How can I do a wedding for under 7,000?

by DIY wedding planner on April 21, 2013

I live in PA near Penn state, and I have a guest list of 150. My wonderful finacee has a huge Italian family and we cannot cut the guest list down. My parents are no longer around and we are paying for the wedding ourselves. Does anyone have any tips on where to hold the wedding/reception to meet our budget? Help!!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Bondiboy April 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm

If they are Italian, you should expect that you will get a bit of $$$ as gifts at the wedding. Italians are known for this, as long as they like the people getting married. I am italian and paid for my entire wedding with the $$$ gifts we received.


gorjussgeorgia April 21, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Well i hate to say this but 7,000 is not going to get you too far so you have two options you could put the wedding off until you saved up enough money to get everything you and he deserves or you could just go through with it and have mediocre wedding. I guess if your a romantic you wouldn’t care about the wedding just the groom. You could get married on the beach, that’s free. You can find a nice wedding dress and tux online from eBay. If you go to church regularly you could ask your preacher to do it for a small fee. Well good luck.!


Demon April 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Personally, I had my wedding and reception at a nice restaurant. It was very simple, but still very meaningful and our guests all had a good time. That may not be for everyone, but you can look at more unconventional options for ceremony and reception sites and having them in the same place can be a money saver.

What I would suggest is that you and your fiance each make a list of three or fewer aspects of the wedding that are most important to you. Put your money into these and go with less expensive options on everything else.

Remember that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to have a great, fun wedding. The people who care about you aren’t going to turn up their noses at your computer printed wedding invitations or complain that you went with an IPod playlist instead of a DJ or pan your whole wedding as “mediocre” because you aren’t paying top dollar for everything. In the end, a wedding is just one day and what really makes it special is making a commitment to love another person for the rest of your life while surrounded by people who truly care about you and are happy for you. Going into debt for a one day celebration does not guarantee a happy marriage. Do what makes you happy with the budget you have.


milwaukiedave April 22, 2013 at 12:12 am

For $7,000, that’s going to be difficult if you are going to invite 150 people.

The best thing I can recommend is go to one of those office supply stores and you can buy a little program for about $5 and install it on your computer. The program allows you to budget your wedding and has all the categories laid out for you.

If you do a lot of the stuff yourself and order things online (like invitations, party favors, etc) you can save a lot of money. My first wedding (ha, don’t ask!) was for about 80 and we spend $1,500 which is cheap.

You should consider alternative places like community meeting halls, etc as they maybe cheaper then getting married in a church.

Find out if you have an friends or friends of friends who do catering or cakes and make deals where you can.


piggypie1333 April 22, 2013 at 12:49 am

What time of year are you getting married?? If you have a county park near by they usually have shelters, some enclosed completely and some just covered. The closed in one should be able to hold that many guests. They aren’t too expensive and you can have it catered,and some even have kitchens. Also I would shop around for things like invitations, party favors, flowers and the such. I don’t know if you have a Publix grocery store up in PA, but myself, my sister and our mother all have gotten our wedding cakes and all the flowers for the entire bridal party and parents and grandparents there and they were wonderful and they were cost effective.
If you plan on serving alcohol, which is assume because A. its a party and B. your new family is Italian, if you have an military base close by check out their package store they usually have better prices that you local caterer or regular package store. Ask your other friends about DJ’s they have used in the past for other parties and maybe they will give a discount. Also, about military bases check if they have a club or other facility that you can use and they usually will have an all inclusive package for weddings and parties. We had my sisters wedding reception at the base club and all she did was pick out the times of the bar, the menu and they did the rest. I don’t really know where you are located other than near Harrisburg maybe, but I do know that your state is full of history and maybe you should think of doing something really different maybe like a reception at a historic building or such. Anyway I hope this helps and sorry for the long length of the answer. Good Luck and welcome to the club!!!


lovebug2052 April 22, 2013 at 1:07 am
katie2008 April 22, 2013 at 1:51 am

Get married in a park setting, or someplace else that is really pretty instead of renting a church or another facility. Keep it casual and don’t spend tons on flowers, food, decorating, and most importantly your wedding dress!

Remember….the ceremony itself is over in a few minutes, but your marriage will last a lifetime (we hope); and the priority here is you two getting married and your family/friends sharing in the celebration.

Why not make it really fun and do a “theme” wedding…maybe western, and have bbq, have guests dress in western garb…or something like that. Just have fun with it…and don’t ruin the most important day of your lives by spending money you don’t have.


djlasha April 22, 2013 at 2:31 am

I help plan budget weddings all the time. I DJ over 40 a year. I would contact your city hall to see what community centers can hold 150 guest. Community centers and Veteran service organizations like VFW Halls, American Legion and even some churches halls will be lower cost rental spaces. Contact Walmart or other major supermarkets for catering instead of a caterer or recruit family volunteers to prepare the favorite dishes of your family.
Halls with Bars rather make money from the Bar than charge you. They expect you to guarantee them a minimal amount of sales for using the facility. You can set your budget to what you will host then it will be cash bar from then on. for example You buy 300 drinks (2 per person) and over that they have to buy from bar. each person can have 2 drink tickets. Those who dint drink will give them away or just tell the manager you will host X amount and cash bar after that.
Have a Dollar Dance get a little cash back. Have a honeymoon fund for those who dint know what to buy you as a gift they can donate money. There are many ways to keep cost down. Buy dresses pre-made rather than custom made. Remember. The day will go by fast and all that money will be gone. Lots of money that could have been used as down payment on your first home. Here is a link to a wedding budget planner:


MystChic99 April 22, 2013 at 2:50 am

You know, my Grandma (Yes, grandma re-married at 67…) had about that many at hers and instead of a wedding reception they hired out an entire chinese restaurant and everyone got about 7 courses!

Her friends came in and did the tables, as wedding gifts people paid for the centrepieces and favours.

Everyone had a great time and no one went hungry!

From memory hers cost about $2900 (without alcohol)

Good luck!!


e.l.i.z.a.b.u.b.b.l.e April 22, 2013 at 3:44 am

$7,000 is cutting it a bit short.
Food & alcohol alone is pretty expensive.
Plus you’ll need your dress, bridesmaid dresses, the guys suits, flowers, cars, DJ, hire for a hall.
Unless you have the date set then maybe you should wait a bit longer so you can save some more…
Try to make your day perfect, not what you can simply afford.


nataliexoxo April 22, 2013 at 3:56 am

here are my tips that i have passed on to many buget concious brides… hope you can use some of them.

first off- shop after holiday clearance sales at craft stores, michaels and ac moore, and places like walmart, target and kmart. i got things on christmas clearance for 75-95% off- votive candles in glass holders for $.40 each!

i can set you up with a great lady who is making my invites. she does package deals (any size you will need) and a la carte – you will save tons with her. i’m getting 75 invites, evelopes, thank you scrolls, rsvp postcards, folded thank you cards and evelopes and address labels for under $90

rings- shop jc pennys when they have sales, look for coupons…
or ebay and craigslist. really don’t be afraid of ebay. shop sellers with 99 or 100% feedback only. i’m getting my ring for under $25 (stainless band that matchs my engagement ring) and his for under $50 (tungsten).

transportation- use a relatives nice auto or use your own. you DON’T nee a limo, you can even rent a big suv for the day for near nothing from most rental co’s (budget hertz alamo) or call around to classic car clubs and see if you can rent a classic car for an hr or two… might be really cheap to do that

dress- shop consignment shops. my dress cost $150 and is awesome. look on craigslist and ebay too.

bm dresses- these have dresses under $100…
you can also try looking at prom dresses and homecoming dresses in macys and jcpenneys. most of them look like bm dresses anymore, it will increase your selection by looking for those 3 types instead of just bm dresses

guys clothing- they don’t need to tux it up. they can wear white shirts and tan slacks. or white shirts and dark slacks and a tie… make sure they are all bought at the same time so they match.

flowers- you can shop local flower stores or grocery store floral dpts (make your own if you like) bring pics of what you want to guide your florist. shop rite has a full service flower dpt and they offer wedding planning help too. or you can go the silk route. has great flowers. that’s who i went to for mine

centerpieces- i like the tall vases with topiary style arrangements on them. i love gerberas so i think using them is a great way to punch up color and keep your budget down
you can also get different vases (walmart super cheap) and have different looks on each table.

ceremony location- i’m all for outdoor weddings. i think being surrounded by nature is just beautiful and makes for awesome pictures. plus most are free or really cheap.
i’m getting married in a park and it only cost $5 for the application fee. no charge to bring in chairs tents etc…

reception locations- you can have it at a vfw, moose/elk lodge or fire house banquet hall. they are nicer now that ever… they realize how much revenue they generate so many/most have been updated in the last few years.
we are using the banquet hall of the fire house where we are memebers. it only cost us $275 to rent. $500 for non members. (they do open bar. cash bar. cater. or let you diy the food)

cake- look at bjs and costco, even walmart does wedding cakes now. don’t forget grocery stores. most do wedding cakes and are rather tasty cakes. you might not get all the flavor choices of a bakery but most ppl go with white or chocolate anyway.
we are getting our cake from shop rite ($1.75 a serving compared to $3.50 someone else quoted me) i love s/r cakes and have had many a b-day cake from them when i was younger.

favors- you really don’t need them if you are trying to save money. but… you can do organza bags filled with candies. shop ebay for the best prices, seller ideabus, has the best prices and selection
or try dipping the ends of pretzle rods in white, dark or milk chocolate. then roll the ends (or sprinkle) with jimmies, colored sugar crystals, crushed nuts, mini marshmallows… or what ever else floats your fancy. put them in celophane bags and tie off with a ribbon to match your colors. super easy and people love things they can snack on on the way home from the reception.
stick to edible, anything else are 99% dust collectors or trash can fillers

photographer- look on craigslist for your area, under services, type in photography and see the results. i found a great gal for mine $300 for 6 hrs. some places charge wayyyy more but you should be able to find a good one for under 1k
i also found someone who wants to build her portfolio so she’s shooting the whole day for free. if we like any prints we can order a la carte for super cheap.

you might be able to find a dj service on craigslist too. or just call around for a good rate from someone with referrals

our wedding for about 100 ppl will run us about 2-2500k.

most important thing about a wedding, budget- STICK TO IT

oh join your local yahoo group freecycle and post what you are looking for. i got lots of wedding things for free. (esp after june!)

post on craigslist for your area too, and search for wedding things too. many ppl have left overs they want to unload after their weddings and sell at below lowest cost!

oh ck out this site too



TeeKay April 22, 2013 at 4:17 am

i think this question gets asked every day…if you look at all the previous answers to similar questions you’ll find you answers because people always write the same stuff, including me.

do a two course meal instead of 3 course, use the cake as dessert

don’t have an open bar…just house package: beer, and house wine + soft drink

check out the net for cool cheap ideas for the favours – get this as cheap as possible

don’t be afraid to look at flower markets and things like that…don’t feel like you have to buy everything expensive to make your wedding great


Just Because April 22, 2013 at 4:38 am

My wedding budget was $3000.
Dress $1000
Church and reception hall was free with a donation
Flowers $200
Material for bridesmaids dresses. $200
Grooms tuxedo Free
Ring bears tuxedo 1/2 price
Decorations which would include $400
Unity candle and mothers candles table cloths
2 arches
candle holders
flower petals
table skirts, candleaubrums
Cake $175
Food, included 3 different types of sandwich trays, fruit trays, meatballs, punch, pop, coffee, nuts, mints, and vegetable trays.
My suggestion is call your local churches and see how much it is to rent the church and see if they have reception hall that you can use also. Sometimes when you get both, they give you a discount. Check your local parks about having an outdoor wedding, then just use the pravillion as your reception site.
Have the groomsmen pay for their own tuxedo’s. If you are having the girls wear really fancy dresses then have them buy their own dress. Saves you and your husband alot of money. Most tuxedo rental places have it if you rent so many tuxes, then the groom get his for free and the ringbear is half off. For your cake, find an independent cake decorator. Someone who does it maybe from their own home. My cake cost a $175. If I would have gotten it from a cake shop I would have paid double.
Invitations. We paid $12.00 for them, that does not include the stamps. Mailed out 80 of them. We got them from a craft store that has discounted prices. They were beautiful. I got lots of compliments on them.
We stayed under our budget and used the rest of the money for the honeymoon. I am not sure when you are getting married, but if it is after September this year, then start wedding shopping then. Wedding season will be over with, so all wedding stuff will start being clearanced out. Most of my stuff I paid regular prices for, but I had a good discount store to go to. People gave us really good compliments about the reception and the church. Most churhes are already decorated nicely, so you can cut cost with that. Good luck with your wedding hope everything goes nicely. CONGRATS.
Pictures cost $400. Independent photographers cost less then photography places.


hobbsko April 22, 2013 at 4:58 am

$7,000 is totally doable. it will be difficult and it may mean making some concessions on different aspects but if it’s important to you to stay within your budget, you’ll be able to find lots of ways to save!
both my husband and i have HUGE extended familes and we unfortunately had to narrow down the guest list to include only a handful of our own personal friends (and their dates). so i definitely understand how you feel!
my friend was also on a strict budget and she found her wedding dress at a sale where the proceeds benefit cancer research (cost: $250 total). she also made all of her own centerpieces using empty jam jars and daisies bought at the grocery store. they were fabulous!

if you’re not too keen on having a dj, spend some time gathering music and put it on an ipod to play throughout the reception. if you or your fiance have a charismatic friend would make a great step-in dj, have him/her announce the wedding party and other activities.

figure out what is important to you on your day. whether that be having beautiful flowers, great photographs or fantastic dance music, etc etc. that way you’ll know where to spend the bulk of your budget. if having a fancy meal isn’t your taste, then opt for something simple like a nice spread of appetizers and some cocktails and splurge a bit more on your photographer.
hope this helps!! good luck, congratulations!


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