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How to plan a beautiful wedding wedding For 5000 or less

The sceptics claim it can't be done, but hundreds of couples around the world are becoming clever wedding planners and achieving a beautiful wedding for less than $5000, £5000. They accomplished it, and you can too; keep reading to find out how!

How to plan a beautiful wedding wedding For 5000 or less

This guide is intended for couples with a set budget of up to $/£5,000. Venue and vendor expenses will, of course, vary depending on location, time of year, number of attendees, and so on. This is a starting point to show you how other couples created stunning weddings on a budget, and we hope you'll share your story and wedding planning adventure with us as well. Take a seat, pour yourself a brew, and settle in to enjoy this article that is packed with advice on how to plan a low-budget wedding.

how to plan a wedding for $5000

For a more detailed analysis of average vendor costs visit the weddingcalculator website.

How real wedding couples achieved the wedding of their dream for less than 5k!

I asked real wedding couples how they achieved the wedding of their dreams for less than $5000, £5000 and here are some of their replies with breakdowns of their wedding budget and costings. Some say it can't be done, it can and here they are to prove it! 

Note: posted with permission, replies edited for clarity, names changed to protect privacy. ALL costings are exactly as specified. 

View Our Real Weddings 'How We Did It' HERE

Sandra writes


We have spent about $3500 in total with odds and ends not listed. Sometimes you have to get creative but in the end it'll be all worth it.


  • We rented a Victorian house on airbnb that would hold our 55 guests and will also be our lodging since it has 5 bedrooms and sleeps 15 people. We have the wedding venue for two days and cost us $1000. It’s fully decorated and we are using their plates/glasses/etc. 
  • We have DJ equipment and a friend is going to play DJ and our moms will make the announcements.
  • A local bbq place is catering and cost us $500. 
  • We found a deal on a photographer that was running a special, $750.
  • Our friend is a baker and will be making custom cupcakes where each person can enjoy 2 cupcakes instead of one. $180.
  • We used the wedding alcohol calculator and will be spending $350 on alcohol (Costco alcohol is great and probably won't run as much as the estimate). We have a bartender who is working for tips, she will be pouring and refilling the dispensers along with wine and beer. We bought a pop up bar for $80 to put outside since the house didn't have one.
  • My wedding dress was $400 with $150 in alterations by a local seamstress.
  • Since the reception is outside we found propane heaters on fb marketplace for $100.
  • I made our bouquets with silk flowers from Michaels and Joann's, with coupons I spent $180 for 6 bouquets and floral table decorations.

Brianna writes

  • We rented out a private room $500 at this really nice hotel for dinner. It's a max of 40 people so dinner will be an average of $50 per person. Total $2,500
  • Afterward, we rented out a private section of the rooftop bar for drinks and dessert
  • No ceremony so no bridesmaids or bouquets and very minimal decor since the hotel is so nice that it doesn't really need it. 
  • I got my wedding dress at David's Bridal. 
  • I bought some candles from big lots for $30 during their 20% off coupon days, and a few more small decorative items from Marshalls/HomeGoods. 
  • I used to be a makeup artist so all I really need is a hairstylist for the day of. 
  • My groom found his suit on sale at the outlets. They have really nice suits at the Hugo boss outlet that we loved, and he's military so his discount helped out a lot!

Christine writes


Wedding venue is only $300 for 12hr timeslot in Ft. Worth, Texas.  

  • I am a DIY queen so I already have a lot of my decor, just need to assemble it. 
  • I plan to spend my bank on DJ and photographer.  I'm looking to possibly have a college student do my photography. 
  • We are doing pasta as our food option and my friend is a chef so we are just paying for the food cost. He is gifting his services. 

Georgins writes


My wedding cost under $4,000

  • I rented a flower farm for $1,500
  • Food was $1,000. 
  • My dress was $200 from Heebos
  • Decorations were $500 I made a lot of them. 
  • $500 for all desserts.  
  • Husbands tux and shoes were $200 
  • Drinks were around $500.

Victoria writes

  • We found our outdoor wedding venue by a lake for the day $98.
  • We bought a home portable stereo system to replace an actual DJ for $400
  • We're doing a potluck reception where everyone has already been volunteering to bring different trays of food .

Sara writes

With food, cake, DIY decorations and tents the reception will be around $2500. Yes it's possible.

  • Our budget wedding venue cost a little over a $1000 for 100 ppl, 4-hour slot, with dressing room. 
  • A friend is performing the ceremony for a case of beer and a hug.
  • We are doing an 'I do bbq' at a nearby park for the reception



A huge thank you to those generous brides who contributed with their wedding costings. We have many more real-life stories but let's get down to the nitty-gritty of how it's done. And if you'd like to help other brides with your real life under 5k wedding story please send us the details via our Real Weddings page contact form. 


real wedding less than $2000

NEW! Wedding Venues under 2k - Directory - FREE Listing

We want to create a resource for budget wedding couples to easily source hidden treasure wedding venues in their area. If you are a UK or US Wedding Venue Provider or a couple who knows of a wonderful venue for less than 2k, let us know via our contact form.  Meanwhile visit the FB group (this group is not mine) thread where couples are sharing their venues under 2k. This directory will be a while in the making!

How to bring your wedding venue and catering costs down to $2000 or less

  • Swap the hotel venue for a community hall
  • Swap professional caterers for self catering or hire a local food delivery service
  • Trim your guest list so your cost per head is less or so you can spend more per head!
  • Combine ceremony and reception venue, saving on venue, transport and decorations for two venues.

  • Your wedding venue can cost LESS than $2000 if you opt for a FREE Wedding Venue such as a garden, beach, park.

  • Have a late-in-the-day wedding ceremony followed directly by the reception saving on brunch, cocktail hour, and photography fees for a full day.

  • Have a bar and drinks arrangement where guests pay for their own drinks or 'bring a bottle'. 
  • Catering can be potluck, BBQ, Pig roast, grazing tables, 
  • Out of season, mid-week weddings can bring your wedding venue cost down by as much as 50%!

Any of these compromises will help you keep your venue and catering costs $2000 or below!

For a more detailed guide on how to make savings on your venue view our

How to bring your Photographer costs down to $750

Off-Peak, mid-week, 3-4hr booking, newly qualified, new business, special deals.


We have already covered some ways to save money on your wedding venue, and these same strategies may be applied to your photographer. A photographer can be hired for as few as 3-4 hours if the wedding is a late-day wedding, starting after 3 in the afternoon. They needn't stick around for the entire event if you hold the ceremony and reception closer together, later in the day. Photographers, like the venues, will lower their rates at slower times. A photographer who is either recently qualified or just starting out in the field may be willing to provide you with services at a lower price. 


On Facebook, I have found a number of professional photography deals that are within this price range. Check out their profiles and see if they are a good fit for you. Today on Fb a professional was offering his services FREE to build his portfolio. Keep your eyes peeled for these offers in your areaYou can of course opt not to have a professional photographer and hire a student, or rely on friends and family bringing the budget down greatly. The choice is entirely yours. 

Photo Album 4x6 600 Photos Black Pages Large Capacity Leather Cover Wedding Family Photo Albums Holds 600 Horizontal and Vertical Photos

Amazon Album 600 photos Under $25

Personally, for me, photos are one of the most important aspects so if you can spare more for a decent one, go for it.

How to bring your clothing costs to $750 or below

View our detailed Wedding Attire on a Budget Guide here for more details on how to make savings.

The wedding dress is typically the most expensive item when discussing wedding apparel, but this does not have to be the case. Many of the beautiful brides we've seen in Facebook wedding groups have purchased their gowns from nontraditional retailers including Amazon, preloved wedding dress websites, stillwhite, thrift stores, and more. A wedding dress that won't break the bank can be found for under $200.

The Grooms suit should be equally fabulous and can be purchased online, also via Amazon for less than $100 or hired.


For the couple's shoes, underwear, and other accessories, you can budget an extra $150.


Allot $300 for the outfits worn by the bridesmaids and groomsmen. This amount might cover the cost of waist coats ( $30 each) for 2 Groomsmen and 4 dresses ( $60 each) as an example of how the budget can be spread out. It is though  customary today for the honour attendants and groomsmen to cover the cost of their own attire. You might pitch in or inquire if they are willing to cover the cost of this.


If you don't have to contribute to these costs you can spend more on your own outfits or add this saving to something else that is more important to you.

cheapest bridesmaid dresses

View our Guides on how to bring down your costs on

Flowers and Decorations $300

Wedding Cake  $100

Music and Entertainment  $300

Invitations and Stationery $100

Transport $100 - This covers fuel and parking and maybe a ribbon for the bonnet! Use your own or family cars instead of hiring transport. This is of course easier to do if your wedding is local to where you are staying and even more so if the ceremony and reception are in the same place.

How to bring hair, makeup and nails costs down to $150

Many brides want professional services and to be pampered on their wedding day but if you're on a tight budget and you like how you do your own makeup and have a good idea of how to style your own hair you can forgo the professional costs of stylist and makeup artists who are fairly expensive when hired for a wedding day.


Book your cut and color a few days before and pay your salon regular price so your hair is in the best shape. Splurge on a few extra cosmetics, a base that will withstand the lights, last all day and look good in your photos.

Amazon Under $30

And if this is still outside your budget as salon costs vary quite a bit have a look at hair extensions and messy bun attachments. With bare minimum of skill you can achieve a lovely result.

Amazon Messy Bun Under $15

And girl, do your own nails! Lots of YouTube tutorials on how to or do what I do, pay less than $10 for a wedding set on Amazon and stick them on for the day! They look just as good and last a week if you ditch the dishes. Read the reviews!

Amazon Nails under $10

How to decorate your Wedding Reception Venue for less than $300  80 - 100 guests

Prepare your Pinterest Wedding board, because I'm about to reveal some amazing ways to spruce up your wedding reception venue without breaking the bank. And it won't be limited to only handcrafted, DIY, thrifted items. Our associate partners Amazon and Dollar Tree sell some truly incredible budget-priced wedding decorations that, with a bit of creativity, may become truly one-of-a-kind. Let's take a look at some of my favorite wedding reception trends.

Get this look for Less than $300

 Amazon.com Prices correct at time of posting Oct 5 2022 - as part of the Amazon associate program, we may receive a payment for qualifying purchases made following links from this site at no cost to you.

Amazon Costs:

6    x  Garlands    $120 

24 x  Tea Lights     $15

12 x  Jars                 $23

125 Napkins          $16

600 Dinnerware   $83

100 Tablemats      $30

4 Birdcages            $12 

Total                       $299


The beautiful line of greenery leaves and flowers that trace the length of the dining tables can be achieved with artificial Eucalyptus leaf and floral garlands. 


Set out some mini-mason jars filled with led tea lights and set them at intervals on either side of the garland as it winds it's way down the table. Compliment with kraft, rattan, gold and white dinnerware.

Table Decorations 6 x 6ft Garlands, 12 x Jars and 24 x Tea Lights - $158

10 people can be seated at an 8ft rectangle table, so these decorations will accommodate 6 x 8ft tables and up to 80 seated guests. The garland is 6ft ensuring a foot clear each end to accommodate the dining space needed for a guest seated at either end of the 8ft table.

These artificial Eucalyptus garlands from Amazon are roughly 6 feet in length, and each vine features eight white Camellia blossoms. The wire vine can be shaped in a variety of ways by bending or cutting it to suit your needs. These greenery garlands are ideal for wedding backdrops, arches, stairs, and tables. The imitation flower vines garland is made to endure and is entirely handmade. You can sell on after use or repurpose around your home after the wedding. Add a few mason jars along the length to hold small LED Tea light candles and you have a beautiful set of table decorations. You can source your mason jars from thrift stores, jam jars around the home or buy them inexpensively from Amazon.

24 x Tea Lights $15

12 x Jars $23

SHOP $16 x 125 

pricing correct at time of posting

CUSINIUM [125-pack] Kraft Unbleached 2-Ply Dinner Napkins | Size: 15" x 17" (Unfolded), 7.5" x 4.25" (Folded)

SHOP $83 x 100 place settings

pricing correct at time of posting

600 Piece Gold Dinnerware Party Set (100 Guest), 100 Dinner Plastic Plates, 100 Salad Gold Plates, 100 Gold Plastic Silverware Set, 100 Gold Plastic Cups Disposable Party Pack Wedding

SHOP 2 x 50 (100) $30

pricing correct at time of posting

50 Disposable Burlap Printed Paper Place Mats 11”x 17” Rectangle Rustic Natural Brown Chargers Place mat for Vintage Country Farmhouse Tan Table Setting

SHOP $12 for 4 x $3 birdcage decorations 

pricing correct at time of posting

Hollowed Iron Candlestick Continental Creative Home Bird Cage Pattern Metal Craft Decoration

We said "I do" with 80 guests and a wedding budget of $6000! 

Here's how we did it

by Marina

Marina viewed our cost graphic as shown above and posted the following in response, kindly granting permission to share the info here. I'm sure you will agree her and hubby did an amazing job!!

In Marina's own words:

" I had my wedding with a 6k and that’s pretty close to what I paid for. Venue was 2.5k and videographer was 1.5k. Photographer was $850, my dress was $85 (YES) and all my flowers $300 I bought from AliExpress. we had 80 guests! Food was from Shane’s Rib Shack and everybody loved it."

by Marina

by Marina

Thank you Marina for sharing your beautiful photos.

Venue :  $2.500   80 Guests

Videography:  $1,500

Photographer: $850

Wedding Dress  $85

Flowers and Decorations $80

Catering - Shane's Rib Shack

View more Real Weddings

5 Things You Can Ditch without a Hitch 

and save $5000 plus!

You can save money and stick to your $5000 wedding budget by forgoing a few of the traditions that tend to drive up the bill, without sacrificing much in the way of aesthetics or fun. Have a look at our suggestions for things you can easily say no to.

1. Ditch Wedding favors

Save $500

This is the first thing to ditch as many married couples will tell you they mainly get left behind after the wedding. Costing anything from $1 for some mints to $5 for a personalized votive candle, you could save as much as $500 (100 guests x $5).

SHOP Dollar Tree $1.25

Ditching non essentials like wedding favors is a great first step to sticking to your $5000 wedding budget.

2. Ditch Save the Dates

save $250

You can ditch these and go paperless opting to instead send digital save the dates or evites. You can buy an online save the date template from ETSY for as little as $3, download the edited template as a PNG image, and then email it to your guests. This could give you a saving of $250! ( 100 guests x $2.50 invite+postage). 

free wedding invitation templates

View Budget Invitation Ideas Here

3. Ditch a Venue

save $2000

You can make massive savings if you host your wedding ceremony and reception at a single venue. Having two venues means twice the price as well as the additional costs involved in transporting you and your bridal party to the second venue. Hiring cars and cabs can be costly depending on the distance and if you're driving ... no drinking! You can make even greater savings choosing a wedding date out of season and mid-week. A midweek, off peak wedding date could cut your wedding venue cost in half!

Free Wedding Venue Comparison Chart Printable

free wedding venue comparison chart

Download & PRINT Venue Comparison Chart 

via PDF DOC HERE

5 Tips for slashing venue costs even further!

Free and Low Budget Wedding Venue Ideas

4. Ditch the open bar

save $1000+

At weddings, guests typically drink heavily beginning with their arrival and continuing through the end of the reception. That's a lot of cash flushed down the toilet. If you'd like to cover the cost of your guests' first drink, you can implement a coupon system. 


Have trays of drinks ready to pass out to guests after the ceremony, and then have them foot the bill for the rest of the day's drinks. If you plan on self-catering, have your guests each bring a bottle of wine (or their own drinks). Find out if there are corkage fees and what guests can and cannot bring in advance from the venue.


Consider setting up a Cocktail bar with a friend or family member who is happy to be in charge. Get them to practice beforehand!


This can be a big hit with your guests. Buy some fun Glasses and get that party started!

Have a friend create DIY cocktails

Sanlan cocktail shaker, 12oz Martini Recipes Measured Mixing Glass and Stainless Steel Top cobbler shaker, Best Gift for Beginner Under $15

SHOP Cocktail Shaker

Set of 48 Light up Shot Glasses Flash Light up Cups Glow in the Dark. Under $45

SHOP AMAZON

5. Ditch the expensive Wedding Dress

save $1000+

There are so many wonderful wedding dress options that allow you to have your dream dress without breaking the bank. Your options are as follows:


How to make savings on your wedding dress, Groom suit and bridal party attire

3 Ways to slash your wedding venue costs in half 

It is possible to plan a wedding for less than $5000, though we won't pretend like it's easy or that it won't take some work on your part. You and your partner must both be willing to make sacrifices and determine which aspects of the wedding are most important to you. If you are willing to make some sacrifices and concentrate on what is most important to you, you should be able to plan a beautiful wedding for less than $5000. Here are our Top 3 tips for slashing your wedding venue costs in half, so you can easily have the wedding of your dreams for less than £5000, get comfy, grab a pen and start making notes! Better still head to our Freebies page and print out the $5000 or less Wedding Planning Guide and Checklists.

1. Set the wedding date out-of-season, midweek

Save $2,500

You can literally slash your wedding venue costs in half by getting married out of season and midweek! A $5000 venue can be had for $2500! If that includes catering, entertainment, decorations you can make massive savings!  

You may be worried your guests can't attend a midweek wedding, so ask them! hop on social media once your engagement is announced and sound them out. If you give them plenty of notice re the date they have time to book a day off work. Bearing in mind that these days many people also work weekends in any case. So for many, this is something they need to do already.

VIEW WEDDING VENUES FOR LESS THAN $1000

2. Have the wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue

save $500

Save on Transport and Decorations


Having your wedding ceremony and the reception in the same place is not only very convenient but it will allow you to cut down transport costs from ceremony venue to reception venue. If you are covering the costs to transport your whole bridal party, parents, groomsmen and parents etc. this can add up! In addition you will make savings on decorating to two venues. Less flowers, ribbons, balloons and signage.

3. Have a Starry Night Wedding and get married later in the day

save $1000

That's a lot of savings!! Getting married later in the day allows you to go straight to the reception after the wedding ceremony meaning that you don't have to feed, entertain or water (cocktail hour, brunch) in the space between events. 


Getting married at 4pm, gives you time for photos and enough daylight (till 6pm) when you're all ready for your evening meal. 

BUDGET Starry Night Navy Blue Gold Wedding INVITE BUDGET Starry Night Purple Blue Wedding INVITE

A Twilight, Starry Night, Celestial wedding theme could just be the answer. There are lots of stunning themes for late-day weddings.

LeahG Navy Blue Gold Agate STARRY NIGHT Wedding  All In One Invitation LeahG Navy Blue Gold Agate STARRY NIGHT Wedding  Flyer Van Gough Starry Night Wedding Invitation Postcard BUDGET  Starry Night Midnight Stars Wedding Budget Flyer Raven in the Moonlight Dark Sky Goth Wedding Inv

Low Budget Wedding Venue Ideas

To stick to your $5000 wedding budget consider the wedding venues that cost the least but offer lots of creative possibilities when it comes to catering, decoration, and entertainment. Check out our easy-to-follow lists for the cheapest budget wedding venue ideas and ways to keep the venue and catering costs down!

6 Tips For Cutting Your Wedding Venue Costs in Half

  1. Instead of having a venue for the ceremony and another for the reception, combine them and have one venue for both!
  2. Have an early morning wedding followed by a reception brunch instead of an all-day and night party.
  3. Book a weekday rather than a weekend day
  4. Book out of season, this is usually winter, colder months of the year
  5. Source a newly opened venue looking for clients, offering deals
  6. Pay in full in advance, generally, lower prices can be negotiated this way

8 FREE or Low Budget Wedding Venue Ideas

  1. Backyard Wedding
  2. Park
  3. By a River
  4. At the beach
  5. Community/Village/Church Hall
  6. Sports Hall
  7. Air B&B
  8. Clubs/Bars/Hotels (morning, weekday and out of season)

21 Questions to ask your venue

  1. Is the wedding venue available on your chosen date?
  2. How many guests can be accomodated, standing and seated?
  3. What time can we access the wedding venue to decorate?
  4. Can we get ready at the wedding venue?
  5. Is there a secure room to store the gifts?
  6. Is there disabled access, downstairs toilets?
  7. What is the timeline for the day?
  8. Is it an open bar, what are the bar prices?
  9. Can we bring a bottle, do you charge corkage?
  10. Can we instruct our own caterers, bring our own food?
  11. What is included in the venue hire package?
  12. How many serving staff will be there on the day?
  13. Is there accommodation for us and guests?
  14. Can we get a discount for block room bookings?
  15. Do you have a wedding cake stand or do we bring our own?
  16. Are there any other weddings on the same day as ours?
  17. What time do we have to leave?
  18. What are the cancellation terms?
  19. Can I have an itemised invoice - see a full breakdown of costs
  20. Insurance?
  21. Can we get a better price weekday, out of season, am booking?

We have some super handy checklists that you can print out to help you in your quest to find a low budget wedding venue that meets all your needs. Print your copy of our FREE wedding checklist set HERE.

7 step $5000 budget wedding planning guide

Planning a low-budget wedding for less than $5000 can be a challenge and the key to success is organization. Here to help you is the ultimate low budget wedding planning guide which you can use to kick start your $5000 wedding planning process and dip into as you go along. Grab a brew, take a pew and settle down for a good read!

7 Things you need to do at the start of your wedding planning journey

1. Set the Date

Many couples set their wedding date on average two-years from their date of engagement. This allows a full year to research themes, color schemes, venues, consider your budget, location and all the niceties of wedding planning. The real work though starts a year ahead of the wedding date as those ideas are put into motion.


View our detailed wedding planning timeline guide (Free to download and print including checklists) to stay on schedule.

View our Budget Wedding Save The Dates

2. Agree the wedding budget


  • Who is paying for the $5000 wedding? 
  • If you're sharing costs across families, gather all those involved to discuss how this will proceed.


Things to consider:


  • There are different cultural expectations and traditions when it comes to paying for weddings. My advice is not to assume or expect anything and to be open to discuss it with your families.
  • Will all the wedding money be given in advance and put in a special wedding savings account/pot?
  • Alternatively will individuals settle bills as they arise?
  • Will different persons have different costs they are responsible for?
  • Are you required to save ... can you save enough to settle the bills within the given timeframe / pay deposits?


3. Main Wedding Costs


  • Wedding Venue/s
  • Catering/Bar
  • Photographer/Videographer
  • Wedding Dress /Groom Suit
  • Rings 
  • Bridal party and Groomsman wear
  • Reception Band or DJ/Entertainment
  • H​oneymoon
  • Hotel bookings
  • Transport
  • Officiant

  • Florist / Decorations
  • Cake Maker / Cake
  • Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist
  • Transportation/Cars
  • Invitations/Stationery
  • Favors
  • Thank you gifts
  • Engagement Party/Photos
  • Bachelorette Party / Bridal Shower

View our Detailed Budgeting Guide

4. Agree the number of guests

Deciding on the number of wedding guests will help determine the wedding budget, cost of the wedding or vice versa. If you set the budget beforehand this in turn will dictate how many guests you are able to have for the ceremony and the reception. 


Your wedding budget and guest list combined will determine, large or small wedding, formal, informal wedding and lead you to selecting appropriate venues and so on. With a budget of less than $5000 to comfortably afford this you should be looking at a guest list of  75 or less. Catering alone can take a huge chunk of your budget when costed out per head! Will your guests have plus 1's and what about their children? 

5. Choose your Bridal Party & Groomsmen

The more bridesmaids, flower girls and groomsmen you have the more costs regarding clothing, shoes, hair, makeup, gifts, transport, hotel accommodation, flowers.


To keep your wedding budget under $5000 you should aim to have a small wedding party. A best man, maid of honor, bridesmaid or flowergirl may be enough.


Choose your bridal party and groomsmen and invite them formally to participate. Maid of honor, bridesmaids, flower girls, best man and ring bearers are sometimes given small personalized gifts when verbally asking them to fulfill that role. You can save money here by getting crafty and making your own proposal or thank you gifts. There are lots of ideas online, youtube videos to help you come up with some wonderful ideas.

View Our Detailed Wedding Attire Guide

Choose your Bridal Party

Choose your bridal party and groomsmen and invite them formally to participate. Maid of honor, bridesmaids, flower girls, best man and ring bearers are sometimes given small personalized gifts when verbally asking them to fulfil that role.  When you know who is in your team, you can decide on your dress budget, for yourself and or them.


Things to consider

  • Are you buying the Bridesmaid dresses or are they?
  • Are they all wearing the same or mix and match?
  • Are they likely to change in size (diet/pregnancy) between ordering the dress and the wedding?
cheapest bridesmaid dresses

6. Choose a wedding venue

When the wedding date is set, the wedding guest list is decided, the wedding budget is agreed you can take that information and start looking at wedding ceremony and reception venues. The wedding venue has the potential to be your biggest wedding cost so read our detailed guide on keeping your venue costs low here.

View Our Detailed Wedding Venue Guide

7. Prepare your wedding timeline planner

A wedding timeline guide will help you stay on track so you don't become overwhelmed with all the many things you need to do and when you need to do them. View our wedding timeline guide and print out our free wedding timeline checklists so you can keep a track of everything.

View Our Detailed Wedding Timeline Guide

Free Wedding Timeline and checklists​

PDF - View, Download and Print your FREE Wedding Timeline Guide and Planner

Budget Wedding Suppliers

How Dollar Tree can help you cut wedding costs!

There is a wide variety of reasonably priced wedding items available at Dollar Tree, such as glass vases for use as table decorations, handfans, and mini journals that can be used as gifts for the bridesmaids. Have a look at some of our recommendations, and then keep reading for some fantastic ideas for wedding planning that won't break the bank.

2yr Wedding Planning Timeline Guide

Yikes! What now that you're engaged?


It's time to start planning how you'll get ready for the big day! What is the first thing you do? Where do you even start? You will need a wedding timeline to help you organize and manage all aspects of your wedding preparations. If you're like me and like to plan things thoroughly, you'll have already begun planning your 2024/2025 wedding. 

Your wedding planning journey has begun even if you are only gathering ideas and creating a Pinterest mood board.


Setting a wedding date two years from the date of engagement gives you a full year to research themes, color schemes, venues, location, and other wedding planning details. It also gives you time to save the money needed to pay for everything. The real work, however, begins a year before the wedding date, when those ideas are put into action.


How to Create Your Own Wedding Planning Schedule


Wedding planning can take anywhere from eight to sixteen months. Priorities must be established because each couple's wedding timeline will be unique. Determine how many months or weeks you want to devote to each interval before the wedding. It is advised that you divide your wedding timeline into time intervals. Make a decision on a date and location for your wedding ceremony and reception. After you have completed all of the time-consuming tasks, it is highly recommended that you create a wedding website. 


Make a list of everything you want and start putting together your gift registry. It is recommended that you send out invitations six to four months prior to the event. You should be working with your caterer to finalize the menu, ordering wedding favors, and arranging transportation for your wedding guests. Last but not least, remember to buy your wedding bands. It is critical that you meet with your photographer and videographer to discuss how you want the entire wedding ceremony and reception to be captured on film.


A wedding planning timeline


Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good starting point.


1-2yrs

  1. Set a date for the wedding. Everything hinges on this!
  2.  Determine your wedding style by deciding whether you want a large or small wedding, a formal or informal reception.
  3. When planning a large wedding, you might want to consider hiring a wedding consultant to help you out. It will be worth your time!
  4. Who will contribute to the overall cost? Determine how much money is available by meeting with those who will contribute to the cost of expenses.
  5. After you've decided on a date, reserve the locations for the ceremony and reception. A deposit is usually required.
  6. Choose your maid/matron of honor, bridesmaids, best man, groomsmen, and other members of your wedding party.
  7. Begin assembling your guest list. Once you know how many people will attend, you can estimate how much the reception will cost. This is usually the most costly item.

1yr

  1. Send Save-the-Date cards to everyone on your guest list to ensure that your wedding is attended by as many people as possible. Guests will make reservations months in advance!
  2. Create a wedding gift registry at your neighborhood department store.
  3. Meet with the person who will officiate at your ceremony, whether it is a priest, a local official, or someone else.
  4. Hire a caterer/menu designer, a cake baker, a florist, a band/musicians/dj, a photographer, and a videographer (after meeting with them and viewing samples of their work).
  5. Purchase or make a decision on your wedding dress, headpiece/veil, underwear/pantyhose/bra, shoes and jewelry.

6months

  1. Arrange for any engagement photos to be taken. This is a fantastic opportunity to get a sense of the photographer.
  2. Choose a location for your honeymoon. It is necessary to make reservations.
  3. Select and purchase dresses and accessories for the bridesmaids to wear.
  4. Make a decision on and place orders for groomsmen formal wear, such as tuxedos, shoes, and other accessories.
  5. Select wedding colors and themes so that mothers can begin shopping for their mother-of-the-bride outfits.
  6. Send your wedding invitations.

4 months

  1. Make certain that the wedding dress fits and have any adjustments made.
  2. Make a final decision on the guest list.
  3. Investigate hotel options for out-of-town guests who will be visiting.
  4. Send out your wedding invitations as soon as possible if you didn't do so already. Don't leave it any later! Guests need advance notice to arrange time off work, travel, child sitters and more.
  5. Begin purchasing items for your wedding ceremony, such as a unity candle, a ring bearer pillow, a flower girl basket, a guest book and pen, a garter, and other accessories.
  6. Begin purchasing reception-related items, such as favors, a cake topper, decorations, centerpieces, toasting glasses, a cake serving set, and so on.

3 months

  1. Determine your mode of transportation to the wedding - limo, trusted friend, etc.
  2. Set the date and location for the rehearsal and dinner.
  3. Make final arrangements for the honeymoon and ensure that all necessary paperwork has been completed. If you require a passport, obtain one immediately!

2 months

  1. Confirm with vendors, such as the caterer/menu, the bakery for the cake, the florist, the musicians/band/dj, the photographer, and the videographer.
  2. Check your rsvps.
  3. Keep track of who is planning to attend and who isn't.
  4. Place an order for wedding programs for the ceremony. Meet with the priest or other official to finalize the details of the ceremony.
  5. As a thank you, purchase gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
  6. Buy something special for your groom.
  7. Finalize the seating arrangements for the reception and other final details.
  8. Write out the placecards - enlist the assistance of your bridesmaids for this task.
  9. Confirm with everyone who will be attending that they are aware of the location and time of the rehearsal dinner.
  10. Compile a list of name change forms (bride).
  11. Make your wedding vows.
  12. Prepare any toasts or speeches that you want to give. Make sure the best man and maid of honor are on the same page about their speeches so there are no surprises.
  13. Apply for a marriage license.

1 month

  1. Have your hair and makeup trial if you haven't already.
  2. Check that your dress is a good fit (bride and bridesmaids).
  3. Keep a list of wedding gifts you've already received, thank you notes you've sent out, and an RSVP list for your guests to make it easier to remember who's coming.
  4. Make certain that all wedding helpers are aware of their responsibilities, including the reader, guest book attendant, gift table attendant, ushers, ring bearer, flower girl, servers, and cleanup crew.

1 WEEK

  1. Confirm everything with all of your vendors one last time.

  2. Confirm the location of the ceremony and reception with the venue coordinator.
  3. Confirm with the caterer/hotel that the final guest count for meals has been received.
  4. Prepare your suitcases for the honeymoon trip.
  5. Pick up the wedding gown and store it in a secure location. Last but not least, double-check your fit!
  6. The groom and his attendants must collect their outfits and store them in a secure location. Check for proper fit!
  7. Put together a wedding-day emergency kit, which should include items such as tissues, a sewing kit, deodorant, cameras, extra pantyhose, makeup, a mirror, a toothbrush, breath mints, and so on.
  8. Go to bed at a consistent time each night so that you look your best on your wedding day.
  9. Take it easy. You're almost ready to exchange wedding vows!


free wedding timeline printable
free wedding time printable checklist

On the Day - How To Create A Wedding Day Itinerary

Your itinerary will assist you, your Bridal Party, and Family in determining where they need to be and when they need to be there. 

Begin with broad swaths of time from the end of the reception; once the broad swaths of time are established, you can fill in the details. The first thing you must do is determine the end time of the reception. When are you required to exit the reception hall? Once you've gathered that information, you'll need to allow time for clear up, unless you've made arrangements to do so the following day.

Allow at least two hours for deconstruction, whether you are doing it yourself or hiring someone to do it for you. If you're in a hotel's reception hall, the party is typically cut off at midnight to allow their staff to clean up and your group to tear down. The Hotel is not obligated to remove your decor; this is your responsibility. You will need to return all rentals to their original boxes. Linens do not need to be folded; they are typically placed in laundry-style bags to be returned.

CAUTION: Ensure that you understand how linens and other rental items should be returned. Are they going to collect them or are you going to be responsible for returning them? Additionally, if they must sit for a day before being returned to the rental location, store them in a cool, dry location. If you store them in the garage following the large outdoor tent wedding, where the temperature is 80 degrees and the humidity is 90 percent, they will mildew and you may be held liable for the additional cleaning fees!

You have four hours of open bar. 

Even if you have a limited bar, this is the general amount of time, one hour of cocktails, and then the bar will close for an hour before reopening for three more hours. Assuming you end the night at 12 a.m. minus three hours, you arrive at 9 p.m. when the dance floor is opened.


Allow an hour to an hour and a half for dinner and cake.

This will also vary according to the number of guests and whether the meal is plated or buffet. Buffet service will take slightly longer; inquire with your caterer. They'll have a good idea of their capacity for feeding people. Therefore, for the sake of argument, it is a plated dinner, and we allow them an hour for dinner and cake. 


This brings us to 7:30 PM, when dinner will begin. This provides some cushioning. 7:30 p.m. minus time for guests to enter and be seated, your Bridal Party Introduction and "For the First Time Ever, We Introduce Mr. and Mrs...", your grand entrance into the dining room, and the hour of cocktails. 7:30 minus one and a half hours equals 6 p.m. Are you beginning to see how to accomplish this?


Cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m.

The ceremony will take place in the small town where you grew up, approximately 20 minutes from the reception. You must allow sufficient time for your guests to travel from the ceremony to the reception. Uncle Bob is a slow driver; allow them a half-hour to drive. Without a doubt, after the ceremony, people will mingle, and you will have them throw rose petals at you as you exit the Church.


Thirty minutes will be allotted for the ceremony (You know this because you asked the Minister how long it will take.) 6 p.m. minus thirty minutes for driving, 5:30 p.m. minus a half hour for socializing, taking pictures, and throwing petals, and you're at 5 p.m. minus thirty minutes for the ceremony, Ta Da, 4:30 p.m. ceremony start time.


Create a list of everything that needs to be accomplished that day:

Hair, makeup, and pictures of you getting dressed (Are you getting dressed at home or at the ceremony location?) Are you planning to see each other prior to the ceremony? I will admit that some girls are adamant about this, but seeing each other prior to the ceremony makes life so much easier. 


You can complete all of your photographs. Additionally, the first time you see each other can be quite moving. This moment is entirely yours! You will have time to converse and express your feelings. It's likely to be the final private moment of the day.


Communicate with your photographer; they will have a timeline for when they will complete tasks; incorporate his timeline into yours.


Typically, a 4:30 wedding will begin photographs at 1 PM, which means you must be dressed and ready to go at that time. Family members will need to know when they are expected to arrive for photographs. 3 p.m. should suffice. Appointments for hair and makeup should be scheduled with sufficient time to ensure that EVERYONE is completed and returned on time. 


Consult your stylist for an estimate of how long things will take and go from there.

Now that you have the tools, you can begin scheduling.

wedding gift ideas

How to save money on wedding attire

plus size wedding dresses

Dress Shopping


We both know you started looking at wedding dresses as soon as he popped the question right? Wearing a wedding dress might be the only time in your life you put on a dress. It is a very special occasion and the dress itself, being a once-worn only item is a big part of your day. You can never start 'looking' too early. Just don't be tempted to make a rash decision you may regret later.


Make wedding dress shopping an event


Take your mum/s, girly friends or one special person and book ahead to ensure you get a proper amount of attention. If you're buying a wedding dress online, read all the reviews and pay very close attention to the size guides. When factoring costs allow a budget for alterations and do some research so you know what these might be as they can work out more expensive than the dress.


Also consider wedding dress accessories such as little purse or bag, a belt, veil/train, undergarments, underskirt and of course any jewelry.




Save money on your Wedding Dress

  • Pre-Loved - Worn once, specialist cleaned, can be as much as 75% less than the original purchase price. If going this route ensure you allow a small budget in case you need alterations and give yourself a LOT of time to hunt down the perfect dress. There are lots of Facebook groups and eBay lists etc. as well as Charity, Thrift stores that sell wonderful pre-loved wedding gowns.
  • Online Dress Supply - You can make huge savings. From what I've seen so far re Online Dresses on Facebook groups is that the bride while delighted, often the dress isn't quite like the promotional photo, so make sure you read the reviews and keep your expectations realistic. Look at customer photos that are posted with reviews. Most importantly ensure your measurements as provided to them are spot on.
  • Borrow - sometimes a family member or friend has a wedding dress that they are happy to loan you with no cost to you other than specialist cleaning afterwards.
  • Make it Yourself - if you have the skill why not? I saw a beautiful wedding gown recently a bride crocheted! It was stunning. Many of us don't have those skills however, but if you do ... worth considering and what a wonderful sentimental keepsake that would make.
  • Buy a Prom Dress Instead - many prom dresses look a lot like wedding gowns and they're much cheaper. Most guests would never know the difference, especially if you're choosing a color other than white/ivory.

The Groom


We mustn't forget the guys! Your groom-to-be will usually do his wedding suit shopping at the same time as his groomsmen as they all tend to wear the same thing with a little spin of originality for the Groom. A different colored waistcoat, a cravate, pocket square, tie etc. Maybe a slightly sharper, darker or lighter suit.

Bridesmaid Dresses

cheapest bridesmaid dresses

As well as bride and groom outfits, your Bridal Party and Groomsmen need fitting out with clothes, shoes, accessories, flowers! That's a lot of expense especially if you're planning on having a big entourage. The best way to keep costs down in this regard is to keep your bridal party small to non-existent. This may however NOT be possible if you have a large family and friends list who want to play an  active role on your special day.


What to do?

 

Explain to your enthusiastic following that you're on a budget and need to keep things simple but elegant. Advise them you'd love to have them included but being realistic it's only going to be possible if they are able to contribute themselves to the costs of their outfits and accessories.


If you're not dictating what they wear (outside of color theme) then this request is NOT unreasonable as they'd generally be buying something to wear to your wedding in any case. If they can't do this, they themselves are opting out of the bridal party and so that takes care of the 'we want to be in it' issue.


Color theme- different styles


Brides find that having a color theme and allowing their Bridal Party to choose their own dress style (perhaps specify a length) within that color scheme is an option the ladies embrace. And the photos look lovely. Just ensure all the colors go well together (paint sample charts are great for color matching).

Ask them to pay/contribute to the cost

Same sex couples


If you're a same sex couple you may want to surprise each other or shop together for co-ordinating outfits. You may both opt to wear the same. Lots of options, the sky's the limit and there are no rules.

magenta bridesmaid dresses
sage green bridesmaid dresses
terracotta bridesmaid dresses
plum purple bridesmaid dresses

Mix and Match Your Bridesmaids 

Here's why! 


Expecting all your bridesmaids to look fabulous and most importantly feel fabulous in the exact same dress as the woman standing next to them is expecting a lot! 


They will have different body shapes, complexions and their own individual style. And if you love them enough to want them to be part of your big day, you surely love them enough to want them be comfortable on your big day? 


This is why at the Low Budget Wedding Network we were delighted when mixing and matching bridesmaids and flowergirl dresses began to trend. The different styles and shades look fabulous together (as long as you harmonize them correctly - more on that later) and they really are the way forward for millenium wedding couples. 


Don't be stuck in the dark ages with everyone looking the same. 


No one will outshine you as the bride in your beautiful dress so you can be confident enough to let your bridesmaids, your faithful entourage, compliment your chosen wedding theme in an original way. Mixing and matching bridesmaids dresses in color, length and style is also a great way to ensure your wedding bridal party doesn't look like a carbon copy of anyone elses. 


pink blush bridesmaid dresses

Take your mixing and matching to a new level by having two complimentary colors working together. See below for ideas of trending colors and ideas of how mixing and matching bridesmaids and flowergirl dresses can really work to your advantage.

mint green purple bridesmaid dresses
gold bridesmaid dresses
dusty blue bridesmaid dresses
dusty rose bridesmaid dresses

What wedding dress style is best for your body shape?

If you're looking to flaunt your curves, choose a silhouette that does just that. A dress that fits closely in the chest and waist and skims over the hips and thighs will draw attention to those areas. A Mermaid or Trumpet dress may be perfect for you if you have an hourglass form and are searching for something that will make you feel and look sensual. 

SHOP MERMAID WEDDING DRESSES ON AMAZON

The sheath or column dress is most flattering on long and slim forms. This style has an elongating effect so is good for shorter brides but it does not do a good job of masking problem regions, such as a bigger lower body. Boxy women who lack natural curves might fake the appearance of having one by wearing an extra bodice or sash to draw attention to their waist.

SHOP COLUMN WEDDING DRESSES ON AMAZON

Dresses that end at the knee are universally flattering because they accentuate the waist and skim over the hips, making the wearer appear slimmer. For brides of larger stature, the retro tea dance style is a popular option since it draws attention where we want it (the bust and ankles) and conceals where we don't (the bottom, stomach, and hips).

SHOP TEA LENGTH BRIDE DRESSES ON AMAZON

The fitting bodice of a ball gown is contrasted with a dramatic voluminous skirt. The ball gown is flattering for most women since it draws attention to the waist and covers the hips and thighs. The tight bodice and natural or dropped waist of this style will enable those with a larger breast achieve the desirable hourglass silhouette.

SHOP BALL GOWN BRIDE DRESSES ON AMAZON

The Trumpet (flows outwards from the waist) and Empire gown (raised waist so it sits below bust) are both good If your figure is straight.  Dresses of this kind will help to draw attention to your curves and provide the impression of more curves. A Trumpet or Empire style is a good choice.

SHOP TRUMPET WEDDING DRESSES ON AMAZON

If you want to hide your belly, use a long, flowy skirt with a high, fitting waist. Dresses that cinch in at the narrowest point of your waist and then flare out over your stomach, hips, and thighs are ideal if you have an apple shape or just want to hide your stomach. If you want to hide your hips and thighs, choose an A-line skirt.

SHOP A-LINE WEDDING DRESSES ON AMAZON

How to Budget For Your Wedding

Make the Guest List


Once you've decided on your bridal party and groomsmen, sit down together as a couple and make a wedding guest list. Couples have different 'rules' re this but generally they split it down the middle inviting an even number of guests for each side.


In some cases the bride or the groom may have a smaller friend or family guest list in which case you can agree between you how 'balanced' the list is and if that is even important. If there is a big discrepancy between bride and groom guest numbers avoid the different seating arrangements for the ceremony as it will be less obvious.


Guest A, Guest B, Guest C - which are you?


There is a funny meme floating around on social media about a bride who revealed the fact she had tiers of guests who may or may not make it to the final cut! The process of who determining who you most want at the wedding is normal, announcing it to the guests, definitely not!


Make a list (and keep it private) of those you know for certain will be there, you can't get married without them. These will be your nearest and dearest family and friends. And perhaps your boss.


Plus 1's and children?


When you've compiled this list, consider whether you're allowing plus ones and children, because the numbers will double/treble when you factor that in! From here, decide who else you may like to be there if space and finances allow. And again, consider who they might bring with them.

Family Politics


There will be all manner of family politics involved with creating the guest list. Parents, friends and siblings may have their own ideas about who should come to your wedding! Stand firm, this is your wedding, do not be bullied into having a bunch of people you don't know or care about at your wedding. And if it gets too stressful, there is always elopement!


Cost per head


When you have your wedding guest list you can work out the cost per head for food, drinks, favors and more.

5 Ways to Save Money On Wedding Flowers

SHOP

Burnt orange, ivory, Wedding bouquet, beige, Tan, champagne, bridal bridesmaids bouquet, boho bouquet, spring summer fall wedding.

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Wedding bouquet, burgundy and ivory bouquet, boho bouquet, bridal bridesmaids bouquet, rose and eucalyptus

1. Have a Color theme rather than a flower theme

The florist can more easily make a bouquet, garlands based on color than incur extra costs sourcing the flowers by type.

budget wedding flower ideas
budget wedding flower ideas

View our Wedding Flower Gallery

2. Fresh v Artificial Flowers

Real flowers may cost less than artificial depending on where you buy them. Some flower market stalls will make up a bouquet inexpensively for you to collect the morning of your wedding.  

budget wedding flower ideas
budget wedding flower ideas

View our Wedding Flower Gallery

3. Grow Your Own or pick your own Wedding Flowers

You can plan ahead if you have green fingers and grow your own flowers for your bouquet and table decorations.


You may have a friend or family member with a garden who is happy to supply flowers for your day. When I did a flower arranging course I always used flowers from my mother's garden. This idea is perfect for a boho, rustic themed wedding.

5. How to save money with artificial flowers

There are many silk, paper, rubber wedding flower options today that look every bit as fabulous as the real thing and of course they last longer and you don't have to worry about timing and storage. You can also try your hand at making these yourself following a YouTube tutorial to make further savings.

budget wedding flower ideas

4. DIY Flower arrangements and bridal bouquets

I made my own floral centerpieces for the reception tables and was able to use the flower arrangements left behind from the previous wedding! Matching it all up wasn't my priority so I took what was offered. If you're going this route, have a few practice runs so you know what you're doing and what flowers work best. You can be very creative with rustic themes, using glass jars as vases and strings of LED lights.

Season Wedding Bridal Bouquet Ideas 2023

The flowers in the bridal bouquet, as well as the bouquets carried by the bridesmaids, should complement the wedding's overall color scheme and the time of year. Wedding flower bouquets, boutiners, and corsages in spring, summer, fall, and winter colors and themes are displayed here. ETSY has some fantastic deals right now.

SHOP

Burnt orange, ivory, Wedding bouquet, beige, Tan, champagne, bridal bridesmaids bouquet, boho bouquet, spring summer fall wedding.

SHOP

Wedding bouquet, burgundy and ivory bouquet, boho bouquet, bridal bridesmaids bouquet, rose and eucalyptus