This post shares how we did our small wedding with a budget under $5,000.
I was never the girl who wanted a big, white, traditional wedding. But marrying my best friend felt like a good excuse to get all the people we love together to celebrate in our gorgeous little state of Vermont in the fall.
We got married in October of 2019, so this was pre-COVID times. Even before large gatherings basically became taboo I wanted a small, intimate wedding. Heck, I was on team elope until about 4 months before our wedding date (Yes, we picked a date about 4 months out and somehow our friends and family haven’t disowned us for this) and even when we picked a date (which was based on the location availability) I knew I wanted to do it on the cheap and keep things FUN.
So if you’re asking yourself “how to do a wedding for under 5K or how to do a cozy Vermont wedding on a budget” – this is the blog post for you! Here are the details to how we did our little mountain top wedding for under $5,000. For size reference, we had 50 guests attend the wedding (our venue limited us to 60 people).
How to do a small wedding under $5,000
I’ll give you the budget breakdown first, because that’s probably what you’re most interested in.
|Wedding bands (mine & his)||$1300|
|Dress (including alteration)||$160|
|Photographer||included w/ officiant/ FREE|
|Table linens & decorations||$40|
|Flowers||included w/ officiant|
|Tips for JOP & musician||$400|
|Food & flatware||$500|
|Booze & other bevs||$400|
|Cake||FREE / $50 on ingredients|
So there it is. Coming in just under 5K.
Here are the details:
Mount Philo State Park. Our amazing officiant suggested this location! We were able to rent the 1930s rustic lodge at the top of the mountain for $200 which included the little lodge space, a fridge, tables, chairs and bathroom. We got married on a Friday so we got the weekday rate of $200 vs the weekend rate of $300 (there were no weekend days available, which would have been our preference). The space accommodated 60 people, and we ended up having about 50 guests. If you’re into the outside wedding vibes, I highly suggest checking out your state parks. They are cheaper than places on the traditional wedding path (ie: barns, ski resorts, inns) and often have an inside area that comes with tables and chairs!!
Officiant, flowers, photography
We found Carmen through a quick google search – she’s a local wedding officiant who does exactly what we were looking for: a wedding officiant with optional add-ons like flowers, photography and other small wedding coordination services. We did her small wedding package which included the ceremony, a stunning bouquet for me, photography pre and post ceremony, and we added flowers for my flower girl and Jesse. I cannot recommend Carmen enough!
Getting photos during the ceremony was extra (as she would need to bring a second photographer), but it worked out because my brother in law is a wiz with a camera and after we asked very nicely, he took photos during the ceremony. Finding a family member/friend who is good with a camera is a great way for you to save on money and a super great wedding gift for them to give to you.
Bride & Groom outfits
I ordered a few options from BHLDN (Anthropology’s bridal line) and landed on a sweet little two piece ensemble (I was able to try on a few things and return what I didn’t want very easily). I scored the skirt on sale for $40. Everything fit perfectly except the skirt was too long so I took it to a local tailor to hem. The morning of, I did my own hair and makeup (I’m a simple gal, what can I say) – a few easy waves in my hair, some mascara, and I was all set.
Jesse got his pants and jacket from H&M and his flannel shirt from Vermont Flannel Company. His outfit cost more than the cost my wedding dress (minus alternation) and is definitely a point of pride for me.
Food & Beverage
Because we had our wedding at a state park, we were able to bring in our own food and beverages. There are some laws about having a bartender if you are SERVING alcohol, but if people kind of help themselves and it looks like a BYOB situation, you can get around this. Shh, you didn’t hear that from me (check your local laws of course).
So we brought a smorgasborg of booze and some non-alcoholic options. Our wedding gift was custom mason jar mugs so we didn’t need to buy any plastic cups or rent drinkware.
For food, we did the super classy thing and ordered pizza from our favorite local pizza place – Folino’s. They also did some bomb salads for us. We laid things out buffet style with tags that we made since a lot of the pizza had some cool toppings to note or were vegan/gluten-free. We ate off of compostable plates (because renting fine china seemed overkill for pizza) and the state park took care of the trash and recycling for us!
The cakes get their own section, because they were probably my favorite thing about this wedding. Who would have guessed, right? I made all my own weddings cakes (the process for which should probably be a separate post). But basically, I made them all in advance and froze them. We had Funfetti layer cake, Chocolate Coconut layer cake, Peanut Butter Cup jar cakes, Vegan/GF almond cake with raspberry filling, and regular almond cake with raspberry filling. So 5 cakes total? I’m completely pyscho, but I had so much fun making the cakes (my mom came out the week before the wedding to help!) and it saved A TON of money.
I was on board for a playlist and an iPod, but I’m so glad I left the music up to Jesse because he really came through. Live music is SO MUCH more fun at a wedding. Worth the little splurge. Our joke was we couldn’t afford the whole band, so we got a 1 man band. Literally. And it was beyond perfect for the setting and we had so much fun (until he stomped so hard that a pizza took a nose dive off a table…luckily it wasn’t a cake). If you’re in Vermont/New England area check out Jacob Green. He played acoustic guitar during the ceremony and the whole 1 man band during the reception.
We kept things really simple with decorations because Vermont in the fall is really all the backdrop you need. The few decorations (including our cake toppers!) we had I made myself, apart from the candles and lantern style holders. I picked up the materials to make a cute “J & A Hooray” flag banner (which still hangs in my home office), some twinkle lights, ribbon, wooden name tags for the mugs, gold paint, candles and cute lantern holders (I use in our home today for various things). I love that I made things that we could reuse in our home – I feel like so many wedding decorations get used once and then tossed out. We set up the decorations ourself mostly the day before, and a few things the morning of.
Misc: hotel, marriage license, rings, etc.
A few other random expenses also added up (but not too much!). One of our biggest splurges were our wedding bands, which we got locally at Perrywinkle’s in Burlington, VT (which is where my custom engagement ring is from). I absolutely love our rings.
We filed for our marriage license at the town hall – I think this is pretty standard.
Since we had family staying with us during the wedding week (and we weren’t going on our Jamaica honeymoon until February), we opted to book a hotel room downtown to keep things fun.
And that’s it!
We loved our wedding – and from what our guests said, they had a blast too! We kept it casual and true to what we wanted, and the end result was a totally fun celebration with our friends and family. We focused on what was important – being with loved ones and didn’t stress over the little things that really don’t matter.