Real Wedding Budget Breakdown | Kate & Billy

When Kate emailed me with her fun wedding, and told me that she and Billy hosted a wedding with 100 guests, in Orange County, California, all for under $6400… well I knew you’d want to know how they did it! I thought I’d let Kate tell the story of the planning and the day. She was even kind enough to share a budget breakdown with us (scroll down for the details). Says Kate:

From the very beginning our wedding took on a life and personality of its own. We fondly referred to it as “Southern Vintage POW!” As in a little Texas, a little retro, and a little of the unexpected. And we were adamant about staying under our $6,400 budget. My favorite part of my wedding was the overall teamwork that went into it. It was a wonderful way to spend time with my family – especially since I live out of the country 9 months out of the year. It was also a special connection I got to make with my new in-laws. 

My dress was a super inexpensive find by Moonlight. It was a perfect fit so didn’t require any alterations, however, I had pockets added. I borrowed the veil from a friend, and I found some inexpensive yellow peep toes online which my mother embellished with cream bows. My husband is from Texas, hence the Southern part of our wedding, and he chose classic seersucker pants and a vest from J. Crew, paired with black Converse.

My mother and I hit up the local flower mart and purchased all the flowers at wholesale, then my mother, aunts, uncle and cousins created all the bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnieres the night before the wedding. My aunts also handmade all the napkins and created a runner out of the excess fabric. My mother created chalk-board like name tags for the mason jars and an absolutely fantastic black and white photo puzzle guest “book” out of some blown up photos, glue and a jigsaw. My guests were then able to sign the back of the puzzle pieces and toss them in a keepsake glass jar. My husband, being a graphic designer by trade, created the invitations, the crossword puzzle/word search programs, and all the signs for the food and drink stations. Billy’s mother burned our initials on two small wooden boxes that worked as the ring bearer’s “pillow” and held each of our rings for each of our two ring bearer’s to carry. Needless to say, our wedding was extremely family- and do-it-yourself oriented!  

To stay on budget we started early and kept things tremendously organized. Everything from the bamboo plates to the ribbon was bought wholesale. Billy and I created a playlist on our computer, borrowed the sound system equipment, and his sister played DJ for the day. My brother-in-law was sworn in as an officiant, a family member did all the girls’ hair, and some of my little sister’s and mom’s friends traded day-of-wedding planner service, food servicing, and baby-sitting in exchange for food and drink. Our biggest save was in the photography. Two of our close friends, Jehna Raquel and Lindsay Stetson-Thompson, volunteered their time and talents as blooming photographers and created some amazing shots. Cupcake toppers and drink stirrers, along with the pom-pom decorations, paper striped straws, the boys’ bowties and my jewelry were all purchased off Etsy at very reasonable prices. In addition, I bargained down every single first price offered to me – there was no harm in asking for discounts and 90% of the time it worked out in my favor.

The food included delicious sweet potato fries and watermelon slice appetizers followed by amazing southern fried chicken with all the fixings from Johnny Rebs’. Desserts included family homemade treats like lemon squares, mini pecan pies, and individual banana puddings (topped with homemade whipped cream of course!). A funnel cake cart was also added to the mix – an absolute favorite of ours! Drinks included vintage bottled soda, lemonade, sweet tea & Yankee tea, as well as a variety of beers and wine. There was also a vintage quilt in the grass for the children, who had special paper sack lunches, dress up props, and homemade ribbon twirlers.

Isn’t their getaway car hilarious? Says Kate: The “hearse” is actually my dad’s customized 1951 Chevy ambulance – but it looks like a hearse so my bridesmaids decorated it with “Til death do us part.”  The looks and honks we got on the ride back were hilarious! 


Kate shared some of the budget breakdown with us, for their SoCal wedding with 100 guests:

ceremony/reception venue with tables and chairs included (Santiago Oaks Regional Park): $987
vendor permits: $175
guest parking: $200 
TOTAL: $1362

rentals, set up, take down, and delivery (Events TaylorMade): $575
purchased disposable bamboo plates, french fry cones, and dessert boats: $161
TOTAL: $736

invitations + postage: $220 
materials for fan/crossword programs: $50
TOTAL: $270

on site catering of sweet potato fries appetizers & fried chicken (Johnny Rebs’ Southern Roadhouse & Catering): $1200
bartender: $340
beverages (Trader Joe’s and BevMo): $440
funnel cake cart from (Fun-O-Cakes): $350
kid’s picnic lunches (chicken nuggets, drink boxes, cracker packs): $60
lemonade, tea, watermelon: $90
lemonade/tea dispensers borrowed from a family member: $0
TOTAL: $2480

flowers: $395
quilt, picnic basket, chalkboard, birdcage, drink buckets: $80
cupcake toppers, pom poms, paper straws, drink stirrers all from Etsy: $100
mason jars: $50
pewter and milkglass: $80
printing black and white photos: $50
fabric for draping for arbor, ribbon, tape, car decorations: $25
dress up props borrowed from mom’s classroom: $0
TOTAL: $755

dress + alterations: $378
shoes: $60
jewelry from Etsy: $38
makeup: $60
hair done by family member as a gift: $0
TOTAL: $536

GRAND TOTAL: less than $6400 


Thank you for all of the details Kate! It’s so inspiring to see that a charming and fun wedding doesn’t have to break the bank, even with 100 guests!


  • Wow – so inspiring. Especially impressive is their choice of photographers. I have been warned not to use friends as photographers but it seems to have worked wonderfully for them! Love seeing a wedding focused on family and love rather than materialism and over-indulgence.

  • kathryn, i love these budget friendly posts. i wish there were more posts like these like 2 years ago when i first started planning my wedding (i got married in feb this past year). if i knew that i could have managed a beautiful wedding for a lot less $$$, i would have. i feel like weddings these days are totally crazy sometimes. it sorta made me crazy too!

  • Jess says:

    I love this budget post!! Their wedding was AWESOME!

    One question tho how many guests did they have? Guest list is a huge budget factor…

  • Thanks so much for posting a budget-friendly wedding. As someone who will probably be working with similar numbers, its wonderful to see and hear how its done!

  • Cindy says:

    Awesome post. Just wondering.. where did they get the little tags for their mason jars?

    • Kate says:

      We made the tags from layered scrapbook paper, scrapbook tape, white ink pens and twine. Glad you liked them!

  • This post is truly inspiring. I’ve been engaged for less than 2 weeks, and already the chaos and madness (not to mention money!) surrounding wedding planning is simply overwhelming. Especially as a California bride, just researching venues alone is daunting as the majority of venues charge exorbitant rates. I constantly find myself thinking that people make such a big deal out of the wedding, but not nearly as much of the actual marriage. This post helps puts things in perspective to let other brides see that it can all be done tastefully and beautifully…on a budget! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  • Love these, Kate! Still love looking through all the images and seeing how all your thoughtful details came together! Honored I got to be a part of your guys’ amazing day! xoxo, Lindsay

  • GREAT article. As a newly engaged bride-to-be I’m trying to figure out how much an affordable wedding even costs. The breakdown and the photos in this article gave me great insight. I have a year and a half to save in order to cash flow my wedding. Thanks for sharing a REAL wedding budget. I hope to see more budgets on this blog in the future!

  • Kathleen Gilbert says:

    I love the funnel cake idea! I checked out the website, but there was not a lot of information. Is it an hourly rate?

    The wedding was absolutely gorgeous!

    • Kate says:

      It was not hourly. The total was a flat rate for 3 hours of service. It included everything and two servers. I chose to not use the tent they offered because I wanted to keep in line with my color scheme so they just brought tables and white tablecloths for set up. – I hope you enjoy…it was an amazing addition to our wedding!

  • Marie-Eve says:

    Hi !!!

    I’m truly in love with your wedding. Every details is perfect. Thanks for sharing this beautiful moment.

    I would like to know if you remember the model name of your dress? It’s my dream dress, so cute !

    I hope you’ll have a great life together !

  • Amy T. says:

    I love how much you were able to do with so little in terms of money. I have to ask, where was the groom’s tie from?

  • Jenny says:

    Thank you so much for breaking down your budget. Our wedding is in less than 6 months and we are paying for it ourselves and plan to spend around $5000 for 80-90 guests. I hope we can stick to our budget like you did! Congrats, it all turned out gorgeous!

  • Such a beautiful wedding Kate….there is nothing budget about the look of it! It all looks incredible. As a wedding photographer but also a bride to be myself, it’s wonderful to see such creativity and you definitely got lucky with your photographers! (Or knew what you were doing…). Kate you look amazing! For $300: wow!

    Your car is pure genius!

  • Thank you for posting the details of how much each of the wedding details. I cannot tell you how many brides go over budget because they get caught up with ideas and just keep going. This is evidence that you can have a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank.

  • Brittany says:

    This looks like a great budget wedding!! What month did you get married in? I’m trying to plan a aprilish wedding and am concerned if we have it outdoors and the weather flops what we will do? Also is the place big enough to have 125 guests?

  • Danielle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! this is very inspiring for sure :)

  • Kat says:

    No idea it was possible to have a gorgeous budget wedding in Orange County without skimping on big things. I’ve been looking in to Santiago Oaks Regional Park, but do they really allow alcohol in? I took a look at their website and it said no consumption of intoxicants. Maybe they just make an exception for weddings.;)

    • Kate says:

      Santiago Oaks was perfect! The only caveat is the hours. It’s only available on weekends from I believe 8 or 9 to 4pm. Thus, we had to do a follow up after-party at a nearby microbrewery with outdoor firepits.

  • Brittany says:

    Quick Question. I am looking to do a wedding at this Park (MAYBE) in about three-four years. I was curious, I have seen maybe wedding/reception photos of this venue with circular tables. Do they have these?

  • Charlie says:

    LOVE this story and venue… I plan to mimic much of what you’ve accomplished!
    You’re an inspiration :)

  • Absolutely beautiful! I love everything about your wedding. Kate, I just had a few questions to ask :)
    How many chairs & tables were provided by the park?
    How many extra tables/chairs did you need? (my guest count **200)
    Where did you purchase all disposable goods from?
    Where did you buy the paper goods for your invitations & fan/crossword programs?
    What day of the week & time did you ceremony start & reception end?

    If you could help me out with any of those it would be greatly appreciated. My Fiance are trying to be budget friendly.

    Thank you & have a blessed day!

    • Kate says:

      Thank you for all the comments and questions! It’s been over two years since our wedding but I absolutely loved planning it. If you have any specific questions that I can still answer as it is now December, please email me directly.

  • Kristin says:

    Thank you so much for your post. I found this hidden jem and have be waiting to fine how much they charge. Your breakdown is very useful.

  • Helpful article to, I love the way how describe everything,to share that you can manage a wedding with a decent budget.. Great job

  • Josefine says:

    Hi! I love this wedding! I am having my wedding at Santiago Oaks Regional Park this June and was wondering if there is any way to get in touch with Kate to ask some specific questions about you it was to have the wedding there? Also, I was wondering where you bought your flowers and if you arranged them yourself? Looking forward to hearing from you, very excited! Thank you, Josefine

    • Kate says:

      We did buy the flowers wholesale (using a friend’s floral license) and my family arranged them.

  • Gloria Morales says:

    hi I m having my wedding there and I am wondering how did you go from ceremony set up to reception with all the tables and chairs to move? and did you have to do all the moving yourself? I am really troubled by this and need some help asap if you can please get back to me

  • Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided too check out your
    website on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the knowledge you provide here annd can’t
    wait too take a look when I get home. I’mshocked aat how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, jus 3G .. Anyhow, wonderful site!

  • Roberta says:

    looking for that tie for a wedding coming up.. Can you tell me where the tie is from?

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