Two words that come to mind for brides planning a wedding: sticker shock. Because seriously, who knew that all the little details (like a DJ and place card succulents) could add up to mega bucks? Deep breaths. We found a way to make a wedding happen for 100 people to the tune of $10,000 bucks.
How to Plan a Wedding for $10,000 (No, That’s Not a Typo)
The Venue: $0 To $500
A word to the brides: When your total wedding budget is $10K, the venue is a good place to get creative and trim major costs. Rack your brain. Who do you know with an amazing backyard? Or terrace? Or restaurant you can rent out for free as long as you cover the cost of food and drink? (Hint: They might be more likely to close it off to regular customers on a Tuesday versus a Friday night.) Last resort, take a peek at sites like HomeAway.com or Airbnb to see if you can snag a venue deal. Just be sure you ping your host to check that they’re cool with (and have insurance to cover) you hosting a party there.
It’s the crux of the party—and also the component that costs the most. A few work-arounds: Instead of a seated dinner, search for a caterer (or ask your cool friend who owns the restaurant you’re borrowing) who can do a buffet, since having guests serve themselves reduces the cost of on-hand staff. Other ideas: Veggie appetizers are the cheapest or opt for comfort foods, which are traditionally much cheaper. (Trust us, no one will complain if you serve mac and cheese versus steak.)
You’ll need to hire a bartender, but most caterers are totally cool if you cover the cost of booze yourself. (You’d be amazed at the discounts your local wine shop will come up with if they know you’re buying alcohol in bulk.) Don’t be afraid to limit the options to wine and beer. Another loophole: Most wine shops have a buy-back program for weddings (aka they’ll take back anything unopened and credit you the cost).
Your Dress: $750
Yep, an affordable—and stunning—bridal gown can be found. Shops like BHLDN and Reformation carry inexpensive-ish options that will still make your guests bust out their iPhones and snap a zillion pics. Just be sure you factor in the cost of alterations. (Depending on the intricacy of the design, that can set you back at least $250.)
Hair And Makeup: $500
This is one service your bridesmaids will have to cover themselves to help keep wedding costs low. On the flip side, there’s still plenty of room in your budget to get your own hair and makeup done. (Trial included.)
The Invitations: $100
Good news: Thanks to online paper goods services like Paperless Post, this is one of the easiest places to save. Start by picking out a digital design—for example, this chic invite option from Rifle Paper Co., which will set you back two coins (approximately 60 cents) to send. Your guests will love the experience when the invite shows up in their inbox and opens like an actual card. (Plus, digital RSVPs make it a cinch to keep track of who’s coming and who’s not.)
The Music: $150
Rent a mic and a couple of speakers from your local A/V store and splurge on an audio cable (about $10) to connect your iPhone, then cue up a playlist you’ve put together in advance. To keep everything seamless, pick a relative you trust (like your totally chill cousin Austin) to emcee the big moments, like speeches and your first dance.
The Cake: $250
Did we say cake? We meant cupcakes. Pick them up at your local bakery (no need to mention they’re for a wedding since costs skyrocket when you say that word) and set them out right beside the buffet.
The Flowers: $750
Don’t forget, this needs to cover the cost of your bridal bouquet, the groom’s boutonniere, your bridesmaids’ bouquets and more. As long as you prioritize, $1,000 should be more than enough. For example, you might want to set aside $150 for your bridal bouquet, then ask your florist what he or she can come up with for everyone else using filler blooms (baby’s breath, greenery, herbs). You’d be amazed how creative these pros can get. Just steer clear of floral designers with a set minimum fee.
The Photographer: $2,000
This is another big cost, but it’s also an important one. Still, you can reduce the price if you tell your photographer you need only one shooter (a lot of them come with an assistant to get even more shots) or reduce the number of hours you need them on-hand. (Thanks to the quality of smartphone photography, rely on your bridesmaids to capture shots of everyone getting dressed.)
Wedding Bands: $500
No, the symbol of your union doesn’t have to have bling. But if having a band with diamonds is a must, get creative by peeping the sales. (FYI, jewelry tends to get heavily discounted right before Valentine’s to pave the way for wedding proposals, so make it a point to pick up your wedding rings then.)