I get a lot of emails from couples whose wedding budgets hover in the $10,000 range - and the question is always the same: Can we have a nice wedding for 10K? My answer is always "yes - but....".
I interject the word "but" simply because I know how expensive weddings can be. The national average for a nuptial celebration is in the $28 - $29,000 ballpark and seems to be climbing more each year. But as I tell people all of the time - "it is what it is", so if all you've got is $10,ooo - then that's what we work with!
How can you accomplish beautiful with modest funds? Simple - but you have to be realistic in your expectations. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that for $10k, it's possible to have 300 guests, a full bar, live entertainment, flowers everywhere and a wedding party of 40. Nope - ain't gonna happen. Instead, let me give you a few snippets of "insight" so that hopefully, you can see where I'm coming from:
1) With the money you have - having a nice wedding will have a lot to do with the priorities you set, what geographical area you are in, how many guests you want to have, what time of year, what time of day. I know that sounds kind of vague - but it really isn't.
2) If you know that you want to go the traditional route - so be it. But you will have to make your money work for you and become creative with your spending. For instance - you could decide to get married on a Saturday morning (like 9 a.m.) and have a old-fashioned country breakfast for 50 guests in the church hall afterwards. Or you could settle on doing a late evening wedding (8 p.m.) with dessert and sparkling wine to follow, it would be just a 2 hour reception, with you and your groom mingling with your guests.
3) When funds are tight - I always recommend that people clearly spell out in the beginning what is most important to them, and what is least important. That is how you'll spend the money well. If you decided to go the justice of the peace route - that's fine too. You could have just your immediate families present for the ceremony, then go to a local restaurant and have a dinner for close family and friends - probably no more than 50 people total.
There is LIFE after the wedding - when you wake up the very next day, it starts and you have to be prepared for it. Maybe it's because in my previous life - I was in the financial industry and I watched people dip into their 401-K's and other savings just to fund a wedding. Hey - it's a free country and you can do what you wish...but with some careful thought and spending, you can have a wedding with wonderful memories - not a ton of debt as you start your new life.