Have An Amazing Wedding Without Going Broke

And keep almost everyone happy

A bigger, more expensive wedding doesn’t mean it will be better. Not by a long-shot.

My wife and I recently got married for under $8,000, and it was amazing. And we kept almost everyone happy. I say “almost” everyone, because you will never keep everyone happy. Not if you spend $1M on your wedding or elope — inevitably, someone will be upset.

But that’s the thing — your wedding should be about you and your significant other — and not anybody else. Weddings have gotten out of control, and there is immense pressure for people to orchestrate a huge wedding to please everyone. And to make it look good to the outside world on social media.

My wife and I kept our wedding and celebrations small and intimate. Here’s how we did it.

We had a 2-month engagement.

Right from the start, we didn’t give ourselves a crazy amount of time to plan and have our wedding. The more time you have between your engagement and wedding date, the more time you have to make it overly complex and pricey. My wife and I gave ourselves two-months to make it happen.

We had a family member officiate the wedding.

Having my wife’s sister officiate the wedding was more intimate and personal, and she did it for free. And although we’re both religious, we didn’t feel the need to do a full religious service for the ceremony. We kept the whole thing to under 15-minutes.

We got married on a Tuesday.

This made it easy to find a photographer, musicians (we had a cello player and a violin player) and to book a spot in San Francisco City Hall for a 1-hour wedding.

We only invited our parents and grandparents.

We didn’t have to worry about fancy wedding invitations, RSVPs, figuring out who could bring +1s, or feeding everyone. No worrying about bridesmaids or groomsmen or figuring out what everyone would wear.

We wrote our own vows for the ceremony, and it felt good to deliver them with just family present. After the ceremony, we changed into comfortable clothes and had a nice lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.

We celebrated a few days after the ceremony with the rest of our family.

After the wedding ceremony, we got an Airbnb in wine country and invited siblings and extended family to help us celebrate. We made our own food and served our favorites (pizza, mac and cheese, summer salads), and instead of a fancy cake, we ordered pie (peach blueberry was the favorite).

We got tables and chairs for free from the local church; we purchased some nice $5 tablecloths, and we decorated the table with flowers from Trader Joe’s. We served food buffet style and used disposable dinnerware to keep costs down and make clean-up easy.

Separating the wedding ceremony and celebration gave us breathing room and allowed us to be fully present for both portions. Before and during the ceremony, we didn’t have to worry about any logistics or about what was supposed to come next in the program.

My parents gave us a flat sum of money with no attachments.

They didn’t give us a% of the total cost of the wedding, which I’ve seen become a huge issue. They gave us a flat sum and told us to spend it how we wanted. We used a lot to travel to Banff in Canada after the wedding, since costs were so low for the wedding ceremony.

Our parents didn’t get involved.

We told our parents this was our wedding, and we would do it our way. And they were respectful of that. They understood that if they wanted to have their friends at the wedding, or dictate the food or anything else about the wedding, then they could have their own weddings again or renew their vows.

We celebrated with our friends a few weeks after the wedding.

The wedding ceremony and celebration was family only, so we celebrated with our friends a few weeks later. We both love to hike and watch the sunrise, so we invited all of our friends to join us for a sunrise hike and then coffee and baked goods afterwards. For our friends that didn't want to get up that early, we had a nice picnic in the park later in the day.

Between the ceremony, family celebration, and hike with friends, we could celebrate our marriage and spend time with all the important people in our life.

If you're thinking about having a big, expensive wedding, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Is it because it feels good to you, or because you think you have to meet some expectation? Your wedding day is about you. You shouldn’t be missing time with friends, or getting in fights with family soon to be family ahead of your wedding. Do what feels good and right for you and your significant other, and ask others to respect that.

Dad. Husband. Army vet. Enjoy running, cycling, cooking, and guitar.