The Wedding Student: A Bride, a Groom, and $15,000

As a student in George Mason University’s Wedding Planning and Management class, Maria Abrams has to plan a wedding from start to finish—using real vendors and a $15,000 budget. Read her updates every Thursday to learn the tricks of the wedding-planner tr

Professor Maggie Daniels teaches students at George Mason University what it takes to become a wedding planner. For their final project, students have to plan weddings using real vendors.

If you’re planning a wedding on a budget, we should talk. I am, too. When we got into teams for our final class project in Wedding Planning and Management—planning an entire wedding—Professor Daniels made each group draw a budget out of a hat. My group drew $15,000, the lowest one. For us, that means a challenging project. For you, that means lots of tips on how to cut costs but still have the wedding of your dreams.

Our bride and groom aren’t real, but they might as well be—we have to stick to the personalities we invent as we choose florists, musicians, and other real-life vendors to do the wedding. The bride, Haylee, is a 24-year-old student getting her master’s in interior design. Her family is from Hawaii (the couple wants to incorporate some Hawaiian traditions into the wedding) and lives in Los Angeles. Think you have a big family? Haylee is the oldest of six siblings—all sisters! Budget-based decision number one: Because Haylee can’t afford to have all of her sisters in the wedding, she’s decided that her two best friends will be bridesmaids instead. Sticking to a small wedding party will cut costs on things like flowers and buying favors for her bridesmaids.

Adien, the groom, is 28. He’s from Connecticut and is the son of two very strict Catholics. Although Adien’s relationship with his parents is strained, he has a strong love for his Irish roots and hopes to include some aspects of his heritage into the wedding as well.

Haylee and Adien have decided to have a laid-back beach wedding just like Haylee’s parents had. But it’s important that they stick to their budget because they’re saving money to buy a house. My team, Five Star Wedding Consultants, has until May (when the class ends) to put together the wedding of their dreams—for thousands of dollars less than what the average US wedding costs these days. But with a little creativity, I know it’s possible.


Check back next Thursday to see how Maria’s wedding planning is going and to pick up a few more budget-based tips.

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