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How we planned a $50k Black-Tie Wedding in South Bend, Indiana

A couple from Indiana shares how they pulled off their $50k wedding all on their dime.

By The Zola Team

How we planned a $50k Black-Tie Wedding in South Bend, Indiana
Photo by Zola

Welcome to Zola’s Wedding Budget Diaries, where we break down one of the industry’s greatest mysteries: how much weddings actually cost.

But no two couples are the same, and neither are their weddings. Each wedding budget, big or small, has its backstory of unexpected surprises and compromises.

This week, a couple from South Bend, IN share how they pulled off their $50,000 wedding.

Need to figure out your own wedding budget breakdown? Download the Zola app today and explore our free budget tool.


A bird’s eye view of this couple and their wedding budget.

About the Couple

Fields of Work: Health & Law
Ages: 26 & 27
Where we live: Indiana
Combined Salary: $460,000

About the Wedding

Wedding Date: 10/29/2022
Wedding Location: South Bend, IN
Venue Type: All-inclusive hotel
Wedding Party Members: 10
Wedding Style: Black-Tie

Budget Overview

Original Wedding Budget: $35,000
Actual Wedding Budget: $50,000
Who contributed: Only us
How we kept track: Zola, Excel spreadsheets
How we paid for our wedding: Lots of monthly saving


Time for the budget breakdown - their original budget vs. actual spend on each wedding item or service.


Original budget: $18,000 estimated
Actual spend: $15,020 total
What we got: Hotel venue Included weekend venue, open bar, 3 entree choices with sides And 4 appetizers for cocktail hour, aisle runner, free set up/tear down, cake cutting, bridal suite, etc.


Original budget: Included in venue prices.


Original budget: Included in venue prices.

Couple’s Attire

Original budget: $2,500
Actual spend: $3,540
What we got: We spent $2300 for bride’s attire plus $500 on alterations, $20 for the veil, and $50 on shoes. It was $670 for the groom’s outfit all together.


Original budget: $500
Actual spend: $720
What we got: Fresh, DIY bundles from Sam’s Club incl. red roses, red carnations, and greenery.


Original budget: $500
Actual spend: $500
What we got: A DJ (personal friend) who offered rehearsal and wedding day coverage.

Photography & Videography

Original budget: $5,599
Actual spend: $5,599
What we got: Photographer was $2500 and included all-day coverage with 2 shooters and a free engagement session. Videographer was $3099 and included 10 hours, 10 min social media video, 2 shooters, raw footage of 2 events (first look and first dance) + ceremony.


Original budget: $350
Actual spend: $630
What we got: Full Invitation suite (invite, details card, RSVP, envelope, wax seal, vellum paper), + stamps.

Wedding Bands

Original budget: $6,380
Actual spend: $6,380
What we got: $5,000 engagement ring for bride, $750 wedding band for the groom, and 2 $330 wedding bands.

Other Expenses

Original budget: $500
Actual spend: $700
What we got: Non-religious wedding officiant services.

Note: Individual figures may not total overall budget due to approximations + omitted items.


A deeper look into all the decisions – what’s important, what’s tossed, and more.

How did you decide on your original wedding budget?

Guestimated based on how much we could save monthly.

Once you decided on a set budget, did you actively attempt to stick to it?

Attempted to stick to it but decided to spend a little more for what we wanted vision-wise.

Top Three Priorities:

Floral arch ($500), floral centerpieces, good venue/food/bar.

Bottom Three Priorities:

Completely nixed wedding favors and extra wedding entertainment (photo booths, games), and spent less on hair and makeup services and cake.

Did you hire a wedding planner?

No, completely planned by the bride, but the venue came with a day coordinator who was 10000% needed. Wouldn’t do it a different way.

What, if any, were the main budgeting challenges you faced?

Mother-in-law caused lots of issues while planning, causing conflict and turmoil about the wedding. Also had some car problems during the wedding planning, causing some unexpected debt.

Did you need to cut anything to stick to your budget?

Nothing - we agreed that we would try to have everything we wanted.

What did you add that resulted in you going over your budget?

Spent lots more on decor than originally planned; also more on the wedding dress.

What, if any, fun extras did you throw in while planning that you didn’t originally budget for?

Spent more on the dress and honeymoon.

What did you find to be the most effective way to save money for/on your wedding?

An all-inclusive venue saved a lot of money.

Did you think at all about or prepare for your newlywed financial future while you budgeted for your wedding?

No - been together 10 years prior to getting married so we were not worried about financials.

What wedding expenses surprised you the most?

Paper costs and decor items.

WBD 3 - $50k Black-Tie Wedding in South Bend, Indiana

Zola’s helping couples share those diverse stories with those eager to learn more about what it really takes to plan a wedding. If you’re interested in sharing your Wedding Budget Diary, visit here.

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