Wedding Update – Up To $20,000


When I first created my wedding budget (back in January of 2013), I wanted to stay under $20,000, and preferably around $10,000 to $15,000. I knew that more than $20,000 was just not in the budget for us, especially since we are paying for everything ourselves.

The only problem is that we are having an outdoor wedding with around 200 people, and rentals (table, chairs, tent, etc.) all add up very quickly.

Is having an outdoor wedding cheaper?

“You are so lucky, you are going to save so much money!”

Numerous people have told me that I must be so happy to have an outdoor wedding on family property because it would be cheaper, but that is definitely not the case. It’s actually very similar to having a wedding at an actual wedding venue, and in some cases we probably could have saved money.

The good thing about having a wedding on family property is that I can choose everything. I am not forced to use a caterer that the venue forces, and I am also free to make many other choices.

Everything is up to me and I can decide everything, which is nice!

How am I feeling about wedding planning?

I won’t lie, at times wedding planning can be a little stressful.

Also, planning everything all by myself can be stressful too and sometimes even sad (when I think about it).

However, I know that I’m not the only person without parents in the world (I need to stop my pity parade) so I know it is possible. I have wonderful friends, my sister and W’s family who are making everything much more pleasant. I don’t know what I would do without them!

Having an outdoor wedding where I have to plan every little detail (such as where things will be placed – tables, chairs, lighting, tent, food, bathrooms, etc., what to do with all of the trash, back up plans for weather or if the electricity can’t handle everything, and so on) can be scary to think about.

However, for the most part I am excited. Almost all of my wedding vendors have said I’m the most laid back bride ever, which I take pride in 🙂

Here are past wedding related articles I’ve published:

  1. Wedding Budget – Our Expected Costs

  2. Random Wedding Planning and a RANT

  3. Plenty of Wedding Planning and Weekly Update

  4. Our Wedding Plans – We Need Advice

  5. Engagement Photos

  6. My Wedding Budget and Plans: Dress and Photos

How is our wedding budget going?

I think our wedding budget is going very well. I have bartered, exchanged services, and received discounts on many of our wedding expenses so far, which has really, REALLY helped our wedding budget.

Below in each category, I will be giving the total cost (before any discounts or bartering), but the amount that we have saved from bartering, exchanging services, and discounts equates to a crazy total of:

$6,000

Crazy, right? 🙂 I would tell you exactly which ones that were discounted or bartered for, but I also want to protect the company as well.

I plan on creating an article about how we bartered, exchanged services and asked for discounts as well. If you are interested in this, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have any questions, leave them below for me.


This is where our wedding will be!


Wedding rentals – $2,800 so far.

Wedding rentals is probably what killed our budget, but I am not surprised. For the tables, chairs, linens and dance floor, the price was $2,000. We are also thinking about renting a few couches, which would be around a few hundred for each. I’m not sure if I feel like spending that amount of money though.

We still plan on renting a tent as well, but that depends on the weather. Wedding tent rental is around $1,500 where I live. I really want the wedding to be open and under the stars, so I’m really hoping for good weather. However, the rental place said I can just request the tent a few days beforehand if the weather looks bad. I’m going to assume that we will be doing that regardless because I don’t want to risk it.

We also had to rent bathrooms for the property, because you never want to rely on a septic system to handle so many flushes and people. We rented “wedding” bathrooms that flush and have sinks. These were $800.

I plan on sprucing them up a little bit and putting air fresheners, mats, and battery-operated candles in them. I’m hoping no one will be upset with these. There will still be indoor bathrooms for those who refuse to use them, and I will be using the indoor bathrooms as well (since I have a huge wedding dress).


We taste tested our wedding food. Best. BBQ. Ever.


Food and drinks – $4,300

Luckily with a wedding on family property, we can choose our own caterer and we can supply our own alcohol, which means a lot of money saved! We are using a family member’s BBQ catering company, and the total for that is around $2,000.

We will be having pulled pork, beef brisket and smoked tofu (for the vegetarians) as the main dish. The sides will be tequila lime green beans, baked beans, corn bread, cole slaw and smoked fruit. There will be no salad. Does all of that sound good? I want to make sure!

For drinks and a bartender, I believe the total will be around $1,500. Since we get to supply our own alcohol, we get to save a few thousand dollars.

We also have a dessert table filled with tons of pies, wedding cakes, cannolis, brownies, cookies, and so on, which was $400. We will also have a candy table and everything for that will cost around $400.

Wedding attire – $3,200

I bought my wedding dress in June of 2013, after just trying on a few dresses. What can I say? I am a quick decision maker, or at least that’s what every single wedding company has told me so far. Ha!

My wedding dress was around $1,615.

Alterations were $160 for a bustle, bra inserted, and having it taken in just half an inch.

My shoes were $50, and are a little on the casual side but I also plan on wearing a pair of heels that I already have too.

My jewelry was $75 for a necklace and earrings. They are super cute!

My veil was $40. Bought it off of Etsy and it was a STEAL!

Hair and makeup are a little expensive at $1,000. I am paying for my bridesmaids to get their hair and makeup done as a part of their gifts.

For Wes, we went to Men’s Wearhouse and we had enough groomsmen so that he could get his for free. We also put money towards each of their tuxes as a gift from us so that the rental fee wasn’t so high for them. We put $300 down for them altogether.

Photography – $2,400

I found an awesome photographer and her fee is around $2,000. We only have her for 6 hours, but I am thinking about adding a few more hours so that she can get more photos of us getting ready.

We also paid for engagement photos which were around $400.

Paper – $1,300

We sent out our save the dates, which were around $500 (don’t worry, I got a BIG discount on these thanks to my blog).

I still haven’t finalized our invitations and RSVPs, but I am hoping to do that this week. The cost for these will be around $400.

Stamps for the save the dates, invitations and RSVPs are altogether around $150. That is one thing that I didn’t think would be so expensive. AHH!

Programs will cost around $150. I don’t plan on giving each and every single person one, so that I can save money. I’m assuming that most people just throw them away anyways. I think I will have enough for around half of the guests, which is probably fine because around 50 guests will be children anyways and they definitely do not need one. What do you think? Should each and every guest get one?

I haven’t looked into thank you cards too much yet. I know that I want to use pictures from our actual wedding for the cards. I’m going to assume that these will cost around $100.

Miscellaneous – $6,000

We have a lot of other expenses, of course. These include:

  1. We are having a DJ – $800

  2. I bought robes for myself and my bridesmaids for when we are getting ready – $150

  3. We will have some signs made for directional purposes – $100

  4. Bug spray since everything will be outdoors – $50

  5. Lighting for the whole property so that people don’t trip – $200

  6. Decor for centerpieces – $300

  7. We are wholesaling flowers and DIYing them – $700

  8. We are having a fish eye photo booth – $1,400

  9. Day of Wedding Coordinator – $850

  10. Rehearsal Dinner – $400

  11. Champagne flutes – $50

  12. Garter – $25

  13. We are using a family member for our officiant, but normally these are $200

  14. Sparklers and lanterns for guests – $200

  15. Guest book – $50

  16. Canvas pictures of us for guest book table – $200

  17. Hanger for my wedding dress that says “Mrs. Gardner” – $25

  18. Custom wedding cake topper – $300

Altogether, everything equals $20,000, before discounts, bartering, etc.

So, after the $6,000 in discounts, our total wedding cost is $14,000. This is for my dream wedding, so I think I did pretty well! I could have probably cut expenses even more in many areas (such as my wedding dress), but didn’t.

How did you save with your wedding? How much was your wedding altogether?

Would you go back and have a courthouse wedding, or do the whole shebang?

#Budget #Wedding

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