Inspired Ideas for an Affordable Wedding

Love can be all-consuming, inspiring, and often surprising. It doesn’t always wait to strike until that giant zit has disappeared from your forehead or when you have nothing else on your plate. An engagement can be the same way, often making more emotional sense than financial sense.

Weddings are expensive, but just because you can’t afford your dream ceremony doesn’t mean you have to push your marriage off until your next promotion. Get a little creative with your planning, and you could save more of your own money than you spend!

Something Borrowed

No one likes asking for money. If you’re strapped for cash but determined to throw your honey the wedding you’ve always dreamt about together, there’s no harm in asking someone to lend you the amount you need. Those lucky enough to have privileged parents, close relatives, or caring friends will have an easier time broaching the subject. Come prepared with a respectable payment plan and offer to supply a notary once an agreement has been reached. (Depending on your bond, this may not be necessary, but the gesture shows responsibility.)

If your parents aren’t keen on lending you money but they have a check to be cut in your name when their time comes, ask them to borrow against your inheritance. With money sitting in the bank virtually waiting to be handed over to you, what better use than to pay for your wedding?

And if it would be coming to you anyway, that means the only person who would be affected if you default on your payments is you. Talk about motivation!

Something Raised

You don’t have to borrow money for your wedding—you could raise it! These days, the internet makes it possible to hold your own fundraiser and reach around the globe. Kickstarter allows you to post a compelling written and visual case for your funds, and update your backers along the way.

You can create different rewards for different levels of donations, such as allowing any donor of $100 to give a toast at the reception or letting donors of $50 play DJ for 10 minutes. The only kick, though, is if you don’t reach your goal in 30 days, you don’t get any of the funds. So dream big, but start small!

Just because the Internet is putting a fancier face on the modern-day fundraiser doesn’t mean you can’t raise money the old-fashioned way. Instead of reaching out to strangers, ask for donations from your guests. If you’re able to pay your way in the interim, ask for money instead of gifts. If you’re broke from the get-go, send a brief note with your Save the Dates explaining the situation. You’re simply stirring up tradition by collecting the wedding presents ahead of time!

Work with What You’ve Got

Sure, every bride has a vision of walking down an elegant set of stairs in her wedding gown, but if your financial situation won’t allow you to rent the gorgeous ballroom downtown, you might have to save that vision for your vow renewal ceremony. Instead of shelling out a chunk of change, soak in the beautiful—and free!—settings surrounding you.

Getting married in a public park or on the nearest beach invites your ceremony to flow effortlessly into your reception (just take note of any restrictions, such as fires or curfews, and take your trash with you). If your town isn’t known for its natural beauty, ask your friend to donate her gorgeous backyard and gazebo for the occasion. If you’re lucky enough to have your choice of backyards and parks, consider hosting the ceremony in one spot and the reception in another so as not to heavily burden one host.

Not every environment is ideal for an outdoor wedding, and even if it is, the weather won’t always agree with you. There’s no shame in decorating your own basement for a truly intimate celebration. Head to your nearest fabric store and purchase a few cheap panels to hang across your walls. Post a few banners and plenty of pictures of your blossoming relationship, and your guests will think they stepped into a time machine.

Your reception can be catered just as easily and cheaply as your ceremony if you ask your friends to participate in a potluck. If the cost of the ceremony has been covered by using a more homegrown venue, suggest each guest bring a dish in lieu of a gift. Those happy couples who are still dreaming of a wedding cake should assign the task to a few of their friends to evenly spread the responsibility and cost of the important dessert.

Explore Other Options

If you’re less concerned about the venue and more concerned about the union itself, you may want to consider heading to the courthouse. A quick and cheap way to get the job done, a courthouse ceremony may not be as glamorous as you’ve always dreamt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the glam yourself. Get dolled up and ask your witnesses to do the same. Once the moment comes and you see your partner’s smiling face, chances are you won’t even notice the courthouse.

In some states, Justices of the Peace are allowed to marry couples outside the courthouse. If this is the case in your state (or you’re close enough to a state where this is legal) begin fleshing out cheap or free locations for the ceremony. Choose a Justice of the Peace who offers this service well before the ceremony and you could end up being married in a secret setting you didn’t even know about!

Let Fate Decide

If the courthouse doesn’t appeal to you and your intended, but you don’t see the plans falling into place anytime soon, it may be best to wait. Bide your time and come up with a plan to host the fabulous wedding you both deserve. While you’re planning, be sure to apply for as many “All-Inclusive Wedding Packages” as you can. Attend bridal expos, peruse monthly bridal magazines, and scour the Internet for any chance to win your dream wedding.

OK, it may not be the dream you had, but once you’re sitting on a hot beach in the Caribbean next to your new spouse, you won’t be able to remember the original dream anyway. Until that dream comes true, just remember—love conquers all, even money!