How we threw a wedding for under $5,000: cutting costs on clothes

Because your choices will concern not only bride + groom, but bride + groom + the entire wedding party, determining what everyone will wear at the wedding carries a lot of weight. But don’t let that scare you into eloping!

CoffeeCatDogKid | How we threw a wedding for under $5,000: cutting costs on clothes

The bride

Alec will probably have nightmares all his life about the price of my wedding dress. Granted, it was a steal compared to some brides’ gowns, and lots of brides will tell you they went over budget for the dress of their dreams. However, I didn’t just exceed my initial dress budget—I doubled it.

I found my dress at Sweetheart Bridal. From the trumpet silhouette to the intricate lace detailing to the hefty price tag, it went against everything I thought I wanted. But I knew that I had to have it. Alec and I decided that we’d make room somehow in other categories (and we did manage that after all).


To help alleviate the over-budget expense, I cut costs in the remaining areas of my own wardrobe. I bought cute red heels on clearance, enlisted sister Kate and sister-in-law Katie as my hair stylists, and applied my own make-up. Though in the end I didn’t accessorize, opting instead to keep it simple, when I considered a sash and headband I found several viable options at Target, Walgreens, and comparable stores. Go ahead and buy the dress in a bridal shop, but other things like shoes and accessories can come from more generalized sources.


The groom

Alec’s ensemble cost us considerably less than the dress. We used shoes he already owned, then we bought him a suit jacket, sweater, and pants from the mall. To top it off, Alec donned a newsboy cap given to him by his late grandfather—a way to feel his spirit at the ceremony and reception.

You may be shocked to hear that Alec didn’t wear a tie and that his pants were red corduroy. But guess what: we didn’t have to rent or buy him a tux, he can now wear these clothes whenever he wants, and he was able to stay comfortable without compromising good fashion.


Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Forget about tradition—What do you actually want to wear? What makes you happy?

And now, the wedding party

We didn’t really have bridesmaids and groomsmen, but we asked our family members to dress in a particular color scheme. And since we couldn’t pay for all of their outfits, we tried to make the dress code fairly inclusive. If you have to keep a tight budget, consider loosening your requirements for friends and family’s apparel.

We asked the women and girls to wear a skirt, a dress, or pants in shades of brown, red, green, cream, OR white. If they chose a neutral color, we asked them to accent with red or green, possibly adding a splash of gold somewhere in the outfit. We requested that the men wear a pair of tan-colored khakis, with a white shirt, and then a sweater/cardigan in either red, green, or brown. Ties were optional.


If you’re going to ask the wedding party to provide their own clothes, be forgiving of any slight deviations and don’t hold them to a strict standard. The easiest way to ensure flexibility is to keep things pretty casual rather than to expect a black-tie quality; also, try to provide more of a color palette rather than one or two exact shades. We found this palette on Pinterest as an example to show everyone what we envisioned. Then we trusted them to make informed choices!

Luckily, our wedding party delivered. And as an added bonus, using these colors at a wedding just before Christmas meant that many of our guests inadvertently followed a similar palette. You can try for a similar effect by using a seasonal color palette for your wedding. Bright, bold colors for summer, pastels for spring, oranges and yellows for fall, etc.


But most importantly, consider everyone’s comfort zones and learn that it’s okay to let go of tradition.

 Other posts in this series:

How we threw a wedding for under $5,000

How we threw a wedding for under $5,000: flowers

How we threw a wedding for under $5,000: cutting costs on clothes


4 thoughts on “How we threw a wedding for under $5,000: cutting costs on clothes

  1. It was a beautiful wedding one I will remember for ever, it was a whirlwind few days with with us flying in from the UK staying just a few days, but it was a fun time, Kelsey you looked amazing and Alec I shall always be grateful to you for wearing your granddads cap.


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