my bridesmaids dresses, all I did was pay for the material. Cut out hundreds there too. Unfortunately, she passed away a few months ago and I'll have to buy them this time but will be still going cheap.
    A wedding under $5 grand is easy if you try and under $10 grand should be a piece of cake. Any more than that for a wedding is just a waste of money in my opinion. Use that for a down payment on your house or for kids college funds. Starting out your married life in debt is the biggest mistake you could ever make.
  15. Posted by Dakota on June 24th, 2012 at 11:51pm

    Our wedding was on a 5,000 dollar budget and we had around 150 guest and it turned out great! :) we did alot of DIY stuff, real old country feel to it!
  16. Posted by Pennie Ball on June 25th, 2012 at 5:58pm

    Wow, there are some really judgmental people leaving comments here. If someone wants to have 20 guests ad spend $5k, good on them. If someone wants to have 300 guests and spend $5k, good on them. If someone wants to spend lots of money on great food for their guests (ie. they're family & friends), then good on them. If a girl wants to spend $5k on her gown, good on her. Everyone has their own tastes and priorities. Respect others' decisions and they might just respect your decisions too. Thank you for the focus on cheaper weddings, for those who want that - great article.
  17. Posted by Christina on June 25th, 2012 at 10:32pm

    Thanks for the comment Pennie!
  18. Posted by Kristin on August 5th, 2012 at 8:37am

    I'm one week away from my wedding. About 225 people will be there and it's STILL under 8,000! Hey! Big tip: if you live in a small town, do things local. People from your town are more likely to give you deals and whatnot because they need the business right now! <3 happy weddings, ladies!
  19. Posted by Jo-Ann on August 7th, 2012 at 10:33am

    How did you girls have a big beautiful wedding under 5K with 300 people? What did you do? Help a girl out?
  20. Posted by Stephanie on August 13th, 2012 at 11:51pm

    We had about 120 attend the ceremony and 100 eat dinner with us. We spent just under 9000 INCLUDING rings and attire for bride and groom and bridesmaids! It was the best and on Wed Aug 15...3 yrs married and 9.5 together!
  21. Posted by A on August 25th, 2012 at 10:06pm

    I love this idea... however I had 2 issues:
    - This post showed me that a budget wedding is possible... but not how.
    - Too many of these people didn't have to spend money on a venue because their parents had a gorgeous venue for them. Not many people are so fortunate.
  22. Posted by Michelle on August 28th, 2012 at 1:20pm

    I agree with a lot of the people who have commented above. It's not difficult to have a beautiful "expensive" wedding on a budget if you only invite a small group of people and have it at a family member's house. I'm planning my wedding for 150 people (we both have huge, very close families and we're the first to get married) on a $10k budget. It hasn't been easy but since we want to celebrate with our friends and family we have had to really pick and choose what was most important to us for our wedding and then spend our budget on that. Primarily we are having a big party with good food and drinks ($6000 worth of food and drinks) and everything else is pretty minimal. Post an article on having an "average" wedding on a budget and then it will be impressive. The weddings all posted above have a higher price per guest than my wedding does. Its not always about total cost!
  23. Posted by KM on September 3rd, 2012 at 1:29pm

    Thank you Doerman for the link! I was just thinking the same as Dalanna.
    With the first wedding, 25 guests at 5,000 is about $200 per person! That's not a budget wedding! I want to see more small budget weddings with a normal guest list (i.e more than 100 people: that being the average for weddings) and also rented location. Thanks!
  24. Posted by Christina on September 4th, 2012 at 11:43am

    KM, our niche is intimate weddings (75 guests or less). If you are looking for ideas on having a budget wedding for 100+ guests there are plenty of other blogs out there.

    Judging by some of the comments left here, it seems that some of you don't understand that the reason many couples have a small wedding is so they can splurge on an amazing wedding and still not go over budget. For these couples, the price per guest might be higher than average, but the overall wedding cost still falls well below average.
  25. Posted by Darin on September 4th, 2012 at 10:56pm

    KM, the biggest bang for your buck in keeping the cost of a wedding well below the average is by keeping the guest list small. We fully understand that the "average" wedding guest list is 125 to 150+. Since our site, IntimateWeddings.com is dedicated to small weddings with 75 or fewer guests we feature real weddings with less than 75 guests. For couples who are able to have small weddings due to family size or by choice due to their personal preference, it is a great way to be able to spend way less that what the so-called average cost of a wedding is, and that gives them the flexibility to spend more per guest if they so choose and still be way below the ever-regurgitated wedding average. By the way, the average cost of a wedding figure that gets published seldom comes along with the details as to what that average entails. We did a little study on our real weddings and found that with the weddings we have featured here, the spread on cost and #of guest is huge, even for our niche. See our post http://www.intimateweddings.com/blog/dont-be-average/ for our take on "averages." Our "Ten Reasons to Have a Small Wedding" post sums up the philosophy of this site. It's a matter of each couples individual situation. We hope that our little small wedding niche we have carved out here validates couples decisions to go small, and for those struggling with guest lists, budgets etc. this site presents an option that maybe they would want to consider. For those who could never imagine a guest list below 150, below 200, below 500, well, that's awesome too! Some of the ideas we share on this site can be applied to larger guest lists. For those couples however, DIY projects can become a bit more daunting depending on the projects tackled, and of course $200/person certainly ads up.
    All the best in your search for ways to stay within your budget for whatever the # of guest is you are having. There's lots of great blogs and wedding sites around the net. Hopefully some of them will have the info you are looking for to help with whatever budget/guest combination you are shooting for. And who knows, maybe there's a few other ideas on IW that might help.

    Darin. (Christina's hubby)
  26. Posted by Sarah on September 27th, 2012 at 2:25pm

    The key to keeping a wedding cheap is not keeping it small, it's involving lots of people and having a great community help you out. We had a lovely wedding with a delicious dinner for more than 150 folks for under $4,000 and did not spare any details that we felt were important. You have to stop being confined by people's ideas of what is necessary at a wedding and what's socially acceptable. Wedding-perfection pressure can get downright stupid and ruin your day if you let it. If it's not something that's actually important to you, don't spend money on it.

    I borrowed my dress from a friend (who was delighted to loan it to me), we put no unnecessary financial burdens on our wedding party by keeping the dress simple, classy, and thrift-store mismatched, we cooked the main dinner dish ourselves ahead of time and had people potluck the side dishes and about 25 kinds of pie for dessert, and we got married right before Christmas, so the church and venue were already beautifully decorated and we purchased no flowers other than a couple poinsettias. Our photographer was new to the business and talented while being quite inexpensive. We made our reception playlist ourselves and got a team of friends organized to MC and DJ. We skipped save-the-dates and sent postcard invitations to save on postage. We even were able to pay travel expenses for a couple friends who wouldn't have made it otherwise. We also committed to having everything organized enough and the responsibilities shared enough beforehand such that we could honestly enjoy ourselves and not have to worry about details for the day before and day of the wedding. And it was truly a wonderful day.
  27. Posted by Amber Ambrose Motylinski on September 30th, 2012 at 4:37pm

    I love a good wedding on low budget. It just shows that you don't have to go all out get all of the bells and whistles. Great tips and suggestions. And beautiful photos.
  28. Posted by yvonne on December 5th, 2012 at 12:00am

    great ideas! my problem is even paring down the guest list (60), venue costs are expensive! I'm in Ontario, Canada and there doesn't seem to be any budget places lol! We really wanted a forest ceremony followed by casual dinner. I'm willing to DIY alot of things but still am close to 10k at the places I look. And I'm a frugal person! Will keep searching... :)
  29. Posted by Colleen on January 4th, 2013 at 11:12pm

    Mine was in the $3000-$4000 range with about 50 guests. I bought my dress at a 50% off, made my own invitations, cakes, and decorations. My number one cost saver was origami flowers. I got the "look" I wanted at a fraction of the cost of actual flowers.
  30. Posted by Liz on March 4th, 2013 at 5:46pm

    we had a great wedding. 75 adults and bunch of kids. $5000.
    Best budget tips:
    *Time: If you have a lot of time, you can search for great deals
    *Casual: Don't try to be fancy. Be yourself!
    *Help: my uncle the Photographer, my neighbor the dress designer... saved us a fortune
    *organised: Use the organisor at your venue, they usually come included in the price you pay and you get their input n what works at that venue, eg. lighting, camera angles..
    *Small: Don't go overboard. Turn over every penny twice and ask if you really need this item to complete your day.
  31. Posted by Brittany on March 9th, 2013 at 11:06pm

    This is great. I did something similar for my wedding this past may. We had our wedding in Smyrna beach, fl. We booked it on a Monday so it was 2000 dollars less, bringing it to 200 dollars. We had a photographer student do our pictures for $50. I did exact measurements on myself for my dress ( so i could ask the seller what size exactly) and found one on ebay for $60. My husband bought white linen pants and button up shirt at jcpenny for $100( we took the groomsmen at same time so everyone would match) i ordered my flowers off of SAMs club.com for $200 and found tutorials online to make my own bouquets. Our friend got ordained to marry us and we ordered only meat from catering we bought sides ourselves from SAMs and just had a couple of friends man the Buffett tables. That was $350. Another friend had an iPod hooked up to sound system to have music. I ordered my table decorations and vases off of ebay I was sure to find a beautiful venue so minimal decorations needed. Our wedding cake was a simple three tier white cake that cost $50 at walmart and I put fresh flowers on it to match my wedding. So altogether.......

    $1750.00 for a wedding with 100 guests and no monetary stress
  32. Posted by Tammy Ouellet on March 12th, 2013 at 12:12pm

    I am just curious how you know what these couples spent on their weddings? Did you contact them? I am just curious as I know the photographer (whom you did not give credit to for the photos) from the first wedding in this post, and her fee would take up most of the $5000 - so it's hard to believe this wedding only cost $5000.
  33. Posted by Voyteck on May 14th, 2013 at 7:43pm

    WOW! those are stunning! you dont need to spend thousands to get an amazing wedding!
  34. Posted by Dear on January 28th, 2014 at 11:12pm

    I love how people just assume every couple is cutting their massive guest list down to 25 people. News flash, there are people out there who don't know more than 25 people.

    Not everyone has a large family or knows their whole town. This "it takes a village" mentality doesn't apply in this situation, and when you don't have the resources, you pay full price. $5000 for 25 people is not ridiculous for a couple paying for everything themselves. If you don't meet the guest minimum, you pay extra. You actually pay extra for everything for not knowing 100 people, sometimes you lose your spot if a larger wedding wants your date. There are two sides of the coin, ladies. Don't be cruel towards smaller weddings. :(
  35. Posted by rebecca on April 21st, 2014 at 4:53pm

    wow. i never thought it would be so expensive to host a wedding. we have a 30 guest max because we wanted a small wedding to have a reason to exclude people from inviting randoms and keep it more intimate between loved ones and family and close friends. tallying everything up so far we are at the higher end of $3700. and we still have so many things we haven't purchased yet (including catering!). thank God we had help with one of the bridesmaids purchasing her own dress as well as our little ring bearer and flower girl. word of advice ladies. we did all this in 1 month. give yourself time, make sure your color is in stock everywhere and accept all the help you ca get.
  36. Posted by rebecca on April 21st, 2014 at 4:56pm

    excuse my typos! and grammar. i'm a 6-month pregnant bride on the go. haha. should have proof read that at least once.
  37. Posted by Remi Zagari on February 12th, 2015 at 1:41pm

    I really like the door kissing booth idea
  38. Posted by Remi Zagari on February 13th, 2015 at 1:20am

    The last picture is amazing
  39. Posted by Destany on March 19th, 2015 at 8:59pm

    I'm getting married next year and I was wondering about having a beach wedding for under 5,000
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