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How We Planned Our Casual Friday Wedding For $2K

Enlisting all the help we could, and flying by the seat of our pants

Amanda & Wesley

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A day that exceeded our expectations and that our families dubbed as the “sweetest wedding ever.”

Planned Budget: $2,000

Actual Budget: $2,300-ish

Number of Guests: 90 invited, 40 attended

Where we allocated the most funds

Photos. With such a small budget, sourcing a quality photographer was the biggest initial stress. We found Rachel through a friend of a friend and could not have made a better decision! I still cry when I look at our pictures, that’s how good they are.
The next highest cost was attire.

Where we allocated the least funds

Flowers. The tulips were a gift, but I spent $20 picking up filler flowers at Kroger. Wes’s ring was $15. Our music was a Spotify playlist.

What was totally worth it

Writing our own ceremony. And, as crazy as it sounds, self-catering.

What was totally not worth it

Stressing out over the damn RSVPs. Being so sad over our low acceptance rate. And trying to do absolutely everything myself due to being a control freak. To back that point up, I carted all of the food from my parents’ house to the reception house, three hours before our ceremony in the pouring ran. While wearing a shower cap over my rollers so my hair wouldn’t get completely ruined. Don’t be like me.

A few things that helped us along the way

With a small budget, you have to have help. There is no other option. Even if you are a control freak like me. My best friend and Maid of Honor let us use her house for the reception. My mom made the tablecloths. I borrowed crock pots and serving platters and glass drink dispensers. We spent months making tissue paper pom pom balls to decorate with. My mom did my hair, and was able to alter my dress. We did all of the food ourselves. Fortunately, someone bought our cake as a gift, so I didn’t have to learn how to make a wedding cake. A coworker lent us the tables. A friend sent the twinkle lights leftover from her wedding reception for us to use. My other best friend chauffeured us around for photos and to our hotel afterwards. My father-in-law picked up and returned the rental chairs. So, so many people helped us, and our day wouldn’t have been as special without their help.

My best practical advice for my planning-self

You can’t make everyone play by your rules. I spent SO much time being angry at people for not RSVPing or for not showing proper enthusiasm (extended family on both sides, *cough*) and it just… wasn’t worth it. Our wedding was PERFECT. The people who were there wanted to be there, and we were too busy having a blast to miss those who didn’t care enough to make the effort. And don’t try and do everything yourself. Accept help, and accept that somewhere, something is going to go at least a little bit wrong.

Favorite thing about the wedding

Using a David Sedaris essay as our reading (“The End of the Affair”). Our vows. We wrote them the night before, and they were perfect. The mayor tweeting a selfie with us kissing in the background immediately after our ceremony. Dancing with my mom and cousin to Elton John under the twinkle lights after dark. Sitting around the fire eating s’mores and drinking Jack Daniel’s. The fact that someone left the reception and came back with aforementioned Jack Daniel’s. Grandparents in the photo booth. Being surrounded by so much love.

Other Notes and Advice

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. My guess? The people who couldn’t send an email also wouldn’t have mailed back a card. So if there’s something that’s not in your budget or isn’t that important to you, skip it. Find a workaround. We didn’t have a guestbook. We didn’t do a first dance because picking a song was too much trouble. No regrets. I stressed out about not being able to fit any alcohol into the budget, but our friends made a beer and liquor run halfway through the reception. It worked out. If you don’t want to pay for an officiant but the courthouse is too informal, ask your local politicians. They’re free! And our county Mayor’s office was more helpful than you would believe. It will all work out, and if you’re married at the end of the day, you did it right!

I wanted to include a detailed budget breakdown because money deets are what we all really want, right?

Photos: $800
Dress: $200
Shoes: $40
Earrings: $26
Wedding Bands: $15 and $45
Hair: Free—My mom did it.
Suit: $200
Shirt: $15 with a Kohl’s coupon
Bow Tie: $15
Shoes: $3 at Goodwill
Decorations: $100—Mostly tissue paper and ribbon for the pom poms, fabric for tablecloths, frames for signs, etc.
Photo Booth: $25ish for the props, used a digital camera already owned to snap those pictures
Cake Topper: $34
Cake Knife: Free—Used the one from my parents’ wedding
Cake Server: $43 (Too much, but I was obsessed.)
Chair Rental: $50
Food: $250–$300—I’m not entirely sure of this total, as some of our fruit went bad and we had to buy more. It was also at this point we started swiping plastic in order to make life easier.
Invitations, including stamps: $80
Favors: $30
Tervis Cups: $45 (When else do you get to buy a cup that says “Eat Drink & Be Married”?)
Flowers: $20 out of pocket; tulips were an additional $50, but gifted to us.
Custom Nail Polish: $40—Named “Something Borrowed” due to the damn poem.
Cake: Gift—Our $380 cake was a gift. That is the ONLY way we had a “legitimate” wedding cake. I would have made a cake (or cobbler!) on a much smaller scale if it had been needed.
Makeup: $150—I don’t count this as part of the budget since I’m using it all way past my wedding day. Perks of loving makeup!
Hotel: Gift—Our room the night of the ceremony was gifted to us by a dear friend.

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