Introduction


It is actually possible to have an affordable, fun, green wedding. We consider ourselves lucky to have the wedding that we had, but I notice that a lot of people are having trouble comprehending how to have a wedding on a budget of $5000, so I made sure to keep track of how we spent our money. Sure, there were some things missing from our wedding - some were personal preference (no meat at the brunch) and some were because of financial reasons. But, because we made sure to prioritize, those things that some people might say are "missing," were not really missed by us at all.

My parents gave us a gift of $5,000 and that's about what we spent. Which includes everything except for a lot of time and labor we and our lovely friends and family put in. If I did not list it, we probably did not have it. Good luck!
Here's the cut and dry version of our budget:

$ 420 - Attire
$ 170 - Ceremony location and cost of officiant
$ 225 - Reception site rental and linens
$ 585 - Food and Drink for 100 people (we had a pancake and Mimosa brunch)
$ 210 - Stationary (Paper, ink, envelopes and stamps)
$ 25 - Flowers and Decorations
$ 5 - Music (We had a friend play his Cello for the wedding)
$2300 - Photographer
$ 300 - Wedding rings
$ 150 - Gifts for our attendants and other helpful individuals
$ 125 - Wedding Favors - Etched wine glasses
________________________________________
$4515 Total cost of wedding

Location

CEREMONY: We both wanted an outdoor wedding. We considered a lot of places, but accessibility was important. We've got lots of cute little old ladies in our families. After a little investigating we decided on a local state park that had a beautiful shelter built by the PWA in the 1940's of local quarried rock. The price was right being just $25 per day. We rented the shelter for the night before as well and barbequed there for the rehearsal dinner.
The only draw backs were the not so nice bathrooms. We own a couple of wooden TV tray like folding tables. I put one in each bathroom with a basket of assorted hand sanitizer, lotion, tissues, mints, Tylenol and safety pins. After the ceremony the baskets were brought to the receptions' bathrooms.
I should also mention we didn't really have a rain plan. It was going to happen outside rain or shine with out a tent. We're really lucky it didn't rain.
We rented chairs for the audience. It was $110 for 100 chairs to be delivered and picked up. However, we had to put out the chairs and return them to their racks. Luckily we had some obliging friends and family who took care of this.
RECEPTION: We needed a location that would allow us to bring in our own food. We wanted to use local or organic food as much as possible and many catering services charge outrageous prices to alter the menus enough to accommodate a green wedding. Since we weren't having the wedding at a church, why not the reception? My groom's church had just built a new community room. In fact for a while we worried it wouldn't be done in time for the wedding, but they did manage to get it put together just seven days before the wedding. The cost of rental was $75 for four hours and $25 for use the kitchen.
Total in site rentals = $235

Attire

It was important to me that only natural fibers were used in the wedding party's clothing. This turned into a huge hassle. Eventually I revoked that rule. Between the mothers having difficulty and my bridesmaids complaining I told them to pick something they wanted to wear and just not tell me what it was made from.

WEDDING DRESS: I knew I wanted a really simple, not very formal dress since the wedding was going to be outside in the morning. It also had to have straps. I work outside and no matter how much sunscreen I put on I was going to have a tank top tan line. I spent a lot of time searching eBay. I bought 5 different dresses and really loved two of them. The one I wore for the wedding is from J. Crew, the ‘Sophia Long’. It's 100% silk. It fit perfectly and didn't need a stitch of alteration. I resold the dresses I didn't want on eBay and I actually turned a profit. The cost for my dress was $88 including shipping.

GROOM‘S SUIT: An other eBay find. After much looking and debate we bought this linen suit. He looked very hansom. It did require some alterations. A friend recommended a woman who does alterations out of her home. She took in the suit jacket and hemmed the pants for $18. The cream French cuff shirt was also off eBay, as were his sandals. We got his tie at the same shop we got the groomsmen's shirts. His cufflinks were my wedding gift to him. I got them from a local antique mall. His outfit cost came in at a total of $288.95.

ACCESSORIES: I wanted my accessories to have meaning and a story. A friend whose amazing with making jewelry took several necklaces and bracelets that were my grandmother’s, great aunt’s, mother-in law’s and some of her own beads and remade them into a necklace for me to wear. She also created drops for pearl earring my groom had given me. My something barrowed was my aunt's pearl bracelet. My something old was this seed pearl purse I found at an antique mall.

I had a terrible time finding shoes. I looked in every shop I could find. Then I got my biggest stroke of luck. One day after work I stopped by a thrift store to drop off some things and there on the counter was a new pair of Ann Taylor satin ivory heals in my size. I bought them on the spot for $3.30.

MAKE UP AND HAIR: I did my own make-up. The only thing I bought new was lipstick. For my hair I had a stylist help me figure out how to do my hair and then I did it myself. Pictures started at 8 am so the salons weren't open. I made my own veil using this website. It was really easy and cheap. I could make it the exact color and length I wanted. I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

BRIDESMAIDS: There were three attendants. I told the girls to pick a dress or skirt/blouse set that kept with the Green wedding idea in browns, blues or greens. They looked beautiful and it would have been too fussy for our wedding to have them all dressed the same.

GROOMSMEN: The three guys wore their own khaki slacks and brown belts and shoes. We bought sage green button up shirts at a local shop on sale for $12 each. They looked really sharp together.

Total Attire Cost: $417.70

Flowers

I am a florist, so my flowers were very important to me. In keeping with a Green wedding I didn’t want any imported chemically laden flowers. I decided to use flowers and foliage from my mother and mother in-law’s gardens. I also picked many of the flowers out of obliging road side ditches. Well really my mother and aunt did most of the picking.

Bridal Bouquet: I picked the flowers for my bouquet and the flower shop I worked for put them together. My grandmother’s name was Fern so I made sure lots of ferns were in my bouquet. There were also purple clematis, floribunda white rose, a weed I've heard called pancake weed and a type of purple wild campanula. My florist friends did add green hydrangea that was probably imported, but I didn't ask and I knew they created the bouquet for me and that made it special.

Bridesmaids Bouquets: I made my bridesmaids bouquets and the groom’s bout the morning before the wedding. Each bridesmaids bouquet was a little different. My sister, the forester, had green maples seeds in hers, my friend I played in the forest with as a kid, had wild ginger, and my tattooed friend had zebra grass for her wild side.
Bouts: I have a very strong rule that if you don’t have a lapel you don’t get a boutonnière. So the only guy who got a flower was the groom. His was several white floribunda rose blossoms. I didn’t have flowers for our parents or anyone else.
Center Pieces: I did make all the center pieces for the reception. I used antique vases and bowls from my mother's china cabinet. Half the tables had a vase with a mixed flower bouquet and half had three glass vases each with one kind of foliage. I don’t recommend doing your own flowers. It took about three hours right before the rehearsal dinner started for me to get them all put together. Luckily there was a very nice janitor at the hall who helped me clean up or I would have been late.

The total cost of the flowers was $0

Ceremony

We talked about having a sunrise wedding. Doesn't that sound auspicious and romantic? Then we thought the details out. All the guests would have to arrive in the dark and you'd have to get dress and ready at four in the morning. So instead, we had a morning wedding ceremony starting at 9:00 AM. The reception followed at about 10:30 AM and lasted to about 1:30 PM. The real party for the wedding was the rehearsal dinner. We invited all the wedding guests to a BBQ at the ceremony location the night before.

Ceremony Area - The ceremony was held with the shelter as a back drop. It worked out perfectly because the front had a peek that served as a beautiful frame for the alter.


Ceremony Music - Again we’re thinking eco friendly, so canned music with speakers were out. We have a friend who plays the cello and that just seemed perfect. He agreed and we asked that he pick the procession and recession. He actually composed the music and gave it to us a wedding present. The walk in was “Look, Isn’t She Pretty” and the walk out was “Okay, We’re Done, You Can Go Now”. I left the titles out of the program, but they make me smile. Our celloist friend was ser gratis.

Ceremony Officiant - The groom’s family is Catholic and mine is well, a little bit of this and that. I have never been baptized and having no intention of joining the Catholic church, we were extremely lucky. Father Terry is one of the most open hearted and open minded priests I have met. He agreed to marry us “in the Bride’s place of worship” which I decided was outside. It was really important to the groom that Father Terry do the ceremony. He did a wonderful job. He basically read the ceremony we came up with. We gave $100 to the church as his payment.

Total Cost = $100

Decorations

We had such a beautiful location for the wedding that it didn’t need decoration. My one recommendation to others is to start with a beautiful place. It will be so much less work in the long run.


Linen Rentals: For the reception we were in a very beautiful church, but the community room was very plain. We weren't really sure if we were going to be able to use it because it was set to be completed at the beginning of June and they were behind. They actually opened the room one week before our wedding, so that's when I really started to consider how to decorate the hall. The quickest fix was to rent white table cloths from a local rental company for $15 each for an 8 person round table. We also paid $16 each for several long table cloths for the gift table, family pictures and guest book table. Total rented linens $124.12
Cloth Napkins: I insisted that we have no disposables used at our wedding. So when it came to napkins I looked into renting cloth ones. I discovered cloth napkins were about $0.40 a piece. So instead of renting, I bought many, many vintage cloth napkins in lots off eBay for less than $0.40 a piece. In the end I came up with enough for one per guest. There was one at every place setting. It added a lot to the room and people sat at places because they wanted a certain napkin. I am pretty sure people took them home too. I was missing about 20 at the end of the day. Which is fine, I plan on making them into a quilt at some point, but even missing 20 I have more than enough.
Misc: I mentioned the floral center pieces I made using my mom’s antiques and flowers from her garden. I also made flower arrangements for the guest book table, bathrooms and the family wedding portraits table.

Total cost for decorations $164.12

Invitations and Other Stationary

We made our own invitations. My lovely groom did all the water colors and a lot of the layout. I did a lot of the wording and some graphic design. We used PhotoShop to make the images and a desk top printer for the printing. They were one of the things we got the most compliments on.

I ordered the paper from here: http://www.treecycle.com/catstationerycards.html. We used Genesis™ Recycled Stationery in Milkweed 8.5 x 11 80# cover. I recommend paper that is at least 80# . That is the minimum thickness the USPS will take for postcards. Becareful, they also have a minimum size.

We tried not to use much paper. We did this by making the RSVPs and Rehearsal Dinner invites postcards. It also cuts down on the amount of money you spend on stamps.

For the wedding program I made, it was a 8.5x11 page that was folded in half length wise. It looked really slick. Although I do have to admit some of the font got a little small. A lot of people commented on the quiz on the back of the program. It gave people something to talk about before the wedding started. We had a friend who's got a good sense of humor stand up during the toasts and tell the answers.

Stationary Budget:
$73.90 Stamps (100 Invitation, 150 Postcard, 80 Thank You)
$84.00 Ink ($12 per color cartrige)
$26.99 Card Stock (500 pages of #80 paper)
$30.17 Envelopes (250 matching card envelopes)

Total = $211.06

 
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