A $20K Wedding on a $6,000 Budget

Ken and Tavon Ferguson used online coupons, Craigslist and Costco to save big.

Feb. 27, 2009 -- Why are Ken and Tavon Ferguson an especially happily married couple? Perhaps it's because they didn't go into debt to pay for their wedding.

The recently married couple said that they managed to throw what would normally be a $20,000 wedding for $6,000.

At first, saving money on the wedding was a game, but then Tavon got laid off. Suddenly, saving money became a necessity, not necessarily a choice.

So how did they do it?

They found a package deal at a wedding Web site that included food, drink and staff to serve 100 guests. This also covered hidden costs, such as table settings and covered chairs.

Because they were willing to have their wedding in the morning instead of the afternoon, the price of their wedding package was $5,500 instead of $7,500.

"We were able to save thousands of dollars just moving it up a couple hours," Tavon Ferguson said.

Something Bargained, Something New

Tavon could book a photographer and a DJ for free by using professionals who wanted to break into the wedding market. In return, they received references for their growing businesses.

She used online coupons and discount codes for 95 percent of what she needed, from picture frames to bridesmaids' gifts to just the right napkins. She designed her own save-the-date cards at an office supply Web site and had to pay only the $5 cost of shipping.

Tavon avoided the "marriage markup" at specialty bridal stores and snapped up her bridesmaids' dresses and shoes at a regular store for a mere $60.

Rather than paying a fortune to a fancy florist, she went to Costco for her flowers and asked the floral manager to order extra blooms the week of her wedding.

The Icing on the Cake

Who knew you could rent a cake?

"I was able to find a vendor who literally makes a Styrofoam replica of a cake decorated with fondant and regular icing," says Tavon. "I actually sent her some ribbon and lace and she put it on herself."

"There's a little slot in the back," she explained. "So we were able to have pictures of us cutting into our 'cake.'"

"Our cake was probably my favorite part of the wedding," said Tavon.

The staff then whisked the fake cake out of sight and served the guests $40 worth of sheet cake from the supermarket.

Cost? $12, compared with $600 for an actual wedding cake.

But what about saving the top layer for their first anniversary? The bride just laughs it off.

"I would have eaten that cake a long time ago."

Dream Wedding Dress for $200

What about the ultimate budget buster -- the wedding gown? Tavon fell in love with a $650 dress from David's Bridal but was unwilling to break the bank for it.

A discovery on Craigslist saved the day.

A groom-to-be in Ohio had ended his engagement, but the bride's dress was still in the picture. It was the same gown that Tavon had fallen for. In her size, with the tags still on. The price? $200.

"Me and my wife had a fantastic time. The guests had a fantastic time," said Ken Ferguson. "And nobody missed the $14,000 dollars that we didn't spend."

Tips for a Chic Wedding on the Cheap

Being flexible about the time of your wedding could spell big savings. Look for wedding packages that include those hidden "extras." Look for online discount deals on favors, save-the-date cards and invites. Go for pros looking to break into the wedding market. You get a deal and they get the good references. Find bargain blooms at Costco or Sam's Club. Buy your cake at the supermarket. Dream dress out of your budget? Consider a secondhand gown.