Life, Style

My Dream Wedding Under $1000 Dollars!


Growing up I was a bit shy and also a tomboy; and I never felt like I quite fit in with the rest of the girls in school. While I pretended to sword fight with the boys on the playground, play kickball, and have my Barbie’s stiff arms contort into kung fu moves, it seemed like all the other little girls around me were dreaming up stories of prince charming sweeping them off their feet one day as they brushed each other’s hair.  This is a part of most girls’ growing up saga, but it was always hard for me to relate to the little girls fantasizing about a glamorized wedding day that would come in the future, with the prince, a puffy, white, diamond-studded dress, hundreds of friends and family.

Even after my college years and into adult womanhood, I realized a romanticized and glamorous vision of the big day was still very much alive for most women I spoke with.  In my immediate family, my mother and father never spoke to me about how my “wedding day” was supposed to look like, and I felt no pressure to conform to what my peers were doing on facebook.  Therefore when it came time for my then-fiancé (now hubby) and me to get married, we couldn’t imagine doing it any other way than asking a local female wedding officiant to wed us in nature with no extra frills, no fancy ceremony: we just wanted an intimate, easy-going, no pressure on our friends and family, moment.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with going all out on your wedding day if that is something you have always dreamed of, but in modern day American society,  it seems that too much focus is placed on the competition and glamorization of the wedding day, as opposed to placing spiritual focus on you, your partner, your friends, and family. This is about a union between two souls, two families, binding of friends and memories right? You have to ask yourself what goes into those relationships, what makes up the important things in your life, because for me, being an easy-going artist, who spends money on simple thrills, travel, and vegan food, spending thousands on a wedding just didn’t feel right. I wanted to make less of a materialistic impact on the environment, on my family’s savings, on my friend’s pockets, and I certainly wanted zero strain on my relationship ( I couldn’t imaging fighting over venues, dates, prices). In this article, I just want to propose a few ideas that could help save you thousands of dollars, countless headaches, and make getting married a more spiritually binding experience as opposed to a materialistic and stressful “event” that needs to be planned for months on end. Here is how I had my dream wedding under $1000.

1. The Dress: I ordered my beautiful vintage-inspired lace dress online and it was less than $200.oo dollars! I know mass culture and celebrity life dictate that wedding dresses should be (tens of) thousands of dollars and grandiose, but in reality you can find beautiful dresses online, in thrift stores, in your mother’s closet! The important thing to remember is not to compare your special day experience to everyone else’s. You don’t even have to wear a white gown. You could wear your favorite elegant jump-suit, or even a sundress you saw at a yard sale. On your wedding day you will be glowing from the inside out, and that glow will make a potato sack look good on you! P.S. I did my hair, nails, and makeup in 20 minutes. Sometimes working spontaneously provides a wild energy and positive inspiration that makes things less serious and more enjoyable. Right before I got in the car to get married, I looked around my house and realized my mom had beautiful dried flowers that I could pin on my husband’s suit and in my hair! So don’t be too hard on yourself, try doing your own wedding styling and you will be impressed! You want to look like the best version of yourself, not the over-done, photo-shopped version.


My Dream Wedding Under $1000 - Peaceful Dumpling

2. The Ring: We bought artisan made gold rings on Etsy which we absolutely LOVE. There are so many alternative options in terms of wedding band, or you do not even have to have a band. How about a finger tattoo with your partner’s initials? In terms of an engagement ring I felt that having an expensive, diamond ring that was not ethically sourced did not fit into my lifestyle, and so I opted OUT of an engagement ring and told my partner these sort of expectations well in advance when I knew our relationship was getting serious. Instead of focusing on an engagement ring, how about a trip to a place you both have never been before?

My Dream Wedding Under $1000 - Peaceful Dumpling

3. The Venue: Spur of the moment and free! Yes mine was absolutely FREE, unplanned and just happened to be perfectly nestled in nature in the backyard of the home of the wedding officiant who married us. How about asking a neighbor, family member, or friend that may have a more spacious and green yard if you could throw a small wedding party there? Or how about hiking to the top of your favorite overlook and saying some vows all red-cheeked after sharing a unique experience with family and friends. If you keep your wedding party small enough, you can literally make it stress-free and at little to no cost!

4. The Photographer: We used a tri-pod and our own camera and the pictures came out awesome! Nowadays, every other person has an iPhone with the latest cameras, gadgets, etc. that can take great photos. Spending thousands on a professional photographer may not always be necessary. There are other options out there like asking your best friend or brother to take intimate pictures for you. Wedding selfie’s work great as well!


Our wedding selfie

5. The Celebration: For our wedding celebration, we had our nuclear families over at my house, where we enjoyed food, drinks, and a few laughs together. It was casual, spur of the moment, and because there was no pressure to impress anyone or live up to the standards of something planned for months on end, with everyone else knowing the ins and outs and therefore having certain expectations of what the party should look like. It was genuinely intimate, and felt like a true celebration of two families coming together. If you are going to plan a big party, it is best to tell your family members and friends right away your personal vision and your personal budget. It puts a lot of strain on family members and friends to chip in or even pay for entire weddings, so I think a good idea is to throw a simple bash, as if planning for a special birthday. It also puts a lot of pressure on yourself if you are planning something to please everyone else, and to satisfy the romanticized vision of a modern day wedding. Everyone cannot live up to such high standards and that is totally okay!

My Dream Wedding Under $1000 - Peaceful Dumpling

My wedding dress

6. The Food: My husband and I eat gluten free and vegan, so at our celebration we made sure to have foods that fit our lifestyle, but also a few homemade dishes that made everyone else happy as well. We spent probably under $200.00 feeding several people including drinks. And it was fun seeing everyone relaxed enough to dip into each other’s plates. If you know you will be having a lot of people at your wedding, how about asking a few friends to help prepare some of your favorite vegan dishes a day or two before the big day? You could also ask for people to contribute food, drinks, whatever you may need instead of spending money on gifts (many of which you probably will end up returning, right?) You could have a BYOB wedding, and make something personal for people to take home at the end of the night, like your mom’s famous raspberry jam, recipe included!

P.S. Just remember to have fun with planning your wedding. If you start feeling pressure from family members or friends, remember to take a deep breath, and take a few minutes to explain why you want the specific kind of celebration you have in mind. This was a big lesson I learned: Patience and empathy are really important during moments when tensions are high. Just take the time to talk to one another and you will come to understand each others views and even learn a thing or two about your mother or best-friend!

What do you think about having a simple wedding? Share! 

Related: 5 Tips to Start Planning Your Wedding

How to Select a Conflict Free Engagement Ring

7 Vegan-friendly Wedding Dresses Under $500

Also by Irena: Anti Inflammatory Breakfast Smoothie

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Photo: Irena Stanisic



Irena Stanisic

Irena Stanisic

Blogger and Artist at Gluten Free Guides
Irena Stanisic was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and was raised in Virginia and Macedonia. She is a visual artist, writer, and vegan who loves learning and sharing holistic remedies and vegan/gluten-free recipes with others on her blog, Gluten Free Guides. In the past years she has continued in her family's nomadic footsteps as world traveler, collecting health inspiration from different cultures. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Visit Irena's official artist website for her work and follow her on Pinterest @irenastanisic.
  • Juhea Kim

    i have no words for how cute you guys look. am. so. in. love. first of all, you look breathtaking–and hubby looks like my eternal crush Andrew Bird. also love how natural you look in your photos. I’m definitely taking a leaf out of your book and taking natural, spontaneous photos and not super staged “shoots.”
    Also, how cool would it be to “walk up to the overlook and say your vows all rosy-cheeked”? that sounds dreamy! As for me I’ve been thinking for a while that it would actually be so radical and fresh to get married in a church…one I actually go to that is so beautiful and intimate and right next to Morningside Park. 🙂 and also save thousands of $ for a venue.

    • Irena Stanisic

      Juhea thanks so much for reading this and saying such nice things!Honestly I think I was just so happy that day, so I was beaming, but yeah thank you thank you thank you! Yeah I kind of wish I had hiked up my favorite overlook originally, so maybe for an anniversary I can do that! : ) Now that you live in NYC you could find countless “free” radical venues…woo!

  • Sophie Besl

    Awesome. More people should do this. Like everyone.

  • June Siegel-Hill

    Wow, I really wish I had read this 15 years ago when I got married. I let my mother pressure me into something I didn’t get a chance to enjoy. It was extravagant and stuffy, not my style. I still have regrets too. Wish we could hold a redo.

  • A weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that I realize a wedding can be customized to align with truly peaceful and cool values, and that it can turn out beautifully in more ways than one! I love your story! The suggestions are wonderful. I have a feeling they can be customized to smaller milestones in a relationship, like an anniversary (or even a first date: I’m single). You highlight the rituals in relationship, the proportion of outward acts in relation to innate meaning, the idea of going to a place you both want to visit instead of spending on the common diamond ring. I love the simple paradigm shift. And the gold rings, and the dress, and, most of all, the expressions and moments of togetherness like even your hands resting together to show the wedding rings. It seems like your wedding was like a wave in the river of your lives, a significant and special day that showed your commitment, but a day that captured a brilliant balance of spontaneity and genuineness.

  • Melissa Castro

    Excellent advice! Happy you enjoyed your wedding day without breaking the bank. This proves it can be done, thank you 🙂

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