13 Awesome Budget Weddings Under $8,000 It can be done! by Lucy Bennett Almost every person I’ve talked to who planned a wedding on a tight budget has a story about the moment when they decided the wedding industry was clearly working against them. For some, it’s that moment when someone laughs (or scoffs, or is deeply concerned by) the proposed budget for your wedding. For others, it’s finding the visual inspiration for a part of your wedding (letterpress invites, anyone?) and then finding the cost of it is your entire budget… twice over. And then your heart sinks, and maybe you cry or scream or take a few too many tequila shots, and then you get to work on proving them wrong. When I started planning, it wasn’t that I believed or thought I couldn’t have a wedding. What I really wanted—no, what I really needed—to know was how to have an interesting wedding, one that I could feel proud of, that I’d like to see in pictures, on my tiny budget. And that is where we all could do with a little more inspiration, and a lot fewer raised eyebrows. The answer to that nagging doubt was, of course, yes. My wedding was amazing. Your wedding will be amazing, because you will make it so. It’s just a matter of figuring out what’s going to work for you and your partner, and then sticking to your plans. And to help you out, today we have thirteen budget wedding ideas from the APW archives, that are beautiful and filled to the brim with budget wisdom, to get you inspired. 1. A Bohemian Mexico Wedding In Northern California | DANIELLE HATCHER PHOTOGRAPHY Cost: $6,000 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Number of Guest: 57 “The original budget started at $4,500–$5,000 but it all hinged on finding the perfect venues. After I found a non-traditional small venue in Sacramento for our reception, it started falling into place. It was a relatively new venue that hadn’t hosted many weddings in the past, but we took a chance—the first of many chances, actually.” 2. Megan and Marlee’s Episcopal Etsy Wedding | LILBIRDMEMORIES Cost: $6,200 | Location: Los Angeles, CA | Number of Guests: 140 “If during the course of discussing an idea of something to include or a way of doing something that didn’t feel right, we’d keep editing it until it did (which, coincidentally, led to some of our most awesome decisions). And if it never felt quite right, we left it out. This process worked for us as we can honestly say that looking back, there wasn’t anything we planned that wasn’t worth it.” 3. A DIYed South Carolina Wedding | JULIA LEVY Cost: $1,500 | Location: John’s Island, SC | Number of Guests: 40 “When Jarod asked me to marry him on our one-year anniversary, that dream started to feel like it wasn’t right for the time being. When a friend offered to host our wedding on her property on Johns Island, we were a little reluctant. After she convinced me how easy it could be, the planning began. While I was hesitant to have a wedding because of our tight budget, I am so glad that we did! It was such a special, happy day for us, and I had so much fun planning my wedding.” 4. A Brooklyn Wedding At Home | cappy hotchkiss Cost: Under $8,000 | Location: Brooklyn, NY | Number of Guests: ~30 “What we did right: keep it small. The smaller the better. We had a larger party the next day, but in retrospect, I would have picked a handful of people and moved them to the ceremony list, and then cancelled the second event. After the wedding, all I wanted to do was hang out with my husband and our families.” 5. A Humble Church Wedding With Hospitality To Spare | PHOTO JQ Cost: $5,000 | Location: Portland, OR | Number of Guests: 92 “We essentially had to be careful on every line item. Our budget met our tone: a humble wedding with lots of hospitality and lots of love. It could have felt like an aesthetic compromise but instead it let the vulnerability that we set as tone in our ceremony shine through our party as well.” 6. A Budget Restaurant Wedding In Queens | SMITTEN CHICKENS Cost: $6,500 | Location: Queens, NY | Number of Guests: 50 “Because this was such an intimate affair and the focus of the celebration was the food, we made sure that we had awesome food and that we had food for everyone. This also became our most expensive detail by default, since the more guests, the more funds are needed. We also made sure that we set up a budget for a wonderful photographer as we wanted to enjoy the memories for years to come, and for really nice flower arrangements, just because we wanted them!” 7. An Intimate Weekday Wedding | PHOTOGRAPHY: YOUARERAVEN Cost: $2,000 | Location: Lawrenceville, GA | Number of Guests: 30 “Don’t let anyone other than you and your future-spouse tell you how to do your wedding. So what if it’s a Wednesday morning? So what if it’s a standing reception? So what if the only beverage is champagne and sparkling cider? So what? It’s your wedding, it’s your day, and nobody else cares as much as you do. Nope, not even your family, not even your best friend. And if they do, their priorities are not where they should be. Don’t let outside voices affect the way you want to enter into your marriage.” 8. A Casual Friday Wedding | rachel proctor Cost: $2,300 | Location: Knoxville, TN | Number of Guests: 40 “Let’s be honest, it’s hard to find many examples of super budget weddings online. We flew by the seat of our pants quite a bit, and there were times where I just had to say, ‘Eff it, I hope this works.’ Like not including RSVP cards, and instead asking for emails and phone calls. So if there’s something that’s not in your budget or isn’t that important to you, skip it. Find a workaround.” 9. An Outdoor Potluck Wedding | brian peterson photography Cost: $1,000 | Location: Peaks Island, ME | Number of Guests: 100 “It was gorgeous weather and we had lots of good food and good people all together for a big party—with a simple wedding to kick it off. We are both very laid-back people and the potluck outdoor wedding vibe was perfect for us.” 10. A Simple, Guest-Officiated Wedding | Emily takes photos Cost: Under $8,000 | Location: Santa Cruz, CA | Number of Guests: Unknown “We had our guests officiate our wedding in unison. Since we had been married for a month, we did not want to simply go through the steps again. It seemed more fitting to have our friends and family join together to marry us as a way to also symbolize the joining of the families. It was fun for us to watch everyone and a great way to get the whole room together.” 11. Emily’s Damn Fine Wedding Party | samantha knorr photography Cost: $7,500 |Location: Central Coast, CA | Number of Guests: 110 “I had a picture in my mind of how I wanted things to look, and if we had hired an event designer to go nuts with details, that picture would have become a reality. But in real life, I didn’t care that much. I put in as much love and effort as I felt like putting in, and I’m pleased with the result. Sure, my wedding won’t grace the cover of Martha Stewart Weddings, but I thought it was pretty, and I was proud of my work.” 12. A Wedding At San Francisco City Hall | EMILY TAKES PHOTOS Cost: Under $8,000 | Location: San Francisco, CA | Number of Guests: ~40 “We knew that even if our wedding was simple, we wanted good food, so Zazie was a no-brainer, and I was surprised how easy it was to put the menu together, especially after dealing with all the different caterers in the beginning. While we were waiting for things to be set up, we had a couple of celebratory tequila shots at the bar next door.” 13. An Orchard Wedding In Quebec Cost: Under $8,000 | Location: Quebec, Canada | Number of Guests: ~40 “Don’t listen when anyone tells you that you simply have to spend this and that much on something. You really don’t. In fact, you don’t have to do anything that does not feel right to you, or that makes you feel financially uncomfortable. You could say I have a twisted mind, but I systematically looked for vendors and resources outside the wedding world. In my opinion, they always provide a better value and a refreshing perspective.” Lucy Bennett Lucy a freelance designer/writer hybrid. When not coming up with weird self-challenges, she can be found marathoning TV shows or playing board games. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, her moderately internet-famous pup, and two cats. She takes herself very seriously.