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Laughter and Love: Budget Breakdown

July 6, 2011

This is a hard post for me to write because talking about money is SUCH an uncomfortable thing for me to do. Like seriously– standing in front of a room of people in your underwear kind of uncomfortable.

However, it can be so hard to plan a wedding when you can never get an idea of how much stuff costs because vendor websites never list prices, pretty blog photo spreads never tell you how much things cost, and it can be next to impossible to figure out if your projected budget is at all realistic.

Disclaimer: Figuring out a budget for anything is, of course, an intensely personal thing, so I would never trash another bride who spent more or less than I did, and I hope I won’t get any super-judgey comments from anyone else about what I did/didn’t spend $$ on.  D and I made some choices that helped make our wedding less expensive (location away from DC, DIY flowers, etc), and some things that we went all out and spent money on (Saturday evening, our food and drink choices), but in the end, we were able to keep it in a reasonable place for what we could afford.  Could we have spent less?  Yes, of course.  We could have just gone to city hall, we could have cut the guest list, we could have cut back on food and drinks, etc.  But, we made the choices we made, and I loved everything about our day.

So, deep breath.  Here is the budget breakdown for our awesome wedding.

Date: June 19, 2010
Location: Sykesville, MD  (my hometown)
Budget: $15,000
# of Guests: 100

Planning time: 6 months

Wedding Day Costs

Ceremony Site Fees: $0- We had our ceremony at our reception venue, Baldwin’s Station, and because I used to work there and know the owner and manager, they graciously waived the $250 ceremony fee.  Score 1 for friendors.

Reception Site Fees: $1,100 rental fee to reserve Baldwin’s Station Restaurant for a Saturday evening.

Caterer/Food/Bar: $6,400– Food cost: $4300/$43 per head for passed cocktail hour Hors d’eouvres and buffet dinner, Alcohol cost for a consumption based rail open bar with each drink being $4 per person: $2100 (and if you do your drink math, you know we had some folks who had an epic time at our wedding)

Service Charge/Tax/Gratuities: $1716—This includes 6% tax and a 20% gratuity for food and drink

Bridal Gown & Alterations: $1700, $1300 for sample of Pronovias Gabon gown and $400 for alterations.  If I could make one change, I would have spent less money on my gown, as spending this much is my only wedding regret.  I didn’t really do enough research on dresses and ended up buying a sample at the first place I went dress shopping. I know I could have found something less expensive that I probably could have liked just as much.  I think I rationalized it to myself that I wasn’t paying an-insane-in-the-world-of-wedding-dresses amount of money… but it is still a lot of money. Also, I went to the alterations woman at the salon where I bought my dress.  I was not happy with her work and I think the price was a bit much for the relatively minor alterations I needed.  This was a choice that was made too hastily and our budget paid the price.

Bridal Accessories $400– (Veil, Undergarments, Shoes, Jewelry): $199 for the veil, $90 for undergarments, $67 for shoes (Nina Culvers), and $30 for earrings and $15 for floral hair pins.  I also wish I had downgraded here.  I am sure I could have found a cheaper veil for what I needed.

Groom’s Attire: $120—Tux from Men’s Warehouse.  He kept it simple.

Photography: $1067 ; $900 for photography +$167 for album.  We did the simplicity photography package from the Pros.  We got 8 hours of single shooter coverage, plus photo rights to the photos on a DVD.  I can’t believe how lucky we were to find such a great photographer in Valerie Usui.  We made our own album at Adoramapix and I am SO happy with it.

Faux-to booth: $15– We used our own DSLR camera, borrowed the remote and tripod for our Fauxto booth from a friend, and got all of the props from eithe my bachelorette party swag or other random stuff we had on hand.  The cost for the IKEA fabric backdrop and the dowls and foamboard for our mustaches on sticks was about $15.
Videography: $0.  I kind of wish we had made room in the budget, but I know we couldn’t afford the kind of beautiful videography that you see on blogs all the time that makes me want to cry, so it’s OK.
Ceremony Music:– $0—we created CDs of prelude music and processional/recessional music

Reception Music: $588 for a DJ for 4 hours through the Pros

Stationery/Postage: $357 for all papergoods.  $167 for 75 DIY Invitations from Paper Source, $105 for paper and supplies for thank you notes, various signage, and programs, $85 for postage.  I am proud at how much I was able to limit my budget in this area.  I LOVE stationary, and I knew if I let myself go, I would pick the most expensive invitations ever made, so I limited myself to what was on sale and stuck to a strict budget.  I also attended a paper source invite making class, which gave me helpful tips and 10% everything I purchased from the store that day.

My bouquet

Flowers and other Decor: $500– $370 for DIY flowers (including 10 floral centerpieces, 10 fruit centerpieces, 3 bridesmaid bouquets, 1 bride bouquet, 1 toss bouquet, DIY flower girl basket, 5 bouts, and 2 corsages, $130 for various floral supplies, a guest book photo frame, aisle runner, cake topper supplies.  (More information about our DIY flowers can be found in this post)

Favors: $0—we did not do favors.  I have never really gotten a wedding favor I have loved or kept, and I figured keeping our guests well fed and having an open bar was a better place to spend our money to thank our guests for coming

Cake: $200– We had a very simple (but delicious) cake that we got through the baker that Baldwin’s uses.  I don’t really like cake, and my husband didn’t care much about it as long as it tasted good, so we were able to minimize cost here a great deal.  We flipped through the book of potential sample cake designs and picked the most simple one we could.

Officiant: $200—we found a great secular officiant online and were very happy with how Reverend Debby Altomonte worked with us.

Coordinator:– $0—I found a fabulous DOC on the weddingbee classifieds.  Lynnecia of Sophisticated Events was an event planner trying to build a wedding portfolio, and she offered free DOC services in exchange for a testimonial

Hair/Makeup: $200—this includes Formal Updo ($60), makeup ($40), Manicure ($25) at Final Touch Salon in Eldersburg the day of the wedding, plus $30 for a pedicure, and $42 for a bikini wax

Wedding Party Gifts: $375– D and I each got our wonderful friends and family members tokens of our gratitude for everything they did for us around the wedding.  My ladies received Gilmore Girls themed tote bags from Cafe Press (with an “Oy with the poodles already design)– we’re all GG addicts,  a few day of wedding essentials, a pashmina, plus a small gift or two that was tailored for each person. I can honestly say I have no idea what D ended up getting the guys– he put it off to the last minute, but from what I know, managed to stay within budget.

Transportation: $654 for a Yellow School bus to and from the hotel for guests (bride and groom also took the bus to the hotel from the reception with our friends).  Members of wedding party/parents provided transportation to the wedding in regular cars.  It was only a 5 minute ride for me from where I got ready to the ceremony site, so I didn’t feel like a limo was needed.  But the bus was worth EVERY penny and it was MUCH cheaper (and more fun) than getting a coach bus.

Hotels: $89—For 1 room the night of the wedding (the bridal party stayed at a family friend’s house the night before the wedding, and D stayed in a hotel room with his family the night before)

WEDDING DAY TOTAL: $15,681
TOTAL COST PER PERSON: $156.81

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 4, 2011 5:18 pm

    I am going to do the run down on ours soon. I have a feeling it will make me a little sick to my stomach! LOL

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