How to Plan a Wedding Under $10,000

bride and groom dancing in front of a window view of a bridge

“It can’t be done!” you say. But I know thousands of brides who have planned weddings for $10k or less. Loud Bride is here to show you how it’s done. We’re going to use tips from brides who have planned low budget weddings and our trusty Loud Bride Budget Calculator to demonstrate how to plan a wedding under $10,000.

If you’d like to plan a wedding under $10k, your most important consideration is the guest list. Hosting a wedding with less than 100 people and finding an all-inclusive venue is the easiest way to spend less than $10,000.

Our main goal for today is walk you though exactly where your money should go if you only have ten grand to spend on your big day. If you have even less money to spend, or are just curious, check out our post on how to plan a wedding under $5,000 for more tips.

What is the average cost of a wedding?

To understand why a $10,000 budget might be a challenge or is considered “low budget,” it’s helpful to know the average cost of a wedding in the United States.

The average cost of a wedding in 2021 is $33,931, according to The Knot.

That means to keep things within $10k, you’ll have to spend a third of the average bride and groom. It doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the guest experience or your personal style. But it does mean you shouldn’t compare your wedding to ones you see on TV or on Instagram where the couples may have spent a lot more than the average.

What is the most expensive part of a wedding?

The most expensive part of any wedding is the venue costs, which include food or drink. And is greatly influenced by the number of guests you have.

It’s critically important to your wedding budget to keep your guest list at 100 or fewer in order to make a $10,000 budget work without major sacrifices. To break down exactly how your guest list impacts your budget, check out this guide to how much weddings cost per person.

two wedding chairs that say "forever" and "always"

How do I keep my wedding under $10,000?

Here is an exact plan for how to plan a wedding under $10,000:

Spend $7,675 on an all-inclusive venue for 100 guests

What is an all-inclusive venue? An all-inclusive venue is a venue that includes everything from the ceremony spot, to the reception site, to food, drinks and decorations.

There are a lot of reasons why an all-inclusive venue will save you money and allow you to stay within budget:

  • Lower transportation costs from ceremony to reception
  • Fewer additional decorations needed for ceremony versus the reception
  • No added ceremony site fees
  • Offers all-inclusive packages that include food and drinks, usually priced per person
  • Sometimes includes gratuity

In expensive areas, like New York City or other major metropolitan areas, a lot of inclusive venues unfortunately start at around $10,000. So what you’re looking for in a high cost of living area is a venue that’s willing to give a discount for an off-peak day or time, or a venue that’s a little less expensive than average. For example, we found a venue in Queens that offered inclusive packages for less money than a Manhattan venue would.

An alternative to this approach is to rent an AirBNB or other untraditional wedding and host the wedding there. Then you can focus the bulk of this budget on the catering and drinks.

Spend $900 on your dress or day of attire

Most bridal shops have a small selection of dresses under $1000. Make sure you include alteration costs within that $900 budget.

Your best bet to staying within budget however is to purchase an off-the-rack or second-hand dress well under $900 and leave $100-300 for minor alterations. David’s Bridal, BHLDN, Azazie and Hebeos are all favorites for budget conscious brides. You can read out guide to purchasing an off-the-rack dress here.

bride and groom in front of an orange VW van

Spend $750 on your photographer

This is a tight but manageable budget for a professional photographer in most areas of the country. You may need to negotiate the coverage for a favorite photographer to fit within this budget. For example, if you find a photographer that normally charges $1500-2000 for an engagement shoot and 10 hours of coverage, ask them if they can work within your budget by eliminating the engagement shoot and providing only 5 hours of coverage.

This is a great option if you don’t mind not having professional engagement photos (or couldn’t schedule this anyway because your wedding is out of town) and won’t miss out on having photos of your guests dancing or of your wedding party getting ready. Just have them capture the core moments of your ceremony and reception within a shorter block of time.

Spend $200 on hair and make up

You should be able to find a package at a salon for $100-150 for hair and make up for the bride only. This may not include more expensive services like airbrushing. The rest can be used for tips and a manicure / pedicure.

If you can’t find one in your area, check out our tips on the under $5,000 post. It has information on how to keep your hair and makeup costs under $100.

Spend the remaining $475 on invitations, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and decorations

To save money on invitations, send digital invitations or make your own at home to keep costs low. This is another thing that looks so pretty in photos of other people’s weddings. In reality it gets thrown in the trash before you can say “I do.” Use a free wedding website to house all of the information people need, track RSVPS, and more.

You’re not going to be able to fit a destination bachelor or bachelorette party within this budget but you can have a kickass night out on the town with your best friends for $100 each. Plan a dinner or night at a club or bar and have everyone chip in for a limo. It is well understood that your friends should treat you to a few drinks throughout the night. You’ll also find that telling strangers it’s your last night as a single man / lady goes a long way.

Since you’re spending the bulk of your budget on an all-inclusive venue, you shouldn’t need to decorate much. Find a crafty friend or family member who can fill in any gaps. Or ask your bridesmaids / groomsmen to help put together any simple decorations the morning of / night before.

Skip flowers, the DJ and any wedding favors

You might find skipping these three traditional items hard to do. But they have the least effect on your wedding celebration.

Flowers, no one will miss. Trust me! If you absolutely must have something to hold while you walk down the aisle, snag some grocery store flowers or wild flowers from a neighbors garden.

Having a DJ definitely helps moves things along and get dancing going. The average cost of a wedding DJ is $500-1000. There may be a way to squeeze this into your existing budget if you end up with fewer than 100 RSVPs. The feedback we heard from other brides and grooms on a budget is that a Spotify playlist can work just as well. Put someone with good music taste in charge of it.

And the wedding favors. We’re sorry to say that your guests won’t mind if you forgo the wedding mints that say “Mint to Be” with your date on it. It’s a nice to have but not a necessity if you’re trying to stay on a tight budget.

a close up photo of two hands with wedding rings

I will leave you with a final few caveats to these wedding budget guides.

1. They don’t include every single detail. You’ll see things like the wedding rings, rehearsal dinner, or other staples are left out. You can certainly fit them within a $5,000 or $10,000 budget but shaving off a little from other areas. Personally, I left them out because they were more permanent items. Rings, for example, you may have a separate budget for. Or they are things that are traditionally paid for by someone else (like the rehearsal dinner).

2. They’re not the only way to do it. Before you chime in with how you did things differently. Or how you would never spend $7,000 of a $10,000 budget on food and drinks. Let me assure you this is not the “right” or “only” way to plan a $10,000 wedding. Use this guide for inspiration on one way to plan a low budget wedding with real-world numbers and expectations. Hopefully you found tips for alternative ways to look at the budget throughout. Now you can come to a plan that suits your needs best.

You can check out my free budget guide if you sign up for my newsletter. It automatically calculates what you should spend where based on your budget and guest count and helps you stay on track. It’s like the fairy godmother of numbers.

Now that you know exactly how to budget for a $10,000 wedding, tell us what you think! Join our community of like-minded brides on Facebook at Bold on a Budget Weddings. Share tips, get inspiration from other brides, and get access to the Loud Bride budget calculator.


Jaime is the owner of Loud Bride and Coast Designs LLC. She got married in 2017 in Geneseo, NY and designed her own wedding invitations and programs for the occasion. Now, she designs bespoke wedding stationery and affordable templates for other couples. She lives in New York city with her husband and two children.

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