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How to Plan a $5,000 Wedding

A group of wedding attendees in formal attire smile and toast their drinks.

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You deserve a wedding that's magical and special. But pulling that off without landing in credit card debt is easier said than done.

The average wedding thrown in 2022 cost a whopping $30,000, reports The Knot. And if you happen to have that much money sitting in your savings account and you want to spend it on a wedding, go for it.

But if you don't have anywhere close to $30,000 sitting around, then you may want to do what you can to pull off a wedding at a much lower price point. And while that might seem impossible, it really can be done if you're willing to make some compromises. Here's how you can throw a fabulous wedding for just $5,000.

1. Don't invite everyone you know

In 2022, the average wedding had 117 guests, says The Knot. But if you're able to keep your guest list to a few dozen important people, you can lower your costs significantly.

Of course, making a small guest list isn't easy. But start with immediate family and then move on to extended family like aunts and uncles you're close with. From there, think about your closest and dearest friends — the ones you've known the longest or see regularly. You may not want to bump your old college roommate, but it may be okay to bump a nice colleague you've only started having lunch with recently.

Also, if you're truly looking to conserve costs, don't invite single guests with a plus-one. It may seem unkind, but if you follow up with a personalized note explaining that you're really on a budget, chances are, they'll understand.

2. Skip the expensive venue

You may have dreamed of getting married at a country club overlooking the water. But if that venue charges $125 a head, you're going to have a hard time sticking to your budget.

Instead, find a venue that's more reasonably priced — perhaps one that you can add your own personal touch to. There may be a restaurant or brewery in town you can rent out. If you and your soon-to-spouse love movies, you could decorate that space with posters of your favorite films for ambiance. Or if you're big sports fans, you could put paraphernalia from your favorite teams all around.

3. Ask your friends for help

You don't want your wedding to be a snooze fest. It's natural to want entertainment in the form of music and dancing. But that doesn't mean you have to pay for a DJ.

The average cost there is $1,500, says The Knot, while a live band costs $3,900 on average. If you have a friend with an extensive music collection, ask them to play DJ for the night. And if you have close friends in a band, ask if they'd consider playing at your event as their gift to you.

You can similarly outsource photography if you have a friend who's great behind the lens. That could save you $2,600, which is the average cost of a photographer today.

Similarly, if you have a friend who's great with cosmetics and a hairbrush, ask them to style you and do your wedding makeup. That could save you a cool $250 based on today's prices.

Sacrifices that are worth making

It's definitely not easy to throw a wedding for $5,000. And you will have to give up certain things to make that happen. But think about what you stand to gain.

Not starting off a marriage with debt could remove one major layer of stress. And any money you don't spend on your wedding is money you can use for other things, like starting a college fund for your future kids or making a down payment on a house.

So rather than focus on the things you're not getting for your wedding, think about the many things your saved money might buy you. That might help you embrace the idea of a budget wedding rather than resent it.

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