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Real Wedding Budget: Washington, DC | 75 Guests | $18,800

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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 ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$18,800: 75 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Washington, DC in the Summer


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 5,500
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 1,750
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 6,075
Floral/Decor $ 1,203
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 15
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 1,200
Rings $ 1,068
Marriage License $ 55
Officiant $ 0
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 165
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 350
Transportation $ 200
Rehearsal Dinner $ 250
Gifts & Favors $ 800
Other $ 150
TOTAL $ 18,781

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($5,500)
The couple rented a mansion which had first been turned into a Girl Scout camp and then into a county park, just outside the Beltway. They had the space for three days; it included guest rooms and bunk houses. (Note from the bride: this was excellent as their families had never met and it forced them to get to know each other quickly!) It was a natural oasis in the middle of a metropolitan area with a nice outdoor ceremony spot and a fire pit for s’mores.

Photography ($1,600)
The couple cut a deal with someone just starting out, and ended up having a terrible experience. The second shooter turned out to be her husband, who lacked photography experience, and she lost about half of the wedding photo files. In addition, she was not very professional. The bride notes: “You get what you pay for! Don’t skimp on wedding vendors!” (Note: Due to their experience with the photographer, the couple does not wish to share her name or work because they don’t want to promote or slander her. Photos in this post are from the couple’s personal collection.)

Videography ($150)
They purchased a Flip camera and a family member filmed the ceremony.

Catering ($6000)
The couple served lemonade and popcorn (in red-and-white-striped bags) before the ceremony. The reception dinner was a BBQ buffet with pulled pork, chicken, brisket, potato salad, cornbread, etc. They purchased beer from Costco and wine from Trader Joe’s. For dessert, ice cream sandwiches were served from a cart.

Cake ($75)
They weren’t initially planning a cake, but ended up purchasing a sheet cake from their local grocery store, which they note was “delightfully tacky.”

Flowers ($787)
The couple ordered flowers in a bulk delivery from Costco and arranged them in jars they found and decorated with lace, yarn, and hot glue ($471). They hired a florist for their bouquets ($316), though the bride notes in retrospect she wishes she’d done those herself as well.

Decor ($416)
This is the cost of supplies for signage (bar, menu, ceremony, guestbook, etc.), table runners and numbers, banners, garlands, ceremony signs (“Here comes the bride!” for the flower girl; “laughter” and “applause” for their niece and nephew), rehearsal dinner name tags, and fairy lights.

Entertainment ($15)
A friend of the couple played the saxophone for their ceremony, and as a gift to them hired his own guitar accompanist. The duo played music before and during the ceremony. They gave him a bottle of Irish Whiskey as a thank you gift.

For the reception, the couple borrowed a sound system from a theatre company the groom worked with and purchased a cord to connect a laptop to it. They also purchased some lawn games, which turned out to be more popular than dancing, but haven’t included those in the budget since they still get used.

Attire ($1,200)
The bride wore a simple dress from David’s Bridal, turquoise kitten heels found online, and turquoise jewelry from Etsy. She made her own veil. The groom bought a suit from J. Crew, as well as a handful of ties from Etsy to select from.

Rings ($1,068)
The groom wears a simple gold band. The bride wears a white gold band with three small white diamonds and four small blue diamonds.

Marriage License ($0)

Officiant ($0)
A friend of the couple, who is also a Broadway actor, served as their officiant. The chose him since he had officiated before and knew both the bride and the groom before they started dating. They gave him a nice bottle of scotch as a thank you gift. The couple wrote the ceremony.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($0)
The couple did not have a wedding planner, though the bride wishes she’d hired a day-of-coordinator.

Invitations ($165)
The couple found a design on Vistaprint that were good quality for the cost. Invitations were not a high priority for the couple, so although the design wasn’t exactly their aesthetic, they went for it anyway.

Hair and Makeup ($350)
The shampoo girl from the bride’s usual salon came to the venue and styled her hair as well as her maid-of-honor’s hair. A friend of the bride’s did her makeup.

Transportation ($200)
They rented a larger vehicle for transporting things to and from the venue.

Gifts ($800)
The couple bought art, tote bags, and jewelry for the wedding party. They got everyone soda cap pins (as in the movie Up) in lieu of boutonnieres and corsages.

Favors ($0)
The couple wasn’t planning favors, but a co-worker of the bride found out the venue was a former Girl Scout camp and purchased enough Thin Mints for each guest to take a box home.

Rehearsal Dinner ($250)
Pizza party for approximately 45 people, including families, the wedding party, and other guests who were staying at the venue.


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?

The venue was a huge splurge, and TOTALLY worth it.
A) Our families really got to know each other.
B) Once we arrived at the venue on Friday we didn’t have to go anywhere until Sunday.
C) Anyone who’d had too much to drink could just pull up a bunk.
D) FIRE PIT AND S’MORES!

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?

I wish we’d spent more on the photographer. I was of the “You only need one gorgeous photo” school and didn’t think it was that important. It was. We have plenty of gorgeous photos, but no non-blurry photos of mom and I walking down the aisle. Gah.

What was the best thing you spent your money on?

Besides the venue, the lemonade and popcorn for pre-ceremony. It really set the tone for the day. Casual! Fun! Slightly Circus/Carnival-y!

Anything else you’d like to say?

We were total nerds and created a wedding mission statement at the beginning. We talked about what we wanted out of the day and wrote it down. This guided all our choices after that and really helped clarify what was/wasn’t worth spending money on. Highly recommend.

All photos are from the bride and groom’s personal collection and are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budget: La Grange, Texas | 60 Guests | $8,900

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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 ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$8,900: 60 Guests on a Saturday Afternoon in La Grange, Texas in the Spring


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 1,000.00
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 2,143.35
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 2,298.69
Floral/Decor $ 456.90
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 10.00
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 798.00
Rings $ 157.00
Marriage License $ 71.00
Officiant $ 0
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 277.22
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 0
Transportation $ 0
Rehearsal Dinner $ 150.00
Gifts & Favors $ 83.62
Other $ 1,429.78
TOTAL $ 8,875.56

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($1,000)
The couple rented the chapel at a church camp. It was a beautiful stone and wood chapel with huge, lovely windows. The fee included all tables and chairs; use of the outside deck; three days of time for rehearsal, wedding, and clean up; and setup by the camp staff.

Photography ($2,143.35)
The couple had two photographers for 7 hours, with web- and print-ready files and all print rights.

Catering ($2,298.69)
The couple served a BBQ buffet with three entrees and three sides. They purchased their own alcohol.

Cake ($65)
The bride baked cupcakes the week prior to the wedding and froze them. They defrosted and decorated them the night before the wedding.

Flowers ($306.90)
Flowers were purchased by the bride, her mother, and her matron of honor at a local grocery store the day before the wedding. The bride’s aunt and sister-in-law arranged all of the centerpieces and created the bouquets.

Decor ($150)
They purchased ribbons, a candle holder, box for cards, and other miscellaneous items. Friends and family lent them beautiful jars which were used for the centerpieces.

Entertainment ($10)
Ceremony and reception music was played on an iPod. They paid for Spotify Premium to download the songs they wanted on their playlist.

Attire ($798)
The bride purchased a pre-owned dress via the internet and wore her own jewelry. She purchased new argyle socks and wore her old, beat-up boots. The groom wore his own suit and shirt and purchased a new tie and dress boots.

Rings ($157)
The bride wears a simple, mill-grain-edged gold band, purchased on Etsy. The groom wears an heirloom ring from his family.

Marriage License ($71)

Officiant ($0)
A friend of the couple, who got ordained online, officiated the ceremony. The couple composed the ceremony.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($0)
The bride’s best friend unofficially filled the role of wedding coordinator.

Invitations ($277.22)
The bride designed the invitation suite and had them printed online. This cost include pocketfolds, envelopes, postage, and craft supplies (ribbon, lace, etc.) in addition to printing.

Hair and Makeup ($0)
The bride’s hair and makeup were done by friends.

Favors ($83.62)
The guests received clear shot glasses filled with blue M&Ms and York candy pieces in tulle, tied with ribbon. 

Rehearsal Dinner ($150)
The couple held a casual pizza dinner the night before the wedding.

Other ($1,429.78)
The couple paid for their family and wedding party’s food and lodgings at the camp.


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?

Our photographer! The husband was very non-excited about having his picture taken and the cost; we wound up having our largest wedding fight about it, actually. I loved our photographer’s work from the first time I saw it on APW and I was so psyched she was open for our date. In the end, though, the husband loved the photos and I’m so glad we got them done by such a quality photographer.

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?

Honestly, we came in $1500 under budget and I don’t know what I would’ve spent any more of the money on.

All photos were taken by Elissa R. Photography and are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budget: Fairfax, VA | 80 Guests | $12,800

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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 ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$12,800: 80 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Fairfax, Virginia in the Spring


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 2,225
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 650
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 4,500
Floral/Decor $ 750
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 115
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 1,050
Rings $ 250
Marriage License $ 30
Officiant $ 250
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 250
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 292
Rentals $ 1,500
Hair & Makeup $ 200
Transportation $ 0
Rehearsal Dinner $ 0
Gifts & Favors $ 530
Other $ 200
TOTAL $ 12,792 

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($2,225)
The couple held the ceremony and reception in the same venue – a historic building which now hosts community events and houses an art gallery and library. There was limited on-site parking, but ample free parking in the vicinity.

The room used for the ceremony ($225 for 2 hours, plus a 1-hour rehearsal) was lined with bookshelves and let in gorgeous afternoon light through gigantic windows. It could hold about 100 people. The couple used the Librarian’s Office for a yichud after the ceremony. Chairs and decorative items (such as pedestals for floral arrangements) were included with the rental fee.

The reception took place on the main floor of the building, which was formerly the Town Hall. It has wood floors, lots of windows, and an “old feel”. Chairs, tables, and some linens were included; it could hold approximately 100 guests for a seated dinner with room for a dance floor.

Photography ($650)
One photographer; all-day coverage; digital files with full rights; 100 4″x6″ prints; and 4 8″x10″ prints. The photographer was building up his portfolio, and was not a full-time photographer yet.

Catering ($4,500)
They had a buffet-style dinner with passed hors d’oeuvres during the cocktail hour. They provided the alcohol (beer and wine only) and the caterers provided the bartender and soft drinks, coffee, and tea. They also cut and served the cake. Catering costs included tea lights for all the tables; setup and tear down of both ceremony and reception spaces; and coordinating the equipment rentals below.

Cake ($0)
The bride’s sister made a multi-tiered wedding cake; she refused to divulge the costs of it or the test cakes she made or to allow the couple to reimburse her.

Rentals ($1,500)
Linens, china, flatware, glassware, and food service items (chafing dishes, coffee urns, etc.) were coordinated by the caterer.

Flowers ($650)
The bride’s mother is a floral design assistant to she was able to order the flowers at cost and use the floral studio to make the bouquets at no charge ($325). They provided jars (reused = free!) and vases (borrowed from the floral studio = free!) to a local flower farm. They filled the jars with wildflowers for table centerpieces and the vases with willows for ceremony decoration, plus delivered and set them all up ($325).

Decor (~$100 – a “completely wild guess”)
The couple made a number of crafty things for their wedding, including button flower pens (bic pens, with flowers and old buttons from the bride’s grandmother attached to them), a fancy bulletin board and thumb tacks for the seating chart, crayons tied with bakers’ twine for the tables, index cards to collect guests’ wishes (in lieu of a guest book), prints of photos which were displayed in old jars.

Entertainment ($115)
The couple had a DJ for 4 hours of reception music ($80) and hired him to do the ceremony as well ($75). They handled playlist requests through the DJ’s website.

Attire ($1,050)
The bride wore a raw silk mermaid-style strapless dress, which she bought pre-owned. She purchased kitten heels, a pearl necklace, a birdcage veil and fascinator, special blue undies, and had alterations done ($785). The groom bought a tuxedo on sale, plus a tux shirt, cufflinks from Etsy, and new Chuck Taylors ($265).

Rings ($250)
The bride wears a thin band with small pave diamonds, purchased on Overstock.com; the groom wears a titanium and gold band from an Etsy seller. The bride notes that in hindsight, she wishes she’d bought her ring from an artisan vendor, such as Turtle Love Committee or an Etsy seller.

Marriage License ($30)

Officiant ($250)
They found their officiant online and chatted by phone a few months before the wedding; they met with her two weeks prior for an interview and mini-rehearsal. The couple chose readings and vows; the officiant created the rest of the ceremony.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($250)
The couple hired a day-of-coordinator who was just starting out and had limited experience. They met once in advance and she managed the rehearsal and wedding day from the afternoon portraits through breakdown of the event. The bride notes that they got what they paid for – she was not very good, but “the wedding was awesome, so it’s ok.”)

Invitations ($262)
The couple send most of their Save-the-Dates electronically; they designed postcards and printed them on Zazzle (~$20) for elder guests unlikely to be online. Their invitations were purchased from an Etsy seller, and printed on linen with kraft envelopes. They ordered 85 ($203), which turned out to be more than they needed. Guests RSVP’d online, but again they sent postcards to the non-internet savvy folks; they used Zazzle again for these ($15). They spent $24 on postage. Programs were designed by the bride and printed at FedEx (~$30).

Hair and Makeup ($200)
The bride had her hair styled in her hotel room on the wedding day. She did her own makeup.

Transportation ($0)
The maid-of-honor’s father drove the bride to the ceremony in his minivan; everyone else carpooled or took taxis.

Gifts ($450)
The couple gave picture frames to their parents and readers; after the wedding they sent photos to go in them. The groomsmen received monogrammed pocket watches; the bridesmaids were given monogrammed thermal tote bags and necklaces to wear in the wedding. The maid of honor also got a tie to wear. They also purchased a Groupon for custom wine bottle labels; they gave out bottles of wine sporting them at the rehearsal dinner.

Favors ($80)
They purchased small tins and labels, which they filled with candy buttons made by the bride’s sister.

Rehearsal Dinner ($0)
The groom’s parents paid for the dinner, which was supposed to have a budget of $2,000. The actual cost is unknown to the couple. The dinner was held at a small historic house near the wedding venue and catered by a local Tex-Mex restaurant; there were approximately 30 guests. A pianist played during the cocktail hour.

Other ($200)
The couple made welcome bags for out-of-town guests from small kraft paper bags which they filled with locally-made soaps and maps/information about the area, which they got at no cost from the Chamber of Commerce ($50). They also decided to subsidize the cost of bridesmaids’ dresses, since they turned out to be more expensive than anticipated ($150).


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?

The last-minute order from the local flower farm, for centerpieces and willows for the ceremony. It wasn’t a HUGE amount of money, but it was a splurge because it was a bit last-minute and not really necessary. But I had thought I wanted just button/paper flowers or none at all, then realized I actually really wanted wildflowers. It was totally worth it and I’m really glad we went for it. My husband couldn’t have cared less, honestly, but he encouraged me to go for it and agreed they added a nice touch.

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?

I waffle back and forth about our photography. It’s a matter of “Should we have spent more?”, not less. We got a really great deal and our pictures are fine, but they’re not pretty or artsy. I wish I just had a few artsy shots. But usually after waffling on this I settle back to content with our choice, our photos are fine! And I should note that to my knowledge this has not crossed my husband’s mind even once.

One thing I regret, which wasn’t something I had a lot of control over but wish I’d managed better, was the bridesmaid dresses. I wanted them to pick their own dresses, they decided to wear basically the same ones in different colors, they picked the dresses so I shouldn’t feel bad! But they each paid over $200 and that was WAY more than I wanted them to pay. I’m glad we supported an independent Etsy business but part of me wishes we’d gone simpler/cheaper.

What was the best thing you spent your money on?

It’s a tie between the venue and the caterers. They both went above and beyond taking care of us, and I think were very reasonably priced.

Anything else you’d like to say?

This was a fun exercise and made me enjoy my wedding all over again. Thank you!

All photos were taken by Bong Lee of Bisou Photography and are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budget: Boston | 40 Guests | $16,600

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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 ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$16,617: 40 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Boston in the Summer


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 220
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 2,500
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 9,273
Floral/Decor $ 241
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 205
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 1,312
Rings $ 607
Marriage License $ 35
Officiant $ 100
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 150
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 150
Transportation $ 875
Rehearsal Dinner $ 0
Gifts & Favors $ 380
Other $ 569
TOTAL $ 16,617

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($220)
The ceremony was held in a chapel at the university where the couple met. They had the space for 3 1/2 hours, and it included chairs. It was large enough to accommodate 200 people.

The reception was held in the private dining room of a restaurant. There was no fee for use of the room beyond the cost of catering.

Photography ($2,500)
The couple had one photographer for an engagement session and full wedding day coverage. The package included high-resolution digital files with personal copyright permission.

Videography ($0)
The couple set up two video cameras to record the ceremony; they asked cousins to turn them on at the start of the ceremony.

Catering ($9,038)
The couple had a cocktail hour with five passed hors d’oeuvres and a seated dinner with appetizer, three entree choices, and dessert. They had an open bar throughout the evening, but capped the choice of beverages at $13 per drink. This amount included a $1,200 tip for exceptional service.

Cake ($235)
The couple had a two-tiered cake with different flavors in each layer. Guests consumed just one layer at the reception; the second layer was consumed the day after by guests who came to the couples’ house the day after to hang out and play video games.

Flowers ($191)
One of the bridesmaids made all the bouquets and the bride arranged the centerpieces. This is the cost of the flowers they purchased, including stems for a dry run a few days before the wedding.

Decor ($50)
The venues were already lovely, so the couple only needed to create table numbers and a seating chart.

Entertainment ($205)
The couple hired an undergraduate student at the university where they wed to play Bach pieces on her cello for the ceremony. It was the first wedding she’d played. The couple spent $80 on reception entertainment.

Attire ($1,312)
The bride wore a silk wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline, ball gown skirt, and pockets. She purchased new shoes and borrowed jewelry from her family. She spent $220 on alterations. The groom purchased a suit, tie, and new shoes.

Rings ($607)
The bride and groom each wear plain gold wedding bands.

Marriage License ($35)

Officiant ($100)
The officiant was a mentor of the couple, and they had a close personal relationship with him. The bride created and wrote the entire ceremony.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($0)

Invitations ($150)
The couple designed and printed the invitations themselves; this is the cost of paper and postage. The bride notes that they had a lot of fun making them, they turned out really well, and it, along with coding the wedding website, was one of the best parts of wedding planning.

Hair and Makeup ($150)
A friend of the bride’s did her hair and makeup. This is the cost of purchasing new makeup.

Transportation ($875)
The couple rented a shuttle bus to transport guests from the ceremony to the reception, and from the reception to the hotel where most of the guests were staying.

Gifts ($300)
The couple gave gifts to the wedding party and other people who helped out with the wedding.

Favors ($80)
The couple ordered personalized fans from Etsy.

Rehearsal Dinner ($0)
The couples’ parents split the cost of the rehearsal dinner, the only expense not paid by the couple. The rehearsal dinner was fort he two families and wedding party in an upscale restaurant. They believe the cost was approximately $500.

Other ($569)
The couple hosted a brunch on the day after the wedding ($414) and provided gift bags for out-of-town guests ($155).


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?

Our biggest splurge was on food and alcohol at the reception. It was well worth it — all of our guests raved about the food and drinks afterwards! We also splurged on our honeymoon, which ended up costing the same amount as our wedding. It was an unbelievable trip, and it was definitely worth it!

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?

I wish I didn’t panic and decide to assemble out-of-town bags at the last minute, but it wasn’t that big a deal, and it made me feel a little better.

I also wish the shuttle bus wasn’t quite so expensive, but we were happy to provide transportation for our guests (particularly since a lot of them weren’t used to public transportation).

What was the best thing you spent your money on?

The food and drink at the reception! And the honeymoon!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Our wedding honestly turned out exactly the way we wanted. Even if we had a lot more money, there isn’t anything we would want to spend more on.

Real Wedding Budget: Atlanta, Georgia | 150 Guests | $18,900

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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. (The photographer for this post asked not to be credited, as their aesthetic has changed significantly since this wedding.) 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 ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$18,849: 150 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Atlanta, Georgia in the Summer


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 450
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 3,850
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 7,720
Floral/Decor $ 423
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 0
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 1,145
Rings $ 1,900
Marriage License $ 26
Officiant $ 400
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 390
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 540
Transportation $ 0
Rehearsal Dinner $ 1,000
Gifts & Favors $ 300
Other $ 705
TOTAL $ 18,849

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($450)
The ceremony was held in a Presbyterian church with a contemporary feel and room for up to 250 guests. The church also had a private art studio/gallery that they were allowed to use for photos. The fee included a sound technician for the ceremony and all day access.

The reception was held at a nearby Chinese restaurant. There was no specific charge for the space; use of it was part of the catering fee. They had room for their guests to fit comfortably and still have a dance floor. There was a stage, which they used to set up the desserts and champagne. The restaurant was all-inclusive: chair covers, linens, tableware, cake servers, a champagne tower, mirror ball and lighting, screen for a slideshow, and a sound system were all included with the cost of catering.

Photography ($3,850)
8 hours of coverage with two photographers; files with print rights, an engagement session, a photo slideshow;  online gallery of that friends/family could order prints from, and a gorgeous leather-bound album. When the couple realized that the photographers had lost a chunk of the files from a portion of the day, the photographers gave them a free canvas wrap and some print credits.

This photo is from the bride's personal collection.

Videography ($0)
The couple wasn’t planning to take any video, but the groom’s father brought his camcorder and roped a friend into filming. A cousin of the groom edited the footage after the wedding, and the couple says, “the resulting DVD is totally homespun, shaky cam and all, and we wouldn’t trade it for any of the professional videos in the world!”

Catering ($7,470)
The restaurant served a sit-down style traditional ten-course Chinese wedding banquet. The venue charged a flat per-table fee for the food, soda, and a bottle of champagne for each table, and the couple spent $7,150, including tips for the staff. There was no corkage fee so they purchased two kinds of craft beers ($320 for 12 cases) to serve their guests. The catering fee included the venue (see above), four waiters, three busboys, and an on-site manager to take care of the event.

Cake ($250)
The couple didn’t care for cake, so they asked a friend of a friend who is a budding baker to bake cheesecakes. He created ten cheesecakes in five different flavors. The couple note that he charged a very reasonable rate, and they made sure to advertise his business all around.

Flowers ($323)
The couple bought all the flowers wholesale and a friend made all the arrangements: a bridal bouquet, 3 bridesmaids bouquets, 6 corsages (for the groom, groomsmen, and fathers), and 2 presentation bouquets made for the mothers. They saved money by buying wholesale and trying to stick with in-season florals.

Decor ($100)
The bride thrifted 14 different frames during their engagement and filled them with favorite quotes and poems about love. They were combined with votive candles for table centerpieces.

Entertainment ($0)
The groom’s cousin played some classical pieces on the piano before the ceremony, as guests were being seated. A friend played two songs on guitar. The processional and recessional songs were played from an iPod on the church’s speaker system. The groom put together an iPod playlist that kept the dance floor packed for two full hours.

Attire ($1,145)
The bride wore a fit-and-flare wedding dress, crinoline, long-line bra, and purple peep toe heels; the groom wore a rental tux. The bride’s wedding jewelry was a gift from a family friend and she borrowed another friend’s veil. Dress alterations were also a gift from a family friend who owns an alterations shop.


Rings ($1,900)
The bride wears a pave diamond 3/4 eternity ring in white gold; the groom wears a brushed white gold band; both were custom-made by the couple’s jeweler.

Marriage License ($26)

Officiant ($400)
The couple’s college pastor officiated the ceremony. They met several times prior to the wedding to talk about the ceremony and timeline for the day. They followed a fairly traditional Protestant wedding ceremony. The couple chose the readings and music; the pastor wrote the homily. He didn’t charge a fee, so the couple gave him a $400 honorarium.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($0)
The couple planned the wedding themselves and a friend stepped in on the day of as a gift to them.

Invitations ($390)
The couple purchased 150 invitations, 130 reception card inserts, and 170 envelopes from Wedding Paper Divas. They designed and emailed their own Save-the-Dates and having guests RSVP online with a free wedding website. They purposely picked a rectangular design after learning that square envelopes cost more to mail.

Hair and Makeup ($540)
The bride hired two stylists for up-dos and full makeup for herself and three bridesmaids.

Gifts ($300)
The couple spent about $200 on wedding party gifts and $100 on gifts to each other – she gave him a pair of Star Trek cufflinks; he gave her a custom jewelry box.

Favors ($0)
The groom’s mother bought small coin purses in Korea as favors (cost unknown); otherwise they would not have had favors.

Rehearsal Dinner ($1,000)
The rehearsal dinner was at a Japanese sushi bar and steakhouse, owned by friends of the bride’s parents. They hosted everyone who helped with the wedding in any capacity as well as their extended families and some out of town guests – about 40 people in all.

Other ($705)
Miscellaneous costs included thank you notes from Target ($25); printing for ceremony programs that they designed ($100); materials to make escort cards, table numbers, and guestbook ($30); and pre-marital counseling sessions with a professional counselor ($550).


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?

We felt our biggest splurge was on photography, since photography-as-art is something that’s super important to me and photography-as-memory-preserver was super-important to both of us. Even with losing some pictures from the day, we feel that it was worth every penny (and then some) that we paid.

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?

This might be a little weird, but I actually somewhat regret the cost of my wedding band. Wearing diamonds daily isn’t practical with my lifestyle, so about a year after we married we got a simple, plain gold ring that I now wear all the time instead of my original band. I wish I’d thought those issues through before our wedding so we could’ve saved the expense.

What was the best thing you spent your money on?

Pre-marital counseling was hands-down our best wedding-related expense. I would recommend that all couples do their counseling with a professional if they can at all afford it!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Yes! I remember getting really frustrated when reading these blog-beautiful weddings during our planning. “Who are all these people with professional graphic designer, chef, florist, and seamstress pals?” I’d scoff. Looking back, I’m *always* a bit shocked at how much of our wedding ended up being handmade or homemade and how many of our nearest and dearest volunteered their time and skills toward absolutely beautiful results. So I’d encourage couples to think outside the box in terms of who they might ask for help. You might not actually know wedding professionals (we certainly didn’t!) but maybe you have a friend who’s been dying to bake a wedding cake or who’s really great with flowers or Photoshop. I was also really shocked at how many contacts my parents had (my mom pretty much singlehandedly pulled together our rehearsal dinner in a week when our original plan fell through), so allow your community to help you if they want to!

Also, when potential vendors try to sell you on regret, run the other way. 🙂

Also, wedding magic is real. I promise.

All photos are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budget: Galveston, Texas | 13 Guests | $15,000

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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 ratesDo 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


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 2,100
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 1,000
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 1,045
Floral/Decor $ 65
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 0
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 2,000
Rings $ 4,650
Marriage License $ 40
Officiant $ 300
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 0
Rentals $ 390
Hair & Makeup $ 325
Transportation $ 1,484
Rehearsal Dinner $ 750
Gifts & Favors $ 500
Other $ 320
TOTAL $ 14,969

What They Got For the Money

Photo courtesy of the Bay Front Escape http://www.bayfrontescape.com/

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.

Photography ($1,000)
All day coverage by one photographer, engagement session and rehearsal dinner; high-res files and print rights. This was her first wedding.

Videography ($0)
A friend operated a rented video camera.

Catering ($1,000)
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.

Cake ($45)
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.

Flowers ($15)
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.

Decor ($50)
A banner purchased online read, “Love, Sweet Love” (pictured at the top of this post) and was accompanied by white balloons.

Attire ($2,000)
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.

Rings ($4,650)
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.

Officiant ($300)
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.

Invitations ($0)
The couple sent free invitations online using Paperless Post.

Rentals ($390)
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.

Transportation ($1,484)
Flights from the couple’s home city of Chicago to Houston; rental car for three days.

Gifts ($500)
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.

Other ($320)
Fancy hotel room downtown for the couple on their wedding night.


Reflections

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.

All photos were taken by Arlina Rose Photography and are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budget: Washington, DC | 35 Guests | $10,000

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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 ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$10,000: 35 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Washington, DC in the Spring


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 700
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 1,000
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 4,000
Floral/Decor $ 65
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 160
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 750
Rings $ 1,600
Marriage License $ 45
Officiant $ 0
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 210
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 42
Transportation $ 0
Rehearsal Dinner $ 0
Gifts & Favors $ 275
Other $ 815
TOTAL $ 9,662

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($700)
The couple rented two private rooms at a local inn for 6 hours. The rental included chairs (for the ceremony and reception), tables, and linens.

Photography ($1,000)
10 hours of coverage with one photographer; CD of digital images with print rights; engagement session.

Catering ($4,000)
The couple had passed appetizers; a plated three-course dinner of salad, entree, and wedding cake; beer, wine, coffee, and assorted non-alcoholic beverages.

Cake ($0)
The wedding cake was two layers of Espresso Gateau, and was included in the catering package.


Flowers ($65)
Flowers for the table were purchased at Whole Foods and arranged by a friend. The bride bought a boutonniere for her wife from a florist on the day of the wedding.

Decor ($0)
The couple specifically chose a venue that was so lovely it didn’t require additional decoration.

Entertainment ($160)
The couple rented the venue’s iPod speaker; a friend who is a DJ made a playlist for them.

Attire ($750)
The bride wore a short, white bridesmaid dress from J. Crew. This cost includes undergarments and hosiery. Her wife wore a suit and dress shirt from Banana Republic. They both purchased new shoes.

Rings ($1,600)
The couple both wear plain platinum bands.

Marriage License ($45)

Officiant ($0)
The couple were members in an Ethical Society, which provided an officiant at no cost. (They contributed to the Society generally.) They met with the officiant 2-3 times prior to the wedding and had a pretty customized ceremony.

Invitations ($210)
The couple ordered letterpress invitations from Etsy.

Hair and Makeup ($42)
The bride had her stylist wash and blow out her hair. She did her own makeup with products she already owned. Her wife did her own hair and did not wear makeup.

Gifts ($150)
Each of four attendants received a gift chosen for them personally by the couple from Etsy.

Favors ($125)
Birdseed hearts from Etsy in cellophane bags, sealed with personalized stickers, also from Etsy.

Rehearsal Dinner ($0)
The couple did not have a rehearsal dinner, but hosted a happy hour the night before the wedding. Guests purchased their own drinks; snacks were provided by the bride’s mother-in-law for about $250.

Other ($815)
The couple hired a sign language interpreter ($250) since the bride’s sister is deaf. They opted to stay at the inn the night before and the night of the wedding ($465). They purchased a Quaker wedding certificate ($10).


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?
Our photographer – I really wanted excellent photos and we totally lucked out finding such a great photographer in our budget. She was definitely worth much more than we paid her.

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?
No.

What was the best thing you spent your money on?
The venue – they were so easy to work with, and included so much (chairs, linens, etc). AND they did the catering, including the wedding cake. EASY.

All photos were taken by Eva Russo and are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budget: Chicago, Illinois | 155 Guests | $37,200

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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 ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$37,200: 155 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Chicago, Illinois in the Summer

The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 6,000
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 6,000
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 16,800
Floral/Decor $  300
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 2,550
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 3,000
Rings $ 150
Marriage License $ 75
Officiant $ 0
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 1,200
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 500
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 300
Transportation $ 10
Rehearsal Dinner $ 200
Gifts & Favors $ 150
Other $ 0
TOTAL $ 37,235

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($6,000)
7-hour rental of a vintage furniture loft, including the patio, from 5pm until midnight for the ceremony and reception, as well as getting ready time. Chairs and tables were included with the venue rental.

Photography ($6,000)
8 hours of coverage with one photographer, an album, files with print rights.

Catering ($16,500)
Appetizers; two-course meal with chicken and vegan options; alcohol and mixers for 3 signature drinks, wine and beer purchased by the couple. Dishes and flatware were included with the catering service.

Cake ($300)
The couple served cupcakes instead of a cake.

Flowers ($100)
Purchased at a local farmers’ market; DIY bouquets and centerpieces.

Decor ($200)
For centerpiece vases, photo booth props/supplies, etc.

Entertainment ($2,550)
6 hours of DJ service for ceremony and reception, including sound equipment.

Attire ($3,000)
Bride: Pre-owned wedding dress (bought for $2,000; original price was $5,000) worn with shoes she already owned. Groom: rental tuxedo, cufflinks, new shoes.

Rings ($150)
Solid white gold bands for both; acquired at cost through a family member who is a jeweler.

Marriage License ($75)

Officiant ($0)
The wedding was officiated by a close friend, who was ordained online. The couple wrote their own ceremony.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($1,200)
The couple hired a Day-of-Coordinator.

Invitations ($500)
Custom designed save-the-dates; Invitations designed by the bride; printing; envelopes; postage.

Hair and Makeup ($300)
Bridal updo and makeup.

Transportation: $10
The couple took a taxi at the end of the night.

Gifts ($100)
Groomsmen got ties, bridesmaids got little kits of goodies.

Favors ($50)
Homemade jam; the cost was for jars and ingredients.

Rehearsal Dinner ($200)
The couple served tacos and margaritas at an intimate gathering on their deck.

Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?
Photography and venue — totally worth it. The venue was really unique and very laid-back — us — and the photography was important because that’s what will last beyond the wedding.

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent lesson?
I wish we’d invited fewer guests. In fact, if I could have found a field somewhere, gotten a long table, invited our 50 closest friends and family, and flown Jonas Peterson in to photograph it, I would have.

What was the best thing you spent your money on?
Honestly, as happy as I am with everything, I’d say the marriage license.

Real Wedding Budget: Austin, Texas | 110 Guests | $5,000

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.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

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.

$5,000: 110 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Austin, Texas in Autumn


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 0
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 1,000
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 1,745
Floral/Decor $ 100
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 0
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 717
Rings $ 65
Marriage License $ 71
Officiant $ 0
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 303
Rentals $ 527
Hair & Makeup $ 0
Transportation $ 0
Rehearsal Dinner $ 0
Gifts & Favors $ 100
Other $ 378
TOTAL $ 5,006

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($0)
The groom’s parents hosted the wedding in their backyard, and even fixed it up before the wedding.

Photography ($1,000)
Hiring an up-and-coming photographer got them a “crazy good deal” since she was building her portfolio at the time. They had 6 hours of coverage, an engagement session, and high-res files with printing rights. 

Videography ($0)
A friend of the couple took video at the wedding.

Catering ($1,420)
The couple scored a good deal from a local restaurant that was just beginning to venture into catering. They served a buffet of Italian food (chicken, focaccia bread, pasta, salad, and fruit). The restaurant provided “nicer-than-Chinet” disposable dishes and included delivery at no extra charge ($1,020). The couple purchased their own alcohol ($400) – A friend of the family is a wine distributor, which enabled them to purchase it at cost; they also had two kegs of good beer, one of which was given to them for free.

Cake ($325)
They purchased cupcakes from an up-and-coming vegan bakery.

Decor ($100)
The bride made organza flowers which she hung from ribbons to create a backdrop for their ceremony. Centerpieces were mini pumpkins and gourds with tea light candles. They did not care for flowers, so they didn’t have any.

Entertainment ($0)
Music was played on an iPod.

Attire ($717)
The bride purchased her ceremony dress from Unique Vintage ($160) and her reception dress ($120, used) from a bride selling it in the Offbeat Bride Tribe forum; both required alterations ($157). Jewelry ($66) from Etsy; shoes ($54), makeup ($100). The groom purchased a new shirt and tie ($60) to wear with clothes he already owned.

Rings ($65)
Thin silver band ($20) for the bride and thick titanium band ($45) for the groom were purchased on Etsy.

Marriage License ($71)

Officiant ($0)
A friend of the couple officiated the ceremony, which was written by the bride.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($0)

Invitations ($303)
The bride’s mother, a graphic designer, created their invitations; printing cost was waived since the shop they chose got behind; they paid for the paper ($70). The couple used Vistaprint for postcard save-the-dates ($29). Postage ($170) and envelopes ($34) are included.

Hair and Makeup ($0)
The bride did her own hair and makeup with assistance from her sister.

Gifts ($100)
The bridesmaids received necklaces purchased on Etsy; the groomsmen were given custom bottle openers.

Rehearsal Dinner ($0)
The rehearsal dinner was held in the same backyard as the wedding, and the groom’s father made a big pot of gumbo to serve. Cost of the dinner was covered by the groom’s parents.


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?
Photography. In hindsight, it wasn’t actually very much money for what we received, but at the time it was 1/5 of our budget so it felt like a ton. It was totally worth it though.

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent lesson?
Just a few stupid things, like decorations that didn’t get put up in the end…

What was the best thing you spent your money on?
Photography.

All photos were taken by Nessa K and are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budgets

Ok, so it turns out I’m better at blogging if I give myself some kind of theme and goals. So, I’m thinking about a new, ongoing series about wedding budgets. Specifically, I would like to gather and publish actual data from real people – how much they spent on the weddings, what they got for their money, some photos that help us envision that, and what they thought about the money they spent.

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I believe the way this will work best is to keep it completely anonymous. We’ll share the location and number of guests, breakdown of the budget, and if possible, some photos of the wedding (that don’t include any faces or other identifying information.)

SO. If you are brave, and you would like to help other couples get a clue of about what things cost, please click the link below to tell us about your wedding, and we will get it up here soon. We already have our first submission, and I can tell that this series is going to be really awesome and helpful, so if you are on the fence, hop down on my side and submit your budget.

Real Wedding Budget Submissions

FAQ
Q: I don’t have any good detail shots from my wedding. Should I still submit my budget?
A: YES! There is space to describe each element, so readers will be able to get a pretty good idea of what your wedding was like, as long as they harness their own powers of imagination.

Q: I don’t remember exactly what I spent on my wedding. Do you still want my budget?
A: If you can recall approximately what you spent, we’d still love to have your numbers. Even a rough idea can be helpful to other people. You can always look at the submission form and see if it jogs your memory.