Weddin' on a (Realistic) Budget

What would you do with $50,000? I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t do—spend it on a wedding.

Call me crazy or perhaps non-traditional, but I feel like even my 3-year-old could come up with more efficient things to do with that chunk of change.

Before we began the wedding planning process, I was researching tips & tricks on how to have a ‘budget friendly’ wedding. The biggest problem I had was that almost every article or Pin I clicked on had the most unrealistic ways of saving money. Not that they were necessarily bad tips, but they were a little too “situation specific” to actually work for the everyday bride-to-be.

Here’s a few that really made me scratch my head:

“Borrow a friend’s restaurant & hold your wedding there.”

… Most of my friends haven’t even graduated college yet, let alone have a restaurant I could borrow for the day.

 “Instead of renting stereo equipment or hiring a DJ, use your speakers from home”

Could you imagine all of the guests gathered around my little iPhone docking station whose alarm is hardly even loud enough to wake me up in the mornings?! Talk about a party!

“Make your own invitations and decorations”

Believe me when I tell you that anytime I try to DIY anything, I end up wanting to DIE. And even if you call consider being a do-it-yourself master, not everyone has the space or the time to take on these tasks.

“Do the cooking or catering yourself”


Clearly I was searching in all of the wrong places. 

I decided to start getting creative with the planning process and really think outside of the box

Here are some of my tips & tricks for how we were able to cut costs and still have the wedding of our dreams:

Don’t Stress, RENT Your Dress:

Renting my dress was my plan all along. I found a few reliable websites where you can rent a dress for a fraction of the cost of buying one. Typically the dresses I saw ranged from about $500-$2000, and let me tell you, they were some serious designer dresses.

The only problem is that if you wait until a few months before your wedding to go dress shopping (like I did), you may not have enough time to take your measurements, have the dresses shipped to you, and get it tailored.

Since I was on somewhat of a time crunch, what I did instead was contact local Bridal Boutiques & immediately asked them what the price of their dresses ranged from (no shame in my budgeting game). I only made appointments with the ones who were within range of my budget.

I ended up purchasing my dress from Anthropologies Wedding Line, BHLDN for $1500!

Pro tip: If you are local to Los Angeles, you can also checkout Downtown LA. I hear they have some of the exact same dresses available for more than half the cost (however you definitely won't get the magical dress-trying-on experience).

Dinner on Wheels:

It’s no secret that food vendors tend to eat up most of your wedding budget (see what I did there?) Also, am I the only one who is never very impressed by the typical ‘mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, & two choices of meat’ type of menus at weddings?

Well, my next money saving trick is both low cost, delicious, and will leave a lasting impression on your guests.


I’m talking food trucks, pizza ovens, taco carts; if it has wheels, I want it at my wedding.

Now, obviously if you are getting married at the Palace of Versailles, these options would be a bit unfit, but for us other peasants of the world, dinner on wheels is a great option.

Most gourmet food trucks I came across online ranged from $10-$17 per person, depending on the service option & menu choices.

In N Out (my personal favorite) is about $1500 for 200 burgers, fries, & drinks.

For our wedding, we went with a pizza company, with a mobile wood-fire oven to make pizza on the spot during cocktail hour. It was about $700 for 30 pizzas to feed about 100 people. How’s that for a steal?

For dinner, had a gourmet food truck where the plates range from $10-$12 per person.


Anyone will admit that a wedding without alcohol is a wedding that they, well, don’t want to be at. But on the same token, there is nothing worse than a guest who takes advantage of the open bar & leaves their mark on your wedding day as “that drunk guy.”

My next budget friendly tip is to only serve wine, beer, & one or two specialty premixed cocktails.

This one was actually a requirement of our venue, but in reality, was a huge money (& life) saver for a couple of reasons: eliminates bartender costs, ensures people won’t get too out of hand, everyone is happy with having a variety of drink options, and it lowers the cost of the overall alcohol budget.


When trying to be mindful of a wedding budget, one would think the first thing to go on your list would be a wedding coordinator, right? I mean with all of the help from bridesmaids, moms, & the internet, how hard can planning a wedding actually be?

That was my thought process at the beginning of this all, but we ended up going an entirely different route once we weighed all that needed to be done, versus the time we had available. Our “Angel on Earth” as I called her, was a 3 for 1 package that included planning & coordination, design, and  flowers.  This means that she literally handles everything. And best of all, she was a fraction of the cost of what we would have paid for all three of those services separately.

I hope you find these tips useful when planning your own wedding or inspire you to come up with some of your own! If anyone has additional money-saving tips, comment below to share!

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