Get Married for Under $10K
The DIY Wedding vs Package Wedding vs Hybrid Wedding

Edited by Rebecca Kelsey Sampson, Eng

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You're getting married! That's so exciting! But now for the tough talk... How are you going to pay for it? Weddings are startlingly expensive, with weddings in my state (Florida) averaging at over $30,000. While this may be the most exciting and romantic day of your life, you don't want it to be something that takes you over 10 years to pay off.

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Below I'm going to share with you two different methods for keeping wedding costs down so that you can have a beautiful intimate ceremony without losing your head.

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General tips:

  • To have a wedding for $10,000 or less, you are going to need help from your family and friends. Make sure you are all on the same page, they are going to be your assistants throughout this process.
  • Be willing to negotiate and compromise on what you initially thought you wanted. Your wedding will be stunning and memorable, even if your initial plan doesn't work out.
  • No matter what, for budget weddings you'll need to get used to having a small guest list. One way to get around not offending people is to send a wedding announcement postcard before the wedding, stating that you and your husband will be getting married in an intimate ceremony. This way extended friends and family members don't expect to be invited but also feel included.
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Method 1: The DIY Wedding

The DIY method takes much more planning but in the end, you will end up with a completely custom wedding that no one will ever have and dozens of memories about how you and your family put it together. This is perfect for intimate occasions and those that are creative and handy with tools.

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  1. 1
    First things first, who do you know?
    What options do you have?
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    1. Make a list of people that are good at making things, have a skill, or an item that you can use at your wedding.
      Backyard weddings are stunning.
      For example, do you have a family member with a stunning backyard? That's where you can get married! Does your sister love photography? She and her photo club can take your photos. You still may need to pay your friends and family for their services, because everyone has got to make a living, but you can bet the discount will be steep.
    2. What apps can you use? You'd be surprised how many apps can help you plan and put together your wedding. Buy one month of Spotify premium, set up a wedding playlist, and plug your phone or computer into a speaker. Boom, DJ for the reception!
    3. Research on sites like Pinterest. You'd be incredibly surprised how many wedding ideas and tutorials, especially for DIY weddings, you can find on this platform.
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  2. 2
    Once you have all of this research under your belt, formulate it into a list of what you can do yourself and with the help of others and then what you still need to figure out.
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  3. 3
    Once you have this list, look at the things you've yet to figure out.
    If some of these things are products, can you buy or rent them used? My wedding dress was actually used. It cost only $60 at the Goodwill and I then spent $200 getting it altered. While $260 is a lot in general, for a wedding dress that is a huge bargain.
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  4. 4
    Think about whether you want to get married in the same place as your reception or if you want two different locations.
    You could get married in a courtroom for a small amount of money and then have a party afterwards, get married where you have the party (have a friend get ordained online, it's fairly easy), or you could pay a small donation to the church (the amount you have to donate depends on the church) to get married there and then have a backyard reception. There are many inexpensive options.
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  5. 5
    The most expensive parts of a reception are the alcohol and food.
    Make a few signature drinks instead of an open bar to save money.
    Instead of an open bar, you can create three (or more) signature drinks in decorative punch bowls and throw a few beers and sodas into a cooler. For food, you'll have to do some legwork and quote some small businesses or just make the food yourself. If you have a morning or afternoon wedding, you don't need to have as hearty of a meal. Having a breakfast bar would make the occasion a lot of fun and you and your family could make all the pancakes, bacon, etc. yourself.
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  6. 6
    Florals are also a big money cruncher, so I recommend keeping the arrangements minimal (sometimes one lily in a small vase can make just as big of an impact).
    Adding a variety of shapes to a bouquet make them look more rustic.
    Use your floral budget on your bouquet, stop by a local floral shop the morning off and string a few things together or more strategically make a bouquet with fake flowers.
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  7. 7
    As for makeup and hair, do you know a friend that is really talented in those categories?
    Hire her to do it!
    For our wedding, my bridesmaids and I did all our own hair and makeup.
    Makeup services can cost anywhere from $100-$300, depending on who you get for the occasion. I have a tutorial on the makeup I wore to my wedding if you need some inspiration.
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  8. 8
    Lastly, for the DIY wedding you'll need to keep a relatively small guest list.
    I recommend having less than 30 people attend to keep the costs down.
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Method 2: The Package Wedding

For those that find the DIY method too stressful and/or time consuming, the package wedding is perfect for you.

  1. 1
    Start by figuring out your budget.
    Deciding on a number and sticking to it is the most important part of a package wedding because whoever you end up going with will have a base package and then dozen of possible additions that will rack up the past. Consider what w
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  2. 2
    Then it's research time.
    Start with a simple Google search of something similar to "wedding package in MY CITY" or "budget wedding package in MY CITY." Be prepared to search page after page until you find something that sounds like the wedding you envisioned. For me, finding a package took a long time because most of the budget options in Miami involve beach weddings - which just isn't out scene. Don't forget to also talk to your friends and family during this research time as many of them may have taken advantage of packages as well.
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  3. 3
    When you go to meet with your potential wedding package coordinator, make sure to pay close attention to what is and is not included.
    The decorations included in my wedding package.
    Most packages will include the reception location, food, drinks, minimal decorations, flowers, and possibly the photographer and DJ.
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  4. 4
    Be prepared to keep it small!
    In a small wedding, you have more time to make memories with the people that are the most important to you.
    To keep the wedding package under $10,000 you will likely have to have a small guest list. My wedding package held only 50 guests, so we cut down by not allowing children to attend and cutting out people that, while they are family, we haven't spoken to in over five years.
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  5. 5
    Whatever is not included in the package, like the officiant, they typically have a list of people to recommend to you in different price points.
    This is helpful to have, but be careful not to say yes to everything. While I loved how fun the dessert bar looked in the wedding package additions offered to me, I knew it would be more of a frivolous expense. People expect one piece of cake at weddings, anything extra isn't a budget necessity.
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  6. 6
    Now all you have to do is find items that would not be included or provided for an extra cost, like your wedding dress, hair and makeup, tux rentals, and other bridal and groom party essentials.
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  7. 7
    Most likely, you're done planning!
    I chose my wedding package in February, was done planning and adding additional DIY elements by late April, and was married by November that same year.
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Method 3: The Hybrid Wedding

A combination of the above two methods, for brides and grooms that like to have a little more control but less stress overall. Once you have a package set, you can add dozens of other elements yourself to make your day special. Here are a few examples of different DIYs you can add to your special day to make it a slightly more custom occasion.

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  1. 1
    Small intimate items can make your wedding all the more special.
    Giving handkerchiefs as wedding party gifts and favors is a great idea, especially if you know a lot of people that will cry, and they cost very little to purchase a lot of them on Etsy or eBay.
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  2. 2
    Adding vintage chalkboard signage is a beautiful way to make your ceremony seem special, and really all you need is to find a frame you love and paint the glass with chalkboard paint.
    A beautiful handmade wedding sign.
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  3. 3
    Adding special touches to your shoes makes for a beautifully styled photo
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  4. 4
    Table numbers and Instagram signs are another easy way you can customize your wedding.
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    All you need is a table number template or free printable, a printer, and a frame.
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  5. 5
    Other ways you can add some intimacy to your wedding include adding family heirlooms.
    Our wedding topper was the topper used in my husband's great-grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary party.
    While this isn't technically a DIY, it does add something special that other weddings will not have.
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There are dozens of ideas out there to add small DIY elements to your wedding, once you start researching you'll be able to see exactly the tone you want to set.

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Now you are ready! These are the tips I followed to keep my wedding under $10,000 and I hope they help you as well. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life and I full-heartedly believe it can be special even on a budget. I know I'll never forget my special day.

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Categories : Marriage

Recent edits by: Rebecca Kelsey Sampson

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