Sharilee Swaity writes on family and marriage issues on her blog, Second Chance Love. She has written a book on the topic of remarriage.
Is It Possible To Plan A Wedding In A Month?
According to common folklore, there is nothing more stressful than planning a wedding. Brides everywhere stress for months about every single detail regarding their big event.
I have never bought into the wedding "hype," myself and my dream wedding was always something small, intimate and quirky, that did not stress me out and did not leave us in debt for the next ten years.
To me, a wedding is an event, for one day, kind of like playing dress up, and it's not a big show or a big production. Saving money on your wedding just makes sense to me because it leaves more time for the real event: married life.
My philosophy, however, is not of the majority. Wedding planning is a big business in North America, simply because of all the work involved and the money spent. Is it possible to plan a wedding in one month, for under $1000? Yes, it is. I know, because I have done it. Along with A LOT of help from a very organized, hard-working, talented, loyal little sister. Yes, I do owe her big time!
Here are some of the strategies and tricks that my sister and I used to pull together a wedding in one month. This wedding suited us as a couple and people that came said they enjoyed it. It was a memorable experience and I am so glad that we got to the good stuff: the actual marriage!
It was a lot of work to do this so quickly. I worked on wedding planning non stop for about thirty days and well under a $1000. My sister also put in an incredible amount of hours. But with this work, we were blessed with a ceremony that we feel good about. It was simple and low-key but it was definitely better than a trip down to city hall.
Wedding Wear On Amazon
Dress/Accessories Cost: $143.00
Now, this is probably going to be the most controversial part of this article. I think some people will have trouble believing this next one but I am sharing it in the interest of helping others.
Okay, here goes. I paid under thirty dollars for my dress. I am not kidding. I found the dress at a thrift store, in the formals section, and it cost me less than thirty dollars. I know that will horrify a good percentage of the audience but for me, it was wonderful.
There were quite a few wedding dresses there but I had been looking for something in the burgundy family of colours. If I didn't find it there, I was going to try to get it at a discount formals store. I had a budget of about $150 but I was thrilled beyond words to find "my dress" hanging there in all its glory at the rack at Value Village.
The other expenses included some jewellery (necklace and earrings) from the local department store, for approximately $40.00, some special undergarments to keep everything underneath in place (approximately $60.00) shoes (which I found on sale for $20.00)
Take Away: Don't get caught up in the status of having an expensive dress. If you can find something that you like for much less, why not? Don't be proud; no one has to know where you got it. If you save on the dress, you can save money for accessories and undergarments. Check:
- second hand shops
- E-Bay is another option for unique dresses but do leave time for alterations
- Discount wedding stores
- Ask friends and family if they anyone with a dress they might sell
- Put notice up for "wedding dress wanted" in your local paper or online classifieds
Suit/Accessories Cost: $60.00
My husband has worn a suit, maybe ten times in his life. Weddings, funerals, graduations is about the only time he will don a suit and a tie. When I met him, he had one suit from the eighties that had blue frills and a very suspicious looking tight pants.
We had to buy him a suit jacket, shirt, tie and dress pants. Well, he was the one that insisted we go to Value Village and buy these items. We did. We found attractive looking clothing and he looked very handsome.
The ceremony was the part that I spent the most time. To me, this was the most important part of the wedding because it was the spiritual part. The rest of the day would soon be forgotten but I wanted to honour God and each other with meaningful words.
As mentioned, the ceremony took place in my sister's church. The pastor was a family friend. And my sister played the music. (This was problematic in that she should have been my maid of honour but because of the budget, we opted to have no attendants but the flower girls.)
We had a personal simple ceremony that reflected our values and our love of family and friends. Because I spent so much time planning this ceremony, I want to do another article on this topic but I will tell you our costs. We spent about $5.00 for coloured paper for the program, around $10.00 for the candles for the unity ceremony and around $20.00 for the flowers for the flower girls. We also had to pay the pastor $80 for his time.
Takeaway: Spend time planning a ceremony that reflects you. Research online for wedding ceremony ideas, and read books.
Ceremony Cost: $115
We were fortunate in that my sister went to a very small church that knew me, and would allow us to use the facility free of charge, and without notice. They did not use the building during the week, and the only stipulation was that we clean it up for Sunday's service.
I was so happy to be able to use this particular building because it had stained glass windows, golden hard wood floors and sweet wooden pews. It was a perfect one-hundred-old beauty building. When we first started, my fiancé had suggested just going to the courthouse, but I was so glad we could be married in a church.
My sister paid for about $40's worth of decorations, which was enough to decorate both the church and her house. A friend lent us a garden canopy, which she covered with paper flowers, and put balloons and crepe paper on all of the pews.
With the beauty of the building and some simple decorations, the effect was very pretty. She did the decorating and with her amazing taste, the church was beautiful! The burgundy colours matched my dress and my husband's tie.
Takeaway: If you want to be married in a church, and you go to church, you will probably be able to be married there no problem. But if not, here are some other ideas:
- If you don't have a church, ask around and see if there are any small churches that might be willing to let you their facility for little to nothing.
- city parks
- a beach or almost anywhere in nature
- You could also consider your favourite restaurant or hotel
- A place you both hang out, such as a bowling alley.
Don't limit yourself to something big and expensive. If you see somewhere that is beautiful, consider asking the owners if you might be able to borrow their facility for the afternoon.
Total Venue Cost: $30.00
Total Reception Venue Cost: $25.00
Wedding Favors On Amazon
When my husband and I got married, it was not the first time for either one of us. We had been down this road before and so we both felt it wasn't really appropriate to have a big wedding. So we decided to go small -- really small. I had always dreamt of having a wedding that was just a few family and friends, with perhaps a Barbeque and lots of kids playing around.
So we decided to have our wedding reception in my sister's home, in her living room, dining room and kitchen. Again, this decision was controversial. My sister wanted it to be at the church basement, where most people would have the dinner but I have never enjoyed those big sit-down dinners that are so formal and I wanted this to reflect my husband and my style: warm and comfortable.
So, as the bride, my wishes prevailed. We had a lovely reception at my sister's house. Was it crowded? Sure. A bit strange? Definitely. But it was also memorable and everyone felt like themselves. We had a very small program where we thanked everyone and then my sister got out the piano and sang a tribute to us, the couple, and my Grandma and Grandpa.
We had another idea that was unique and we both really wanted. It was my husband's idea and it worked well. He wanted something that the kids would enjoy and that we could do together. We had a fire to roast marshmellows and make smores. The supplies for the smores cost about $20.00
Takeaway: Think outside the box. The church basement, or the fancy hall are not the only places you can have a wedding reception.
- Having it in someone's home can be a wonderful and intimate experience.
- A back yard in the warm season offers plenty of room
- A Restaurant without the catering (just have everyone order their meal and only invite 10 people or so for the reception.)
- Your local community centre is another good idea and often very cheap.
The cake, purchased from the local grocery store bakery
I had long envisioned a wedding with simply a barbeque in the backyard. Since our wedding was in March, the outdoor cooking was out but we ended up with something very similar. My sister's brother-in-law brought a big pan of delicious pulled pork.
To that, we added another meat dish, salads, and some Indian fry bread. Indian fry bread is a traditional dish done by the Siksika people and many other bands in Canada.I had asked my sister's sister-in-law to make it, in order to incorporate some of the Aboriginal culture. You see, I had grown up being very close to First Nations people, and my husband Is an Aboriginal man that had been adopted into a Caucasian family. It seemed appropriate that we have an element of the Native culture in our day, for it was a deep bond that we shared together.
Takeaway: You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on catering. Here some ideas:
- Churches have been doing potlucks for years and they work great, making sure everyone gets fed.
- Ask a family member(s) to provide the meal and then make that their present to you
- If it's an outdoor wedding, try burgers and hot dogs
- Serve appetizers only. Let the guests know so they can feed themselves beforehand. If you do this, make sure the timing works out that the guests can have time to eat themselves.
- Serve a dessert and coffee bar only. Make sure the guests know and have time to eat on their own.
Total Food Cost: $0.00
Cutting The Cake
Total Cake Cost: $80.00
Our cake was ordered from the local bakery, and not a wedding shop. It was a plain white cake with the wedding words decorated on top. The total cost: $80.00. It was delicious, each person had a small piece and we could still cut the cake, according to ceremony.
Takeaway: Fancy cakes are breathtaking but you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on a cake. A simple white cake will do just as well and not cost you months in bills. Here a couple ideas:
- Order a white cake from the local bakery. Ask for it to be decorated according to your preference.
- If you have a friend or family member who bakes, ask if they might be willing to do it as a wedding present for you.
- Use cupcakes for a delightful change. Do the number of cupcakes that will be at the ceremony and then feed your husband a cupcake instead of cutting the cake!
Total Transportation Cost: $400.00
One last cost was the cost of transportation. My husband and I had had a long distance relationship and I had moved to his city, Winnipeg. My family was all in Alberta, two provinces down, and my sister was the one that was helping us with the wedding. It was a hard choice but we decided to have the wedding in Alberta where I was from, because I was closer to my family than my husband was to his. As well, as the bride, I would be the one doing the planning.
In order to make this happen, we did have to pay to rent a car to go down there. This added to the overall cost. We were able to rent a car for the week for about $250 and the gas was around $150.
Very Good Book Called Practical Weddings -- Part of my own inspiration
A Wedding For Under $1000
The total cost of our wedding was approximately $853. Almost half of that cost was from transportation because we were so far away from the location of the wedding. If the transportation costs were taken out, we would have been able to do our wedding for $453.
If you are wanting to get married, but think you cannot because of the money, look again. Maybe you can do it for less than you think. My husband and I wanted to get married and get on with our lives. We had very little money to spend but using these ideas, we avoided debt and still had a memorable beautiful day. I wish you the best on your wedding day!
Fallon Jones on May 22, 2020:
This was a great article! I just did one of the same! Yours way better though! Lol love from Atlanta, Georgia
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on June 10, 2015:
@cyoung, as the Dad, I am sure you do hope this! I cannot believe how expensive weddings are these days. Thanks so much for reading, and I do apologize for the long delay in answering the comment.
Chad Young from Corona, CA on January 15, 2015:
I have two daughters and I hope they can be a bit frugal when it comes to their weddings. One of them has champagne taste and the other is happy with whatever. Great article, I sent them the link to this hub for future reference. :)
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 28, 2014:
@LadyFiddler, I am sorry I missed your comment way back, but thank you! Yes, I totally agree -- it much better to focus on God's blessings than having having the most prestigious wedding. Ha ha, and yes, people will always talk about you, no matter what, right? Take care, and have a wonderful evening.
@MJ, thank you so much! People that went said they really enjoyed it. Have a great evening and take care.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 18, 2014:
@tillsonitan, thank you so much for your lovely comment! And you are so right ... everyone has their own vision for their wedding, and their own ideas. Have a wonderful night, I apologize for the late response.
Deborah, your wedding sounds amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. A ceremony along the beach, with your bare feet sounds perfect. And so cool that your Mom was able to sew your dress for you. Thanks for the great comment, and I do apologize for the very long delay in responding. Take care!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 18, 2014:
@Vicki, I feel so bad for taking so long to respond, but thank you so, so much for your comment and for your sharing! I hope that some other brides-to-be can be inspired to "marry cheap," too! That is so neat that you actually found a dress, just in case. I bet you it's beautiful, and vintage would be so romantic.
@Made, we must be of the same cloth! Glad to hear of another frugal girl, too. Take care, and so sorry for taking so long to respond to your comment.
MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose from Washington State on October 13, 2014:
These are really good saving tips! I love planning simple, affordable little weddings too. Simply elegant can really be done on a budget, yours sounds so very beautiful.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on September 11, 2014:
Cindy, that sounds like an amazing wedding! And cheesecake just tops it up. It sounds like you both knew what you liked, and you went for it. Thanks for the comment, and I apologize for the delay. My comments were way backed up while I was teaching. Take care!
Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on January 29, 2014:
Good Hub and what you said was true you should really lay more emphasis on God his blessings etc instead of going nuts over a wedding. The thing is if you have beef stake and lamp chops and fancy stuff people still talk about you. If the wedding is cheap they will still talk so the best thing is to sooth yourself :)
Thanks for sharing.
Deborah Neyens from Iowa on January 29, 2014:
This is awesome, and you were a beautiful bride. My husband and I also didn't want a big fancy wedding and we love to travel, so we got married on a beach in the Virgin Islands and invited anyone who wanted to join us to come along. We had 20 friends and family join us for a tropical vacation that also served as our honeymoon. Even with travel expenses, it was a lot cheaper than what some people spend on a big church wedding and reception. My wedding dress cost less than $100, which is what I spent on fabric and supplies. My mother, who is an accomplished seamstress, made the dress. So that's another option to save on expenses for someone who is handy with a needle and thread (or knows someone who is). And I didn't spend any money on shoes because you don't need shoes on the beach; I got married in my bare feet. : )
Mary Craig from New York on January 29, 2014:
I'm always happy when I come across a hub that was written a while ago, I missed it and now I've found it! This is one of those hubs and so well worth reading. I like the way you say a wedding day is "kind of like playing dress up", it is only one day.
Each of us has our own views and ideas about our wedding day but for those not yet married the more they hear the easier it will be to make those choices. Your wedding sounded lovely and judging from the pictures it certainly was!
Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.
Madeleine Salin from Finland on January 29, 2014:
Interesting! I would not spend much money on my wedding either.
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on January 28, 2014:
This is great! I've never understood spending tons of money on a wedding. It's so impractical. I love all your ideas. I actually bought a wedding dress in a thrift store many, many years ago just because it was beautiful and vintage (and $45!), and it would be lovely and romantic to wear if I ever did get married. Great hub. I'm going to pin it for all the brides to be out there to enjoy! Excellent ideas.
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on January 28, 2014:
I don't remember the exact cost of ours - it was in the 800s, but so memorable: we had the ceremony at a little church for $50, and the reception was $500: it included food and champagne. My friend burned CDs for the music, my sister brought her stereo, my other sister did my hair (she's a hairstylist) and my other sister made a bouquet. My dress I found on discount and because it was in January, we got plane tickets and hotel to Key West for a steal - something like $200. The only other expense was cheesecake: we were good friends with the local owner of a bakery and he made us two cheesecakes and only charged for the actual cost of the food. All in all, a wonderful, wonderful experience. I was 22, he was 33, and we've been married for 12 years. :)
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on July 15, 2012:
Lindacee, I completely agree. It is out of this world to think of how much people spend one day. I appreciate your comments so much. Have a wonderful day!
Linda Chechar from Arizona on July 13, 2012:
Love this Hub and the tips you offer for a beautiful, budget-friendly wedding. It boggles my mind when I think of the money wasted, er spent on weddings. You have proven conclusively that a wedding does not have to be wildly extravagant to be a lovely, memorable event. Thanks for sharing this common sense approach to nuptials!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on May 19, 2012:
Susan, I love it! It's so neat to hear of someone else also planning their wedding in such a short time period and with little money. And my theory is that it never hurts to ask!
And I'm with you on the debt thing. People spend incredible amounts of money for just one day. Thanks for the great comment!
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on May 17, 2012:
What a great hub! I too with my husband planned our wedding in a month or less. It is possible. I remember my dad saying to me "You'll never be able to find a church that will marry you with such short notice." It took me one phone call to find the church. :) My dress I bought off the rack and on sale. There are so many ways to cut costs. Who wants to start out a new life in debt. I sure didn't.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on May 10, 2012:
@Emma, first of all, congratulations on getting married! I wish you all the best in your planning and your subsequent marriage. And that's great that you are trying to save money on everything. I know it can be done. I'd love to hear how you make out once everything's set! Have a great night.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on May 09, 2012:
@Vinaya, that's funny! I appreciate you checking out the hub even though you're not getting married any time soon! :) Have a good day.
@Natasha, that's interesting that you see it where you work. Yes, it is very big business. Thank you so much for comment. Take care.
Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on May 09, 2012:
I am totally with you all the way with your way of thinking when it comes to wedding planning. This is a topic I have been looking into myself - as I am getting married in August. We also want something small, different and that won't leave us in debt. Mention that 'W' word and everything trebles in price - wedding cakes, wedding receptions - so expensive - wonderful advice here.
I have already got my dress, but your idea of buying one from a thrift store is great. I saw some lovely vintage dresses in a second hand store the other week. There was nothing wrong with them. For one day, why get into debt. The marriage is more important.
Natasha from Hawaii on May 09, 2012:
I love it! Where I work, we have two rental facilities people book for thousands of dollars. Every weekend, I see people getting way too worked up about these things. Your take on wedding planning is refreshing.
Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on May 09, 2012:
Though I'm not in a mood to get married anytime soon, I enjoyed reading this hub. Many will find this very helpful.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on April 28, 2012:
@Davensten, you are a woman after my own heart. I agree with your husband 100%. Good for you, for still making a wedding with all the trimmings, but doing it on the cheap. I think there's a real satisfaction in saving money, too. I am looking forward to checking out your hub on the subject.
Thanks so much for the comments and have a wonderful evening.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on April 28, 2012:
@Arlene, your wedding sounds fantastic, too. It sounds like you and I have very similar ideas about wedding planning. And I completely agree that all of those super-fancy, super-expensive sound just way too stressful. Thanks so much for coming by and taking the time to comment. Take care!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on April 28, 2012:
@HBN, you are so kind! Thank you for the belated anniversary wishes. And yes, I am so grateful to my amazing sister for all her help. It was a great day and having all the help made us very grateful. Have a good night and thanks again!
Katina Davenport on April 28, 2012:
I had a cheap wedding too! I enjoyed getting things for cheap or free. I spent 4 months planning my wedding. I had two ceremonies. The first one was simple, after church on front of family and friends. The second one we had all the trimmings but for little of nothing. I wrote a hub about it to.
You had great ideas. I believe in small weddings. My hubby says to have a small wedding and a big life. I agree with him. Congrats on the wedding. I wish you much success in your marriage.
Arlene V. Poma on April 28, 2012:
Your wedding sounds like mine--P-E-R-F-E-C-T!!! It was the second time around for the two of us, too, and we already set up our household 7 years before getting married. I don't believe in big, extravagant weddings. Last year, I met a young woman who paid a fortune to get married in a small Victorian church in a tourist spot. 8 bridesmaids, custom invitations made by the bride's mother and a honeymoon in Hawaii. I was stressed just listening to her plans! It is much more important having friends and family at the wedding or later at the reception. Everyone seems to forget the rest.
Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on April 28, 2012:
Great hub with lots of creative suggestions for a wedding on an extremely tight budget.
I love the fact that you and your husband knew exactly what you wanted and focused on the meaningful parts of the wedding and reception. It takes a lot of self-confidence to do things that are outside the rigid box of convention, but as you put it so well in this hub the pay off can be great- no stressful debt burden.
Your wedding sounds like it was lovely and your sister's big heart and efforts to give you the wedding you wanted was heartwarming to read about.
Voted up across the board except for funny.
Happy belated, 4th wedding anniversary.