This is part of our ongoing series, Real Wedding Budgets, bringing you actual numbers from actual couples, along with an idea of what you can get for your money. See more Real Wedding Budgets here.
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Before you read, a note on vendors: We don’t provide vendor information because you never know what kind of discounts they may have given, or if their prices have changed since this wedding. And also because if the couple didn’t love them, we don’t want to be putting a bad review out there. That’s what Yelp and Wedding Wire are for.
However, there is one exception – photography. Because we want you to get a good idea of what the couple was able to do with their budget, we include photos when possible, and credit the photographers. So word of advice – if you like these photos, please do go check out the photographer’s website (linked at the end of the post), and then ask for their current rates. Do not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.
$15,000: 13 Guests on a Saturday Afternoon in Galveston, Texas in the Spring
|Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.)||$ 1,000|
|Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake)||$ 1,045|
|Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians)||$ 0|
|Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.)||$ 2,000|
|Marriage License||$ 40|
|Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator||$ 0|
|Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs||$ 0|
|Hair & Makeup||$ 325|
|Rehearsal Dinner||$ 750|
|Gifts & Favors||$ 500|
What They Got For the Money
Ceremony & Reception Venue ($2,100)
The couple rented a beachfront home, which accommodated all of their overnight guests for the nights before and of the wedding. They planned to marry outside on the bay, but strong winds forced them to rearrange furniture and hold the ceremony indoors.
All day coverage by one photographer, engagement session and rehearsal dinner; high-res files and print rights. This was her first wedding.
A friend operated a rented video camera.
A friend of the groom who had recently graduated from culinary school and is a level 2 sommelier prepared a 6-course meal for the couple and their guests, including wine pairings.
The bride made the cake from a funfetti box mix and ready-made frosting. The groom’s cake was a custom cookie cake from the mall.
A bunch of babies’ breath ($5) was the bride’s bouquet; white roses and assorted other flowers ($10) decorated the table; flowers were purchased at the local grocery store.
A banner purchased online read, “Love, Sweet Love” (pictured at the top of this post) and was accompanied by white balloons.
The bride wore a flowing, sleeveless wedding dress, with a Gap body strapless bra and earrings from J.Crew. Her mother contributed $500 towards the cost of the dress. The groom donned a Hugo Boss suit, white button-down shirt, and black skinny tie.
The bride’s engagement ring is a custom 5-carat green tourmaline stone with 4 pave diamonds in an 18k yellow gold setting. Her wedding ring is a 10mm 18k yellow gold traditional band. The groom’s wedding ring is a 6mm 14k yellow gold traditional band.
Marriage License ($40)
The couple was legally married in Chicago, Illinois before the ceremony in Texas.
The officiant did not charge; the couple gave him $300 as a gift. They met once prior to the wedding to get to know each other, and then talked through the ceremony the night before the wedding. The couple wrote their own vows.
The couple sent free invitations online using Paperless Post.
Rental of an HD video camera and microphone to record the ceremony.
Hair and Makeup ($325)
Full airbrush makeup and up-do for the bride and her sister/maid-of-honor.
Flights from the couple’s home city of Chicago to Houston; rental car for three days.
The couple purchased a skydiving excursion for the bride’s family, as a thank you for helping out with some of the costs.
Rehearsal Dinner ($750)
Italian dinner and wine for 13 people; paid for by the groom’s mother.
Fancy hotel room downtown for the couple on their wedding night.
What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?
The biggest line item would be rings…which I love and would definitely say they were worth it. For the wedding itself it looks like the biggest cost was the venue which doubled as accommodation for everyone, so I would also say that it was worth it!
Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?
Our wedding worked because it was all friends. We chose Texas because it was where the majority of people who we wanted to be at the wedding were located. I think we saved a lot of expense for everyone else by doing the travelling ourselves. We chose the photographer, chef, etc. because they were friends. It was perfect for what it was….which was not a huge styled event.
What was the best thing you spent your money on?
Food!!!! And the venue for everyone to stay at/hang out/get married in.
Anything else you’d like to say?
It’s really interesting looking back at this 14 months later. We spent all of our savings and extra money at the time on the wedding and I thought we had set ourselves up for this year….but we didn’t. I wish we had done a MUCH better job planning our financial future instead of focusing so much on a wedding. But it was perfect for us and a beautiful celebration.