So you’ve finally set your wedding budget at $15,000. Congrats! That’s the first (and arguably the most important) step of wedding planning. Now it’s time to delve into the details. Don’t fret about a tight budget; it’s totally possible to throw a memorable event with $15,000. The key? A small guest list—50 people or less— to maximize impact. Thinking outside the box will also help you stretch your budget. There are plenty of ways to keep costs down but still provide a unique experience for your friends and family. Consider going with a brunch wedding, for example. Or host a late-evening affair with cocktails and dessert. At the end of the day, the focus should be on celebrating this new chapter with your future spouse. Whichever route you choose, here’s exactly what a $15,000 wedding budget could look like.
Attire, Hair, and Makeup: $1,500
The groom can get a great tux rental for around $200, and there are a ton of elegant but affordable bridal gowns these days. Allocate about $900 for the dress, including alterations. The internet is your friend here. Check out places like BHLDN and Reformation for some chic dresses and separates. Finally, a bride always wants to look her best on her wedding day, so set aside about $400 for hair and makeup. You’ll save some cash here if you’re willing to travel to the salon versus having your stylist come to you.
Wedding Bands: $500
This is one oft-forgotten detail when couples budget for their wedding—but it’s an important one! Shop for some simple and sleek wedding bands for your big day.
Ceremony & Reception: $8,100
Yes, this is where most of your money will go. This includes your venue, the food, drinks, and basics like tables, chairs, and linens. These big-ticket items make up most of the guest experience, so it’s also where you’ll want to focus most of your attention. You can stretch your budget even further with some creative options. Try an early Sunday wedding with a delicious farm-to-table brunch and charming mimosa bar to cut down on costs. If you’re set on a more traditional wedding with dinner and drinks, consider a buffet and a limited bar: beer, wine, and a signature cocktail.
Photography & Videography: $1,200
Photos from your big day will live on forever, so opt for a quality photographer. In fact, I recommend devoting this entire budget to photography. For video, ask a friend to film key moments like the ceremony and first dance. You can also look into film schools, which often have up-and-coming videographers that may be willing to shoot your wedding for the experience or for a much smaller fee.
Flowers & Decor: $1,500
Simple and elegant can have a big impact! Take advantage of what your venue has to offer and use your decor to accent your venue’s natural charm. Flowers can be more expensive than you realize, so try modest centerpieces accented with candles. Or surround flowers on each table with framed pictures (think 4x6 or 5x7) of you and your partner throughout your courtship. It’s a great way to add a personal touch to your event, and you can keep the photos for your home.
If you think you’ll have dancing (daytime events sometimes don’t lend to a “dancey” atmosphere), hire a DJ instead of a costly live band. Otherwise, make a playlist to play on your venue’s sound system and move these funds to amp up another aspect of the budget, like the food or bar.
No need to go all out with an elaborate cake. In fact, a simple cake adorned with fresh flowers is all the rage right now. You can also order a small cake for the cake-cutting ceremony and supplement it with a sheet cake (hidden in the kitchen) for when it comes time to serve dessert.
Invitations & Stationery: $300
While email invitations are perfectly acceptable on a tight budget, places like Shutterfly offer some really affordable options. You can keep the invite itself simple and keep all the pertinent information on your wedding website. In terms of day-of stationery, opt for beautiful signage at your reception instead of individual menus and place cards.
Favors aren’t an absolute necessity for a tighter-budget wedding, but if you’re set on having something, a donation to your favorite charity along with a yummy baked good makes for a lovely parting gift.
Splurge Cushion: $500
Save a portion of your budget for unexpected costs or for something you didn’t realize you wanted! If you don’t end up using this, you can always put it toward your honeymoon.
Mindy Weiss, wedding planner to the stars and the Wedding Shop by Shutterfly’s style partner, is our go-to expert on all things wedding. With more than 20 years of planning weddings and events for top Hollywood personalities (think Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, and so many more), her best-selling The Wedding Book, and her line of stylish bridal flats with Rollasole, Mindy is the ultimate authority on planning an unforgettable wedding.