Debt Free Living, Small living, Smart money

Live within constraints.

Four years ago Zach spoke on Boundless Creativity via Boundaries, Constraints, and Limitations at Ignite Denver. He’s been saying it for years, and it still holds true today. The more we restrain ourselves, the more creative we are.


Look at us laughing at how little we spent on our wedding day!

I remember back in 2007 we had a budget of a whopping $2,000 for our wedding, including my dress! This is not a joke. My parents have always provided well for me and my 4 siblings, but they’ve never had a lot or money. Zach and I also had very little money. When we got married we were both going to school full time, and I was working as a Cosmetologist. So we had to make this budget work. If I remember correctly, I think we spent closer to $1,500!

Here’s how:

  • My dress was $400 (and the first dress I tried on).
  • We had our reception in the gym at our church which was free.
  • Our flowers for my bouquet and center pieces were roses from Costco (hello $24 for 2 dozen roses).
  • We didn’t hire a DJ, instead we used our iPod for a playlist.
  • My aunt made our wedding cake.
  • My mom made ham and turkey sandwiches on rolls for food, and had other small finger food.
  • Our photographer was a friend and I think charged around $300? (I do wish we had spent more here)
  • My friends from beauty school did my hair.
  • My shoes were from Payless.
  • I borrowed a necklace from a girl in College who I didn’t even know that well, but I liked it. Ha!


Thanks Aunt Mimi for a beautiful cake.

If I could go back and re-do my wedding day, I would definitely style it differently (why wasn’t Pinterest around in 2007!?). However, I think I could still do it for less than $2,000. When I hear of people spending 20-40k on a wedding, it hurts my soul. THAT. IS. SO. MUCH. MONEY. 20k would cover a 5% downpayment on a 400k house, or 10% down on a 200k house. I mean, that 20k could be used in so many ways that would last longer than your wedding day.




These letters were the result of a lot of JoAnn’s 40% off coupons.

We also chose not to have a luncheon, and the dinner the night before was with just our immediate family (at the Old Spaghetti Factory). I had to tell my mom not to just buy anything and everything that was in our color scheme, I had to force it to be completely simple. The night before our wedding I remember setting up the reception and a lot of things were not turning out as I expected and I just said “oh well, figure it out” because I wanted to enjoy my day and not be worried about all the little details I couldn’t control.

I do think weddings are special and you should have a huge party to celebrate (if you want). But that doesn’t mean everyone needs steak dinners, and it doesn’t mean your dress needs to cost thousands of dollars. Let’s face it, styles will change in a few years anyway and you will be wishing you could go back and pick a different dress. Working within restraints (a reasonable budget) forces you to be more creative and is fun.




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