Not everyone wants to spend $50,000 on their wedding. From preferring to spend money on their first home or a fun honeymoon, couples have many reasons to throw a microwedding or a wedding that costs less than $20,000.
Some cut down costs by throwing weddings in parks or in backyards. Others cut costs by buying a used dress or making DIY decor. Here is how the budgeters of Boulder County made their dream microweddings happen.
Saving for the honeymoon
Shannon Del Prince used Facebook groups to find cheap deals on used wedding items and to connect with affordable vendors for her wedding.
“Those groups are a godsend for planning weddings, if you’re open to using repurposed things,” Del Prince said.
The couple was more interested in spending money on their honeymoon. In lieu of wedding gifts they asked for travel funds.
“We were really trying to go all out with the honeymoon,” Del Prince said. “We really wanted to travel a bit. We didn’t really see any point in spending $20,000 on one day. I mean it was one of the best days of my life, but I didn’t have to spend a ton of money to do that, so that was really cool.”
Mountain View Wedding in a Free People Dress
Elizabeth O’Neill got married at the wood pavilion by a pond with a Mt. Elbert view at the National Fish Hatchery in Leadville. The couple rented the pavilion for a few hundred dollars. Elizabeth saved wedding dress costs by wearing a Free People dress that cost hundreds instead of thousands. Her husband wore vintage, consigned mountain-style clothes. Friends kindly donated their services from photography, to DJing, to tending the fire pits. A BBQ food truck provided meals and cakes were made by a home-based baker.
“I just don’t believe in spending heaps of money on a wedding, primarily because that’s not what it was about for either of us,” O’Neill said. “And if you can have an absolutely beautiful, sweet, memorable, gorgeous wedding for under $5k, why not go that route?”
Personalized Over Trendy Weddings
Alyson Miller-Greenfield decided fairly early on that she and her husband wanted a more intimate gathering, one that would not break the bank.
“We are quickly approaching our 30th anniversary, and I still look back on our wedding day as magical – a peak experience that has resonated over the decades,” Miller-Greenfield said.
The invitation list was limited to 50, composed of only closest friends and family.
“This meant that many, many well-wishers were not included,” Miller-Greenfield said. “But we had to be honest with ourselves that had we invited all the ‘next-level’ friends and business associates the list would swell to over 200. Simply put, we didn’t have the budget to entertain that many people ‘in style.’ ”
They avoided trends and custom accouterments. They found a bargain dress and designed the invitation themselves, which were produced by a non-specialty printer.
“Buying a designer, over-the-top, specially-made gown was just not a priority for me,” Miller-Greenfield said.
The couple opted for the wedding venue to be at an Italian restaurant designed like a villa located in a nature preserve. They decided to do a buffet, which cut down costs and reserved a date outside of the prime times of Friday or Saturday. They let friends and family help. The couple allowed friends to help out with videotaping the ceremony and flower arrangement.
“In sum, it’s not hard even today to have a personalized, memorable and affordable wedding,” Miller-Greenfield said. “When I saw a post the other day asking what readers would change their wedding, in all caps I was able to comment: ‘NOT A THING!’ ”
Low-key wedding after an unexpected cancellation
Theresa Haley’s wedding was canceled last-minute because the couple officiating had a huge fight and split up. With short notice they had a judge officiate instead, pushing the wedding back a week. They wore street clothes with friends and family witnessing and celebrating at a reception hosted at the groom’s parents house.
“Very low-key and low-stress,” Haley said. “I don’t regret anything about it. We’ve been married 42 years this month, so none of it affected the ultimate outcome.”
Microwedding in the park
Randi Eckmann helped plan a microwedding for a friend. The wedding cost under $800 to execute. Held at Majestic Park in Arvada, most local parks are free or cost a low price for weddings and can be used on a first come first serve basis unless you want to book a picnic area. Eckmann picked up simple decorations at Hobby Lobby for under $100 including the arch, picked up a simple cake from Walmart for $25, and served drinks and small cold appetizers from King Soopers. The wedding dress was purchased from Shein.
National Park Wedding
Debra Sherrill and her husband both wore shorts and hiking boots to their wedding. They only needed to pay for their marriage license, the cabin for the weekend and a packed picnic lunch. They got married at Bridal Veil Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park. There were no witnesses, no officiants, only a couple of chipmunks attended the ceremony.
The important decisions
When Cairn Yakey was planning a wedding the couple asked themselves “how important is X to us?” This worked for decisions around alcohol. They saved money on not having an open bar, but a cash bar.
“We were hoping for a drinking in moderation situation, and we didn’t value alcohol enough to pay an extra almost $1,000,” Yakey said. “I would say we tried to spend money on what felt important to us, like a quality photographer.”
Flash mob wedding
Taylor Glover had a flash wedding at Chautauqua Park. With no flowers, no DJ, no wedding party the wedding was completely free.
“My wedding was complicated because of immigration,” Glover said. “I knew he would come 25 days before he arrived, then at that point we had 90 days to get married and do paperwork, so we got married ten days after he arrived in the USA. Planning for this was impossible, so we posted our time and place online and said whoever could come on short notice would be allowed.”
After the 15-minute ceremony, the couple and their eight guests had a picnic reception in a cemetery, which was also free.
Mercedes Gates and her husband were primary caretakers for her grandmother when she died unexpectedly. This left them with 60 days to vacate her home and find a house to purchase. During the home buying process her husband dropped the bombshell that he was planning on proposing. The couple decided to put money into a down payment instead of a wedding and got married at the county clerk’s office.
“We decided that we would rather spend the money on taking our first vacation together once everything had settled, than planning an actual wedding with our family and friends,” Gates said. “So that’s exactly what we did. I planned a trip for my husband to see the ocean for the first time at a place very special to my family in Florida, and it was by far better than any wedding day we could’ve ever imagined.”
DIY wedding dress
Monique Gaspard and her ex husband spent about $600 on their wedding. They rented a lake home and split the price of the six-day rental with the wedding party. The wedding dress was a happy accident given to her by a friend. Gaspard transformed the dress into her dream dress with supplies from Hobby Lobby. She used the Hobby Lobby app to search for sales of supplies.
“I saw it as a blank canvas honestly,” Gaspard said. “I transformed that dress into the dress of my dreams.
Gaspard told her wedding party to choose any dress but in a certain color.
“My maids were all beautiful women who had extremely different body types,” Gaspard said. “They all had a hard time, and I finally told them to find whatever you like as long as you feel beautiful I’m happy.”
Hali Trepke got married during the pandemic. Both she and her husband are introverts and don’t like being the center of attention. With a crowd with fewer than 40 people, Trepke’s family put everything together from the food, to the makeup to the bouquet.
Cheap hotel offerings
Heather Greene is a sales manager at the Hyatt Place, Boulder at Depot Square space, which offers spaces for wedding welcome dinners, brunches, ready rooms for the bridal party, and block room pricing. Wedding parties headed to a microwedding often use the ready rooms at the hotel.
“I know a lot of the people who utilize those,” Green said. “They’ll get dressed and do hair and makeup and go where they’re going to go to the actual ceremony. When you’re doing a wedding like that you don’t often have places to get ready.”
Eric Rooney of Half Moon Farms encourages people to consider local farm options when planning weddings. Half Moon farms offers financially approachable flowers, farm-table food opportunities, and an intimate wedding space in nature. They even allow people to work off some of the cost of the wedding by working for them.
“We need the help, right, so we’re going to hire the help somehow,” Rooney said. “So if you can show up and give us 20 hours of work for your celebration or event, then some people can do that because it’s more financially approachable.”
Bridal parties can snip from the many flowers growing at the farm and create their own bouquets and boutonniéres.
“I fell in love out here,” Rooney said. “It’s a wedding everyday. It’s a micro everything everyday.”
The farm, which is located a backyard, has had microweddings and works with the neighborhood with parking, sometimes having events with up to 80 attendees.
“These microweddings, the reason they are micro most of the time is because people want to be more intentional about everything, and part of that smaller idea is to be intentional with that space,” Rooney said. “I think when we celebrate love and offer a space that encapsulates this reciprocity of love, like me showing up everyday with my hands and working. People feel that, and they come into the space and they fall in love. They fall in love with this idea of celebrating love and it becomes invigorating.”
Natural weddings can seem financially unapproachable because venues like the Denver Botanical Gardens charge large fees for renting the event spaces.
“Nature is a witness to every single part of us because we are nature,” Rooney said lovingly about his farm. “This space in particular is a whirlwind of romance because nature is love and falling in love is nature. It’s emotional and physical here in this space to be able to offer a microwedding because it’s approachable financially. I pay the mortgage, but at the end of the day my hussle isn’t to capitalize off of my ideas. My hustle is to share my ideas and get the love flowing.”