Affordable Weddings

Wedding Planning Tips

If you are a young couple starting out, you may not be able to afford a very lavish, expensive wedding.  Still you want it to be nice and you want your friends and loved ones to be able to enjoy this special occasion with you.  If you only have about $3,000 to spend on a wedding, careful planning is important.  Therefore, how should you decide to spend the money in your wedding budget?

You should begin by using a wedding budget calculator.  One useful calculator can be found online at  Using this website, you enter the amount of money you plan to spend, the number of guests you expect to have, the number of female attendants, and the number of male attendants.  If you already know how much a particular item is going to cost you, you can enter that amount in the “Actual” column on the wedding calculator.  The calculator will then come up with an estimated budget, and make adjustments based on any actual expenses that you have already decided upon.

There are limitations to using a wedding calculator, however.  For example, they do not include the cost of the rehearsal dinner, or the honeymoon.  If your budget needs to include some of these items, too, you may need to cut back on the amount that you enter into the wedding budget calculator, to accommodate these extra expenses.  However, assuming you have already set aside enough for extra expenses, we’ll start with a budget of $3,000 for a wedding with 50 guests.  We will also plan on one maid of honor and one best man.  If your needs are a little different, this budget will give you an idea what you can expect.  Then, you can go online at, and make any needed adjustments. Below is an initial estimate of what you should expect to spend on different items for your wedding and reception:

Bridal GownCredit:

Reception Venue, including rentals:  $240

This includes both the rental church hall, as well as anything else you will need to rent.  This may seem impossible.  However, with just 50 guests, you may be able to have your reception at your own home or a friend’s home, and spend little or nothing to rent a location for your reception.  Or, you may be able to use the community room at your apartment or condominium complex or a similar facility.  

Food:  $900

This amount is based on 50 people multiplied by $18 per person.  If you are using a caterer, confirm that the amount you are spending includes any taxes and gratuities.  This is an area that can easily exceed the estimate if you are not careful.  Another choice, however, would be to make your reception a potluck, and ask your family and friends to provide most of the food.  More and more young couples are choosing this option.

Beverages:  $240

This includes the cost of alcohol, mixers, and non-alcoholic beverages.  If you are only serving wine, soft drinks and beer, it will cost you much less than if you serve mixed drinks.

Wedding Cake:  $75

If you order a pretty, decorated cake from the bakery department of your local grocery store, you may be surprised at how affordable your cake will be!  Don't forget to check the bakery department at stores like Costco.

The Wedding Gown, including alterations:  $180

Check out the affordable wedding gown collection at David’s Bridal, some of which are available for under $100.  They have a nationwide chain of stores, as well as a website.  You can also use this link to check out the wedding dresses on Amazon.  See the dresses advertised at the end of this article as an example.  You may also be able to borrow or rent a gown, or find one at an upscale resale shop.

Headpiece and Veil:  $30

This is just enough to purchase a little decorative tiara or headpiece for a simple, elegant look.

Shoes:  $30

Bride’s Hair Styling:  $55

Groom’s Clothing: $0

The groom will look dashing and be comfortable in a suit or coat and tie that he already owns.

Wedding Rings:  $200

This is the total amount to be spent for both the bride and groom, combined, for their wedding bands.  However, it does not include what the groom has already spent on the engagement ring.

Think you cannot find rings in that price range?  Use the link below to see what Amazon has to offer:

Quck link to wedding bands for under $200 on Amazon.

Ceremony Location Fee:  $50

Donation to Minister:  $30

Talk to the minister of the church you attend to see if these fees are realistic, or if the minister can perform the ceremony in the home where the reception is being held.

Bride’s bouquet:  $30

Maid of Honor’s bouquet:  $21

Boutonnieres and corsages:  $21

Floral Centerpiece:  $30

Music:  $240

If you simply download your own music in advance onto your iPod, and hook it up to speakers, you could reduce this amount to $0, and use the money for other wedding expenses ... upgrading your wedding bands, for example.

Photographer, photographs and video:  $360

Ask your friends to take photos with their digital cameras and email them to you.  This will give you plenty of photos, and will help you keep this expense in line.  Then, you can download the photos on a site like Shutterfly and put together a professional looking album of your wedding.

Invitations and Reply Cards, including postage:  $75

This is based on 50 invitations at $1.50 each, including postage.  You may be able to buy stationery at the office supply store, and print out your own elegant invitations yourself.  Hand written invitations are also appropriate for a small wedding. Another choice is to check online for inexpensive printed invitations at wedding websites such as

Other Stationery:  $15

This is primarily for thank you notes, and postage.

 Hotel room for the wedding night:  $90

Even if you cannot afford a big honeymoon, it will be nice for the two of you to spend the night in a romantic inn or bed and breakfast within driving distance of where you live.

Attendant Gifts:  $30

You may wish to give your bridesmaids a little necklace, earrings or a personalized tote bag.  You can pick up beer steins or a similar gift ... possibly at a Dollar Store.

Wedding Favors:  $60

This is certainly an item than you can leave out.  Most wedding guests really do not not need or want anything.  However, if you wish, you can get little boxes of candy or similar inexpensive items to give them.

As you can see, you can have a lovely wedding that includes your family and friends, and still stick with a $3000 budget.

Whatever amount you decide to spend, start with a realistic budget, and stay with it.  You want your wedding day to be memorable, without hurting you or your family financially.

For more wedding ideas, you may also be interested in reading some of the articles listed below:

Las Vegas Honeymoons

Buy Discount Wedding Dresses 

Buy Discount Wedding Favors

Easy and Cheap Las Vegas Weddings 

Budget for a $100,000 Wedding with 350 Guests

Budget for a $50,000 Wedding with 250 Guests

Budget for a $25,000 Wedding with 150 Guests

Buy an Affordable Wedding Dress

Ever Pretty Padded Empire Chiffon Ruching Gorgeous Bridesmaid Dress 09652, HE09652WH16, White 14 US
Amazon Price: $129.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 7, 2015)
This is one of many wedding dresses for sale on Amazon for under $200. If you click on the blue description, you will be taken to the wedding gown section of Amazon where you can look for others, or read more about this one!

Why Not Get Married in Las Vegas?

Your Guide to a Fabulous Las Vegas Wedding
Amazon Price: $5.99 $4.20 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 7, 2015)
Many couples have discovered that Las Vegas can be an affordable alternative to a local wedding.