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Gothic Wedding Advice: A $500 wedding, can it be done? - Gothic Wedding PlannerGothic Wedding Planner

Gothic Wedding Advice: A $500 wedding, can it be done?

Dear Steff

Help! We are SO POOR! I mean, food-stamp poor. My fiance was laid seven months ago, and I was laid off last month.We’re making just enough to pay the bills and keep our house, but we’re living on noodles and half-price leftovers from the farmers market. We used the last of our savings this week.

We’re due to be married in three months. His parents gave us $500 towards the wedding, and now that’s all we can spend! We’ve already had the rings made, we’ve got the venue (my parents’ backyard) and we’ve sent out the invitations. I had caterers, photographer, hair and makeup booked, but I’ve just gone and cancelled them all, since we simply can’t afford them. I don’t want to cancel, or elope. I wanted to haveĀ a big party with all my friends and family. I’m so sad. What can I do? Can I pull off a wedding for $500?


You poor lass! My heart goes out to you, and every other family who’s been affected by job loss over the last year. It can be very hard to stay positive when you’re faced with the endless rejection letters. I’ve been there one – I understand, and it’s not easy.

I don’t think you should postpone your wedding. I think you need the party. Life doesn’t stop because you’re in the poo. Have your wedding and celebrate, because even in tough times, the two of you have each other, and you have your friends and family, and nothing – NOTHING – is more important or more worthy of celebrating than that.

The wonderful thing here is that you HAVE a brilliant support network. Instead of using them to cry to or bitch at, why not employ their services to create a fab wedding party everyone can enjoy. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help – they love you and your crazy ways, and they’ll be thrilled to be a part of your wedding.

Here’s what I would do. Take your $500, say ‘thank you SO much’ to your kind in-laws, and make that your firm budget. You’ve got your venue, so that’s sussed. If you didn’t have a backyard to use, I’d suggest ringing your local council and asking to hire a scout or community hall. These might cost as little as $100 for the night.

Talk to city hall and find out the minimum required regulations for marriage in your city and note them down. How much is a license? How much for a court official? If it’s cheaper, I would go to the courthouse earlier in the day/week and sign your papers, than have a friend conduct a ‘non-legal’ ceremony at the wedding. Cost of legal mumbo-jumbo should be about $100

Next, I would call – yes call – every one of your friends and relatives and invite them. Or, better yet, if they’re nearby go and visit them. Assuming you’ve still got a phone, or legs, this is free, and SO personal. Spend some time with each person, learn about what’s going on in their lives, let them know what’s going on in your life, and make sure they write down all the wedding details. Invitation cost – FREE.

While you’re inviting your friends, explain to them that you won’t be accepting wedding presents, but a plate of food to share would be most appreciated. Also explain it’s BYO alcohol. If anyone thinks this is weird, tell them you don’t want a big deal, it’s just a casual reception party. Cost of reception – FREE

Search through your closet for all ball dresses / goth clothes / corsets you haven’t worn in awhile. Can you assemble a great-looking outfit for your wedding with what you have? Do you have a ewell-dressed friend who can lend you something amazing? Can you give some clothes to a seamstress friend to transform into a wedding-worthy outfit? Cost of wedding dress – FREE, or $20 for extra materials.

If you really can’t find anything, scour ebay, etsy, goth trading sites (I know there are some) and discount dress shops until you can find something special for a bargain price. Wait till after prom / ball season and scour the discount racks at high street clothing stores – you’ll find hundreds of beautiful dresses for around $20. Cost of wedding dress – $20-100.

Does you beloved have some funky clothes he could wear? Does he have an older brother he could borrow a suit or other attire from? I have a friend whose husband wore his everyday, floor length black leather trenchcoat to their gothic wedding – and he looked STUNNING. Generally, men don’t care about these things so let him wear something he already looks great and feels comfortable in. Cost of mens attire – FREE.

Allow your attendants to wear whatever they want. you could give them a colour or a style and get them to pick something appropriate from their own clothes. They can beg, borrow and steal from others to find something fun and appropriate. I personally think randomly-dressed attendants look the best! Cost of attendentsĀ attire – FREE.

Since you’re on my site you’re probably having a unique gothicky, halloweeny, wedding, right? So instead of flowers, carry a candle down the aisle. You’ve got candles and wrought-iron candlesticks at home right, you goffick, you? Just be careful to have one with a wide drip-tray – you don’t ant to spill dripping wax on your pretty dress. Cost of flowers – FREE, or $10 if you have t buy candles.

Do you know any great bakers? Could they bake you a wedding cake instead of bringing a plate? Cost of cake – FREE

I’m sure you know some friends in bands or other performance groups. My friends had a group of firedancers hanging out, that kept everyone entertained for hours (they even tried to teach me how to spin the staff). If you have the wedding at someone’s house, you could set up singstar or guitar hero on their TV (ONE of your friends must have these that you could borrow). How much fun would that be? Reception Entertainment – FREE.

I’ve taken care of all the big things, with some money to spare, but it’s up to you to find the rest. If you need something, instead of offering money, you could consider a trade – could you do some yard work for a couple of hours in exchange for a wedding cake?

Remember, a wedding is not about all the expensive stuff – it’s about celebrating with the people you love.

I bet my awesome readers have tons more ideas. Let ‘er rip in comments, guys!

See tons more ideas for an inexpensive wedding in the Gothic Wedding Planner.