Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How I Planned My Wedding in 5 Months with $5,000

I've talked about my wedding before on the blog, perhaps a bit too much. Only now, 1.5 years after the fact did I realize I never talked about how much the wedding cost! Gee Daryl, that could be really helpful and useful information to someone, especially since wedding planning on a budget is t-o-u-g-h.

Our wedding was planned in just under five months (CRAZY) with just under $5000. (CRAZIER.) And, I may add, this was before pinterest! Oh, and did I mention we had 200 guests?


Total Ceremony Costs: $97

Steven and I were married in the Los Angeles LDS temple - wedding ceremonies there are, of course, free of charge. This helped a lot with our teeny tiny budget. We paid $97 for our marriage licence in Ventura, California.

Total Reception Costs: $2843.40

Venue: free of charge (thanks grandma and grandpa!)

 This was the #1 reason our wedding was so cheap. My grandparent's backyard is beyond beautiful and they were gracious enough to host the event there for free. If you are planning a wedding on a budget, think about everyone you know who may have a space you could use for free or almost free. If that doesn't work, look into city or county owned properties that charge very very cheap rates!

Rentals: $470 

We rented tables, chairs & ivory tablecloths from a local rental company. I had my heart set on wooden chairs for a long time, but in the end choosing the white bistro chair saved us several hundred dollars (When you have 200 chairs, even small price differences are critical) and I'm glad we went that route!

Flowers: $400

It pays to know people! My longtime friend and seminary teacher, Ruth of Petals Floral Design helped make the flowers for our day very affordable. Included in that price were all of the bouquets, miscellaneous flowers for each table (an eclectic mix of flowers in teapots, bottles and jars.) I loved my flowers and still daydream about them!

Burlap Tablecloths: $100

My mom and I went to the LA fabric district to pick up large rolls of burlap for a steal. We steamed them using a hand steamer to soften up the fabric a bit and then my mother sewed each and every tablecloth!

Additional centerpiece decor: $60 

I collected scraps of lace from thrift stores and antique shops for each centerpiece. I used a bunch of old books I already owned as well as picking up a whole bunch of them at thrift stores for very, very cheap.  I designed a stamp that read "Daryl and Steven Schmidt, EST. July 2011" which I stamped onto little tags that my mom and I cut ourselves, and tied to each centerpiece jar with pink twine I found in my garage.

Plates & Silverware: $75

We picked up ivory plates and simple but pretty silverware in Las Vegas a few months before the wedding, at a bulk restaurant supply warehouse. It was cheaper than renting!

Food and Drink: $565

The theme of our wedding was very light, summery with a "backyard" feel, so we went with the VERY economical option of having a local BBQ restaurant (Red's BBQ in Simi Valley - very, very, very delicious) deliver their amazing salads using their "self-serve catering" option. Some people may wrinkle their nose at this idea, but in my town Reds is actually kind of legendary, so guests were very excited. With this option the restaurant dropped off the salads (California Tri-Tip and BBQ Chicken were crowd favorites) in large metal trays a few hours before the reception. We ordered 8 trays of salad that supposedly feed 20 people but we knew they'd feed way more (WE WERE RIGHT - we had 2 trays of salad left over at the end of the event, and people had been eating like crazy!) This cost us $480

My mom, with help from some amazing women from church, put those salads in beautiful serving bowls which they stacked up on different levels, interspersed with appetizers, fruits and veggies and of course the awesome flower arrangement Ruth made for the buffet table. Steven's mother also made traditional German potato salad which was a huge hit.

 We decided to go buffet style because 1) we wanted the party to reflect a more casual vibe and 2) we saved tons on not needing to hire a waitstaff.

For drinks, we made gourmet lemonade ourselves using lemons we got from my grandparents garden and various friends' backyard, so that virtually cost us nothing. The flavors we offered were: Good ol' fashioned, lavender hibiscus, pineapple ginger, strawberry lemon-lime and rosemary peach. We also served iced cucumber water for those who didn't like lemonade. I borrowed the beautiful glass containers from friends and family members - so drinks essentially cost us nothing.

Not having alcohol at our wedding (hooray, Mormonism!) saved us buttloads of cash.

The Salads, Appetizers + Drinks together cost $565.

Cake + Other Sweets:

Cake Stand: $20 
We bought the materials to build our own cake stand with 4 tiers at home depot, which Steven built and painted himself. Our "cutting" cake sat at the top of this stand and we loaded the lower tiers with mini cupcakes.

Mini Cupcakes: $150

Remember Ruth, who did my flowers? She also made those amazing mini cupcakes for $0.50 a piece! Naturally, I ordered 300. She made an incredible variety of flavors: Fresh Raspberry, Lemon, Toasted Coconut, Chocholate Hazelnut and Peanut Butter!

Top Layer Cake: $0

Steven's amazing older sister Theresa made the top layer cake - she is an expert baker and it was delicious and SO cute!

Cake Toppers: $3.40

I bought two letters from Michaels for $1.20 a piece. I ripped a few pages out of a book about Marie Antoinette I'd bought for $1. (Get it? Let them eat cake? Ha!) and dyed the pages a light pink using water and red food coloring. Then I modpodged the pink paper onto the letters, and used wooden shish-kabob sticks I found in a drawer to prop them up!

Ice Cream Stand: $98

We wanted our wedding to be fun for the guests, so we made this ice cream stand! It was perfect for the hot July day. We bought the wood materials at Home Depot and Steven and I built and painted it. My friend Kimmi came and did the lovely lettering.

Ice Cream + Toppings: $62 

We bought a bunch of ice cream in huge tubs from Smart & Final in a variety of different flavors. We also bought all of the toppings there beforehand.

Candy Table: $40 

For the guest favors, we filled a bunch of jars (most of which we already owned and a few extra we bought at T.J. Maxx) with vintage candies we bought at Rocket Fizz. I bought small white paper bags from Oriental Trading for a couple of bucks, and we stamped each of them with a stamp that I designed.

Miscellaneous Decor: $400

I allowed myself $400 for all of the extra decorating details. This included the guest book area which was almost completely free (everything was pretty much found around the house or borrowed from friends - yes, even the sheet music wall!) the photobooth which I fashioned out of a cheap old frame, a camera with a tripod and a bunch of props we made ourselves and rummaged to find from around the house. We bought rolls of muslin online and hung it in strips over the side yard/entry way.

It also included all of the mason jars (I used over 300!) which were filled with candles and lined the walkways, planters and hung from the overhangs, gazebo and trees. I borrowed christmas lights from anyone who would lend them to me, and made the seat cushions that lined the center planter myself using fabric I'd found for free and a bag of batting. Anything that could be DIYed WAS DIYed!


DJ: $400

Again, it pays to know people. A close friend of mine is a DJ  and offered us a discounted rate. He did an EXCELLENT job - people danced like crazy for at least two hours, which is pretty much unheard of for a Mormon wedding.

Clothing: $1595 


$1205 for Dress, Shoes, Flower Headpiece & Veil. The dress was a custom order from Casablanca. The shoes are Irregular Choice, and the Veil/Headpiece were DIYed. My friend (and bridesmaid) Bethany did my hair and makeup!


$390 for Suit, Shirt, Tie & Shoes. The suit is Tommy Hilfiger, bought on sale at Macy's. The shirt and tie were both Kohls purchases, and the shoes were bought at ALDO.

Additional Costs: $360

Bridesmaid's Gifts: $150 for six girls.

Wedding Suite - $100 room (4-star) booked on Hotwire (CLASSY) near the airport, for convenient relocation to our honeymoon the following day.

Limo Service - $110 (including tip) for an "airport transfer" in a stretch limo. This trick will save you so much money! Instead of renting a limo by the hour, we arranged for an airport transfer because our hotel was near the airport. Limo companies offer these for much cheaper than their "wedding" rates. The limo picked us up at the end of our reception.

Photographer - $100. My good friends Heather & Matt did our wedding photos. Matt did a lot of our wedding portraits early in the day, and Heather did ALL of the reception photos! They did this both out of the kindness of their hearts, but in the end I gave Heather $100 as a thank you.

I did round some of the numbers up and down for easy adding and subtracting. (I.E. The bridesmaid's gifts were probably something like $150.28, but I rounded down) so it is save to assume that we actually spent all $5000. 

Do it all yourself: Anytime I saw something online or in a store that I liked, I immediately started thinking up ways to make it myself for cheaper. I am positive we saved THOUSANDS with this method of thinking. 
Think beyond traditional catering: If you aren't set on having a three to five course, full service meal with a wait staff, there are many options you can explore to save a lot of money. In a way, we "DIYed" our catering, too! 
Use those connections: Is your cousin a florist? Your mom's hairdresser's son is a baker? Use those connections to get as many discounts as you can. 

I hope that this mercilessly detailed post was helpful to some of you.

Happy wedding planning!

(congratulations to Bobbi Garcia on winning to $500 Travel Giveaway! SO exciting. I will be contacting you via Email today, so look out for it. We all can't wait to hear how you'll be using these new funds! )


Ginny said...

can i hire you as my wedding planner? ;-)
i LOVE your wedding dress and you were such a beautiful bride! plus, your wedding looks like so much fun and i REALLY like all the flowers and your DIY things! it looks so "casual" and down to earth, yet sophisticated and elegant! exactly what i want my wedding to be! :-)

ifs ands Butts said...

Ah wow, just unbelievable Daryl! What a beautiful day on a doable budget. I really love the limo idea, GENIUS!

StephanieKelly said...

This is amazing! Your reception looks stunning! Definitely going to reference this when the time comes, so many good money saving tips!

M. at Making Sense of Cents said...

Wow such a pretty wedding!

Nikki | The Ginger Diaries said...

Oh boy, I better start saving!! In fact, The day I was born my mom and dad opened an account where they have been saving little bits for the past 20 years to pay for my big day. As a girl who plans on spaning more on her honey moon than the party, I have already made up my mind about my dress. It's going to be a rental :) BUT, I do want pretty designer shoes and a fancy cake. You know, it is still the one day I get to be a princess after all! x

Stephanie said...

You have no idea how incredibly helpful this post was. The bf and I just got engaged a week ago and we're trying to plan a wedding for 150 people on a pretty limited budget for the San Francisco/Sonoma area. I'm convinced we can do it and this post gives me a big confidence boost! The one downside for us is that the Catholic church is not nearly as generous with its facilities so the ceremony alone is going to cost around $1,000 just to have it in the church. :(

I kinda wish I could hire you as my wedding planner/personal budget consultant!! :)

michelle said...

your wedding is so pretty! i love all the little details! and all the lights. your shoes and dress are great. i love how you your shoes are. i may already have my wedding shoes, but i'm not engaged yet.

Ashlee said...

These are GREAT tips and so GREAT to know...Thank You!! This will make my wedding planning much less stressful and easier! We, luckly, found a venue that is free as well because it's a close friends beautiful, and rather large, backyard! So exciting!

-Ashlee Michelle

Jenna said...

Wow! I can't believe you were able to pull off such a beautiful wedding on $5000 - everything looks so pulled together and polished and I love that you went with Red's BBQ :) Definitely saving these tips for my own wedding planning!


Kit said...

WOW!!!! Your wedding was amazing....and only $5000. You did an amazing job!!!

Eliza said...

Beautiful pictures!

EmJean said...

Your wedding was truly beautiful. I loved the mason jars and your guest book area.

angie said...

Gosh your wedding looks beautiful! Amazing!

Chelsea Lennox said...

LOVE THIS POST. oh my gosh, your wedding honestly looks AMAZING and exactly what I would want. I love all of the handmade details and your amazing venue, how lucky that your grandparents have such a gorgeous back yard! It honestly all looks so amazing. I'm pinning this post for future reference if you don't mind!

Kaity said...

Such a good post and SUCH a beautiful wedding!

RetreatingAndAdvancing said...

looks like my dream wedding! adorable..

Sol said...

Amazing. looks lovely

Kym Fox @ Travel Babbles | Living the (hockey) Life said...

WOW! What a feat!! Your day looked BEAUTIFUL!! And I love the little German touches :) We're currently living in Deutschland! I'm so happy I found your blog & I'm excited to be following along now! xo

The Little Flapper said...

Your Wedding was beautiful! I can't believe your budget either. It looked very romantic and beautiful :)

lene b said...

thanks for this post. this.is.exactly. how i plan to do my wedding. i am just glad to see that it's actually possible. did you stress a lot right before, or were you good at timing the planning and all the diy-ing?

james said...

Amazing post! I initially found your blog a week or so ago, and I want to subscribe to your RSS feed.

Wedding Reception Hall Rental in Los Angeles


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