Most of us have thought about our big day at least once. Some of us dream of big elegant banquets, while other's dreamed up the laid back route. Whatever big day you've dreamed of, you're not wrong, so reach for your dreams, but remember what is most important...You're marrying the love of your life!
For those of us, that dreamed of the laid back dream day, there are many options, from full wedding days on a budget to private elopements. But, no matter what option you choose, getting married doesn't have to be expensive. You can plan an amazing day, for WAY less than you think!
I've gone through and gathered some of the things I believe make for an awesome elopement! Depending on your area and tastes, prices can vary, but I have listed some of the prices I was able to find in my area.
For some people, the dress is a waste of money, but I think if it makes you happy, it's important! This can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you want it to be, but set a budget and stick to it. Please, do not going into buying a dress, thinking you'll sell it afterward and make a lot of your money back. Over the years maybe 10% of my brides, who wanted to sell their dresses actually ended up selling them for anywhere near what they wanted. While the rest didn't end up selling them, donated them or sold them for around $100.
Over the last few years, I have been picking up dresses for stylized shoots, that I love to do as a creative outlet! All of the dresses I've picked up have been $100 or less and most of them were under $50! You can find a dress anywhere or make one yourself, if you are crafty! And, don't get in the mind set it has to be a “wedding dress”. Any dress is a wedding dress, if you wear it to your wedding!
Okay, so it doesn't have to be a suit. He could wear whatever worked for your vision of the big day! Khakis shorts and a white button up with the sleeves rolled up? Those black dress pants in the back of the closet and the white dress shirt he picked up at the thrift store, that he wears to every formal event you go to? An inexpensive suit he picked up from a department store, when he was best man in a friends wedding? Heck ya! All of the above are great options. What is important is that he's dressed right!? I mean, unless you're planning a wedding at a nudist colony.
No matter what the two of you pick, here are my tips. Make sure it fits! Too often, I see guys in these generic dress pants that don't fit properly in the length or don't stay above their butt crack and they have to keep hiking them up. Second, don't buy a tie from a department store! Oh my gosh! Kane and I had to pick up a red tie for our valentine's day photo shoot, we did with another area photographer, and let me tell you! I had no idea ties could be that expensive from somewhere as everyday as Kohl's. (No shade to Kohl's, but WOW!) The only red tie we could find was $55 and that was not going to happen! We found an awesome tie at a local thrift store, that looked brand new, for $3!
This is a touchy subject, because I do not want to step on anyone's toes, in the floral industry, but I have to be honest with you. Floral can be very expensive. There are so many factors that go into wedding floral or any kind of floral arrangements, that can change the price.
So the question is, Real or Fake? Live or faux? That is the question, you have to ask yourself. And, only you can decide which is best for your vision. Both can have budget friendly options.
I reached out to a florist, I know, based out of Michigan, who provided us some tips, to keep your floral costs low, when selecting a florist, for your big day! First, pick in season and even better, in season and locally grown floral! Second, avoid costly stems, by using look a-likes. An example of this, could be peonies for roses. Third, go simple. By picking one or two types of stems, your florist can buy in bulk and keep the cost down! Fourth, repurposed your flowers, by picking a bouquet that can double as a centerpiece, if you're having a small reception afterward! Fifth, ask if you can bring in a few stems from your own garden, to help keep the cost down! Some florist allow couples to bring some of their own flowers, to be included in their bouquet. It doesn't hurt to ask!
She also suggested a sort of cheat sheet, for floral prices, which of course can vary depending on your season and location, but it might help!
Least expensive: daisies, chrysanthemum, baby's breath and dahlias
Middle ground: tulips, roses, calla lilies, hydrangea, and anemones
Most expensive: orchids, peonies, lily of the valley
Okay, so maybe real floral isn't in your budget. Completely okay! You can do one of two things, scrap it all together or find an alternative.
For alternatives, you can purchase pre-made fake flower bouquets from somewhere like Michael's or Joann's. At the time of writing this article, Michael's had their cheapest bouquet for $7.99, which was a cute little white rose and hydrangea bouquet, and their most expensive one for $64.99, which was a succulent bouquet. Plus they had a 20% off coupon going!
Another alternative would be to pick up some flowers from your local grocery store and wrap some white ribbon around the stems, to make your own bouquet! My local Kroger had single Hydrangeas for as low as $2 and big fancy bouquets with 25-30 steps for $30. Just keep in mind, you've got to get a little crafty to make it look like a wedding bouquet!
If flowers aren't your thing, you can always try one of these options: A lantern, button bouquet, broach bouquet, a parasol, a feather bouquet, or even balloons! No matter what you pick, let's be honest, it's more for something to do with your hands in pictures, so don't feel pressured to pick one, if you want to leave it out all together.
Officiant and Marriage License
Unlike flowers, a marriage license is not optional, unless you don't care if your marriage is legal in the eyes of the government. But if you do, you've got to have one. I sadly, don't have any budget friendly tips for this, but they're usually pretty inexpensive, to start with. Our local court house only charges $25 for them.
The officiant is another of those things that can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you choose. I've been told by some brides, they paid $1,000 for their officiant, while my husband and I only paid $150. An even less expensive option could be having someone you know, who is ordained marry you! They may charge you less than someone who doesn't know you. A friend of mine, had her brother marry them and he charged them nothing, but the cost of him getting ordained online!
This is another tricky one, because traditional weddings can absolutely break the bank. Their prices are justified, as they have expenses and overhead to cover, on top of the astronomical insurance prices they have to pay, but sometimes, it's not in the budget. I get it, really I do, because we had to settle for a less than ideal location for our reception, because we refused to pay thousands for our venue.
I gathered a few inexpensive or free wedding venues that pay help you plan a dream day on a budget!
Parks! Some parks have inexpensive fees for rentals or could even be free! When Kane and I got married, we picked a park just down the street from our house and they charged us nothing, because we didn't want to decorate and planned to have less than 20 people, including ourselves!
Restaurants and Breweries! Some restaurants, bars and breweries have back rooms that they rent out for free, as long as you purchase a certain number of dinner! I've even been to a brewery that allows photos onsite for free, so it wouldn't hurt to ask if you could have a quick small ceremony there in the early afternoon, before they get busy!
Your Home Or a Family Member's Home! Sometimes the best places are right in our own back yards! Literally! If you love your yard, why not have your wedding ceremony there!? You can't get better than free!
The Court House! Okay, I know what you're thinking! I really do, but not ALL court houses are ugly! Do a little digging locally and I bet you can find a hidden gem! Most court houses will allow a few people in with you and even your photographer!
Airbnb! There are some amazing finds on airbnb that allow events! And if it is small enough, it wouldn't hurt to ask the host if it would be okay to have your 5 person ceremony in the back yard! But seriously, definitely ask! I would hate for you to get in trouble, for not asking.
This will be a VERY unpopular opinion, with my fellow photographers, but photography is not required for your wedding day. I strongly believe it is VERY important, so if you can find it in your budget, I definitely think you should hire a professional. As much as we love Aunt Linda, she's not a professional photographer and isn't going to know how to make the best of a bad wedding day situation.
There are professional photographers to fit everyone's budget and style preferences! So please, even if you are on a budget, at least do a little digging, before scratching it off the list, thinking it won't fit your budget! At the time of writing this article, our elopement packages start at $300, but for the most up to date pricing, please contact us.
Okay, wow! I went on WAY too long. But, I hope you found that helpful and now believe you can have an awesome elopement or wedding on a budget!
I did a little price configuring and this is what I came up with for the cheapest of the cheap budget elopements and a standard budget elopement, with everything listed above.
Drum roll, please!
This is how it breaks down: a used dress from a thrift store $20, his outfit using the button up shirt and dress pants he already has and a thrift store tie $5, marriage license $25, officiant free by using a family or friend who is licensed, venue free by using a local park or courthouse, bouquet and boutonniere by DIYing with grocery store flowers $25, and T.Lynn photography's smallest elopement package that includes ceremony coverage and bride and groom portraits up to one hour starting at $300! That's less than $400 for your cheapest of the cheap budget elopements!
This is how it breaks down: A new dress from a store like Lulu's or Amazon for $100, a pair of nice khakis he already owns and a new white button up shirt $25, marriage license $25, officiant $150 by by hiring a professional officiant, renting an airbnb for $100 a night, purchasing bouquet and boutonniere from a local florist for $100, and T.Lynn photography's small elopement package that include ceremony coverage and a couple of local photography locations starting at $500! That's $1,000 for a standard elopements!
As a disclaimer, I can not guarantee any of these prices. Any quoted price was what I could find online at the time of writing this article or what I have been able to purchase myself. Prices can and will vary for your area, so be sure to do a little digging, to see what you can do with a budget elopement! Prices listed in this article for T.Lynn Photography's services are current prices, at the time of writing this article, but are subject to change at any time.
If you'd like more information on our wedding or elopement packages, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form here on our website!
Photographs used in the article are owned by T.Lynn Photography.
Floral was provided by @Leash.Gonzalez on Instagram
Officiant services provided by Kane Anderson, who is also our second photographer! (Check with us, if you'd like him to officiate your elopement, to make things easier!)
This couple is a real couple, but did not actually elope, for this stylized shoot.