My Wedding Cost $2,000 and It Was Everything I Wanted

Having an affordable personalized rustic wedding IS possible. This is how I pulled it off.
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Melissa Cortes
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Having an affordable personalized rustic wedding IS possible. This is how I pulled it off.

My husband and I got married on February 20th, 2016 after a year of being engaged. It was a pretty stressful process. We changed our date at least three times, our budget keep getting smaller, and the guest list went up and down, but I have to honestly say that in the end I was very happy with my wedding.

I always wanted to get married in Oak Glen, California. I went all over Oak Glen looking for the right venue, but they were almost all too expensive or not a good deal. In the beginning our budget was $5000 and our guest list would have been about 350 people, but as time went by we realized that we could afford this wedding less and less. When things went sour with our first landlord, we had to find a new apartment. There went $1400 on a deposit, and that's when I made up my mind to keep our wedding budget at $2000, no matter what. This is how I did it. 

1. Facebook, Facebook, Facebook

Did you know that there are "buy, sell, trade" groups on Facebook and that there are one specifically for wedding items? That's where I found the majority of my decor. With rustic weddings being so popular, it wasn't hard finding already DIY-ed stuff (DIY without the work? Umm yes please!). 

I got a lot of other items from local dollar stores and some random things from places like Walmart, Michael's, Etsy, Oriental Trading Company, Joann's Fabrics and even Best Buy. All in all, we paid $300 for all the decor we used at our wedding. 

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Vendors also take the opportunity to advertise their businesses in these Facebook groups. I found my florist, (she didn't have a storefront, made arrangements as a hobby, and I only paid $165 for all my flowers) caterer, and ice cream caterer this way. 

2. Choose a "non-wedding" wedding venue

The venue I ended up choosing was actually a county park and I loved it. We had our ceremony under the arbor area and the reception right next to it underneath the oak trees. With the rental of the arbor, the conference room, tables, chairs, and linens, it only cost us $185.

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I highly suggest looking into parks, hotels, restaurants — literally anywhere that allows you to rent out their space that doesn't involve the word "wedding" in it because you automatically get charged more money for a wedding. When looking for vendors, try not to mention you want there services for your wedding. Just say it's a party and see what kind of price differences you get. 

3. Enlist as much help as you can get from family and friends

After going over it again and again,we finally cut our list to only 75 guests — literally just family and friends like family. His parents were not happy about the fact that we were doing everything our way and ended up helping us with almost nothing. His sister likes to make cakes,so we were lucky she still decided to do that for us, and we borrowed some burlap table runners from his mom.

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We didn't want to have a potluck type of dinner because it was important to me that I be the one providing food (I didn't want it to scream: "we are too poor to feed you"). We chose to have an appetizer-only meal with six different types plus ice cream at the end of the night. We paid a total of $600.  

Our dinnerware (plates, utensils, napkins, straws, and cups) was all from Party City and the dollar store and cost about $100. I chose premium plastic — it looked nice,and it was still cheap. We had our friends bring  beverage dispensers, cake cutters, a guest book, and I borrowed a veil from a close friend. We decided to buy a camera around Christmas. It was on sale at Costco for $450. Even thought it wasn't just for the wedding, I still incorporated the cost into the budget.

We enlisted an old friend of my husband's to do our photography and she ended up doing a wonderful job! Our music was on our laptop downloaded onto a flash drive and we borrowed a speaker from my husband's coworker. 

4. Consider alternative options

We decided to get married at the courthouse before the actual wedding since we couldn't find an officiant that worked for us or that was within our budget. We had a friend that worked in a church but was no longer ordained and we wanted him to marry us. Depending on where you live this, you could potentially have a friend or family member ordained for a day. It cost $75 in my county, but we just decided to skip that and just got married legally at the courthouse. Our friend stood in for our vow exchange at the ceremony. The whole thing cost us $155 total, including our license. 

5. Use what you've got

My husband loves books so I decided to incorporate his books into the centerpieces. I used clear tea cups  for candle holders and we picked up some pine cones to hold up the table numbers. For his suit, my husband decided to just save the money and use his military dress blues. 

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For my dress, I was EXTREMELY lucky. I went to David's Bridal during their annual sale, where a small selection of dresses go on sale for $99. I found my dress on my first appointment. With sleeve alterations, I paid $150 plus $10 for a dress bag. I bought my sash at Michael's for $15.  All my accessories for the dress were already mine — plus my necklace was free (David's Bridal gave me a coupon code for Helzberg jewelry)!

I've had the same hairdresser since I was 13 and because of our loyalty we get a great discount. I did my own makeup and my mom paid for a full set acrylic nails with rhinestones.

And that's how I did it. We planned and saved all throughout the year. It was a great help to just buy things  throughout the year and make payments to the vendors instead of waiting until we could pay for everything all at once.

Life happens and it shouldn't prevent you from having a wedding that you want for the price you can afford. I loved my wedding and thought it was very beautiful. I created it, I made it happen, and I'm very proud (also a shoutout to my husband for being so supportive and standing by my side through the whole process. Love you!).