The Ultimate Way to Have a Beautiful Wedding for less than $2000!

Not all weddings have to be expensive and extensive.  Sometimes the best weddings are the smaller, more intimate ones.  Just because you are low on funds, doesn’t mean you can’t get married.  I’ve seen some terrific weddings with less than 10 people!

A Small Wedding Party - Total of 7 including Bride & Groom

A Small Wedding Party – Total of 7 including Bride & Groom

  1. The easiest way to save money on the reception is to limit the guest list.    As you compose your guest list, ask yourself:   “How close is this person to me.  Is it important to share my day with them?”
  2. When you have your guest list, decide on a venue.  There are lots of places that are SUPER affordable.  Generally look to city venues such as St. Charles County’s Quail Ridge Lodge or Blanchette Memorial Hall, Des Peres’ Lodge, etc.  Also, check our Fraternal Halls like the Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc.  And don’t forget restaurants with private rooms depending on the size of your guest lists.  For example, check out Seven Gables in Clayton, where room rentals start at just $200.00!   (But if you are considering a private restaurant, be sure to check out food costs.  That can take them out of the running.)  Also look at alternative days such as Fridays and Sundays as there are usually discounts for those days.  Plus, if you book your wedding close to a holiday, decorations might already be installed for the venue itself.
  3. Buffets and food stations are you best bet.  Smaller, private catering companies can custom create a menu of perhaps appetizers and include budget stretching food items like mostaccioli, chicken pasta, chicken and linguine, etc.  Throw in some fresh fruit and cheese and easy to make dollar sandwiches.  Brunch is a great option for Sunday weddings.
  4. Limit the bar at the reception.  Or, serve only beer and wine.
  5. Skip the Save-the-Date and fancy invitations.  With today’s computer software, it’s easy to custom design a personal invitation and print it yourself.
  6. Order a smaller cake and hide a larger sheet cake in back to cut for guests.
  7. Suits for guys are fine and consider shopping other than at a bridal fashion shop for a dress.  If you do shop at a bridal store, many of them have discounted dresses and clearance sales.
  8. For flowers make your own bouquet.  Wholesalers such as Sams have a nice selection of flowers that you can craft into your own bouquet.  For the wedding party, use some silk greenery for the boutonnieres and for the girls in your wedding party.
  9. Skip the party bus and the limo.
  10. Hire the Photographers for 2 Hours for the ceremony and formals.  (These photos you will have for a lifetime!)
  11. If you have a friend with music skills, they can play or create music tapes to play that day.
  12. Give yourself a hand!  You just created a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank!

BUDGET (For 40 guests):

  • $ 300.00  Venue
  • $   50.00   Invitations:
  • $ 600.00  Food  & Drinks  ($15.00 each)
  • $   75.00   Cake
  • $ 200.00  Dress & Suit
  • $ 200.00  Officiant
  • $ 100.00   Flowers
  • $ 450.00  Photographer

TOTAL:  $1975.00 !!

The Joy of a Small Wedding


Many couples are choosing a small wedding as it can be far more intimate than a traditional large wedding and let’s face it a small wedding can generally be within the reach of most people’s budget.  Inviting just a few close friends and immediate family members will allow you to choose options that might not otherwise be available.  You can spend your money where it really matters.

For instance, location is definitely more flexible.  You could choose to hold your ceremony in your home or a close’s friend’s home, perhaps a garden gazebo in a local park such as Tower Grove Park, or down on the riverfront with just the officiate and your guests gathered around.  And then there are some small party rooms you could rent for your “reception”.   The Moulin’s lower level Malt House Cellar can accommodate up to 130 guests and it offers entertainment – billiards, video games, etc.  And don’t forget about Llywelyn’s Pub at their various locations.  And if you are down in the city, talk to Molly’s in Soulard about renting their outdoor patio.

Food and refreshments for your guests can be more relaxed or you could choose a more formal dinner with a choice of two entrees at your favorite restaurant.  And a simple one or two layer cake is more than adequate.

Party Room

While your wedding is “smaller” in scope, it’s still a very important day in your lives, and the one thing you don’t want to scrimp on is your photographer.  Your photographer will be with you all day, just like a bigger wedding, but he/she will probably  have more opportunities to catch some very romantic moments between the two of you.  These images will be priceless over the next 50 years!


(Pictured Below – a Wedding with 7 Total, including the Bride & Groom)

Small Wedding Group

7 Wedding Mistakes to Avoid

I’ve seen a fairly large number of weddings, and I can guarantee you that there has never been a perfect wedding.     Here are seven things you might want to put on your checklist when you are planning your big day.


  1. Don’t forget the marriage license.  Yes, it’s true.  It happens and it happens quite often. Make one of you responsible for bringing the license.
  2. Make the rehearsal dinner different from the reception.   The purpose of the rehearsal dinner is for close family and friends of the bride and groom to mingle and be at ease with one another.  If the rehearsal dinner was a great four course meal, dancing, and the works – the next night might seem like a “repeat” of the first, but with more guests.  A rehearsal dinner should leave the participants psyched up for the “big” event.  Create a rehearsal dinner that’s different – maybe an outdoor steak/hamburger grill, barbeque or a picnic style event with relaxed dress attire.
  3. Here’s the crazy thing about most weddings.  You and your partner will share very little time together on the most important day of your lives!  First, you get ready for the ceremony, then have the ceremony, and finally spent a lot of the reception dancing with parents and friends and thanking guests for coming.  I highly recommend that you PLAN some alone time for you and your spouse immediately after the ceremony.  Take a walk, go to a room alone, or just find some place where the two of you can really share time just with one another.
  4. Don’t try to do everything yourself!  The night before the wedding you don’t want to be making place cards, finishing centerpieces or arranging bouquets.  Delegate and use your family and friends.  The bridesmaids and groomsmen are there as well to assist you, so don’t hesitate to ask them to take responsibility for a last minute task.
  5. Don’t invite too many wedding guests.  Sure, I’ve seen empty spaces at tables where guests have RSVP’d and then failed to arrive.  However, if you have invited 300 guests, received 290 “yes” responses, but the reception venue can only legally accommodate 275, you might have to turn 10 people away.  That’s really bad.  I’ve seen it happen.  And I think most couples don’t realize this.
  6. Don’t blow the budget!  Make a budget and keep track of your expenditures.  Don’t forget the hidden extras like tips and delivery fees.  I’ve heard of grooms who had to make a trip to the bank to get money to pay the DJ, or else there would be no music!   It costs a lot of money to have a wedding, so make sure you have all the major items budgeted for.
  7. Tension between families is inevitable.  Remember that this is a celebration of the beginning of your life together….and leave all the family issues at the door.  Don’t let issues ruin your day.


Budget Tip #6 Continued…Seven ways to have Table Centerpieces for Less

(Yesterday, we started a discussion above creative table centerpiece to save on the budget.  This is part two of that article.)

Table Centerpiece 5

4.  Autumn weddings allow you to use the décor of the season to build a beautiful table arrangement.  Pumpkins, colorful corn, fall leaves in brilliant color, gourds and, of course, those wonderful mums that are in full bloom and color.

5.  Summer weddings or beach weddings can feature an assortment of sea shells, sand displays, and you can accompany that with a fruit (in season) display, crackers, and cheese.  Set out large pitchers of lemonade or strawberry daiquiris which allow guests easy access to drinks, and in addition, it might cut down on the bar bill as well.  Embrace the season to assemble a great, low cost assortment of beautiful table centerpieces and you will save a bundle.  You can take that same thought to winter weddings with poinsettias and small Christmas trees adorned with colorful ribbons and ornaments that match your colors.

Table Centerpiece 6

6.  Why not have a lovely display of family portraits and images scattered on all of the tables to encourage guests to minge and visit.  Some of the families use photos of the couple as kids, and that’s good as well.

Table Floral 4

7.  I’m sure that after reading these items lots of ideas have popped into your head.  All of these can be done on a low budget, make the centerpieces more personal, and they can blend into the theme of your wedding.  Feel free to share with us any ideas you are implementing.  We’d all love to learn more.   Your imagination is the key to saving money.

Budget Tip #6 – Seven ways to have Table Centerpieces for Less

Let’s talk about table centerpieces.  A beautiful, elaborate floral display will set you back anywhere from $25 to over $100+ per table.  Here are some alternatives that will add elegance, style and sophistication:

1.  You can still have flowers – just scale it back a bit.  Create your designs around less expensive flowers, adding just one or two of the more expensive flowers for emphasis.  Use smaller bunches of flowers that are in season.  Add cut flowers in small glass vases or other inexpensive containers in your bridal colors.  I’ve seen brides use mason jars, old pitchers, and old wine bottles as containers.   One bride borrowed some Antique Water Pitchers.  Anything can work, but try to find something that follows your wedding theme.  Colorful daisies are always a cheerful addition.  And greenery will make your smaller grouping of roses or Shasta daisies look like a much larger centerpiece than what it is.  And don’t forget about flowering vines or tree branches.  These can add a lot of wow to your table.  And finally, you could add some feathers for a different look completely.


2.  Sparkle and light can make any table a very special table.  Candles are great.  Crystal accents can be used.  Place mirrors under the candles.  Select one nice glass crystal bowl with just one beautiful flower – like a gardenia – floating in the bowl to create a simple elegance.  A ring of single wick candles, with rose petals that have been sprayed with glitter, can add romantic lighting to the tables. A floating candle in a water filled container, with greenery all around is very easy.  Be sure to add colored glass stones to the bottom for even more flare!

Candles in Jars


3.  This is one of my favorites.  Make an arrangement of breads, crackers. cheeses, fresh fruit, olives, garlic butter, salsas, olive oil, and a few uncorked bottled of red wine.  Tuck in some bunches of grapes, and a few grape vines, and there you go.  This Italian look will have your guest raving and enjoying a light appetizer at the same time.  And who’s not happy after a glass of vino?

…to be continued tomorrow

Creating the Guest List

Brides tell me that one of the most challenging parts of a wedding is the guest list.  From experience, I suggest strongly that before you announce your wedding to everyone, you and your groom develop some simple guidelines about inviting guests – or be prepared to suffer the consequences.  For instance, your excitement of the moment may put you in an uncomfortable position if you both verbally announce to everyone at work that they are invited to your wedding.  And when you determine that you can only accommodate x number of guests, and they have to be un-invited…..not a good situation.

Escort Cards

You need to consider some qualifying factors – like how large or small you want your wedding to be, the size of the facility and how much you can afford to spend.

Most couples start with the family first and combine both sides together.  You might want to consult with your parents to be sure that an important member of the family has not been overlooked.   Keep in mind that you want to invite to your wedding the people that you really want to celebrate your special day with.   About 10-15% of the guests that you invite will not be able to attend, so some couples keep a “B” list to invite at the appropriate time. Remember that anyone that you have not been close to or spoken to in years can safely be cut from the wedding guest list.  The creation of the guest list may mean some compromise on both your part and the groom’s part as well.

Just remember that your wedding is about CELEBRATING your day with the people you care about most.