DIY $1500 wedding on a budget!

Last Saturday was our one year anniversary! It was…a total fail. Just the day, not our marriage. Husband bought us massages but couldn’t schedule them because the place would not call him back! And we were going to get pre-approved for a loan at the bank but the mortgage guy wasn’t there (which makes sense on a Sat – but it was going to be so adorably momentous on our one year). Then we continued to fail – oh well. But we did successfully walk down memory lane on last year. Now, a year later, I’m even more proud of my wedding than I was on the day. I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved that every ounce of my wedding was 100% me – I came up with all the ideas (and delegated the work) and I did it all on the most impressive budget I’ve ever heard of – unless you’re going the Vegas strip route. My entire wedding was about $1500. 

Dress: $300
Cake: $300
Food: $200
Chairs: $200
Flowers: $190
Decor: $50
Stamps: $130
Venue: Free
Invites: Free
Engagements: Free
Bridals: Free
Wedding Day Photography: Free

Some things I did that seriously saved money:
  •  Find a free venue. We paid a deposit, but as long as we didn’t leave it a wreck we got it all back. I was way lucky here – but unless your venue includes everything, it’s not worth spending a big ticket amount on.

  • Go inexpensive on the flowers. I really wanted peonies. I still love them. That will be the first plant I buy (and likely kill) when we get a place. Peonies are really expensive. I was talking to a friend about this and she said she understood because she had roses...I had to explain that compared to peonies, roses were cheap. Just a few weeks before the wedding I started seeing the tulips pop into the store for Easter and I knew I wanted those! I got 180 tulips wholesale that covered my bouquet, bridesmaids bouquets, boutonnière’s, food table bouquets, mother of the bride/groom and grandparents...all for what just my bouquet would have cost. And you know what, I loved it! I though they looked great, people loved how perfectly springy they were. What great is – flowers are pretty, whether they’re pricey or cheap. But don’t do carnations. They’re cheap and they look cheap.

  • Grow plants. To help with making everything feel springy we planted wheatgrass to put on every table and around. We also forced a bunch of tulip bulbs that my aunt found after fall for $0.02 for a bag. We made them think they were hibernating by putting them in the freezer. They bloomed about 4 days too early, but they still looked great.

  • Create things yourself. We made the wall hanging with insulation board, we printed large pictures on architect paper, my sister made the thumb print tree, I came up with the idea of my announcements. Get on pinterest and get the wheels turning on how you can implement.

  • Look at clearance and the thrift store. I got a bunch of bird houses that were adorable extras on clearance after Christmas. I got all the table center piece vases for $1 at the thrift store. 

  • Do your own make-up and hair. My sister did mine - it was crazy awesome. We practiced beforehand too. 

  •  Do your own food. My dad and aunts all did the food - it was amazing! We were able to have nicer food without the catering fees. It does help that my family is full of awesome cooks. Yes, my dad did cook a pig. He was so happy. 

Things that I saved money on that, sadly, you probably won’t be able to replicate:

  • My mom made my dress. She worked her way through college as a wedding dress maker. Score me. It was so fun to try on dresses with her and be able to say that I like this skirt, that back, this neckline…ect. She made up the pattern and everything. She finally got the material in the fabric district in San Francisco – feels so project runway!

  • Our oldest family friends (who I talked about here) did my photography. Free is always fun, but it was fabulous to not be worrying about what events they should come to, how many hours things took. They also had two camera’s going the whole time – if you can get two photographers, do it! It’s becoming more common for people to bring a sidekick along. It was also beyond enjoyable to spend time with these people so dear to me, which I otherwise probably couldn’t have done.

  • My good friend designed my announcement. I had a pretty good idea of what some of the elements were and asked her if she’d do it – then she surprised me with it being better than I had imagined and she made it my gift!
  • Husband’s good family friends own a print shop and printed all our announcements and made it our gift.
  • My cousin did my engagement pictures, also made it a gift. I knew what poses I wanted, so we just took a whole bunch in those poses and called it a day. I wanted a big picture of us in our wedding apparel, so she was great a took a few shots the day before the wedding and we hurried and printed them off.

Call in all favors! You might not be able to get so much for free, but figure out how to get good pricing and discounts. People want to be part of your big day, they really do. Sometimes it feels like more work to explain exactly what you want to someone than to just do it yourself – but you can’t just do everything, you’ll go crazy.

A few random DO's/Don'ts that you might not think of: 
  • Do clean your ring RIGHT before. Mine didn’t sparkle in the pictures. Crap.
  • Do get a manicure (shellac!!).
  • Do have a schedule – tell ppl what it is and stick to it! We left right at seven. It was great.
  • Do eat some of your food. Having a schedule helps with this too.

  • Do eat AND drink during the day. I got dehydrated. Pack apples, turkey sandwich (no mustard) – all white foods and water bottles to eat during pictures and such.
  • Do have a daddy daughter dance – aside from the actual getting married part, this was my favorite moment of the whole day.

  • Do get two photographers, if you can.
  • Do have it look like this is a celebration for you AND your spouse…at least a little (49ers cake).

  • Do enjoy the day – don’t be a bridezilla. Look around at everyone that joined you for your day, talk with them, love them! 
  • Do have things have special meaning - I had a heart from a necklace Husband's parents gave me on my bouquet. Little stuff makes it special. 

  • Do create an heirloom. Husband got me gorgeous - leave to my children earrings. I was going to go the cheap route, but he surprised me and I now have family earrings. 

  • Do have something for kids to do! 

Need some help or advice planning your wedding or other party? Let me know! I've learned that I LOVE event planning (especially on a budget, I get a thrill out of creating an entire event for pennies) - corporate events is my full time job, but between big events I love helping with other ones to get my fix ;)


  1. So great! We did ours on a small budget too and I've never regretted it! It blows my mind when I talk to girls that are 15k in debt over a wedding!!

    1. Agreed! They could buy a car, put a down payment on a house...so many things with that much money! And - like you - looking back I loved making it less stressful. I think if I spent more I would've felt guilty the whole day!

  2. So inspiring! The earrings are gorgeous. You should make this a pinterest pin or something (or maybe you have lol) --people need to see this!

    1. Thanks! I totally need to - I feel like ppl can really learn to keep it small. You did yours cheap too and it was gorgeous, and totally you!

  3. Your mom made your dress?! You look gorgeous in it!! The food looks so good! Looks like the day was perfection! ;-)

    1. She did - I am so lucky! I've had several friends sell their dresses after, but I never could! It was a perfect day, when I hear people talk about things that weren't perfect on their days I just think about how I wouldn't change a thing!

  4. Wow, I have to say I am ridiculously impressed that you did your whole wedding for $1500! Umm... my dad would have killed to have had that budget! Lol. The airfare alone for my family was a few thousand dollars. When I think about how much we ended up spending, it makes me a little sick to my stomach, but I'm really lucky that I had parents who were willing & able to pay for it all. You need to teach me your ways!

    1. Thank you! I was extremely lucky in many way - one being that I have family in the area and my parents were able to drive over (with their truck full of wedding crap). But I am the queen of making things look awesome with nothing :).

  5. Happy anniversary and what a beautiful wedding! Such great tips and tricks for an absolutely beautiful wedding:) Stopping by from Lil Luna!