It’s true that weddings can cost a lot of money. According to a survey by Wedded Wonderland, the average cost of a wedding in 2019 is just over $50,000. Over the past four years or so, however, I’ve noticed a trend. Couples are becoming savvier with ways to simplify their wedding and to save money. They might downsize their guest list, make compromises on the bells and whistles, or take advantage of off-season offers. This could trim their budgets down to the $10,000 mark.
And then there are the exceptional couples who decide on a DIY wedding and pull it off with a micro-budget. It’s possible. I promise! I saw it with my own eyes – and it was gorgeous. The creative and clever couple managed to host a wedding and reception for 70 guests, for under $1000!
Here’s how they did it and my top tips for pulling off an inexpensive and back to basics wedding.
Involve Your community:
Plan a wedding not based on commercialism, but on community, sharing, and participation. This amazing couple decided that instead of wedding gifts, they would ask their friends and family to contribute their time and skills. The wedding in turn was even more meaningful to those who attended, because they helped create it.
Use volunteers instead of hiring an on-the-day coordinator. The couple asked the local primary school to volunteer in return for a donation to the school. Four mums turned up and did a fabulous job of helping the guests get fed and watered easily. The donation made was a fraction of the cost of what the wages would have been, and they kept the event running smoothly.
Catering was avoided when the couple asked guests to bring a dish to share in lieu of a gift. It was a multi-cultural feast, served buffet style — from curries to salads to pasta to stews, the guests got to choose from a great variety of food. Alcohol was brought by guests, or brought out of the cellar.
Borrow a venue
The couple saved money by marrying at a family farm in the Margaret River region. You might be able to ask a family member, friend, or member of the local community if you can use their venue for this momentous occasion in exchange for leaving the grounds in better condition than you found it — this could mean offering a day of weeding and pruning or whatever the landowner considers appropriate compensation.
Let nature be your stylist.
Their ceremony was conducted under a lone peppermint tree, where the gnarly trunk and branches acted as the arbour. Home-made dream-catchers were hung up to add to the romance and a wine barrel was used as the signing table. Flowers were picked from local gardens (with permission) on the morning of the ceremony, and were used to create flower crowns, table decorations, and the bridal bouquet.
The bride wore a gifted cocktail dress, while the groom wore a shirt borrowed from his dad, and shorts from the Op Shop. The rings they exchanged were made from a grass-tree frond and sap — temporary symbols until they could tattoo their “rings” on later. The tattoos cost them around $100
The reception site was created by building a wall of hay bales borrowed from a neighbouring farmer. Home-made bunting was strung from the windmill and criss-crossed above the space. A long table was constructed from salvaged pallets, and the seating from scaffolding planks, which were covered with sheets from the Op Shop. Crockery and cutlery was a mish-mash of op shop finds and donations from extended friend networks. Glassware were an eclectic mix of hand-painted jars that guests were asked to keep. The whole set-up cost them under $50!
What it did take was a massive amount of hours by family and friends to construct the table and seating, to sew the bunting and paint the jars, to paint the signs, to string the bunting and lighting, and to source all the freebies needed to make the event. If you’re thinking about a micro-budget large-scale wedding, do take this into account — you will need the support of an army of family and friends to help you pull it off — but it is possible!
Anita Revel of YesIDoWeddings.com is an award-winning Celebrant in Western Australia.
This post features the following wedding vendors. If you've been featured below, we'd love to get to know you. Click here to join Polka Dot Wedding.