The national average cost of a wedding is over $25,000 but that didn’t stop this Washington, DC couple from throwing their dream wedding on a relatively small budget. Garey and Jeanine are young professionals living in a Washington, DC suburb who put together an amazing wedding for less than half of the national average wedding cost. Through careful planning and a little creativity the couple saved thousands on their big day. Here’s how Gary and Jeanine succeeded in planning a $10,000 wedding.
The venue: A Neighborhood Golf Club for $2,625
Gary and Jeanine live in a community that has a beautiful golf course, and it’s literally right in their own backyard. They are both members of the course so they inquired about using the clubhouse for their wedding. The clubhouse was available but the rental fee was $3,500, which was more than a third of their total budget, but that didn’t stop Gary and Jeanine. They asked about getting a discount since they were course members and they found that they could get a 15% membership discount. In addition to the membership discount, the course also offered a 10% discount on rental fees for community members. Because they were both course members and they live in the community, they were able to save 25% on the total venue cost! They paid $2,625 which included the ceremony location with seating for their guests, and the reception which included the room set up (tables, chairs, place settings and linens)
The Dress: A $600 Gown from a Local Dress Shop
Based on her wedding budget calculations, Jeanine determined that she could buy a dress somewhere in the $500 range. She wanted to get the most for her money, so she started her dress search at a discount bridal store. Unhappy with their selection, she decided to take a different approach and visit a local dress shop nearby. The staff was able to show her several designer gowns that fell within her price range. Jeanine fell in love with a $650 dress. It was a little more than she wanted to spend, so she decided to negotiate. She asked if they could come down at all on the price. To her surprise, they were able to take off $50 and they threw in a free fitting. All she had to do was ask. Because she was dealing with the store’s owner, they were able to work with her to make the sale.
Tuxedo Rental for the Groom: FREE
The groom went to Men’s Wearhouse to rent his tux. They were running a special that gave the groom a free tux rental if five people from his wedding party rented their tuxes from the store. This was a no-brainer!
The Food & Drink: $3,200 to serve 80 guests (Approximately $40 per person)
Gary and Jeanine found a local catering company that could handle all of the food and drink for their wedding. They knew this would be their biggest expense so they worked with the caterer to plan a menu that worked with their budget. The chose a seasonal menu which gave them the most bang for their buck. The caterer was able to provide the food, beverage, cake, and waitstaff. The total came to approximately $45 per person which included passed appetizers, a plated dinner, open bar (beer and wine only with a signature cocktail) and the cake.
The couple worked with a local florist that was familiar with their venue. The florist was able to draw from her experience and offer cost effective arrangements that would provide maximum visual impact on a budget. They chose several seasonal blooms to incorporate as well as lots of lush greenery. When ordering flowers, remember more blooms = more money.
Rings: Hers $1200, His: Free
The bride’s ring was purchased from a diamond importer in the DC area. She had a platinum setting with several small diamonds. Since the store they went to imported the diamonds directly, they were able to pay about half the retail prices found at other area jewelers.
The groom’s ring belonged to his late father. He took the ring to a jeweler to have it professionally buffed and cleaned. It looked brand new after this process.
The couple found a local DJ who provided the music as well as emcee services.
The couple found a local photographer who had an excellent portfolio. One of their criteria was they wanted to receive a CD with all of the images taken at their wedding. That way they could share the images with their friends and family without having to order them through the photographer. The price included the shooting fee (6 hours of coverage) and photo retouching.
The couple ordered their invitations online through a popular wedding stationer. They saved over $200 compared to the cost of having a local printer make their invitations.
The couple decided that they wanted someone that knew them to officiate their ceremony, so they asked the groom’s Uncle to do it. He was able to get “ordained” online as a minister, which gave him the authority to marry the couple.
Total Wedding Expenses = $10,325
Ok, so the couple went a little over budget, but only by $325 dollars. Not bad when you consider that similar weddings usually cost double this amount. Here are a few tips that Gary and Jeanine followed during their planning process.
• When possible, deal with the store/vendor owner or manager who has the authority to make deals. They will be more willing to work with you and can often give you the best advice and the best price.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts. Lots of places are willing to discount their services or throw in free services to secure your business. The worst they can say is “no.”
• Always do your homework when checking out your vendors. The vendor with the best price may cut corners. Always ask for references!