AMERICAN WEDDINGS BLOG
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Published Tuesday, Aug. 3rd, 2021
Today, we’ll bust the myth that weddings have to be expensive in order to be fun and memorable. And we’ll do it by showing you how to plan an entire wedding -- from custom ceremony to first dance -- with the help of one of America’s favorite buy-everything stores, Costco!
(Or as we like to call it: the land of endless aisles, endless opportunities, and endless sample snacks…)
But before we get started, we just have to say that we’ve got no idea how the myth that weddings should be expensive even got started. There’s probably some stuffy, ancient king or queen to blame, helped along by a big ol’ scoop of old-fashioned fear of missing out, and then once the marketing departments took over, that ship had sailed.
Either way, it’s one-hundred-percent false. Your wedding can be incredible without breaking the bank. And quite frankly, we’re tired of seeing planning articles and advertisements that suggest otherwise.
For this example, we’ve planned a small evening wedding of about 20 guests, held in a small backyard in the summer or fall (with an excellent view of the Puget Sound… AMM is located in Seattle, after all), followed by a festive reception lasting into the night...
Check out this bouquet!
It's part of Costco's Orange Sorbet Wedding Package.
This is a personal decision, of course, but there are a few things that will help you keep costs low: Stick with a small guest list, choose an inexpensive venue like a backyard or public park, and consider asking a friend or family member to officiate. If it suits your style, you might ask friends and family to help with other tasks too, like taking photos. This will leave more money for things like decorations, drinks, and food…
Got a number? Onward!
That’s right, Costco has its own wedding website. (It’s actually a series of webpages hosted within the main Costco site, which makes it easier to order giant containers of Nutella when you need a break from wedding planning.)
The page is divided into several categories -- including flowers, stationary, food, photos, and rings -- some of which are more helpful than others, as we’ll explain. But don’t worry, anything you don’t find here, you’ll be able to find on the main Costco pages.
There’s no rule that says you have to exchange wedding rings. Couples exchange all kinds of gifts instead of rings, which are just as meaningful, or opt for another unity ritual altogether -- like a symbolic handfasting.
But if you do want to exchange rings, Costco sells simple gold wedding bands starting as low as $160 to $250 a piece.
Decorations will depend on a few factors: Location, season, time of day, and how many people are attending.
A small table to use as a wedding altar, enough seating for about 25 people, in case someone goes rogue and invites a plus-two, and flowers to decorate the altar and aisle. Also, one of us is definitely carrying a bouquet, and a few of us (or all of us) will be wearing boutonnieres or wrist corsages (or both). Because our example is planned for summer or fall, we probably won’t need tents or additional lighting.
Costco sells floral packages containing 1 large bouquet, 2 smaller bouquets, 3 pin-on corsages, 3 boutonnieres, and 1 bag of rose petals for around $250.
If you don’t own a small table, ask a friend to borrow one, or purchase one for around $80 while you’re picking up flowers.
Chairs get expensive fast, so we don’t recommend buying these unless you have some extra cash (around $540). Instead, we’ll use decorative blankets placed around the altar, at around $25 each, or $100 total. (If this won’t work for you, consider renting chairs, or ask friends to bring folding chairs or floor pillows.)
AMM Bot is a fan of this cute folding Stakmore table.
And check out the Royal Officiant Folio in blue! Perfect for your officiant.
If you’re holding a wedding in a backyard or park, offer an open bar. Place a tip jar on the table to cover your bartender’s cab ride home later. If a friend or two has volunteered to put booze in people’s cups, even better!
Most drinks will come in cans, in addition to three liquor options: vodka, whisky, and rum. We know this might make gin and tequila drinkers sad at first, but those guys always find a way to party anyway. You might also offer bottled beers and wine.
Mixers will be simple, too: soda water, coke, and ginger ale. If you’re a cocktail connoisseur, you can always up the budget and stock a more comprehensive bar.
Assume there will be nondrinkers, designated drivers, and children at your event, and make sure you have some festive soft drink options for them, too!
Costco sells banquet tables, a 2-pack for about $150. If you can’t borrow a table, this will work well. One table for set up, one table for prep and serving.
You’ll need plastic cups, which will cost about $8. Bring recyclable trash bags for empty cans, bottles, and paper, or use a few plastic bins. A new box of bags will cost about $25.
Don’t forget you’ll also need to buy bags of ice, which will cost about $40 for 10 bags.
You’ll definitely need a big cooler, which you can pick up for around $120.
Canned drinks will be a matter of taste, but you'll want plain sparkling water as well as mixers. We'll put an estimate around $40.
Liquor, wine, and beer costs will vary, depending on how many people will be drinking (and how much, for how long). Depending on your drink menu, you'll want several bottles of liquor, 6-10 bottles of wine, and a few packs of beer. We'll estimate this at... $300.
Make sure bottled water is available! A case of 40 bottles is around $25.
And don't forget to grab some fruit to slice, twist, and muddle into the mix!
Check out these classy crystal-cut plastic cups! Perfect for cocktails and easy clean up.
Who's toasting next?
We love a family cookout! If you have a couple friends who know how to run a grill, this can make your reception a lot of fun without a big price tag. We’re talking sides: mac salad, coleslaw, grilled chicken, hamburgers… follow your heart. But if you want to keep things simple, or themed, stick with restaurant take out, sandwiches, tapas, or the like.
If you’re feeding about 25 people, be prepared to spend about $300 on groceries.
(And if you need a grill… Costco’s got 'em for around $240, but this isn’t required for a good time and we’re not adding it into our total.)
Some folks will tell you that cake at a wedding is outdated, and that they never taste good anyway. Maybe, but you won’t have that problem here…
Costco’s got delicious chocolate cakes for around $50, or cheesecakes priced 2 for $50.
This is it! The first dance as a married couple… the moment everyone sets down their drink and reaches for their phone to get some video…
It’s twilight, and the sound of laughter drifts up from the crowd of friends. Folks are fed, comfortable, and ready to dance! A couple friends have brought instruments to play, and that’ll be a blast for a little while. When it’s time for them to take a break, we’ll plug a playlist into a speaker and celebrate together late into the night.
Costco sells an all-weather bluetooth speaker with light effects and a 100 hour battery life for around $140 bucks.
Dancing shoes are free.
Get out there and dance!
That’s it! That’s a wrap!
The grand total for this 20 person backyard wedding, with Costco’s help (and some assistance from loved ones), is just under $1800.
This $1800 includes wedding rings and several other options that could easily be purchased in smaller quantities (such as food and drinks), or borrowed from friends to cut down on costs.
This wedding is small, simple, and sounds like a ton of fun to us (so if you have one of your own, invite us…) And all for a price that’s well below the national average!
According to The Knot wedding website, that average will be around $22,500 per couple in 2021. Holy moly!
Floral package: $250
Small table / altar: $80
Banquet tables: $150
Plastic cups: $8
Trash bags: $25
Canned drinks: $40
Bottled water: $25
Bluetooth speaker: $140
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