Can you plan a wedding for $6,000?

I received an e-mail a couple weeks ago from a very sweet bride asking me a very real and honest question. Can you plan a decent wedding in the Spokane area for $5,000-$6,000?

We’re getting very real here at Apple Brides today!

Firstly, I have to preface this with saying that I firmly believe weddings are worth spending money on, an opinion I’ve fought for ever since I joined the industry. “The wedding industry just wants people to spend money.” “Brides are the only ones who care about the details.” and the classic “What’s the point in spending so much on one single day?” My response is always the same. The point in spending money on your wedding is that it’s a one time event celebrating the most important commitment of your life. Marriage is worth celebrating.

But I also firmly believe that money, in itself, does not make a good wedding and that you can celebrate your marriage without breaking the bank. And I’m very aware, especially in this economic climate, that spending oodles of dollars is not in the cards for many couples. Budget is on the brain for many of the Apple Bride readers, so I thought I would share this bride’s question and my answer in the hopes it might help others out there.

Can you plan a wedding under $6,000?
Image by Flat 4 Photography

Here was the e-mail I received…

“I would like to ask you a realistic question, do you think that it’s possible to throw a decent wedding on a budget of $5,000 possible $6,000? I started looking last year with the plan to get married this last September; my fiancé was laid off and I knew it wasn’t the best timing for us especially when I started looking at costs. I would’ve preferred to have a fall wedding, but found that it might save me some money to get married in the summer so it can be outdoors, my future mother in law has asked a few people if we might be able to use their property, but haven’t confirmed that this will work yet.

Do you have a few suggestions on areas that might be easiest to spend less money on than others, or cheaper venues in the Coeur d’Alene and surrounding areas? I honestly considered eloping in fear that if I have to cut too many corners creating a wedding on my budget that I will be disappointed in the end. I’m thankful for having the funds I do, but am afraid it might not stretch far enough.”


My reply…

In short, yes, I do think you can have a wedding for $5-6,000, but I think you have to reevaluate your priorities and perceptions of a “wedding”. As I’m sure you know, to save money, sacrifices have to be made somewhere, and every bride will need to decide what she is prepared to sacrifice, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt! You and your fiance will ultimately need to decide what’s important to you. I would advise to first have a brainstorm session:

  • What are our top 3 priorities for our wedding?
  • What am I prepared to give up?
  • Will I be genuinely happy with a budget wedding? Or should I wait and save more to get the wedding I really want? This is a hard one that completely depends on the individual. Be honest with yourself…

Here are some more ideas:

Keep the guest list small. I know that can be hard to do, but a wedding of 50-60 is MUCH more affordable than 100.

DIY. No surprise here, but doing as much of the wedding yourself as you can will also save a lot…for example, making your own food, doing your own flowers, etc.

Choose a venue with a very low rental fee. I think you’re right, summer is the best time to find a cheap Spokane wedding venue. Have you looked into places like Manito Park? They have “picnic areas” you can rent for several hour blocks for $50! It’s a beautiful setting and each area has a BBQ and comes with picnic tables. I’m sure other parks in the area do a similar thing too. You could also consider restaurants that would allow you to just pay for the food. I know some of the prominent restaurants in the city will let you rent a whole room as long as you spend a minimum of $300-500 on food and drink.

Choose an off day and time. Getting married on a Wednesday-Friday or a Sunday, is going to save you a lot of money on everything from your venue to your photographer. Also, if you have your wedding outside of the traditional meal times you can cut your food costs way down. You could have a brunch reception with coffee, pastries and lighter fare in mid morning or a mid-afternoon reception with punch, cookies and smaller treats.

Cut down your photography time. Photography is one area I wouldn’t skimp on, so maybe find a great photographer and ask them if they would be willing to just do the formal shots and not be there for the whole day. If you get married on a Saturday this might not work, because of the popularity of Saturday weddings, but for off days this could save quite a bit of money. You could also choose an up and coming photographer who is still in the early stages of building their career. They will be much more affordable than an established photographer.

Alternative dress. For your dress, I would advise going to places like the Nordstroms Rack, David’s Bridal, TJ Maxx or non-traditional wedding shops. If a dress is not technically a “wedding dress” than it will be far less expensive. You could also look at second hand shops and online at some of the pre-owned wedding dress sites.

Keep the bridal party small. Bridesmaids/groomsmen can be expensive, I would limit it to one or two each. You won’t need as many flowers or to rent as many tuxes.

Costco. Costco is a hidden gem for weddings! I always find GORGEOUS flowers at Costco, and they are always really affordable too. If you aren’t too picky about colors, etc you could go the day of the wedding and find some really quality blooms for very cheap. Also, Costco food is great for feeding a lot of people on the cheap. They have so many great options like their veg trays, chicken wraps, lasagne and their cakes are some of the best tasting in the world! One sheet cake at Costco can feed 40 people! And they cost like $20!


Are you planning a budget wedding? What are your cost cutting tips?


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