Broke-Ass Tag: budget weddings


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!


  • 10/4

    Jane B. Writes DisclaimerA Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony SiobhanCredit: Timony Siobhan

    Don’t let anybody tell you that if you have a minute budget, you’d be better off getting married in city hall (unless, of course, that’s something you want to do). If you’ve always wanted to have a wedding, you can have a wedding. More importantly, there is absolutely no reason that you can’t have a gorgeous and memorable wedding no matter your budget. Here are some of our favorite tips for creating a wedding that really pops — even if you’re on a super tiny budget.

    Gorgeous Photos

    Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer for your wedding, we’re willing to bet you have a friend who is good with a camera (or, at the very least, photography apps and filters). Ask this person to take your photos … and encourage everybody else to take their own photos as well. Set up a site where people can upload their photos (even a simple Dropbox folder is sufficient) so that people can share pictures among themselves as well as with the bride and groom.

    While you’re at it, try using some fun props to add some flair to your photos. For example, instead of running through a tunnel of bubbles after your wedding, why not have your guests hold up sparklers? Wedding Sparklers are great because they create fantastic lighting effects for your photos and they’re affordable. Using sparklers for weddings adds a creative touch to the end of the wedding night that often resembles a fairy tale.

    The Dress

    There are many ways to have a gorgeous and memorable wedding dress without having to spend a fortune on one that has been specifically designed for you (why is this a trend for wedding dresses anyway?). Save yourself a ton of money by wearing a family member’s wedding dress (if they kept it). You can have it altered to fit you for far less that you’d spend on a brand new dress.

    You can also eschew the entire wedding gown tradition altogether. Who says you have to have a fluffy white dress? Spend some time looking through second-hand and vintage shops to find a dress you truly love. You might raise a few eyebrows, but what matters is that you love what you’re wearing.

    While you’re at it, skip the tux for the groom. Deck him out in a vintage (or, at least, vintage-looking) suit instead!

    And, of course, don’t force your bridesmaids and groomsmen to buy specific wedding attire either. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask them to stick to a color scheme or style guideline, but let them pick their own dresses and suits. The look will definitely be one to remember.

    Choosing a Venue

    The type of venue you choose is going to depend largely upon the size of your guest list. Keep in mind, though, that if you want to have a big wedding, you’ll likely need to have it outdoors if you’re trying to save money. This isn’t a big deal to many, but if you’d rather be inside consider limiting your wedding to your close friends and family.

    There is also something to be said for plain and minimal spaces. Remember: any space can be dressed up with twinkly lights (which you can borrow from your and your friends’ holiday decorations) and paper lanterns. You don’t have to use a bunch of crepe paper and wedding-specific decorations (like those weird folding bells). Keeping the decorations simple also adds elegance to the space. Even school gymnasiums look better when someone strings up the white twinkly lights.


    All hail Costco veggie and snack trays. They’re huge and extremely affordable. Setting up a buffet of crudités and other snackables is a great way to feed your guests and encourage them to mingle at the same time. Plus, when you take this approach, you can offer a wide variety of food. Planning a sit-down dinner is fraught with potential disaster: You risk offending the vegans, vegetarians, Paleo people, the gluten-free and your great aunt who swears that nobody with any taste would ever eat [insert exact food you love here].

    One of the best ways you can tie all of these tips together is to have your wedding at home (or a close friend or relative’s home). Hold the ceremony inside and the reception outside. Grill out or set it up as a picnic. You’ll save so much money you might even have enough left in your budget for a small honeymoon! And, of course, remember: The wedding is just one day. It’s better to approach it like a big party for everyone you love because somehow that feels less stressful. Perfection is overrated. And subjective.

  • 7/8

    Destination Wedding Survival Kit Bag, $2.45 by Etsy seller PaperArtScissors Think destination weddings are anti-BAB? Think again! Our editor Christen's first wedding was a destination shindig in Hawaii. BAB founder Dana originally considered heading south of the border. And can we all just take a minute to ogle this gorgeous Cabo wedding? Many a Broke-Ass has opted to jet away from their stomping grounds for their…

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    Metallic Banner by Etsy seller AlexisMattoxDesign Yay! You're engaged! Welcome to the wide world of Wedding Land. It can be a little scary and a lot fun (and don't worry, we're here to help you through all of it), but before we even delve into All Things Wedding, let's take it slow, boo. Getting engaged and being afficanced is this magical world between being coupled…

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    Credit: Alicia Robichaud The Guest List -- how big it is, who's on it -- is probably one the most important and difficult parts of the planning process.  My primary saving strategy has been to keep my wedding small.  When there is a per person cost, it seemed like the best way to keep costs down.  Mostly, though, I prefer quality to quantity. I'd rather spend time with a…

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    Since my last post, I decided that planning a wedding long distance wasn't quite enough stress for me. So, I decided to spice things up a bit and add moving across the country and starting a new job, all in less than a month! I think I might be losing it a little. My fiance and I have debated moving back to North Carolina for the…

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    My name is Emma, and I am a fiancée. In real life I work in marketing for a publishing company, and my fiancé, Michael, works in insurance. We live in Bristol, England, and have been a couple for 11 years. We have a date in mind for our wedding - October 8th, 2015. And yes, that is a Thursday. More on that in a forthcoming…

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    Hey Broke-Asses! It's been a hot second since we've had a Wedding Inspiration Guru around these here parts, and Kristy was uber excited to step into the shoes of some rockin' chicks before her. So if you're struggling with ideas to fit in your theme, need a little extra push to realize your vision or just want to ogle some gorgeousness, come play as she…

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    Via Pinterest I bet a lot of brides out there are like me: self-sufficient, independent, strong and insistent upon handling everything herself. It isn't a matter of being too stubborn to accept help. In it's purest form, it all boils down to the fact that we understand our vision better than anyone and it just makes the most sense to take care of everything yourself.…

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