4 brides share how they actually planned a beautiful wedding for less than $5000.

I'm currently planning my 2023 wedding. And before we get into the fun stuff, like choosing the flowers, invitations and decorations, we're talking numbers. 

Ohhh yep, the budget.

Before getting engaged, I knew weddings would be expensive. Everyone tells you. 

But you don't really understand just how easily things can add up until you start planning your own.

Watch: Celebrity first dance wedding songs. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Easy Weddings recently reported in 2023 the average Australian wedding costs $34,715, and a quarter of couples go above their original wedding budget.

To learn more on how to save ahead of my own big day, I spoke to women in the Mamamia community who have gotten married and spent less than the 2023 wedding average. Way less.

In fact 4 of the brides spent less than $5K!

Here's what they told me. 


Image: Supplied.


"Our friends kindly allowed us to hold the wedding on their gorgeous property, and it's full of rustic elements that made for photogenic props. The retro car belongs to my husband's brother and he drove us to the ceremony.

"We didn't have a professional wedding planner or event stylist, and relied on the help of my very clever girlfriends to bring the styling together on the day (shout out to them for this epic grazing table which provided a delicious centrepiece!).


"We bought things like lace tablecloths, vases and baskets from Salvos, then did a big Kmart shop for candles, disposable cameras and signage - I hand-painted some signs for a personal touch, which took me way too long but felt like an exercise in mindfulness?

"The rugs we used for our aisle were 'reclaimed' — one of them is a hand-me-down from my parents, and I found the carpet we got married on in someone's hard rubbish collection. Honestly, who throws out a perfectly good vintage rug? 

"The one element that was a substantial outlay was the booze. We knew we wanted great cocktails, and they delivered with top-notch margs and espresso martinis.

"We chose not to have a photographer or videographer — instead my partner's niece, an aspiring photographer with an amazing eye, took some great snaps for us on the day.

"It really does take a village, and we're so lucky to have ours!"

Read more: 'I'm a fashion editor. Here's exactly how I styled my wedding on a budget.'


Image: Supplied/Alpine Image Co.


"We got married in New Zealand and had a week's holiday with family with the wedding in the middle. I reckon we spent between $10,000-$12,000. 

"We only had 12 people so had an 'elopement' package with our celebrant and photographer and a no-frills ceremony. 

"We married at an iconic beautiful hotel in April, where we had the ceremony in the garden (non-private hire, cheaper and didn't notice the tourists in the opposite garden they were very respectful), and we had dinner, drinks and cake in the on-site restaurant, no private room. We had no DJ, no dancing, just like a fancy dinner party with no fuss — exactly what I wanted. 

"I don't feel like I missed out on anything as I'm not a party person, so the dinner party style 'reception' was fab. We ordered off the restaurant menu so no real catering costs, and our families aren't big drinkers so no big alcohol bill. 


"We didn't have a bridal party, my sister-in-law did my hair and makeup and my parents and brother helped me get ready. I bought a cake off the shelf the day before at a nice bakery and a bunch of baby breath at the local florist for my bouquet. 

"We had some nice accommodation around NZ prior to and after the wedding day. I would 100 per cent do it again that way!"


Image: Supplied.


"We got married in our backyard in January. We had 60 guests, catered with platters and drinks and I made our wedding cupcakes. I made my own flowers, my friend and her hubby made the arbour and we hired outdoor furniture.

"It was honestly the most amazing day, so much so we want to do it all over again! I bought my dress online for $90 and had it altered, spending $150 in total. Overall, the wedding cost $2,980!"


Image: Supplied/Peppermint Studios.


"I just got married a month ago and did it for under $30,000. We put flowers, booze and cheese on our registry and it took off a massive amount of the budget. We also had no staff and everyone was allocated a role on the day. FULL DIY vibes. 

"My partner build the registry and we partnered with a local wine shop so people bought wine packs from them with a code under our name. Same with a local florist and we just pick up all the bunches people bought for us the day before the wedding.

"Best day ever. I even made a DIY wedding video instead of paying for a videographer — I requested people take snippets of the day so I could compile it."


Image: Supplied.


"I got married last year for about $3,000. I bought the dress online for $150, and got my makeup done professionally but did my own hair. We only had 14 people (just siblings and parents) as well as the celebrant who was one of our guests, and our cake was from The Cheesecake Shop. 

"We splashed out by hiring a local winery restaurant on a Friday and had the most gorgeous four-course lunch. Wouldn't change it for anything."


Image: Supplied/Fred and Hannah.


"I was married in 2018 with a budget of $10,000 (which realistically turned into $15,000). We had a Sunday wedding with 100 guests and married in winter in Tasmania, which is VERY off-peak season. The photographers gave us a discount as it was the only work going. We didn't have videography. 

"We also chose something that's not typically used as a wedding venue. We were married at Clarendon House which is part of the National Trust of Australia. It closes during winter (lack of tourism) and so us hiring the place was bonus income for them. Cost us $700 for the weekend.

"My dress was secondhand AND was classed as a debutante dress (not a wedding dress). Both factors meant it was $300. With alterations, it was still less than $500. 

"We did food vans for our catering. We had two savoury food vans and one dessert food van. It ended up at $45 a head for all three vans and no one went hungry! We also dressed up a Coles mud cake for our wedding cake which saved heaps of money.


"The groomsmen paid for their suits and my bridesmaids paid for their dresses and hair/makeup if they chose to do it professionally (they had the option to do it themselves). I know that's frowned upon by some but we honestly didn't have the funds to cover it. 

"Our celebrant was my husband's grandfather so that was free. We also used their property for the ceremony. We told the florist the budget up front (I believe it was around $600?) and she worked within that. And we sent out electronic invites! It was free and made RSVPs quick and easy.

"Before we started spending, we sat down and established what we wanted to prioritise and allocated money to that. My husband really wanted live music, so we hired a band for a few thousand. I wanted quality photos to have forever, so we spent a few thousand on that. 

"Then, we went through and put a price next to each item we wanted to have as part of the wedding and tried to stick to the budget. There were spreadsheets and everything. Some things nearly fell off because they weren't a priority (like cake). Then my mum panicked that we wouldn't have a cake. But we hadn't prioritised it so there was no budget for it. Enter the Coles cake slathered in Betty Crocker frosting."


Image: Supplied/Luxe Elopements.


"I eloped and paid $2,700. Hair, makeup, flowers, celebrant and 100 photos all included. I bought my dress on Gumtree for $500. Our accommodation was $1,200 for a week right on the beach at Byron Bay.

"It was absolutely amazing. We told no one and when we came back we handed each of our closest friends and family a shot glass engraved with our names and date. So $4,000 total including the honeymoon."


Image: Supplied.


"We married in 2019 at a bowling club. All the decorations were recycled, op shopped or otherwise handmade, except for some fairy lights from Bunnings. Our beautiful friends who owned a cafe did our grazing table and cake. 

"We played dodgy music from a wonder boom and had a device that people could transfer photos they took on their phones to a Polaroid which they then stuck on a board. All the pics taken by everyone were collated and a Snapfish book was made.

"Our dresses were previously worn and as we both had navy dresses, we decided on those instead of white. We were neither traditional nor virgins! It was a surprise wedding originally advertised as my fortieth birthday so our guests were all dressed in 40s gear. 


"Our daughter and nieces were 'flower girls' wearing little dresses I made myself. Flowers from our garden. The total wedding costs $5,000, and we remember talking and laughing with every one of our 50 or so guests. Best night ever."


Image: Supplied/Surroundings Photography.


"Under $2,500 in November 2022! The venue was the shearing shed at our work, we had four guests and some drinks and a cheese platter afterwards. Our celebrant just did a legal-only ceremony and we got a local photographer just starting out. 

"We enjoyed our actual wedding day as a couple and then had a BBQ three months later with friends and family. BYO drinks, strictly no gifts. Guests brought deserts to share, we provided cheese platters, cob loaf, meat, potato bake and salads."


Image: Supplied/Bite Size Weddings.


"Ours was $5,000 in 2021. We eloped during COVID so we didn’t have to invite anyone. We got married at a gorgeous venue, just our children and us, spent an hour taking photos then went through KFC drive-thru for lunch. 

"It was a Friday so my husband took the kids to the local skatepark for an hour and I jumped on a work meeting. (They didn’t know we were getting married that morning, I just told them I had an appt). 

"We phoned our family that afternoon then watched a movie with the kids and a bottle of wine that night. Work would have made a big celebration of it but we’re not those types of people.

"It's not everyone’s idea of an amazing wedding day but it was bliss for us. Stress-free, no small talk, no one critiquing the kids about what they should or should not be doing. (They walked away at one point and kicked rocks.) 

"We poured our heart and soul into our vows and could be 100 per cent us without worrying about offending anyone."


Image: Supplied.


"Got married in April and spent a total of less than $9,000. We had a cocktail reception with a cash bar. My dress was from a pop-up store and my husband already had his suit. 

"We got the minimum photography and live stream packages, used playlists for music at the reception, and a friend who does cakes as a hobby did our cake. I don't regret any choices."

Feature image: Supplied.

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