A wedding with modest features can still run into five figures, which is bad news if the bride and groom don't have a lot to spend. However, if you're willing to be creative and flexible from the start of the planning process, it is possible to get a wedding done for under $1,000.
Have the ceremony and reception at a free site, like a beach or a park. If that's not possible, pick a site with as many available materials as possible. Avoid spending money on renting chairs, tables and other necessary items for the reception.
Shop small, privately-owned bridal shops for dresses. If you can truly skip tradition, buy a white prom dress to use as a wedding dress. Most cost $200 or less and have the advantage of being more comfortable than a wedding dress.
Hold the wedding at an off-time. Instead of getting married in June, get married in January. Instead of getting married on a Saturday, get married on a Friday. Caterers, florists, photographers and musicians will have a lot of wedding work in the summer. They may be willing to work for less in an off-month. Hold the wedding itself in the mid-afternoon, when reception guests aren't expecting a full meal. Serve appetizers and dessert instead.
Make your own invitations and programs. Graphics programs and the average home printer can produce material that looks nearly professional.
Borrow anything you can, reuse flowers from the ceremony for centerpieces at the reception, and limit the guest list to close friends and relatives. The smaller the wedding is, the less you'll spend on catering.
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