I’ve been hired as a pro bridesmaid over 125 times. Here are 5 ways I kept my own wedding budget under $2,000.

Jen adam wedding 287
My husband and I had a small wedding after our original plans were canceled. Susan Shek Photography

For the past six years, I’ve worked at over 125 weddings as a hired bridesmaid for strangers.

The average couple spends over $US30,000 ($AU41,000) on their wedding. After I got engaged, I decided I’d plan my wedding for a fraction of that cost.

When the pandemic canceled our original plans (a $US15 ($AU21),000 ($AU20,500), 150-person event), my partner and I decided to plan an elopement-style wedding for under $US2,000 ($AU2,733).

Here are the best ways I saved money along the way:

I wasn’t shy about asking friends for help

Rather than hiring a day-of wedding planner or even a hired bridesmaid, I asked a few friends for help.

I spent hours strategizing the itinerary and analyzing any potential pop-up problems. Then I figured out three main tasks I’d need help with, knowing everything else would fall into place.

I asked one tech-savvy friend to organize the livestream of our ceremony, another to set up the preordered food and drinks, and a third to put up some small decorations.

All of this saved me about $US700 ($AU957) that I would’ve had to spend on assistants.

I splurged a little on my bouquet but kept the other flowers and decor simple

Wedding pictures of jen glantz and her husband in front of brick, graffitied wall
After taking photos with my bouquet, I used it as decor. Jen Glantz

Our wedding was small and simple, but I wanted decor that popped.

Flowers are expensive, so I only splurged on a large bridal bouquet ($US125 ($AU171)) that I ended up also using for decor during the ceremony and reception.

I bought grocery-store flowers for the other tables ($US25 ($AU34)) and combined them with napkins, plates, and candles from discount and dollar stores ($US25 ($AU34)) to generously cut costs while still achieving my vision.

Instead of ordering a full meal and open bar, I personalized the refreshments for my guests

Our wedding was tiny (under 20 people), so I wanted to personalize the food and drinks to the guests.

Instead of hiring a caterer ($US50 ($AU68) a person), I decided to do an afternoon snack buffet with coffee drinks.

To save money, I asked each guest to fill out a form of what they’d like to drink and eat so I didn’t have to buy in bulk. This came out to be around $US15 ($AU21) a person.

Plus, doing it this way made it feel special for the guests.

I cut all the ‘nice to have’ but unessential items I originally wanted

Photo of jen glantz and husband's wedding
Our ceremony and reception were super simple but still personal. Jen Glantz

When I started planning my wedding, I made two important lists. One of all the things I wanted and the other of my budget.

I quickly realized my tight budget wasn’t going to get me far, so I cut things like a flower-wall installation ($US1,000 ($AU1,367)), a solo musician ($US500 ($AU683)), and a videographer ($US1,000 ($AU1,367)).

Very little matters on your wedding day, so pick three or five main things you care about and splurge on them. Pretty much everything else can be cut down to fit into your budget.

I spent plenty of time hunting for discounts and coupons

I spent a lot of quality time coupon-clipping and discount-hunting for my wedding.

I used browser plug-ins like Honey so I could be alerted when stores had discounts, and I scoured the internet for cheaper dupes of full-priced items I adored.

The wedding outfit of my dreams wasn’t on sale, so I signed up for the store’s email list and scored a coupon for 10% off. Then I got lucky and saw an upcoming 25%-off sale. My partner did the same and used a 35%-off coupon code on his wedding suit.