My wife and I's engagement photo where we are kissing my wife is wearing her affordable but beautiful white wedding dress
Our Engagement Photo

If you want to save money on your wedding expenses, you have come to the right place. My wife and I’s wedding cost under $5000. I will share how we made that happen and still had a fantastic and memorable wedding.

“The Wedding Report’s average cost for a 2022 wedding sits at around $27,000.” –

$27,000 for a wedding?!

It’s definitely possible to keep wedding expenses much lower, especially for couples on a budget and planning for other big purchases such as buying a home.

In this article, I will share a little background on how I met my wife, the budget breakdown for our wedding, and 16 tips to help you have a beautiful wedding while on a budget!

Our Love Story

Shortly after returning from my LDS mission in Taiwan, I started the first semester of my bachelor’s degree.

I learned Mandarin Chinese during my two years of LDS mission in Taiwan and continued taking Chinese courses in College.

I am especially grateful for my two-year missionary experience; without this experience, I might not have married my wife Shan.

Both of us were in the school orchestra at Utah Valley University. After class was over one day I summoned up the courage to go talk to Shan and used my Chinese homework as an excuse to hang out. 🙂

Our first date was in September of 2015.

We kept dating and getting to know each other very well. We grew closer together and realized we couldn’t stand being apart.

This became crystal clear when I transferred to BYU-H for a semester but was away from Shan. After the second time she came to visit me I decided to transfer back to Utah so I could be with her.

In December 2016, I proposed to Shan and thankfully she said yes! On May 6, 2017 we were officially wed.

Why We Decided to Cut Expenses For Our Wedding

Person cutting a paper that says "expenses"

Shan and I needed to save on wedding expenses mainly because we wanted to save up a down payment and buy our first home together.

Shan reminded me that a wedding is temporary, but buying a house will benefit us for many years. We had the plan to rent out our first property in the future.

If interested, I wrote another article sharing Our Real Estate Strategy ($400K At Age 26 in Utah).

We are fortunate to have received help with most of our wedding expenses from my parents and in-laws. They did so to help us better save for our down payment, but we still created a budget for our wedding and made sure the total expenses were under $5,000!

We kept things simple, so we did not go over budget and did not need to spend our own money.

“Marriage is a partnership, and couples can’t win with money unless they budget as a team.”

Dave Ramsey

Under $5000 Wedding Budget Breakdown

Wedding Dress: $350
Tuxedo: $200
Wedding Ring: $150
best man tie:$10
bridesmaid shawl:$20
Reception Center: $150
Orchestra: $100
Wedding Arches: $200
Bouquet: $200
Wedding Cake: $275
Food: $1500
Tableware: $200
Photographer: $700
Invitations: $200
Decoration: $300
Makeup: $100

Total: $4655

Now let’s talk about 16 ways to save and find the best deals for your wedding!

1. Buy A Wedding Dress From Overseas

As you know, wedding dresses can be so expensive in America.

My wife Shan is from China and told me that the wedding dresses there are so much cheaper.

To save money, Shan bought her wedding dress from China for $250. The shipping cost was $100 because the dress was big and heavy.

Me holding the back of my wife's super long wedding dress that only cost two hundred and fifty dollars
Holding my wife’s super long dress!

When my parents saw the dress for the first time, they thought it cost $5000.

After our wedding, my wife tried to sell the wedding dress, but the people who came to try it either didn’t fit or thought it was too long.

In the end, we decided to donate our wedding dress because we also needed to prepare to move and declutter.

The good thing is that the wedding dress was only a fraction of the cost in America, and donating it was the right choice for us to help another bride have a beautiful wedding.

2. Use Regular Dress Pants

Honestly, most people will probably not notice or care if you wear regular black suit pants or fancy tuxedo pants. We personally felt it simply was not necessary to buy or rent expensive black slacks.

I purchased a white tuxedo suit coat at Men’s Warehouse when they had an awesome buy one suit coat get one free promotion.

The salesman is my dad’s childhood friend and was a great help. I only purchased a suit jacket (I got another free) and a blue boutonniere.

I just used the black pants I already had from Walmart in my closet.

Me trying on a white tuxedo jacket that I bought for just one hundred dollars
My $100 Tuxedo Jacket

After the wedding, I sold the white tuxedo for $100. So actually the actual cost was only $100!

3. Find Affordable Wedding Rings

“According to The Knot 2021 Jewelry and Engagement Study, the average cost of an engagement ring is currently $6,000. Only 8% of ring shoppers are spending under $1,000.”

Our engagement/wedding rings only cost us $150!

Mine is a $25 ring from Walmart, and my wife’s ring was bought online for a little over $100.

Holding our wedding boutque with our wedding rings showing that were only $150 total
Our $150 (total) rings

We knew that having a lasting marriage and investing in assets were more important than a diamond ring.

Shan saw some news that said a diamond is just a rock, but it’s marketing campaigns that make it more valuable.

There are a lot of diamonds in the world, but big companies try to control how much to produce every year.

If you are interested, I found an interesting article on the topic – DIAMONDS – THE GREATEST MARKETING SCAM OF ALL TIME.

I’m very grateful to have a wife who focuses on building a financially secure future.

I felt bad at first for not getting an expensive ring, but looking back now we’ve had three real estate properties together and have two beautiful children.

Our relationship and cooperation have helped us find true happiness.

Related content: How to Get on the Same Page Financially With Your Spouse (9 Tips)

4. Buy Groomsmen Ties Online

We bought our groomsmen ties from overseas since they were much more affordable.

My parents-in-law helped us bring it from China when they came to the USA for our wedding.

The total cost for all of the groomsmen ties was ten dollars!

Me with my groomsmen wearing blue ties that I got from China for just ten dollars
Me and the groomsmen 😀

There are many Chinese websites for shopping, such as Wish and AliExpress.

The cheapest shipping usually takes a long time so remember to prepare in advance.

5. Cute Shawls for Bridemaids

Buying or renting bridesmaid dresses and buying flowers for each bridesmaid can be very expensive.

My wife came up with an idea for just letting them wear their own white dress. All we gave them was a pink shawl.

You can see the outcome in the picture below! 🙂

My wife with her bridemaids that wore white dresses and pink shawls
My gorgeous wife with her bridesmaids

If your bridesmaids don’t have a certain color of dress, they could always borrow one from a friend just for the wedding.

The total for the bridesmaid shawls was $20!

Cheap shipping on sites like Wish and AliExpress usually takes a long time, such as more than a month, so remember to prepare in advance.

6. Look For a Discount on Reception Center

Our reception center was on top of a mountain with big windows overlooking the valley (in Utah). I got a discount since my brother was the HOA Manager, and I had worked there before too.

The total was $150! That also included all the tables and chairs in the price!

So look around for discounts and packages that are affordable for your budget. Other ideas are checking to see if your HOA has a clubhouse or asking a friend or family member who has a large backyard to use it for your reception.

7. Hire a College Quartet

Using this tip can save you a ton of money and give your wedding a special feeling with live music!

As I mentioned before, my wife and I met in the school orchestra at Utah Valley University.

We invited our classmates/friends from the orchestra. Four of them happened to be in a quartet and were all very skilled musicians.

A college quartet playing wedding music at our wedding
Our college quartet friends!

We loved the beautiful music they played at our wedding.

Many College orchestras have elite musicians who form quartets and can play at weddings for a fraction of the cost of hiring someone else.

8. Shop Around For a Wedding Arbor

Make sure to shop around and not give up when looking for your wedding arbor! You could also ask friends or family who was recently married to see if they were able to find a good deal.

Finding an affordable wedding arch or arbor was the most difficult for us.

We almost gave up on saving money because we could not find a very good deal.

My wife and I dancing at our wedding with the affordable floral wedding arbor or arch in that background
Wedding reception dance with wedding arbor behind us

Fortunately, my Mom walked around a store and found an arch with flowers and delivery totaling $200.

9. Consider a Fake Flower Bouquet

Give yourself enough time, and you should be able to find a beautiful flower bouquet at a good price.

We got a fake flower bouquet to save money since the seller’s pictures made it look nice. Unfortunately, we didn’t like it that much and realized we should have checked other reviews first – so check those reviews!

We were still going to use it but my Mom noticed my wife was not happy with the bouquet, so she ran to the flower store and booked a bouquet with real flowers for my wife.

We think this is a valuable tip to save more money and you can find a suitable fake bouquet by checking others’ reviews.

10. Find a Great Deal on a Wedding Cake or Make it Yourself

The best way to save money on your wedding cake is to make it yourself! There are many tutorials and how-to videos online.

We have some friends who made their own wedding cakes to save money.

We didn’t have the idea that we could make our wedding cake until after the wedding, haha.

Instead, we spent a lot of time looking for the best deal for our wedding cake.

Everything cost us $275 including delivery fees as well.

It was pretty and delicious!

Cutting our wedding cake that was under three hundred dollars
Our $275 wedding cake

11. Keep Catering Simple Yet Delicious

Keeping the catering service simple yet elegant can go a long way to save you money on your wedding expenses.

Catering services is the most expensive aspect of our wedding. We actually tried not to invite too many people to the reception to help save us money.

Chocolate fountain and refreshments at my wedding
Refreshments at my wedding

The wedding food is also simple so it didn’t cost that much. For lunch, we had some sandwiches and treats. For dinner, we just had light refreshments such as a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit.

12. Get Creative With Tableware

Our wedding tableware was pretty simple; we did not do anything fancy.

We rented white table clothes, blue runners, and pink bows for the chairs and a tall wedding cake table with shiny table clothes.

My wife spends a lot of time looking for the best deal. We picked it up by ourselves, and my parents returned it so we didn’t have to pay delivery fees.

So shop around and see if there are options for you to pick up and return the rented tableware.

13. Find a College Photographer

There are many incredible college students studying photography for their majors. It’s easy to get an idea of their work by asking for samples of their previous work and how long they have been doing photography.

The price will also typically be much more affordable than hiring a wedding company or someone else.

Our wedding photographer was a good friend from Church. She was still a college student so she did not charge a super high price.

And we loved our wedding photos! This friend helped take our engagement photos as well.

She charged $600 for the wedding and $100 for the engagement photoshoot.

Many students or new photographers need to build up their profile, so they will charge a lower price or even take your pictures for free!

If you want to save money on your wedding or engagement photos, find a talented college student photographer.

14. Consider Digital Invitations or Keep Paper Invitations Simple

Using digital wedding invitations can save you a large chunk of money. My wife and I really wanted to do online invitations since the price would be much lower or even free.

My parents, however, are more traditional and wanted the paper kind, so we went with paper ones but kept the dimensions small to save on costs.

Another option is to release your creativity and make your own invitations using crafting supplies!

15. DIY Decorations!

You’d be surprised how easy it is to create an elegant wedding with homemade decorations!

The decorations for our wedding were very simple and we did a lot of the decorating ourselves. For example, we put our string instruments on display since it reminds us of how we met in orchestra class.

Our simple wedding decor on a table with pictures of me and my wife, a journal, and our flower bouquet

Having lots of pictures is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to decorate! Also, try putting items out that reminds you of how you met and got to the point of getting married.

16. Find a Discount on Wedding Makeup Artist

If you or someone you know has makeup expertise, you could always save money doing it yourself.

Otherwise, there are definitely ways to find an affordable wedding makeup artist. My wife wanted a professional to do her makeup for our engagement and wedding pictures.

The makeup artist we found was a friend’s friend, so we received a fantastic discount, each time costing $50. They also drove to our house, which was so convenient!

So ask around, and you can surely find a good deal!

In Conclusion

If we could keep our wedding budget under $5,000, you can too!

Keep in mind the tips provided in this article, and give yourself plenty of prep time to shop around and find amazing deals.

Making an effort to do so will save you a lot of money. That saved money can then be used on a down payment or other expenses.

Thank you so much for reading! Please comment below with your experiences and own tips on how you saved money on your wedding.

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We hope the information in this article provides valuable insights to every reader but we, the Biesingers, are not financial advisors. When making your personal finance decisions, research multiple sources and/or receive advice from a licensed professional. As always, we wish you the best in your pursuit of financial independence!