How Much Does a Small Wedding Cost? 5 Average Price Examples

Before planning their wedding, the primary concern for couples is budget. Weddings can get notoriously expensive, as costs and charges can quickly pile up. As such, couples must have an open and honest conversation about their priorities and capabilities when it comes to their special day.

The answer to the question “How much does a small wedding cost on average?” is $8,550, which accounts for 50 guests at most. However, couples can cut corners and spend as little as $2,000 on their small wedding. Below are five examples of budgets broken down per component, followed by tips for saving money on your small wedding.

Sample Price Breakdowns for Small Weddings

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Before going into different price breakdowns, it is important to keep in mind that the ultimate cost of your small wedding will also be influenced by the cost of living in your area. Venues, services, and vendors have different costs depending on where you plan on having your wedding.

1. $8,550

This figure was considered as the average cost of small weddings. By definition, a wedding is considered “small” or “micro” if it has 50 or fewer guests.

Component Price Notes
Venue $4,000 This price assumes that the ceremony and reception will be hosted in the same venue. Moreover, this price already includes seating and dinnerware rentals.
Food $1,500 This figure assumes that the cost of food per head is $30. Likewise, delivery and serving costs are already included.
Photographer $1,000 This price point consists of a basic package from a photographer who is new and still building their portfolio.
Beverages $700 You can choose to buy the alcohol yourself or look into incorporating a limited bar in your reception.
Attire $600 There are plenty of ways to save money for your attire, including wearing a family heirloom, renting outfits, and so on.
Miscellaneous $450 This component is a catch-all for random expenses, such as wedding favors, tips, and so on. This also serves as a safety net in case some items end up being more expensive than you thought.
Entertainment $300 This includes renting speaker systems, microphones, and so on. You and your partner can create playlists for your special day and put a member of the wedding party in charge of them.

There are some aspects noticeably missing in the budget breakdown, such as flowers, decorations, styling, invitations, and so forth. This is because flowers and decorations might not be necessary depending on the venue you choose. Invitations and save-the-dates can be sent to your guests through email or personal messages. Lastly, you can do your hair and makeup with items that you already have.

2. $2,000

This price breakdown still applies for 50 guests, though the venue is at home. Moreover, this is a simple cake-and-punch reception, thus no dinner will be served. However, if you have some additional budget, consider providing sandwiches or appetizers to your guests.

Component Price Notes
Wedding attire $800
Wedding rings $300
Rentals $250 This figure includes chairs, tables, glassware, and dinnerware rentals.
Officiant $200
Beverages $150 This price includes 10 bottles of your drink of choice for the toast, as well as a non-alcoholic option for other guests.
Wedding cake $130
Miscellaneous $170 This figure includes wedding flowers, decorations, single-use utensils and supplies, and a small safety net in case more things need to be bought.

3. $5,000

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This budget breakdown applies to a wedding held at home with more or less 25 guests. You and your partner, with help from your family and friends, will prepare the food to be served to the attendees.

Component Price Notes
Photographer $1,500
Wedding attire $1,000 Depending on your preference, this may or may not include a stylist for your hair and makeup.
Food and drinks $1,000 This price assumes that it costs around $25 to feed one guest. It also budgets around $225 for drinks and approximately $150 for a wedding cake or alternative dessert.
Ceremony costs $600 This component includes the cost of wedding rings, obtaining a marriage license, and hiring an officiant to solemnize your marriage.
Flowers and decorations $400 This component includes centerpieces, bridal bouquets, boutonnières, and other pieces of decorations.
Rentals $200 This component includes extra chairs and tables, ceremony chairs, tableware, and so on.
Miscellaneous $300 This price includes napkins and single-use napkins. If extra drinks are necessary, use this to make a quick run to the store.

4. $5,500

One of your options for a micro wedding timeline is to host the reception at a restaurant. The following budget breakdown accounts for 10 guests.

Component Price Notes
Photographer $1,700
Wedding attire $1,300 This includes your clothes and accessories. You can opt to do your hair and makeup yourself, or you can hire some outside help.
Food and drinks $1,200 This figure assumes that a restaurant meal costs $80 per guest. $250 is set aside for drinks and beverages. The remaining $150 is for the wedding cake.
Ceremony costs $600 This component includes the cost of wedding rings, obtaining a marriage license, and hiring an officiant to solemnize your marriage.
Wedding flowers $300 This figure is the sum of the bridal bouquet and boutonnières.
Additional decorations $150 Besides centerpieces, you may want some balloons or a small tarpaulin to commemorate your special day. Coordinate with the management to see if this is a possibility.
Wedding favors $50
Miscellaneous $200 It is always good to have some extra money available in case you need to purchase something. Alternatively, you can add to this figure and give tips to the servers and waiters present in the restaurant.

5. $7,000

Component Price Notes
Photographer $2,000
Venue $2,000 This figure already includes all the rentals, along with a suite for the couple.
Food and drinks $1,500
Wedding attire $800 This price assumes that a rented or secondhand dress costs $500, while a tuxedo rental costs $300.
Decorations $500 This is inclusive of flowers, lighting fixtures, centerpieces, and other small and quirky touches.
Miscellaneous $200 Use this part of the budget for other rentals, such as speakers and microphones. Moreover, this component is also for additional items that need to be bought immediately.

Money-Saving Tips for Small Weddings

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Have Honest Conversations with Your Partner

Honest and open-minded conversations must precede looking into the question, “How much does a small wedding cost on average?” In the first place, your discussions will heavily inform your options and decisions regarding the wedding. Here are some points that should come up in your conversations:

  • What are our priorities? Do we want to splurge on a beautiful venue? Do we want a short and sweet ceremony followed by an elaborate and all-night-long reception?
  • Who do we want to be present with us? Do we only want close friends and relatives, or should we invite some colleagues and distant family members?
  • What is going to make us happy and content with our wedding?

Choose Your Traditions Wisely

In line with the tip above, you and your partner must consider what traditions you want to uphold in your ceremony and reception. There might be traditions from different cultures that you or your spouse connect to, thus making you want to include them. Similarly, some wedding traditions are not for everyone.

DIY What You Can DIY

There are aspects of your wedding that you are capable of handling yourself, such as the food and decor. Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube are great resources that are full of creative people with tips on how to cut corners for your wedding without it becoming cheap.

Save on Food and Beverage

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Food, beverage, and catering services are often among the most expensive components of any wedding budget. Thus, it is in your best interest to look for ways to cut down on these costs. Simply preparing them yourself is a great way to save money on food; here are some other ways to save money in this respect:

  • Organize a potluck. This works best if your guest list is small. Have each guest bring a meal to share for the rest of the attendees. You can tell them that you will consider these meals as their wedding gifts.
  • Bring your own booze. As an extension of the tip above, you can also tell your guests to bring their drink of choice.
  • Buy items in bulk. There may be discounts or special offers if you buy foodstuffs, beverages, and utensils in bulk. Take advantage of these, as the savings will pile up.
  • Find an alternate for your wedding cake. Smaller wedding cakes are perfect for small weddings. Likewise, your baker might have alternative desserts or pastries on their menu, such as muffins, cupcakes, and so on.

Be Specific About Who Is Paying for What

It is extremely helpful to determine who is paying for what, especially when you are on a tight and limited budget. Though the conversation might be tough to bring up, it is necessary. There are a couple of ways to do this.

  • Ask parents to cover the cost of a specific aspect. This can be the catering, decorations, flowers, ceremony costs, or even the honeymoon.
  • Ask them for a specific figure. For example, if you and your partner have settled on a $20,000 wedding budget, ask each of your family how much they are willing to contribute to that number.

Skip the Stationery

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The cost of save-the-dates and invitations can quickly pile up, even if your guest list only consists of less than or equal to 50 people. By sending emails instead of paper invitations, you do not have to spend anything on stationery. Considering that you do not have a lot of guests, you can send them personalized invitations; this will show your effort, care, and love for them, thus making them even more excited to attend your special day.

Be Creative with the Gifts You Ask for

Instead of the traditional gift registry, try asking your guests if they can provide certain services for the ceremony or reception. Not only will this save you money, but it is also more meaningful and sentimental. Here are some ideas you can consider:

  • Ask someone if they can provide a venue (e.g., their backyard, barn, etc.)
  • Ask someone if they are willing to be the host at the reception
  • If you have friends who are photographers, videographers, graphic designers, or editors, ask them if they are willing to give you a discount on their services instead of a gift.
  • If you have friends who are artists or performers, ask them if they could perform at your reception.
  • Ask someone if they are willing to help serve the food, man the open bar, etc.

Have a Smaller Wedding Party

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Given that your guest list is already small, it might be best to have a smaller wedding party as well. In fact, some couples choose to not have a wedding party altogether — this saves a lot of money in terms of pre-wedding parties, bridesmaids and groomsmen attire, gifts, bouquets, and so on.

By not having a wedding party, you also avoid hurting anyone’s feelings; they might wonder why they are one of the few not chosen to be part of it.

Contact a Nearby University or College

As mentioned in one of the budget breakdowns above, hiring a vendor who is just starting in the field is considerably more affordable. An easy way to find such vendors is to look at nearby universities; they may have students of music, photography, performing arts, or even event planning.

Keep Track of Your Expenses as You Go

Staying organized is essential regardless of how large or small your budget is. Set up a spreadsheet where you can list what you have bought and how much that cost. It allows you to stay within budget and know what else needs to be taken care of. Likewise, this is helpful for the people who are contributing to the budget, as they can see where their money is going.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the size of your budget and guest list, your priority should be finding a way to make the wedding of your dreams come true. There might be financial and logistical obstacles along the way, but there are plenty of ways to work around them. You just have to be smart and persistent in doing so.

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