Our $4k Wedding


My parents never had the opportunity for a traditional wedding, so for our wedding I wanted an elegant ceremony as a way to honor the wedding my parents never had.

We were on a tight budget to begin with, then encountered financial setbacks during the planning process. The wedding I originally planned for was $8,500, but after several setbacks, we were down to $4,000, less than half our original budget.


The first thing we did to save was limit the guest list to immediate family. We knew that friends and extended family were willing to spend hundreds on travel just to come to our wedding, but we felt that it wouldn’t do them justice to throw a backyard pizza reception. We wanted the best experience for the guests we did invite.

Food for our guests was very most important to us. We wanted them to enjoy a nice dinner, so we chose The Prado in beautiful Balboa Park. We had only 14 people so we were able to set reservations for a banquet table in a semi-private part of the restaurant. This also meant we skipped the traditional reception. There was no dancing, thus no DJ. There was no venue fee. We paid only for guests present and not empty seats.


Photography was the next important thing. Since many of our family and friends would not be present at the wedding, we wanted to make sure to capture beautiful images that we could share. I worked with Melissa Biador, who was able to do limited coverage since our wedding was on a weekday. Again, since we skipped a traditional reception, we didn’t need full day coverage.


Because we essentially cut the reception, we at least wanted a traditional wedding cake and cake cutting. Hey There, Cupcake! designed a beautiful cake with whimsical flowers. We only needed one real tier for cutting. The top two tiers were dummy cakes for decorative purposes, another money saving trick.


Root 75
did a terrific job of executing my vision of lush, romantic florals. I was originally supposed to have an additional centerpiece for our sweetheart table, but (due to financial setback) we had to scratch it. Instead, I repurposed my bouquet as the floral centerpiece.


It was important for me to have a nice dress. It didn’t have to be expensive, it just had to look elegant. I chose an ivory satin gown on sale at David’s Bridal for $300.


I did quite a bit of DIY
- The altar was made using a photography backdrop, sale fabric from Wal-mart, crystal beads and fishing wire.
- I also did the ringbearer pillow and flower girl basket using the same fabric from the backdrop.
- I designed and printed all of the stationery using pearl card stock and glitter paper from Michael’s.
- I tied ribbon and bells to cake pop sticks to make ribbon wands.


Liz from WED San Diego did a terrific job of putting all the final details together at our ceremony site at Presidio Park. She set up the ceremony site, plus the extra tables including an additional sweetheart table. Again, we didn’t have a full reception, but I wanted our photos to feel like we did. I created a sweetheart table complete with plates, menu cards, and Versailles chairs.




Overall I’m happy how everything turned out. Our videographer, Mellow Entertainment, was there to capture it all on video.

Budget Breakdown

Our vendors were so amazing and really worked within my budget. I’m not itemizing the actual total for each vendor because they made some exceptions for me, and I don’t want to go around advertising the discounted rate I received. Instead I’ll post the value.

Ceremony Site, State Park – $280

Officiant – worth $200

Rentals – $180

DOC, 4 hours – $400

Photographer, 4 hours – worth $1,250
Videographer, 4 hours – worth $500

Flowers – $250

Food – $600
Cake – $350

Hair and Makeup – worth $275

Dress & Accessories – $450
Tux – $175
Ring Bearer, Flower Girl attire – $100

DIY Materials – $300

Vendor Team

Day of Coordinator: WED San Diego

Hair & Makeup: Meredith Andree

Photography: Melissa Biador

Videography: Mellow Entertainment

Cake: Hey There, Cupcake!

Flowers: Root 75

Rentals: Raphael’s Party Rentals

Officiant: Shawn Kennedy

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