Wedding on a Budget: How to Keep the Big Day Unique, Romantic, and Low-Key

Wedding on a Budget: How to Keep the Big Day Unique, Romantic, and Low-Key

Choosing a wedding on a budget doesn’t have to mean moseying down to the county courthouse, or a quick trip to Vegas. It can be creative, romantic, and as big a day as any.

Paul, my fiancé, asked me to marry him on a very cold January night. He kept the proposal simple: he waited until all our animals — all four of them — were in the room, gave me a $20 ring from the local thrift store, and did the damn thing. While we were putting on our coats to go buy celebratory sparkling wine, Rapture, one of our cats, took a joy-filled dump. It was basically the most perfect moment ever.

You may be able to tell by how my fiancé executed our engagement that he and I are low maintenance people who do things our way. And it just so happens that our way is pretty chill, a little strange, and, luckily, cheap.

So, when Paul and I started to plan our wedding, we decided to craft an unconventional event rather than a traditional, chiffon-laden extravaganza.

Obviously, our vision isn’t for everyone, but in essence, our wedding planning strategy is economical at its heart. I hope our preliminary plans can be used to help brides and grooms think about their big day in a different — aka cheap and totally awesome — way.

How to Throw a Wedding on a Budget

Going Way Off-Peak

October, the month our wedding is going to take place, is still considered a peak wedding month. But getting married on a Monday or a Tuesday? That’s waaay off-peak. And that’s why we’re going to get married at the beginning of the week. The main perk of picking a weekday as a wedding day? Most reception halls are half the price of what they go for on a Saturday. We saved about $700.

Skip the Caterers

Caterers are awesome, but they are incredibly expensive. You know what’s not expensive? Pizza. Now, pizza may not be the most romantic food, but it sure is tasty. Paul and I live in a very liberal, health-conscious town, so we have oodles of great pizza places to choose from that offer meat-free, cheese-free, and gluten-free pizza. Perfect for all of our guests — and a bride — with specific eating habits.

Skipping the caterers also allowed us to “hire” a good friend to bartend the reception. And we’re keeping our drink options simple — water, soda, box wine, local beer, and one signature drink — we’re thinking a spooky cider spiked with whiskey.

Theme Me

If you’ve ever read anything I’ve wrote, you know I adore Halloween. Luckily, my fiancé is a huge fan of the holiday, too, so, we’ve decided to make the entire event spooky. We’re going all out: black and orange table cloths, plates, and cups — all recyclable, of course — and decorations that fit the retro Halloween vibe we love.

To keep the flower costs down, we’re carving pumpkins and placing candles in them to make fun centerpieces. And to keep the event fun and in the spirit of Halloween, we’re asking all our guests dress in costume. And, yeah, we are thinking about wearing Halloween costumes to keep our ceremony outfit costs down, too.

Stay Small

Because we’re keeping food and drink costs down, we’re inviting everyone we think would like to come to the haunted event. But even that “everyone” is turning out to be a pretty small number. This conservative count is allowing us to have the ceremony at a free venue — a local park — so we can enjoy all the awesome Midwestern fall leaves. And while I love the idea of having bridesmaids, I hate the idea of paying for bridesmaid dresses. So, I’m nixing that tradition, too. Instead, I’m asking a close guy and female friend to stand by me while the vows are read.

Now, obviously not everyone is going to want to have a retro, Halloween wedding, but as you can see, these ideas can be applied to any type of wedding — even a traditional one.

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Wedding image via Shutterstock

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.