Funding your dream nuptials does not have to equal the cost of a small island! Here, real brides share how they threw big, luxurious weddings on meager budgets.
"I threw a beautiful luxury wedding at a members only club in New York City's financial district for 60 people for under $10,000 including invitations,
clothing, rings, etc... Money-saving tips I incorporated included having a wedding brunch versus dinner. You can negotiate with the venue because the space would probably be empty anyway. I bought my beautiful $125 wedding dress on eBay — people thought I was crazy but I knew Tadashi Sholi created dresses for women with my shape. I got jewelry from Swarovski — the bling level was insane and came in for under $250. I bought 200 roses for $150 from Costco. It was enough for all the bouquets, center pieces and centerpiece decorations." —Brittany
"My husband Jeff and I paid for the wedding entirely on our own. We couldn't afford upwards of $50,000 but also didn't want to compromise a spectacular event. Luxuries we wanted were live music and dance lessons. To save, we did a destination wedding to Mexico (our flights were gifted), cut our guest list significantly and did a lot of DIY projects such as invitations, 90 percent of the decorations, and my mother-in-law made our favors. We even lugged it all to Mexico instead of shipping it. We got everything we wanted — even nice welcome bags — spent about $9,000, and everyone had a blast." —Robyn
"We pulled off our dream wedding with a team effort and extreme DIY. I designed my own gown, but my friend who owns an embroidery studio embellished it, another friend sewed it after I ordered the fabric wholesale through contacts. It was much better than anything I saw at a bridal boutique! I DIY'ed my invitations, my friend's family did the flowers. For the venue, I chose a weekday that just happened to fall on that extra day in a long holiday weekend, but still got the discounted rate. If you are not the DIY type, approach your vendors with very specific plans. Vendors build in extras costs for time, changes, etc. If there is no guesswork, the vendor can accurately price your job and help you find ways to reduce. When shopping vendors, show them the exact specs you want. Choose priorities! People remember how the bride looked and the food. They won't remember the type of orchid you chose and they likely threw away the favors. Splurge only where it counts!" —Mariana
"If you have contacts in the hospitality business, don't be afraid to ask for help. That's how I got a great DJ, photographer and hair and makeup stylist. These were all gifts from friends who were happy to do or pay for the services." —Amanda
"We had a cocktail reception versus a sit down dinner. The display was beautiful — butlers in tuxedos passing trays of a few fabulous hors d'oeuvres versus chafing dishes which don't look as high end but cost about the same." —Emily
"I saved a bundle in numerous ways. For example, I bought my linens and napkins online, then sold them afterward and made all the money back. Also, I'd gotten a quote for real flowers for $9,000, and made fake centerpieces for $900, which looked fabulous. Each one was three feet tall! And yes, I sold them after the wedding and made all my money back. I only ordered real flowers for the ceremony itself. Where I put more money was into photography and video because those are memories you will have forever." —Jenaya