Budget breakdown for a $2k wedding (yes, that includes the honeymoon!)

Guest post by Katy
An intimate and majestic Middle-earth elopement in New Zealand (with a rainbow!)
Photo by Dawn Thomson from this elopement. (This isn't the author's wedding!)

My partner and I got married for about $2,100 TOTAL – including rings, clothes, and honeymoon. By the way most people seem to count their wedding budgets (i.e., not counting costs of rings and honeymoon), it was closer to $200. Today, I'm going to do a budget breakdown of how we did it.

How do you have a $2000 wedding?

The key, I think, is to realize how much you DON'T need to buy. You'll still be just as married at the end of the day. Here's the breakdown of our $2k wedding budget:

  • Officiant fee + wedding license = $80
    We scheduled time with a court-provided officiant. In my county, you can make appointments and the people aren't technically at the courthouse but in offices near it. These same court-provided people could also offer to meet you at a location.
  • Rings = $1,100
    We purchased rings from Etsy and I skipped the engagement ring–I wear only a beautiful band that resembles a wedding band, which I noticed a lot of women around me seem to switch to anyway a few years after their weddings.
  • Dress = $80
    I bought an adorable tea-length dress on Modcloth. Though if I lived in a city with better vintage stores, I would have bought my dress there.
  • Honeymoon = $800
    We wanted a very low-key honeymoon with time to reflect on our new status anyway, so we rented an upscale cabin on Airbnb within driving distance.
  • Flowers = $20
    I bought one bunch of daffodils at the grocery store the morning of my wedding. I wrapped three of them in floral tape (that the floral manager gave me for free from his stash when I asked if the store sold any) to make a mini-bouquet. We snipped a fourth one short and pinned it to my husband as a matching boutonniere. The rest went into a vase on my table to greet us when we got home from the ceremony.
  • Reception = $0
    Our “reception” was inviting about a dozen people to meet us for dinner at our favorite restaurant. Everyone paid for their own meal. Done. We also considered a potluck wedding.
  • Photography = $0
    I have an old, used DSLR camera that I bought months ago at a local camera store to play with. I handed it to my (non-photographer) friend and invited her to snap the ceremony. Instant pictures, totally free. Incidentally, the camera only cost about $250, which is still less than hiring a photographer, so I would still consider it a deal even if I hadn't already owned the camera.

Things we skipped to keep our wedding budget under $2000

Yes, if you're going to have a $2k wedding budget,  you are going to have to make some sacrifices and compromises. Here are some of the traditional wedding costs we skipped.

  • food
  • wedding cake
  • rehearsal dinner
  • fancy dress I'd never wear again
  • suit (my husband just wore one he already had)
  • florist-made bouquet
  • ceremony venue
  • reception venue
  • engagement ring
  • photographer
  • officiant
  • wedding planner (even though I know they can actually save you more money than you pay them!)

Yes, our wedding was simple. But I remember it as perfect, and still one of the happiest days of my life. All the traditional events and trappings would have just been a distraction for me. I would have ended up worrying about pulling all that off smoothly and would have been disappointed if something hadn't been right. I would have been exhausted and too stressed out to enjoy the day.

Instead, our wedding day was focused on myself, my husband, and our life change. My memories are of his giant smile, the beautiful spring day, the butterflies in my stomach, and all the warmth and love from our friends. I wouldn't change a thing.

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