Planning a wedding on a 10K budget

Planning a wedding on a 10K budget

If you are planning a wedding on a 10K budget, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room on your budget. We’re going to step you through the few items you should splurge on, some wedding vendor hacks that will keep your budget on track, and the items to skip.

When you are planning a wedding on a 10K budget, who are your splurge vendors?

The first thing to consider is your have-to-have vendors. Make a list of your have-to-have vendors. Some suggestions:

Planning private home wedding - bride & groom share kiss behind champagne flutes

Splurge on Photography

No matter how much money you spend, big budget, or little budget, your photos will remain. With a high-quality photographer, you can turn a minimal budget into a beautiful affair. Spend a ton and skimp on your photographer, you may not have images that reflect the beautiful wedding you had.

Verdict: hire the best photographer you can afford, but get your day covered, as much as you want, skip the extra upgrades until after the wedding. A good wedding photographer could be available for as low as $2000 in the Atlanta metro-area.

Splurge on your DJ

A great DJ can make all the difference. While a great DJ may take a significant chunk of your budget, they can make a real impact on the mood of your wedding. Your DJ will often provide ceremony music, and music for your cocktail hour, plus manage your reception activities and get the dance floor hopping! Depending on the packages offered, uplighting will often be available through your DJ. Check in and see if this upgrade is available and affordable for your wedding plans.

Verdict: Find a killer DJ for $1000 and party the night away!

Planning a wedding on a 10K budget - budget friendly venues

Save on your Venue

If you’re on a tight budget, your venue expenses will have to be on point. Keeping your venue expense under $1000 will allow you to have more to spend on the rest of your vendors.

Venues that will likely cost less than $1000 (and possibly allow you to bring in outside catering/bar service):

  • Venues managed/owned by the city/county
  • City, county or state parks
  • Private Homes
  • Churches

Whatever venue you land on, most budget venues will allow you to bring in your catering and your bar service/alcohol, which will also help you save money.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to get your venue for even less. Be sure to look into hosting your ceremony (and possibly your reception) with the church you are a member of, if they offer wedding services. Should you host your ceremony at your church (and possibly your reception), your church may request a donation if they do not have an outright wedding fee(s).

Another option that is worth discussing is hosting your reception in a private room of a restaurant. The trade-off of hosting a reception at a restaurant would be you would effectively have the restaurant “cater” your meal.

Verdict: Venues costing under $1000 do exist, but don’t forget you may need to be a little more creative/DIY with your decorations.

Save on your Catering

If your venue allows you to bring in your catering, rather than requiring you to use a preferred caterer, you have more flexibility in what you feed your guests and control over your budget. We suggest calling a couple of restaurants and seeing if they offer outside catering, they likely could provide a buffet for a sizable guest count without breaking your budget.

Verdict: Shop your three or four favorite restaurants and ask for a buffet that can feed your guest count for your estimated budget. Keep in mind, there will be additional cost if the buffet is served by their staff.

Planning a wedding on a 10K budget - Saving on bar service

Bar Service Savings

Confirm your venue will allow you to bring in outside alcohol, first and foremost. Depending on your venue standards, you may be required to include an off-duty officer present if you are serving your guests. 

A couple hacks to make your bar service more affordable: 

  • Host a “stock the bar” bridal shower. Your friends and family can contribute from a list of needs to keep the good times flowing at the reception.
  • Serve a limited bar menu. Serving 2-3 signature drinks will keep your bar service streamlined compared to an open bar with a restaurant-style serving menu
  • A couple beer/wine options is also acceptable for most guests
  • Hire a licenced bartender to make sure no one is overserved

Verdict: if serving alcohol, beer, wine, or cocktails, is important to you, see if stocking up throughout your engagement is an option and hire an independent and licensed bartender to serve on the wedding day. Most bar service teams will cost you $50/hour and up for a licensed bartender. Bar menu shortcuts and savings: serve a limited menu of beer and/or wine, plus two signature cocktails that can be made ahead of time and served to your guests.

Depending on how long your cocktail hour and reception are, your bartending service could cost you as low as $250-300.

Planning a wedding on a 10K budget: Cocktail Hour

Have your DJ play some great music to set the cocktail hour mood. Light refreshments like fruit and light charcuterie are perfect for guests while they wait.

Check with your catering team on adding a cocktail hour refreshment table to your package. Or delegate a friend/family member to source and assemble a cocktail hour refreshment setup.

Verdict: you could set up a nice spread on the cheap with fresh fruit, cheese and cracker options, plus your great bartending team is serving refreshments (adult or otherwise) to treat your guests to a little spread while they wait for you to finish your pictures. Just make sure anything you serve will be maintained at a food-safe temperature!

Planning a wedding on a 10K budget - Cake & Dessert savings

Cake (or other deserts) Savings

Local bakeries can make a killer wedding cake for your wedding without killing your budget. Especially for a smaller guest count, a cake that feeds less people, and has less elaborate decorations will cost less (go figure!). Cake prices generally depend on how many servings the cake serves and how elaborate/time consuming the decorations are. Another cake budget hack is a cute little cake for you & your spouse to cut for pictures and a yummy sheet cake in the back for your guests.

Want to avoid a “cake cut/serving fee”? Serve cupcakes. Have 40 guests, order five to six dozen cupcakes, and call it done!

Planning a wedding on a 10K budget - invitation suite with pearls & bouquet

Invitations, splurge or save?

If you’re keeping your budget strict, an Evite will save you money, but may be too informal for your wedding. The most budget-friendly wedding invitation will be a flat 5×7 card with a matching envelope. Skip the RSVP return card (and postage). If your wedding is less formal, your guests can RSVP through your wedding website (recommended). Or a quick call or email works for RSVPs as well, but is more time-consuming for the couple.

As your wedding photographer, who professionally started as a graphic designer (and still has mad skills), we have designed and assisted several of our couples with their invitations and helped keep our couples’ budget down in this category.

Planning a wedding on a 10K budget - Wedding Couple with Officiant

Officiant, can’t get married without them

Don’t forget to confirm if an officiant is included when you are having a church wedding. Officiants are available in the $200+ range and up should you need to hire someone. Got a friend or family member who likes to talk and is OK with public speaking? You might be able to have them to marry you; just make sure they are ordained to legally do so. Judges, justices of the peace, licensed or ordained ministers, clergymen, pastors, and other religious leaders can perform marriage ceremonies in Georgia. Wedding ceremonies in Georgia must be observed by at least two witnesses.

Check out for more info.

Verdict: $0-200+. ONE thing that you MUST have to be married is a licensed officiant. Also, if you or your officiant don’t send in your marriage certificate within 30 days of your wedding, you didn’t get married. You threw a party. Make sure your marriage certificate gets to the county’s probate court to have your marriage recorded.

How crafty are you? Decor and Florals

Here’s the trade on a budget venue. You may have chairs and tables, but you likely won’t have tablecloths included. Don’t worry, a lot of couples rent linens, purchase new/resell, or find second-hand (if they’re in good shape). Decor and florals are tricky from a budget perspective. Additional decor and floral decorations can be found for a bride/groom on a budget, but there’s no real limit to how much you could spend. 

A great start – book your venue and other key vendors. Then see where you can “fill in the blanks” for your decor and floral choices.

Budget friendly looks we love:

  • Candles, candles, candles! Tealights, floating candles in glass cylinders, or pillar candles (free-standing or in glass cylinders)
  • Bud vases with minimal florals
  • Greenery sprigs
  • Repurposed bridesmaid and bride’s bouquets as table centerpieces
  • Mirror tiles
  • Client-designed/supplied centerpieces
  • Table runners
  • Uplighting and custom signs

Some of these pieces can be repurposed to decorate your new home. Consider reselling your decor to another bride to recoup some of your expenses.

Don’t forget to ask your venue if they include any decor items as part of your venue package.

Are you planning your wedding? Check out more helpful articles on here.