8/23 Real Bride Kimberly: Time to Find the Funding for this Broke-Ass Wedding

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As soon as we started talking about getting married I knew funding the wedding was going to be an issue. We had no money saved up. None. What. So. Ever. Once we got engaged and I started crunching numbers and forecasting potential savings, it was confirmed. I was a Broke-Ass Bride. Immediately, I started thinking of creative alternatives to a traditional wedding that could help us keep costs down. I came up with various ideas, but my favorites were these two:

  • Afternoon reception – I figured serving brunch instead of dinner had to cut down on food costs. However, I vetoed this idea after I realized that my day would start crazy super early. Plus, I would probably end up feeling rushed, which would be no fun.
  • Cake and Punch reception – I really liked the idea of having a late-night wedding where only drinks and desserts were served. I imagined the most epic dessert tables on the planet, but my fiancé shot me down. It was important to him that we feed people, even if it meant he had to do all of the cooking.

Once we crossed off every idea, our only option was a traditional reception with dinner and dancing. Which was fine, it just meant we were going to have to cut costs in other ways.

I know what I want … Now, how do I get it?

Since I already had my wedding vision, once we decided on a traditional format I was ready to make the budget. First, I started by calculating how much money we could realistically save between now and summer 2019. Because I love to make lists and spreadsheets (I use Microsoft Excel like it’s crack) this was an enjoyable task for me.

I know, I’m weird.

Then I added in income tax refunds (I underestimated this amount because you never know what can happen). Then I deducted money for other things we saved for in a year, for example, Christmas shopping. Once the vortex of paper, spreadsheets, and formulas stopped swirling, and the dust settled; I unearthed our magic number. That number is …

Drum roll, please …


Not the tiniest budget, but certainly not anywhere near the average cost of a wedding in Connecticut, which is over $40,000.


I took my budget and turned it into a chart. See, told ya I was weird.

How do I turn that number into a budget, without wanting to pull out my hair?

Next, I sat down with my binder, which contained a budget breakdown spreadsheet (BAB has one here, too). It was very helpful. I used the percentages under each heading to calculate how much of my budget to allocate to each item. For example, it said that 50% of my budget should go towards the reception which includes the site rental, food, alcohol, etc.

Once I went through the entire sheet, I started tweaking the numbers to suit my preferences and needs. For example, according to the planner, I should allocate $500 towards stationery, but since I decided that I was creating all of the stationery, I cut that amount to $200. Next, I started filling in some of the sub-categories within the budget plan. For example, under the Decorations heading I budgeted:

  • $500 for flowers
  • $300 for miscellaneous decorations
  • $200 for linens

I continued playing with the numbers until I was satisfied the money was allocated in the best way possible to make our wedding a reality.

This is a snippet of the budget that I put together.

Hallelujah! A budget has been born this day!

I suspect, that even though I have my budget plan, there will be plenty of changes to make as we continue to plan our wedding. Once I start figuring out all of the DIY projects I may find that I need less money for flowers and more money for general supplies. Or maybe I get a great deal on the catering, and I use the extra money to fatten up our photography package. One thing I know for sure is that we can’t go over our $12,000 bottom line, so whatever challenges come our way we’ll have to figure out how to overcome them without spending more money.

Not easy to do, but we’ll figure it out.

Y’all got to pray for me!


  • I love the realistic breakdown of costs like this! We just reserved our venue and opted for a more inclusive-style place with a bit higher venue cost to have to avoid being nickle and dimed on everything along the way (and to know the cost up front!). I wrote about our process for selecting our venue with that in mind today, too!

  • Tobey Lee Dodge

    After nearly 30 years in the wedding industry, I applaud this bride for taking on the decision making process so realistically and concretely. My first question is how many guests are expected to attend? Food and beverage costs can mount up quickly and it would be great to know how the budget is being allocated for what amount of guests. What level of assistance is the wedding planner giving the client? From the percentages mentioned, it sounds like the photography and video services would be very brief coverage and more or less shooting the wedding with little or no editing after. Is that OK with the couple getting married? On any budget, it’s important to make sure the expectations are clearly addressed in all agreements so all parties are on the same page and there are no misunderstanding about the quality, quantity, and level of service expected and provided. Wishing you all a great wedding.

  • sky simone

    I have to say that photography + video are the ONLY things that last.. the food, everything else is money gone. Photography and video is an investment not only for YOUR LIFETIME, but for the lifetime of your children, and grandchildren… I’ve done weddings where my photography + video was 40% of the $10,000 budget, and I’ve done weddings where I was 10% of the $40,000 budget… You can pull off a modest venue + settings by choosing a weekday, and putting your investing in your photography + video..

  • 3knotswedding

    Nice post..
    Thanks for sharing