Getting married can be the best day of your life -- and the most expensive. Unless you're one of the lucky few whose parents have saved up for your big day, you're likely looking at paying for that baby out of your own pocket.
Have no fear -- it is
possible to get married without going broke. Krista Scranton, 28, of Houston, Texas, wed on July 7, 2007, in Tampa, Fla., for under $5,000 -- a bargain! A mix of favors from friends, homemade efforts and simply deciding what was important to her and what wasn't (like a DJ) made her affair affordable and memorable.
Scranton and her husband were engaged for just six months after being together nearly two years. The bride, who works in client service for a consultant firm, never wanted a lavish wedding.
"I never personally planned on spending a lot of money on my wedding," she said. "There's so many other things you can spend money on."
The first order of business was planning a low-key ceremony and reception. The Scrantons wed in their church at 1 p.m. on a Saturday and started their reception -- which had just 50 guests -- in-between the lunch and dinner hours at a favorite restaurant, which was cheaper than a private hall.
"One of the main things is to have an earlier reception, because you can order off a lunch menu," Scranton advised.
The bride also nixed the open bar in favor of free sangria and a cash bar. Guests had three appetizers and three dinner choices.
Here's how the couple kept the rest of the costs low:
A $1,000 dress from a Tampa bridal store was purchased through a three-month payment plan. Scranton borrowed her jewelry and veil.
A small, three-tier cake at a local bakery cost less than $200. Scranton ordered the cake toppers online, which saved money, too.
The bouquets, boutonnieres and altar and pew flowers cost less than $250, total. A church member whom Scranton made friends with bought flowers for half the price through a wholesale supplier. The bride and four bridesmaids made the bouquets themselves with a thorn stripper and florist's tape, which "really wasn't hard at all." (Check out these tips from The Knot
.) The reception centerpieces were vases the restaurant had already put out.
The couple decided against a DJ, which can cost hundreds of dollars per hour. Instead, they handed over their iPod to the manager to hook up to the restaurant sound system and had a friend make the announcements over the microphone.
A photographer pal took all the pictures for $1,000, which is at the lower end of the scale for professional photos.
Even the couple's trip to Costa Rica was cheap. Scranton's husband used frequent-flyer miles and hotel points he'd saved up from business travel to pay for almost the whole thing.
Scranton says keeping things simple and inexpensive helped her and her husband savor every moment of their day: "It goes by so fast. You just want to enjoy it." Not go broke from it.
Looking to throw a low-cost wedding? These sites have tips:
has cheap favors, and EventLeftovers.com
is an online marketplace to buy and sell new and gently used party supplies.
*Betsy Pruitt offers handmade party ideas on BellyFeathers.com
*Nina Callaway offers you 10 tips to save money on your big day on the About.com Guide to Weddings
has tips on everything from trimming down your guest list to bartering for reduced rates on music.
*Check out TheKnot.com's Budget
wedding sections for cost-cutting ideas.