How to Plan a Budget Wedding For Under $6000

I planned two budget weddings for the same man. The first wedding was our big 100 person shindig that cost us exactly $6,000. Then I was diagnosed with lupus during my first semester of graduate school and lost my ability to walk long distances. I had to go through the process all over again as I was forced by my family to have a home wedding. That wedding cost us about $500. Either way, they were far, far under the usual $30,000 mark most American couples spend on their weddings. The result? Bear and I were able to buy a house!

Tip #1: Shop Local

My shopped local $200 wedding dress. Photo Credit: Tauni Joy Photography

Leveraging your community is your biggest, most important aspect of budget wedding planning. By shopping local, I was able to:

  • Get specialized, custom Vegan Italian food from a local Mom & Pop restaurant for $13/head. My guests loved it!
  • Bought my wedding dress for $200 from a local Quinceanera shop after explaining my health problems.
  • Bought all my decorations in bulk off of Craigslist in my hometown (where my venue was) for $30 from a previous wedding which had also been held in my hometown.
  • My photographer gave us 50% off because we were locals (having the venue in the same small town she was) and not forcing her to drive long distances as a new mother with small children as most of her clients did.
  • My hometown venue was in a tiny small town with few hair stylists, and I got my hair done for $30.

Tip #2: Use What You Have

Heirloom china with seating chart placement. Photo Credit: Tauni Joy Photography
  • Does your family have tons of heirloom china and fancy cutlery? Use that instead of buying or renting plates and silverware! It’ll be a personal touch. It doesn’t matter if everything doesn’t match.
  • Does your family have heirloom crystal pieces? Hello, centerpieces!
  • Does your immediate family or extended family have land or a nice house you could use as your venue?
  • Christmas decorations can be repurposed for any time of year. My altar was created using tulle gifted to us and clear Christmas lights, as an example.
  • If anyone in your family has antiques they’d be willing to lend, ask and let them! Another part of our altar was an heirloom grandfather clock.
How to put on a budget wedding (under $6000) when you have a chronic illness.
My DIY grandfather clock altar with clear Christmas lights. Photo Credit: Tauni Joy Photography

Tip #3: Let Your Friends Help!

This really, really should be the most important part of making your day go smoothly. During my planning process I:

  • Had my first 300 acre venue for a $60 deposit for a total of $600 for 24 hours… actually more like 48. We had been friends with the manager of the venue for 15 years.
  • Speaking of the venue owners, the wife of the manager and their daughter offered to be our wedding planners and day of coordinators for FREE.
  • Bear and I had wedding decorations gifted to us throughout the process.
  • Many of our friends volunteered to help set up for the big wedding.
  • During our small wedding, none of Bear and I’s mutual friends could make it because it was on a week day and it was short notice. But my old roommate and a family friend who were both still in college came and served food, drinks, cake, played music, and helped set up and clean up after the wedding.
  • My father being a Preacher had the church to borrow white chairs from for both our big wedding and our small 20-person wedding.
  • My dad being a Preacher officiated our wedding for FREE.
  • My old roommate was great at makeup and did my makeup for FREE.

Tip #5: Grocery Store Florists

My custom grocery store florist bridal bouquet. Photo Credit: Tauni Joy Photography

In Texas, grocery store florists are nothing to be sneezed at. I don’t know what it’s like in other states, but my bouquet was gorgeous and our flowers only cost around $250. They came from a grocery store called HEB.

Now I’m not saying I bought the flowers next to the check out – most grocery stores have a floral department in our state with licensed florists that can make custom arrangements that are perfectly wonderful. Check with your local grocery store to see if this is plausible for you.

Tip #6: Gentle DIY

At my house wedding, all the decor was DIY. My big wedding was going to have DIY decor too from the prepackaged Craigslist decorations.

What I really want to stress here is that I had light DIY invitations – I bought these wedding invitations from Hobby Lobby for $7.99 at the time. I also used Canva to create menus, signs to put in frames, and styling to decoupage on wood for my big wedding’s rustic theme. Canva provides prepackaged free templates for all of these things. You can change the colors of the designs to fit your theme.

I say gentle DIY because you don’t want to go too overboard and stress yourself out. I was a grad student with a chronic illness. You may be that too, or you may have a demanding job and still want to have a life outside wedding planning.

Tip #4: Buy the remainder of what you don’t have from the previous tips online.

  • Did you know you can make lists on Amazon? Make an Amazon list for your wedding to get organized, and share it with your party. Add things to it, and slowly eliminate what you already have or is out of budget.
  • I ordered send-off bubbles, fake succulent table decorations, napkins, picture frames… not a whole lot because I already had enough. But Amazon has pretty much everything.
  • Buy in bulk from DollarTree.com. They even have a wedding blog!

Tip #5: Know EXACTLY What YOU Want

…and don’t let anyone scare you out of it or change your mind!

Not your groom.

Not your mom.

Not your MIL.
The biggest takeaway here is before you start planning or buying a dress, know your theme, know how you want the wedding to look like. Make that Pinterest board proudly. You can make that classiness happen on a low budget, girl. You can make anything happen if you stick to what you want. Your vision will guide your choices so your wedding won’t end up a huge mess – or over budget from making mistakes because you didn’t know what you wanted. Ultimately though, it’s really about marrying the love of your life.

Even if your wedding gets derailed by everyone in the whole universe, you will have your person. Remember that.

To get the details of my nuptials, see here.

How to Shop For a Wedding Dress When You Have a Chronic Illness

This jersey knit sheath from David’s bridal for $199 is extremely comfortable.

When it comes to planning your Spoonie wedding, it’s all about the dress. If you suffer from chronic pain from a chronic illness, the dress will be a big factor in how your wedding day will go. This is because it dictates your comfort level. There are easy ways to figure this out without wasting spoons trying on tons of dresses, which will drain your energy.

Tips for figuring out which dresses to try on

1. Consider a non bridal dress that happens to be white.

These will have less layers and will be less heavy, and also less expensive. I try to be budget friendly on this blog because I know with medical expenses everything else can get in the way. Prioritize your health.

2. Look for a dress with only two or three layers.

Wedding dresses are like cakes. Some have more fabric layers than most. Some have up to 12, and this makes the dress heavy. The heavier the dress, the more uncomfortable you will feel as it places pressure on your body, causing pain and exhaustion.

3. Consider the fabric. The softer and lighter it is, the better.

Jersey knit, lace and satin are favorites. Make sure you bring a flash light to test if the fabric is see through!

4. If your weight fluctuates, consider a corset top.

The dress I landed on was a soft lace up all the way with a ribbon. That meant that no matter how my body changed, the dress could be altered through tightening or loosening the corset lacing.

I originally bought the first dress pictured, and it was zip up all the way which ended up hurting me in the end.

Where should you buy a dress?

My dress was not bought at a traditional bridal shop, so I suggest getting creative with your search. Personal favorites are:

1. Secondhand bridal shops

This way, you can buy couture for less, and get it off the rack the same day.

2. Quinceanera shops

This is where I found my dress. You can find excellent customer service and a different style of dress if you don’t like current bridal fashion, like I do.

3. Department stores

These are good places to find dresses with less layers. The dresses will be simpler and more low key, and a simpler dress is usually a more comfortable dress.

Good department stores are:

– Nordstrom

– Macy’s

I had a bad experience at David’s Bridal with my body fluctuations. I do not recommend them.

How to shop

1. Do NOT shop online.

2. Only go to one store per day.

3. When you dress shop, make it your one goal for the day.

Shapewear

Try to wear as little shapewear and other undergarments as possible. This means no complicated slips or spandex. You’re going to need to pee at some point. These items are also restrictive and uncomfortable. I did wear a soft, expensive strapless bra and soft spandex shorts on my wedding day. I made sure my undergarments were soft and necessary. If it’s your wedding day and you think you look good without your spandex, skip it. I was still comfortable in mine because of the type I wore.

My Dress

My dress was satin and silk. It didn’t have structured hard boning in the corset. This meant the corset was soft, which was good for my costocondritis. The dress had an empire waist, so there was no pressure on my abdomen, which is a constant painful spot for me. It had crystal sparkle detail on the bodice, and a simple three layer skirt. It was not heavy at all and twirled!

You can still have a princess dress and comfort. Just know what to look for, and don’t give up on the dress of your dreams!

My photographer had me take bridal portraits sitting down to save spoons.

The Spoonie Wedding

Imitation meteorite band for my husband with my diamond baguette ring on my Texas themed bouquet.

My husband and I were struck by two tragedies after our wedding, and we’ve only been married a month. I’m trying to cling to the magic moments in these dark times to superglue myself to him.

The ceremony space that later doubled as a dance floor, AKA my parents living room.

Because I was bed bound most of the time and walking with a glitter cane the month of the wedding, my parents took my $5,000 wedding at at a family friends children’s camp and moved it inside our house so I wouldn’t have to walk far and could rest in my bedroom if needed. We lost a ton of money but gained spoonifying the wedding this way. After all, a small house wedding was originally what I wanted.

We DIY’d all of our decorations. My mother, sister, father, myself and family friends set out heirloom china. Early on in the planning process my mom and I found a pack of vases, orchids, pearls, and tea lights used in a previous wedding on Craigslist, and they were used everywhere as decorations. Our tablecloths were also from Craigslist from a previous wedding.

Please note that while I did help set up I lost spoons and did have to rest during my wedding. I’ll get to spoonifying your wedding in a moment.

Why I considered my wedding spoonifyed

1. I didn’t have to travel to a venue. All I needed was right there.

2. My walk down the aisle was a walk down the short hallway. At the 30 acre venue, where I would have to cross a creek to get between the ceremony site and the reception space, we were afraid I would have to use a cane. It was also outdoors and could be muddy. This way, no one would know I was using a cane as I didn’t use it around the house.

3. I could rest during the wedding reception, and I did. The reception was a vegan dinner with a fabulous vegan cake held in my parents formal dining room that shared a wall with my bedroom.

The very fabulous vegan cake that got compliments from the non vegans present.

4. We had a 20 person guest list cut down from 80. This was hard to do, but worth it.

Dos and Dont’s of Planning a Spoonie Wedding

1. Hire a full package wedding planner. You may be on a budget but my wedding stole my health because I didn’t do this! Please at least hire a day of coordinator, some of these are very affordable if you go to your local bridal expo.

My glittery yet still simple wedding dress that was comfortable but forgiving.

2. It’s all about the dress. Choose a simpler dress that is comfortable! You will still be beautiful even if you’re not in a Pnina Tornai!

3. It’s honestly about the shoes. Don’t even wear kitten heels. Wear flats, sneakers, or even crocs that don’t look like crocs (don’t cringe but crocs makes flats and they are my fancy shoes). I have lots of foot problems so this is my go to.

4. Thou shalt NOT go dress shopping without watching Say Yes to the Dress at least 10 times, and thou shalt NOT be ashamed of your tiny budget. Not every girl can drop even $600 on a dress. I dropped $200 each on two dresses, one I couldn’t wear anymore because of swelling and the one pictured I wore on my wedding day that was really perfect. I found my wedding dress at a quinceanera shop that was local, and they were really kind to me when I explained my situation.

5. Let. People. Help. Please. You need your spoons for the wedding. Your community will be your rock through the process.

6. House weddings are the way to go if you can’t afford a hotel. See if you are close enough friends or family with someone with a nice house. With a house or hotel wedding, you have the option of going and resting during the wedding day. A house option is cheaper.

7. Be open with your vendors about your illness. You don’t have to disclose what type, but by being open I was able to move my wedding date 3 times due to my diseases progressing. You may also get free stuff and advice!

The send off in the rain (yes, it rained on my wedding day).

Blunders

Make sure you know what you want in a dress before you buy. I had no idea I wanted a glittery ball gown until I watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress, but I had a lace sheath that I couldn’t fit into three months out that I bought the day I got engaged (I know…).

We had an awesome day of coordinator, but we lost her when we moved the date due to a medical emergency. In Texas wedding season is winter, so we only found a set up/tear down person.

The doorbell rang with our aisle runner as soon as Bear and I kissed to seal the deal and our flower dog ran off.

Flower dog 🌸 🐶

We threw the wedding together in 48 hours. Don’t do that. Plan more meticulously like I was for my big outdoor wedding.

We weddinged, it was spoonifyed, it may have inconvenienced a lot of people, but now we have each other.

Let’s dance the night away forever.

Are you chronically ill, differently abled, or a general Spoonie planning a wedding needing support? Check out my Facebook group, Differently Abled Wedding Planning Support Group.

At this group, you can find support from other people whose needs may be different from the mainstream and brainstorm ideas, find support from stress, and connect!

Continue reading “The Spoonie Wedding”