Getting the Most out of Life

How to Throw a Wedding on a Budget of Less Than $10,000

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Weddings seem to get bigger every year, and a day meant to celebrate the love of two people becomes a competition among friends and family to see who can throw the most lavish party. The average cost of a wedding in the United States runs about $31,213, according to a recent survey by The Knot. Not all couples feel the need to spend a year of college tuition on a single day. In fact, some have found ways to throw a wedding on a budget well under $10,000.

Wouldn’t Change a Thing

Patrick and Polly Thatch were only engaged two and a half months before celebrating their wedding. The couple cites this time crunch as one of the reasons they worked on a small budget. Reflecting back, however, they’re not sure they would’ve made any changes.

“Even spending close to $10,000 on a wedding seems kind of crazy,” says Patrick. “It was a blast and memorable, but there are a lot of other things you can do with several thousand dollars.”

Patrick and Polly watched their budget by hosting an afternoon wedding without a sit-down dinner. They decided to forgo a DJ, using a long playlist on an iPod instead. Polly’s wedding dress cost a reasonable $250, and the wedding’s flowers were sourced from those in season at a grocery store (a far-too-underutilized trick).

The couple’s 110-guest reception was held at a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia. That way, they didn’t have to pay a private room fee, hire separate caterers or bartenders, or rent tables and chairs.

Cashing in on Favors

Kate, founder of Goodnight Debt, and her husband decided early on they wanted their special day to focus on comfort and fun.

“To us, trinkets, fancy food, and elaborate decorations don’t add much value,” explains Kate. “We focused on the experience: a short ceremony, no hassle of two locations, comfort food, and an open bar.”

The couple booked a venue in the groom’s hometown outside Twin Cities, Minnesota, for only $174. They then focused a significant portion of their budget on food: $3,500 spent on dinner, snacks, an open bar, and a cake. The cake ended up coming from Costco; they prioritized taste over design.

The couple cashed in on favors to help pull together other elements. Their musician friends provided equipment that enabled them to crank up Spotify, and a coworker of the groom took care of wedding and engagement pictures for the bargain price of $700.

Weekday Wedding

Sandy Smith, founder of Yes, I Am Cheap, created her special day in New York City for less than $10,000—an amazing feat given that the average New York City wedding is cited to cost more than three times that of weddings in other locations.

The couple trimmed their bill significantly by throwing their wedding on a weekday instead of a weekend.

“Ideally, we would love to be like everyone else with a very convenient weekend wedding, but the cost made it a nonstarter for us,” says Smith, who anticipated that only the couple’s closest family members would attend.

The couple hosted their wedding at a restaurant with a private catering room in Queens, which also had an outdoor wedding garden for the ceremony. Their total bill was less than $5,000.

A Beautiful Way to Begin Married Life

By hosting a wedding on a budget, these couples were able to begin their lives together in one of the best ways possible: not taking on any debt. They focused on celebrating their love without too much pomp, creating an intimate celebration with their closest friends and family. If you’re planning a wedding or will be soon, taking a page or two from them will serve you well.