A modern day wedding seems like it’s almost the equivalent of an inauguration ceremony. 

Anyone else find themselves thinking the same thing with any of the weddings you’ve attended lately?

According to CNN Money, in 2016 the average cost of an American wedding was $35,329.I’ll let you catch your breath. 

That is a shi*t ton of money to pay for ONE day.

Oh wait, it’s actually only A FEW HOURS.

The problem is that the beloved couples parents (or the couple if they are paying themselves) find themselves investing in a wedding, not a marriage.

Let’s be honest here, weddings have gotten way out of control.

Do you REALLY believe with the numbers I spoke of earlier that most parents have that kind of disposable income?

Most parents are doing it because they feel obligated and they are concerned with what people will think.


Before I start laying everything out, I cannot emphasize enough that we had A TON of help from friends and family.

From Joe’s family and my family and extended family and the bridal party helping with setup the day before to people staying late to help tear down, this saved tons of MONEY!

We were also able to borrow quite a few things from family friends, and that was a huge, huge blessing.

You all know who you are, so THANK YOU 🙂

My #1 tip would be to utilize those who care about you! They are usually more than willing to help and it keeps costs WAY down. 

In this post, I’ll touch on the major money spending areas, and then in the summary below you’ll be able to see costs for everything (including those I don’t specifically break down).


First, if you are planning a wedding or helping plan a wedding, the absolute first thingthat needs to be done is the bride and groom need to sit down with their respective parents and lay out a BUDGET.

This is how weddings get out of control. 

No plan, no budget, no laying out before hand who will be paying for what, and suddenly there’s a lot of bills and no one willing to step forward and pay them.

When Joe and I started planning our wedding, we spoke with both my parents and Joe’s parents about what we were thinking about who would pay for what (grooms parents vs brides parents).

Next, my parents gave us a clear budget and let us know that anything over that we would be footing the bill for.

If you are paying for your own wedding, you need to start budgeting now.

I designed a free wedding budget printable that you can instantly download by subscribing below!

You can use these budget templates to set aside money every month for your wedding, or even plan for your honeymoon!

Whether you’re budgeting for a wedding or not, it’s important to get your marriage started on the right foot financially- on a budget!

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Our food was provided by my aunt’s seafood & prime rib restaurant located in downtown La Conner, WA. The total cost of the food was right around $2,500.

We used plastic plates that look real to serve the food on, my mom got all the plates and cups for about $50 total.

We were able to save on the food because my aunt owns the restaurant, so HUGE, HUGE thank you to her for blessing us in that way.

For dessert, we had cupcakes for the guests, and Joe and I had the cake pictured below. We had this made by someone my aunt knows, and it cost right around $100. 

Pictured below is the dessert table with all the cupcakes!

Most of the decorations that are on the table came from my parents house once again, so FREE (do you see a theme here)? 🙂

As far as beverages go, we decided to do free beer and wine to keep the cost down a little bit.

Since we had a lot of family & friends traveling from far away, we didn’t want to do a cash bar as I have always felt that those are a little tacky.

We also saved money because we were allowed to return any kegs that were not opened!

The final bill for the alcohol was around $925. 


We got married at an old marina style building right on the ocean that has a wood plank floor with the ocean underneath.

You could hear the waves underneath the floor while in the venue, so it was pretty unique.

The cost of the venue for the wedding day was $600, and we ended up renting the venue for the day before the wedding as well so that we would have plenty of time to set up, and that cost an additional $200.

So, total cost of the venue was $800. 

We got a spectacular venue at an amazing price, and all it took was a little creativity and imagination to turn it into a wedding venue!

Here is the before on setup day:

Luckily, with a ton of helping hands we were able to transform it into a venue fit for a ceremony and reception.


Luckily, the lights came with the venue and so did the tables and all the chairs.

You CAN find a place that cheap, you just have to look and be patient and maybe make some compromises!

One compromise we made was the date- I wanted to get married on a Friday or Saturday, but this place had events on both those days and our dates were very limited since we were traveling from Iowa.

So, we got married on a Thursday, and getting married on a week day cut about $1,250off the price.

It actually worked out great, because we got married on December 29 and many people have time off from work during the week of Christmas anyway.


We had a great photographer!

She came with an assistant and was there for the whole day, from start to finish.

The photographer cost $2,100. 

This is obviously one of the biggest expenses for the whole day!


Most of the decor for my wedding was either borrowed or  came from the thrift store that my mom works at, so everything was under $5-$10.

The only items that were over that amount was the flowers and a few bigger decorations.

I will say that one thing that saved us a ton of money was having the ceremony & reception at the same place, because we only had to pay for decorations for one venue!

We did A LOT of DIY too:

  • Barn doors (FREE) – from the barn on a rental property my parents own.
  • Mr & Mrs. Banner (FREE)- made by my crafty sister-in-law.
  • All linens & tablecloths (FREE) – from my aunts restaurant.
  • Wine bottles (FREE) – from my aunts restaurant.

Almost all of the things in this little setup came from decorations from my parents house, so they were all free.

All pallets we used came from a stack we had outside the dairy, so free as well.

We also had a few family friends who had wedding decorations from their children’s weddings, so they let us use their stuff as well. This was mostly signs and different fabrics.

Here is a picture of the bar/drinks area:

The bar pictured above was free- my dad & brother built it out of wood we had laying around at the dairy.

The signs you see in the picture  were borrowed from a family friend, so FREE.


We used a combination of fake flowers and real flowers to save money!

The gorgeous arrangement above was made by a lady from my church, using all fake flowers!

She did not want to be paid, but we of course gave her a little gift for putting this together.

There was another arrangement just like the one pictured above, and the two wine barrels they sat on were $75 each. 

The rest of our wedding flowers came from Costco, we ordered babies breath and white roses, for a total cost of $250!

Sam’s Club offers bridal arrangements for super cheap and bulk flowers for a very low price!

You can see my bouquet here, I kept it really simple!

This is also what the bridesmaids bouquets looked like, and many of the white roses & babies breath was put in wine bottles and set up for decor all around the venue.

Nice flowers don’t have to be super expensive! 

Considering the average cost a bride spends on flowers for her big day is $2,100 (According to a survey by The Knot), I’d say we did pretty darn good!


One of my splurges (priorities) on my wedding day was my dress.

I dreamed about my dress from the day we got engaged!

I was responsible for paying for my own wedding dress, which cost about $1,100.

I did not regret this expense, I absolutely LOVED my dress and wouldn’t have traded it for a cheaper one.


The programs pictured below were actually made by my sister-in-law. She is quite creative and crafty and had such great ideas! This was a HUGE help.

She is so giving of her time, and I so appreciate her. She made my wedding programs and my guest book!

The only cost for the programs would be the cardstock paper they were printed on, the ink to print, and the pictures that we ordered that she cut out & glued on the programs.

ALMOST free. 

The only cost for the guest book would be the cardstock paper and the pictures, my sister-in-law used a lot of stamps and craft paper she already had on hand!


The microphones, speakers and stage we got from my church, so those were free. 

Since my parents are members we were able to use whatever we liked from the church at no cost, so we took advantage of that!


I asked close family members to do the majority of the details/coordinating for our wedding.

My Aunt Kari did a lot of assisting with the ceremony and reception and also was a HUGE help to my mom with all the details and any questions she had.

She did an AMAZING job!

As far as a planner for helping with the ceremony/reception, I asked my Aunt Michele to help out!

She took care of telling people when to go during the ceremony and keeping things in line that way. She also helped with the general order of events and details on the big day.

I’m so thankful I had two family members who were so giving of their time to make sure our wedding day ran smoothly and to help us save money!

Cash gifts includes gifts for the pastor, the girls who sang/played guitar, wedding video, wedding planners/people who helped out a ton (aunts, sister in law, etc.), my hair, and a few more people. .

TOTAL COST: $11,000 – $11,500.

And that my friends is the total cost of my wedding! That is still a large amount, so think about all the weddings you’ve attended… they probably cost way more than what you thought!

Even as I wrote this post, I was surprised by the final number.

We REALLY cut down on costs for my wedding any way we could, so I can’t imagine what that final number would have been if I hadn’t!


Here are some other great ways to save money on your big day!

  1. Search for a photographer who is looking to gain experience and ask for a discounted price. It never hurts to ask! I’m sure there is a local college student exploring photography- it’s a hot career choice right now!
  2. Don’t spend a fortune on your invitations/programs, people are just going to throw them away.Save the splurging for items that won’t be thrown away on the big day. is a great place to get invitations/programs/save the dates, they are constantly having sales.
  3. Find a dress off the rack, this is almost always the cheapest way to go! Any time you have to order a dress and and have it altered, the dollars add up REALLY fast.
  4. Use Wholesalers instead of specialty shops. You can get wedding invites/save the dates at Sam’s Club for 68 cents! WAY CHEAPER than any other places I looked.


My biggest piece of advice would be to STOP COMPARING yourself (and your wedding day) to others. 

Most weddings are absolutely out of control, and to be honest most of the people who attended don’t remember much about the day.

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