My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary on August 30, 2017. The first year was a whirlwind of learning experiences full of positive growth.
I reminisced all the way back to our wedding day. We knew we wanted to get married and really would have just eloped. Yet, we wanted to spend a day celebrating with our loved ones and decided to do something inclusive. We chose a court house ceremony with some added touches and a reception afterwards. Looking back, I am glad our loved ones and friends got to join us.
Basically, the only expense we paid for was our honeymoon. Most of the wedding day expenses were paid for by our lovely family. Knowing that the average cost of a wedding without the honeymoon is $26,720, I was glad to avoid that debt and not put that burden on any of my family.
We still chose wedding colors: pale pink and navy blue. We had a ceremony. We had pictures taken. We had a reception.
I write this to commemorate our wedding on my anniversary, but hopefully to also give some tips that can save you or someone you know a lot of money for their big day. The wedding is only one day to celebrate the union of two people in a life-long marriage. The most important part that you can’t go without on a wedding day is actually free: being with each other and with loved ones to share your day with.
This is a snapshot of how much our wedding costed with twenty-two of our closest friends and family.
Bride Tribe Shirts: $20.24
As a small thank you to my sister and mom for all of their hard work in helping plan my wedding, I got us “Bride Tribe” shirts. The small shirt company gave me a refund for any ratings we left them, so I got a $10 discount.
Court Fees: $89
We got married in the Old Santa Ana Courthouse. We paid $61 for the Marriage License and $28 for the Marriage Ceremony.
I knew I wanted a simple dress with some unique detail. I went out with my mom, sister, and grandma to find the perfect dress. I tried on a couple of long dresses and short dresses, but none were special enough for the special day. At Forever 21, the last store that we were going to shop at, I found a dress for $30. Initially, I was not fond of it, but after trying it on, I knew it was the one .
I found some strappy beige heels at PayLess that matched the dress.
A friend of a friend was supposed to do my make-up, but ended up getting sick. So, I went to ULTA the morning of my wedding.
I researched some hairstyles and chose one that I absolutely loved. My mom and I tested out the hairstyle ahead of time and she did my hair the day of.
Suit, Tie, and Handkerchief: $150
We bought my husband a nice suit from H&M. I honestly don’t remember the exact price, but it was a slim fit in the color that I had always pictured for our wedding. I remember that it costed more than my dress. My mom splurged on a tie and handkerchief that wasn’t really necessary, but she bought it anyways to add to our wedding.
We had a beautiful bouquet that a local florist arranged for me. She color coordinated the flowers with our wedding colors. The bouquet was the perfect prop for our wedding-day photos. We also got a boutonniere that matched.
The photographer was a professional that travels all over the country to take wedding photos. He took some family photographs for us and, luckily, gave us a great deal for our wedding (that my awesome mom paid for!). He was scheduled to take 4 hours worth of pictures and shot longer. He captured some beautiful moments that day.
Our cake (pictured!!) was ordered from a baker after a taste tasting. We chose a one-layer, red velvet cake with buttercream frosting. The cake was baked a navy blue color and the pale pink icing coated the cake with flowers. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with the frosting (I like buttercream, but they put cream cheese). Yet, everyone enjoyed it.
Party Favors: $125
To give a gift to our wedding guests to show our appreciation for them joining us, we had the baker make cupcakes in mason jars that we provided. The bakery charged $2.50 for each cupcake. We had to buy a few mason jars (luckily my sister already had some), paper, and string. We cut small paper into pale pink hearts that had the printed words “Thank you for celebrating our sweet day with us.” We tied the hearts to the mason jars.
I’m actually not 100% sure about the price of this. My amazing dad thankfully paid for this portion. We went to a Mexican restaurant where we rented out a room. The restaurant held an open buffet for us. My husband and I got to see our separate families as one big one and we were given the sweetest speeches and gifts. It was a special reception that didn’t require a high price tag.
Hotel Night: $50
For our first night after being married, we rented a room that we left from at 2 in the morning to set off on our honeymoon. We actually also used this room to get ready before the wedding. The hotel gave us a free upgrade to a suite.
Airport Parking & Shuttle: $52
We were flying out of LAX. To avoid the pricey parking there, we used an Airport Parking & Shuttle service that drove us to and from the airport after we parked our car in the nearby lot. We kept the car there for a total of 5 nights.
We wanted to do something adventurous for our honeymoon. We ended up going to an all-inclusive resort in Playa Del Carmen in Cancun for 6 days and 5 nights. The resort had been built in the middle of a rain forest. We would walk throughout the resort amidst trees and monkeys. The resort was linked to a park within walking distance that had underground rivers, sea animals, and great shows that celebrated the culture. And of course, there were beaches we sunbathed at and snorkeled in. Our honeymoon total from the travel site included airfare, ride to and from the hotel, room, food, drinks, and unlimited access to the park during our stay.
Our wedding total was about $3,600. We were so grateful that we did not spend more than we had saved and that a majority of it was paid for by my wonderful parents. The true value of celebration surrounded by friends and family could not be bought. All of the extras were great, but I am glad we chose a more minimal version of a wedding. It’s really what comes after that matters anyway.
What is your favorite part about weddings?