We asked a group of brides how they felt about the term “budget weddings”:

How do you feel if you’re having a budget wedding? How do you think people perceive you if they know your budget amount? How do you think people WOULD perceive you based on your amount?

Here are their responses:


That’s the first word I think of. I think, “hey, there are two people who don’t want to wreck the next ten years of their lives by going into debt over one day of celebration. There are two people that want to throw a celebration within their means.” Everyone’s budget is different, but to me, it means a dollar amount that you and your hubby are comfortable with, won’t lose sleep over, and won’t negatively affect other aspects of your lives.

Real Brides Talk About Their Real Budget Weddings - weddingfor1000.com

When I hear “budget” wedding, I think “inexpensive” wedding. I don’t think there is a particular dollar amount since costs can vary depending on what part of the country/world you’re in, but I would say something less than half the “average” for that area.

For me, it has little to do with what a couple can afford. A couple who can afford a $100,000 wedding without going into debt is celebrating within their means, but it is in no way a budget wedding in my mind.

It never occurred to me to think “responsible” because to me it would be common sense that you would plan within your means, but then I have a nasty habit of thinking common sense is common. Of course, everyone should plan within their means! I hate the idea that anyone would ever think they have to go into debt over one day. Yikes! When I hear “budget,” until today, I’ve just always thought below a 10k or 15k budget. Average wedding cost (across the US) was 30k last year so maybe my number is low? But that’s what I think.

Real Brides Talk About Their Real Budget Weddings - weddingfor1000.com

Everybody has different levels of what ‘budget’ means – it’s where you feel comfortable spending, not going into debt and not overspending. Finding the balance between want and need, reasonable and impulsive, etc. I would agree that I think responsible is an excellent word. Whether you have a $500 budget or a $25K budget, staying within YOUR budget is having a responsible, budget wedding IMO.


I mean, come on… it’s so easy to get swept away in this “let’s plan a marvelous wedding.” It’s also so easy to rack up $$. It’s careless just to throw caution to the wind and blow an extremely extravagant amount of money on one day. I believe weddings should be what you make of it, and it can be glorious – but I think it’s absolutely absurd when I hear “We spent $20,000++” … my jaw drops. That’s a damn car! A down payment on a house! Like… what?!

I’m saving my pennies to throw together a $6,000 wedding. It’s going to be gorgeous and everything I ever dreamed: all done up and a lot of fun and it’s even being held in a rather expensive area to live, so I know it’s possible to have a budget wedding here. (I also know other areas are much more expensive, so this number is strictly budgeted to my and my fiance’s measure.)

Plus, it isn’t anyone’s business what your budget is, but you and your vendors. Someone might ask, and if you tell, they may be amazed that you threw something so wonderful together for so little.  But when you start throwing out big numbers, chances are, they’re going to look at you like you’re a bit crazy.

Real Brides Talk About Their Real Budget Weddings - weddingfor1000.com

I had a “budget wedding”…in that we spent about $3k and paid for everything ourselves. While it was evident that it was a casual affair, I don’t think our guests found it to be any less special. We focused on the small touches: decor, a killer cake topper, great food, good wine, etc. It was such a special day. Anyone who would sh** on you for not spending more $$$ than you did is not someone worth maintaining a relationship with, IMO.

Painful. Grateful is the second word that comes to mind.

I think very heavily before committing to DIY projects or making compromises. Not bad, just painful. More difficult. Analyzing and streamlining everything to minimize the amount spent.

Because when the phrase ‘budget wedding’ is used, it means minimal cost. Every wedding (oh god I hope) has a budget. But this particular application means guarding and defending the budget with your life.

I’m glad that I was gifted a wedding coordinator.

That being said, I only tend to be judgmental of financially irresponsible brides (debt for a wedding? No.), so the word budget isn’t a bad thing to me at all.

Real Brides Talk About Their Real Budget Weddings - weddingfor1000.com

“Budget” wedding, to me, means not overly ornate, and more DIY. Those levels are variable, and the dollar amount is moot (since my wedding in TX would probably cost four times as much in CA).

I don’t care if someone wants to define my planning process or my wedding style. For people who attend my wedding, I don’t want them to think “I wonder how much they spent on these flowers” I want them to think “what a very awesome party!” I’ve worked hard to be sure that my and my SOs tastes come through in the wedding, and at the end of the day, it’s a party.

The way the term “budget wedding” is usually used, I feel like it’s omitting a word. What people usually mean by “budget wedding” is actually “small budget wedding.” Most weddings have a budget (though I have heard tales of people who just paid for things as they went as long as the price seemed reasonable, and thus didn’t actually have any budget plan at all!). Most people would not call a $50,000 or $100,000 wedding a “budget wedding” just because such a wedding had a paper budget they used – and that’s because of the way most people mean “tight budget” or “small budget” when they just say “budget.”

Real Brides Talk About Their Real Budget Weddings - weddingfor1000.com

I wouldn’t peg a number on it in particular because it largely depends on the person using the term and what they consider a “small” budget. The US national wedding budget median average (a better measure than mean average, in my opinion) is around $18,000, so I would consider anyone trying to aim for below that median to be a “budget wedding,” simply because that’s aiming for spending less than what other people spend on average. Now, of course, there are shades within that – a $17,000 wedding is still a “small budget” wedding to me, but that means a $2,000 wedding is like a micro budget, and a $300 wedding is a nano-budget, I guess. Not that I think there’s anything right or wrong about any of those numbers – I’m just saying that’s how I’d define the terms.

Is it spending more than you have saved, but that is still under the national average?

People go over budget all the time – in fact, from what I’ve seen, nearly every wedding does. This doesn’t surprise me very much: I went to college for film production, and it was the same story there, too. Nearly every film goes over budget. Projects go over budget; it’s a fact of life. I would say that a small budget wedding is still a small budget wedding if it goes over budget… unless it goes crazy over budget and the final spending amount puts it into “average budget” or even “high budget” territory. In other words, you’ve succeeded at keeping the budget in check if you didn’t go over budget so much that it caused issues (debt that can’t be repaid, etc.).

Real Brides Talk About Their Real Budget Weddings - weddingfor1000.com

We had a budget wedding for a lot of reasons, but we also decided that it was the right thing for us even if we could spend more money. We didn’t want to spend more than a certain amount on one event in our lives, when there are other things down the road we will likely want that money for. It did feel, however, like an uphill battle the entire time. We live in a very expensive area, where lavish expensive weddings are more the norm thanks to the number of politicians in the area, I suppose. Most of the time, it felt like the whole system was working against us, and at times, we weren’t sure that a small budget wedding was even possible in our circumstances. And we went a full thousand dollars over budget trying to do it. When we accidentally wasted money (like when a dress I ordered didn’t fit, even after alterations, and couldn’t be returned), it felt like a kick in the gut. But you know what? The wedding itself was great. Things worked out really well. I’m pleased with all the decisions we made – the “budget” decisions and the decisions that caused us to go $1,000 over budget, too. It was painful during the planning, but I’m so, so happy with the end product.

As for what other people think, there are only two things I care about: 1) Do the people who helped us feel appreciated enough? I want people to think that we are so super grateful for their help (because we are). So many people helped us out and I care about what they think in regards to whether they have received full thanks from us. Still working on thank-you notes and throwing a small party for the big helpers (mac and cheese bar for them!). 2) Strangers on the internet: I want to spread the word on small budget weddings being possible. There are compromises, concessions, and even heartache involved in them, but what I want other budget wedding planning folks to know is that they’re not alone, that it is possible, and that you can be 100% happy in the end with the wedding itself, on a small budget. Other than those two things, I’m done giving any care to what other people think about the wedding or the budget.

Real Brides Talk About Their Real Budget Weddings - weddingfor1000.com

When I think of a budget wedding, I think of two possible scenarios: cheap budget or smart budget.

Cheap is bad. “Cheap budget” is the couple who spends 2 grand on the dress, and compensates by having a cash bar. Cheap is renting only enough chairs for the old folks, leaving the rest of the guests to stand. Cheap is having a wishing well, a dollar dance, and a honeymoon registry, but serving serving Oscar meyer cold cuts. Cheap is them forgoing their guests’ comfort in favor of selfish or less important details, and using money as an excuse.

Smart is good. “Smart budget” couples decide to buy a reasonably priced dress and have a buffet instead of a plated meal. Smart couples get married on the off season so they can afford to host their guests properly. Smart couples know that spending money on enough food, chairs, and thank you cards is much more important than spending it on flowers or a limo. Smart couples don’t let the wedding get in the way of their marriage and their relationships with their loved ones.

Basically, I see a “good” budget wedding as people spending within or below their means to throw a good party and be considerate hosts without giving into the crazy.

We’re probably spending over $20k when it’s all said and done (including all the rings and our honeymoon), which is NOT what I’d call a “budget wedding.” I’d call it a “modest but traditional wedding.” I truly wish we were spending less! But we can certainly afford it without going into debt or messing up our long-term financial goals.

In my area the median is about 10k and I don’t think I would say that is a “budget” wedding for the area.

In practice, I think budget means you challenge at least a few of the wedding industry “must haves” like a huge guest list, designer dress, full meal, fancy location, etc. (I don’t think there is anything wrong with any of these things but they seem to be expected of me, and they are places you could cut costs somewhat significantly).

Our ‘budget’ wedding is not spending unnecessarily on things that aren’t important. Not skimping on the important things though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.