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Getting married on a shoestring..ideas wanted!

post #1 of 110
Thread Starter 
So dh and I are thinking of making it legal(ok..I just typed illegal..is the universe trying to tell me something )

anyway...there is a chapel nearby and we can get married for $300bucks...and have 40 people there etc. There is another fee for the licence..$100.

We are thinking of a ceremony at the chapel and then an open house with finger foods and cake at our home in the afternoon.

So help me with ideas. I want it to be nice, not fancy...but I don't want to waste money either.

Another option is to have an officiate come to the house and we could rent some chairs and just do it here..that will cost around $200 with the rental of the chairs and such but might be a bit more confusing as we don't have a large house and I don't know how much they would cost to rent.

We could set some of the food and drinks up in the basement and some on the mainfloor to keep it comfortable.

So tell me, anything you did to make your wedding day nice that didn't cost a whole lot.

I want something completely original and unusual. And cheap. and as green as possible. No disposables. I may rent linens. That might be my only splurge.
post #2 of 110
moving to frugality and finances Congrats!
post #3 of 110
We're doing:

- Potluck (so many scrumptious yummies) plus a pig roast
- No booze (daytime makes that easier and more kid-friendly too)
- No gifts (asking for charity donations instead)
- Outside on the mountain (free, and what an amazing backdrop!)
- Camp out after at a free forestry campsite for anyone who wants to.

Hope that helps!
post #4 of 110
We got married in a church with a bunch of people. I wish we had a much smaller affair in a beautiful outdoor setting.

So that's my idea. Have an outdoor wedding in a gorgeous place and only serve cake and a beverage.
post #5 of 110

Do you have a yard? could you do it all outside. Not at this time of year but in the spring/summer maybe.

An afternoon reception with snacks and drinks is a great option. A lunch reception is also cheeper than a dinner reception. Would your guests be the sort to be open to a pot luck? You might consider asking various friends and family to contribute something as their gift to you. If a friend has a lovely flower garden and a talent for floral arangements you could ask that she do your flowers for example of if Aunt Trudy is famous for her cabage rolls ask her to bring them as a gift.

Our wedding cake was a flat slab iced in white with a simple decorative edge. A hole was cut into one corner that a small vase fit in and my bouquet was sliped in there to double as a cake decoration. It was really lovely and elegant and only cost about $20 (plus the cost of the bouquet but I would have had that cost anyway)

There are also a lot of wedding costs that you really don't need (does anyone really care if they go to someones wedding and don't get a favor?!)
post #6 of 110
Instead of splurging on a band, rip your own wedding cd with all your favorite music on it. If you want, rip multiple copies and give them out as gifts. It's a super-cheap wedding favor, and it's meaningful.
post #7 of 110
I am also planning my wedding but my frame of mind is that while I do want it on the cheap side, I don't want to look back and wish I had done things differently. I don't want any regrets (that's my life motto).

My cheap idea was to go to England. . Not cheap by any means, but compared to renting a venue here, reception, caterers, etc. And then add on the costs of a honeymoon. We're just killing two birds with one stone. We just reserved our space and are very excited. BUT we are already married legally here in the States (nobody in our family knows that though!).

Make sure you have pictures to document the event. Do you have a college nearby? I would post a help wanted ad for a photographer. Many students are looking for the experience.

Also, a morning wedding with a breakfast/brunch afterwards is normally cheaper because it's during a non-busy time and breakfast is cheaper than dinner.

Keep your eyes out for favors/decor now. We are sending our save the dates out in Christmas cards (the ones that you can insert a picture in the front). I just hit up an after Christmas sale and got all of my cards for $0.53 a box!

Cupcakes instead of a cake is cheaper too. You can make those on your own and they sell the stackers so that it can resemble a wedding cake.

At my legal wedding my neighbor made me a bouquet of fake flowers. They were beautiful and I plan to use them for my ceremony. Fake flowers can be much cheaper than real ones.
post #8 of 110
Have one of your friends become an on-line minister and perform the ceremony Free officiant.

Make your own music CDs.

Find someone in your family who takes decent pictures and designate them to take some posed shots, and shots of specific important moments.

Serve cake and punch and maybe some finger sandwiches and whore-derbs (you can usually get large platters of things at Costco/Sam's Club).

Skip things like favors, we didn't have them.
post #9 of 110
Denise and Alan Fields (The Baby Bargains book people) have a Bridal Bargains book that may help. There's also message boards on their website.

There was a book at my local library called something like "How to have a beautiful wedding on $3,000 or less" that could give you some ideas.

You have to keep in mind your social circle and what's acceptable. While cake and punch at an outdoor ceremony would be acceptable in my social circle, a pot luck absolutely would NOT be OK.

You can do a lot DIY if you're crafty. Invitations, favors, flowers, food, cake, punch, etc.

post #10 of 110
We got wild flowers from someone who had grown them the year before for her own wedding and they came back. We also used sunflowers from people's gardens. I made my own bouquet- the day before all the girls and I sat around and made the arrangements.
Some times high schools have floral arrangement classes and the students there take orders-- they are much cheaper.

I made a bunch of bundt cakes and froze them, we pulled the out the day before and my mom drizzled white frosting over them. My MIL made cream cheese mints and we had punch.

Pot lucks are good too.

I used my MIL wedding dress (my mom's was green w/ daisies and a miniskirt).
My only "regret" was the dress-- I wish I had had the money to make a renaissance dress.
The most we spent money on was the rings.

I would agree w/ the PP who said to check collages for photographers-- family members are not always the best. If you do have someone you know take them-- make sure they have the full body in sight (feet included).

Having a justice of the peace do it in a park and tell everyone to bring a blanket and picnic would be nice and cheap. You could have games for entertainment- like sack races, etc.

For my brother's reception we did strawberry shortcake.
post #11 of 110
Hot appeitzers. Punch and a punch that is spiked or some wine. Can a friend offer as a gift the job of watching the kitchen- meaning heating up stuff, making sure stuff stays heated...

7up or ginger ale
hawiann punch or cranberry juice

spiked punch
add rum or champagne like an inexpensive one

hot appeitzers:
weiners, sausages etc in bbq sauce in a crock
hot artichoke dip w crackers
grecian pizza squares (homemade dough)

mini sandwiches of deli items
veggies and dip made of yogurt and spices
spring rolls
roll ups instead of sandwiches like pinwheels

desserts cake and some cookie type stuff on a tray.

This can fill people up and get them out the door quickly.


Cook two large roast beefs, have the deli slice and buy bread and serve sandwiches w gravy from the meat
serve lettuce salad and bake mostocholli on the side.

We plan on doing the second for dd2's bday in a few weeks and we are serving about 45.
post #12 of 110
Originally Posted by _betsy_ View Post
"How to have a beautiful wedding on $3,000 or less"

We're aiming for waaaaaaaaaaay less than that! Like a whole zero less than that. Not including the rings.
post #13 of 110
My Mom and her friend did my flowers. We ordered them from a wholesale flower market that was open to the public, but you can also go to the farmers market.

My friend got married in the afternoon and had a lunch reception. Trays with croissants, lunch meat & cheese, salad and rolls. It was light but filling. Her friend's Mom made the cake.

If you are trying to do it on a budget, ask everyone you know to help with what they know. Some people are excellent bakers, some are great at decorations.
post #14 of 110
I think having a green wedding would be so much fun! I got married many, many moons ago when I was a young babe in the world and I had a traditional wedding for about $3000 US, and that included my dress, DJ, wedding reception, etc. Things were probably a little cheaper 13 years ago but not considerably so I think if you go green you could absolutely do it on a shoestring. The key is to have others help you. Like maybe someone could loan you plants or potted flowers. I love the potluck idea. People always want to give gifts for weddding so if you ask people to bring a dish instead that would be fun. If you have a friend who loves to bake I bet they would be so excited to make you a cheesecake or something as your wedding cake. Here's an article from Treehugger that may help you.

Oh I almost forgot, don't forget to spend the money on a photographer, how else are you gonna remember this special day? (my DH is a professional photographer so I may a be a bit biased )
post #15 of 110
Some stuff that saved us a lot off the top of my head--

An evening wedding with a dessert reception
Burned 2 CDs full of music to play (instead of DJ, band ect)
Had apple cider instead of alcohol
My brother took the pictures (he is very good at art)
I used fake stuff to make the boquets and boutineers (but they still were very pretty and I have them in my cedar chest)
Made our own invitations
No favors

post #16 of 110
We did a brunch weeding ceremony on our 1 year anniversary after eloping the year before for 45-50ish at a garden club. Ceremony outside, reception inside. We spent around $500 in Seattle in 2003 on the whole thing, including my dress, ties for the groomsmen, sweaters for me and the bridesmaids to match. The site was DIY but had a stocked kitchen with most all plates and utensils we needed and cost $100 to rent in an off month. We rented linens. Drinks were coffee, tea, punch. Menu was granola, muffins, roasted potatoes, baked eggs (cooked in ramekins with high, cheesy tops). We made it all ourselves (the granola and muffins in advance, the potatoes and eggs that morning). We did cheesecake cups (graham cracker crusts pressed and formed in muffin tins and filled with cheese filling, topped with chocolate and frozen fruits). We did out own flowers. An artist friend did the photos in exchange for tax and bookkeeping work. It all looked a lot more expensive than it was for us.
post #17 of 110
You can rent plates and cups from local rental places around here. Maybe call and see if that is available? You can also rent the linens, including napkins, and all of it ends up being cheaper than disposable. And much nicer. Not to mention green.

In my circles, a reception can be very simple. Cake, punch, mints, nuts, and cheese straws. From there, people might add tea sandwiches, chicken fingers, crudites and dip, maybe fresh fruit. And beyond that, it can get as fancy as you want.
post #18 of 110
Betsy - are you from Wisconsin by chance? The only times I have seen/heard of cheese straws have been when visiting MIL in WI.
post #19 of 110
How about getting married in a local park with picnic lunches, blankets spread out?
post #20 of 110
Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post

We're aiming for waaaaaaaaaaay less than that! Like a whole zero less than that. Not including the rings.

Yeah, sorry, I meant to add that you can get some ideas from there that could help you stretch your dollars, not that you had to spend $3,000 to have a beautiful wedding!
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