downloadFor better or for worst, in sickness and in health, till death do us part-Those are the famous last lines before the groom kisses his bride and they live happily ever after.

Growing up I spent many hours watching Platinum Weddings, just like every girl I wanted my future wedding to be exactly like that, but the older I got, the more reality hit me, how would I afford it?

After the elaborate nearly picture perfect day, I say almost because something will go wrong, you are left with a lot of bills as a reminder.  The $5,000 Vera Wang designer wedding dress that you had to have because it’s Vera, the 5 tier cake, ice sculpture, and crystal centerpieces all comes at a price, but it doesn’t have to.

According to Gobankingrates.com and Wedding Stats, the average cost of a wedding is approximately $30,000.  That is a price of a new car or a down payment for a new home.

I recently went to Peg and Omar’s wedding.  Peg and Omar met at a mutual organization they were involved with and I’ve known them since the day they met.  I remember early in their relationship as Peg and I sat discussing where their relationship was going, well…little did we know- it would be straight to the altar.  Both of them are a great fit for each other and absolutely great people who would do anything for a friend in need.

I am glad that finally a few years later, these two love birds tied the knot and the best part, they didn’t go broke to have the wedding of their dreams. Here is a sneak peek at the bride.

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As a guest, the wedding was wonderful with everything someone could want: Nice hotel venue, prime date, great food, music, and company.

She asked me to do her hair and make-up for the wedding and as we were getting ready, that’s when she told me how much she paid for everything. My jaw dropped, I was expecting it to be a lot more for everything that they had at the wedding.

Peg was able to do all this for $6,300. Yes, she paid $6,300 for everything from nuts to bolt it: Venue, flowers, photographer, and arrangements, down to the bobby pins in her hair.

Here is me getting the bride ready for her debut.

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The best line that Peg said to me was that you do with what you have and she made it happen.  She told me that you don’t have to spend $30,000 to have a dream wedding, you just have to do your research and use your resources.

I asked Peg for a breakdown of all her largest expenses and also any tips she has for future couples.

SUMMARY OF EXPENSES

Venue

  • Location:         4-Star hotel in Maryland
  • Cost:                $300
  • Time:               3 PM to Midnight on a Saturday night
  • Advice:
    • Hotel Banquet halls and ballrooms are much cheaper than wedding venues and offer greater flexibility.
    • Find a hotel with an in-hotel wedding & events coordinator; the coordinator (if they know their stuff) can typically meet your budget demands
    • If you are willing to do it yourself and do all the decorations, there are a variety of banquet halls and armory type venues for $300 or less for example the Ethical Society in NW DC offer a beautiful outdoor view.

Flowers

  • Cost:                $290
  • Advice:
    • Florists always price higher and you need to negotiate.  They started quoting the cost of flowers at $600 and ended up giving more than a 50% discount.
    • Peg chose to forgo the boutonnieres. Women care much more about flowers, but in her words, men could care less about flowers, which is true.
    • For the centerpieces, instead of real flowers, silk flowers were used from Michael’s, which can be used as a table setting afterwards and lasts forever so you will always have the memories ($50).

Photographer

  • Cost:                $400
  • Time:               The photographer stayed the entire time. She took photographs of the bride getting ready, the ceremony, venue, and the reception.
  • Advice: Use Thumbtacks to find your photographer.  She used this site as a tool to find a few vendors for her wedding.  You can find semi-professional photographers who are good, less pricey, and flexible.

Dress

  • Cost:    $200
  • Advice: Try buying a dress off the rack.  They are usually extremely discounted, but you can get dresses for a fraction of the retail price.  No one would have guessed the dress was that price!

Food & Cake

  • Cost: $1,900 for 55 people
  • Cake: $250
  • Advice: Like flowers, they up sell catering and you can scale back.  If you go with a hotel, the coordinator can work with you, even on the fixed packages.
  • Comment: The food included appetizers in between the ceremony and reception along with unlimited soda.  Dinner included salad, main course (Chicken or Salmon), dessert, and unlimited tea, water, coffee, and lemonade. As guest, everything was well cooked and everyone went home full!

Questions and Answers for More Wedding Budgeting Tips

Q: What did you use to find the deals you got?

A: Thumbtack was the best because I could place my bid and only those who accept your price respond.  I got my Officiant and Photographer from Thumbtack.

Q: How long did you start the planning process?

A: I followed The Knot religiously. I downloaded the app and planned from their checklist which was spot-on.  The entire planning process was about 6 months.

Q: Did you feel like you got everything you wanted?

A: I got MORE than what I ever wanted/needed for the price.

Q: Any other words of advice for brides-to-be??

A: Ask for help!  The people who know & love you are full of talent and surprises.  Having my dear friend do my hair/make-up and my sister make me silk flowers made the day that much more meaningful.  Worry less about perfection and more about meaning…hopefully you only do this once…you want beautiful memories, not just pretty pictures!!!
Congrats Peg and Omar! I wish you a lifetime of happiness and cheers to many more years of friendship to us!

Thanks for taking the time to give your words of wisdom for future brides on a budget.

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