And the Winners Are…

Thanks for joining us at the Finally Forever Wedding Expo!

Without further ado, we’d like  to announce the giveaway winners:

Congratulations to Samuel Green! He and his future spouse have won their choice of a Budget Strategy Session, registration for two to our Wedding Planning 101 Workshop, or having the design fee waived on a Custom Wedding Garment. They’ve also won free admission to The Planning Party on April 1st.

Three additional couples have won admission to The Planning Party – Congratulations to:
Angela & Nicole Bolding
Stephen Lutes
Maribel Arroyo

We had a wonderful time meeting all of you, and we hope you got some great ideas and resources to plan a fantastic wedding! Don’t forget about our Marriage Equality Discount, valid for all wedding planning services booked by March 31st for weddings taking place in 2014.

What is this Planning Party thing?

If you are stressed out with wedding planning and you need a little bit of expert help and/or a big glass of wine, then it might be just the party for you! The Planning Party is a casual get together where couples are invited to ask us absolutely anything about planning their weddings. We’ll be featuring a different vendor each month to talk about their specialty and answer questions as well. At our inaugural Party on Tuesday April 1st, our guest will be Emilia Schobeiri of Emilia Jane Photography. (You may remember her lovely photos of Sarah’s wedding dress and winter coat or James and Liz’s wedding.) And, of course, refreshments will be provided. Follow the link above to register or get more information.

Join us at the Finally Forever wedding expo!

We are thrilled that marriage equality has finally come to Illinois, and even more so that a recent ruling has put the new law into immediate effect.

Finally Forever wedding expo

Please join us in celebrating and get started planning your wedding at the Finally Forever wedding show this Sunday, March 9th! The Chicago Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is bringing together all kinds of vendors, including us, to help you get started on planning your big day. DJs will be spinning, caterers will be giving out samples, and we’re told the wine will be flowing! Over at the Crafty Broads table, we’ll be giving away a free budget strategy session to one lucky couple – so stop by and chat with us!

This event is FREE and open to ALL couples, because equality is for everyone. Click here to register.

Ryan and Michael’s Intimate Wedding – Olive Park and the Penthouse at Pearson on the Park – Chicago, IL

Well, I’m hopeful that I’ll start catching you up semi-regularly on all the weddings and projects we’ve been working on. If only because I feel guilty when I don’t. We’ll see, as usual.

Today’s post goes way, way back to almost a year ago. Julia knew Ryan through her work in theatre, and in catching up on each others’ lives since the last show, Julia found out Ryan was planning a wedding, and he found out that we’d just launched Crafty Broads. Ryan and his fiance, Michael, had most of the details worked out, but really needed some help making their reception happen.

Who know there were double-man bathroom signs nonchalantly hanging out in Chicago? Not me. More importantly, aren’t these two just adorable together?

Without further ado, let me tell you about it! First of all, you have to understand that Ryan and Michael are ridiculously in love with each other – and when I say that, I mean not only that they love each other a lot, but they have so much fun at it. I don’t think I caught a glance of either of them sans giant grin all night long.

Ryan and Michael held their reception on a crisp October evening in the penthouse party room of their downtown apartment building. They did a fantastic job transforming a somewhat bland space into a very special and personal room for their party – it really was amazing to see the before and after! Bold colors and gorgeous floral arrangements from Andrew’s Garden made the space come alive.

Instead of having traditional catering, Ryan and Michael decided to order all their favorite foods from various restaurants to serve their guests. The sweetest thing was that by each dish, they had a little card describing a special moment in their relationship when that particular food played a role. Stellar idea. And the food was delicious, especially the truffle mac and cheese.

They guests were treated to a nice surprise after dinner… fireworks! If you live in Chicago, you may know that Navy Pier has regular firework displays throughout the summer. Ryan and Michael smartly planned their reception timeline to include viewing these from the outdoor patio of the penthouse.

My favorite part, though, was the toasts. Their parents said some of the sweetest, most moving words I’ve ever heard directed towards a newly-married couple. I can’t speak for the guests, but I was definitely crying.

Congratulations, Ryan and Michael!

Ceremony Venue: Olive Park
Reception Venue: Pearson on the Park
Officiant: Friend of the couple
Photographer: Green Key Photography
Florist: Andrew’s Garden Floral Couture
Catering: The Southern Mac Truck, Fox & Obel, Lao Beijing, Garrett’s Popcorn
Cakes: Nonnie’s Sweets

All photos were taken by Green Key Photography and are reposted here with the photographer’s 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).


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?

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.