According to The Knot, in 2017 the average price of a wedding in the US was $33,391. I don't know about you, but we think that's A LOT of money. There are so many different puzzle pieces that go into a wedding, and those pieces all cost money. We got married in Isle of Skye, Scotland in November of 2016. Our wedding included a week of exploring Scotland with our closest family members and was one of the most amazing experiences we've had. We get a lot of questions about how much all of this cost us, and how we saved money. So we're going to share all of that with you today!
Here are our tips for saving money on your wedding without sacrificing your dream!
Keep It Intimate
For starters, we had an intimate wedding. Only twelve guests traveled to Scotland with us. Narrowing down your guest list is one of the easiest ways to save money. You have fewer mouths to feed and you can choose a smaller venue (or create your own venue like we did). Another wonderful thing about having an intimate wedding is that you can actually spend quality time with each of your guests.
Choose A Non-Traditional Wedding Venue
By now, you probably know that we are huge advocates of breaking traditional wedding rules. By not choosing a traditional wedding venue, we not only saved money, but we also had a lot more freedom with our wedding day timeline. We rented a house on Airbnb that had a beautiful area for us to get ready, as well as a nice kitchen with a long table that could seat everyone for dinner. The Airbnb we chose was $215/night and also accommodated six of our guests. For our ceremony, we drove up to the Quiraing and parked our cars and walked to our ceremony site, this was completely free! Another great part about booking our venue through Airbnb was that we could cook our own meal for dinner. We chose to have spaghetti, a salad bar, and garlic bread. We picked up our ingredients at the Broadford Co-Op the night before and it was a total of around $100. Another option would be to host a picnic or make a reservation at a nearby restaurant.
Decide On Your Priorities
One of the biggest ways to save money is to prioritize the things that are important to you and get rid of the things that aren't. Maybe delicious food is your biggest priority, or maybe you want to focus more on your decor. Make a list of the things that you have to have, choosing a couple things that are worth a splurge, and then make a list of things you don't need. For us, having our wedding in Isle of Skye, Scotland was very important, as well as paying for our wedding to be documented. We opted not to have an officiant (we got legally married at the city and county building for $35 before we left), and we didn't have any flowers, decor, or formal invitations.
Consider A Casual Reception
If you're concerned about friends and family feeling left out, you can always host a casual reception at a later date. We hosted our Colorado reception in Lisa's dad's backyard and invited 60 people. The total cost for our reception was around $1750. This included catering, drinks (both alcoholic + non-alcoholic), chair and table rentals, plates + cups + silverware, popsicles for dessert, decor, etc. Before deciding to use Lisa's dad's backyard, we considered renting out a picnic shelter near a park or a trailhead.
Our Isle of Skye Wedding Costs
Our wedding was a bit different than the average destination wedding. We spent an entire week with our families in Scotland (we spent time in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Isle of Skye). All costs are in USD.
Round-trip Flight from Denver - Glasgow : $1,000 per person
Hotel in Glasgow (3 nights) - $105 per person (with shared rooms)
Train from Glasgow - Fort William : $25 per person
Rental Cars in Skye (3 days) : $90 per person (we shared cars to bring the cost down)
Airbnb House Rental (3 nights) : $125 per person
Wedding Photo + Video : $10,000
Ceremony Venue : $0
Reception + Get Ready Venue : $0 (included in accommodation cost)
Flowers : $0
Officiant : $0
Wedding Planner : $0
Cake : $0
DJ : $0
Decor : $0
Dinner : $100 total
Total : $12,790 for Lisa + Alex
Total : $1,345 travel cost paid by each guest
Alex's Suit : $690 (can be worn again)
Alex's Shirt + Tie + Accessories : $180
Lisa's Dress : $400
Lisa's Headpiece : $150
Lisa's Boots : $30
Total : $1,450
COLORADO BACKYARD RECEPTION COSTS
Total : $1,750
TOTAL WEDDING COST FOR LISA + ALEX : $15,990
Just because you don't have a huge wedding budget, doesn't mean you can't have the wedding of your dreams! Prioritize your costs and don't feel obligated to have your wedding a certain way just because "that's what everyone else does."
And of course, you don't need to leave the country (or even the state) for your wedding to be amazing! You can bring your costs down even further by getting married closer to home! Rent a beautiful Airbnb to get ready in. Have your ceremony and reception in the backyard of your home or even an Airbnb. Or choose your favorite National Park to have your ceremony (most National Parks have affordable wedding permits for around $300). The options are endless, but they don't have to break the bank!
Are you planning your dream wedding on a budget? Tell us about it! Let us know if you have any questions for us, we would love to help you out!
We're Lisa + Alex, the goofballs behind Vow of the Wild. We live in the beautiful state of Colorado, but we are passionate about traveling to new places and meeting new people along the way. We are lucky enough to have what we consider to be the best job in the world (other than a professional dog petter). We get to create films and photos for adventurous Colorado Elopements and adventurous Destination Elopements across the globe! Feel free to reach out to us, we'd love to meet you!