Marvelous Girl Has Moved!

Plan a wedding for less than $2,000

Posted on: April 8, 2009

Sara Cotner and Matt Bradford

Sara Cotner and Matt Bradford

When Sara Cotner and Matt Bradford of Houston, TX, set out to plan their wedding, they decided on a budget limit of only $2,000. Seven months later, they held that wedding and a reception for 80 people… and came in under budget.

This is the story of how they did it.

The process started with the creation of a wedding constitution, the eight guiding principles by which all their wedding decisions would be made. Among their goals:

#2 Make this a celebration of love, not a show.
#4 Ensure that the celebration is connected to nature and kind to the environment.
#7 Keep the focus on friends and family.

In a rebuke to what they call the Wedding Industrial Complex, the couple made a commitment to fight consumerism by spending no more than $2,000.

This they did, and recorded the feat in meticulous detail on their wedding blog at Among the cost saving tools they used were bargain shopping, involving the wedding guests in preparations, and employing lots of discipline.

One unbudgeted item led to a pleasant surprise. Sara and Matt didn’t think wedding rings could fit into the budget, but when they invited friends and family to contribute broken and unwanted jewelry, from which their wedding rings would be made, the response was good.

Ecological jeweler greenKarat ( took that jewelry, refined it, and made it into new rings. Retail value of the rings: $1,275. Final cost after the credit for gold submitted: $109.

The wedding rings also embraced the spirit of the challenge. Not only were they made with post-consumer recycled gold, the gold used had emotional value, too.

Said Sara: “They were made from the recycled gold of our friends and family, so they have a ton of sentimental and symbolic value. It’s as if we took all of their influence and are now shaping it into something new.”

“Our goals helped us stay focused on what really mattered to us throughout the entire process,” said Sara. “Planning a meaningful and memorable wedding did not require us to lose our sanity and our savings. We had the wedding of our dreams, on our own terms.”


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