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Wedding Budgeting

So the average cost for a wedding is about $30,000 these days, but the median cost is $15,000.  And for a while there, I entertained having a wedding for 15k. But it's still ridiculously high.

Andy has been lobbying for a cheap backyard wedding but I want a band and room to dance...  so here are the priorities for him and me, that we're willing to spend money on.

Food from his fav restaurants. He is going to pick up food from restaurants and bring it to the reception.  (help!)
More then a 100 guests. (I'm okay with just a 100 guests or less)
A dance floor
A band.

So after that, we figured out what else would cost what. His parents say they'll help with alcohol, flowers and rehearsal dinner. I lobbied to nix the rehearsal dinner so we have more money for the wedding, but he insisted on a quiet time when family and close friends can mingle with each other. Then I was like... fuck the flowers. I'll get a bouquet for myself and, a basket of petals for the flower girl, and we're fine.

We can do $100 for invitations that Andy will make, and I can make home-made favors on the cheap.

So after figuring out the budget, not including the wedding dress/groom tux, and the stuff his parents are helping with.
We still reach the number of $8000. That's $4000 for each of us. That's still a lot of money.


So now we're both at saving and figuring out how to finance our budget.

We love you all. And we would love to throw a party for you all.. but neither of us want to go in debt or take a large chunk out of savings for it!


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
There have been quite a few burners that have put on some absolutely spectacular "backyard" weddings. You might want to get in touch with them for ideas. Angelique/Sensi Strange and Bean/Bob are some people to talk to, off the top of my head.
Nov. 12th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
I think it's great that y'all are talking about your vision for what you want and still trying to make it reasonable for you without going into debt for a day (albeit an important day.) I've never planned a wedding, so please forgive me if the below questions are in any way presumptuous or offensive.

Does one of "Andy's Favorite Restaurants" have a dance floor? You could try and wrangle things together like that.

You're in Austin, Live Music Capitol of the World. Is one of your friends in a band whose genre you would like for the wedding? Would they do it for cheap? Would you be ok if one of your friends was DJ'ing from a playlist of songs you want at the wedding?

Can you get him to compromise on the guest list? If you had a "wedding is open to all, reception for close family and friends" type of day-of event and then a big party with your large circles of friends on a different day that could spread the cost out. Or it could make it more expensive, I don't know how the numbers would play out...
Nov. 12th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
that's why it's our priorities list.
- i don't want a rag tag band put together in the last minute, or use an ipod list. i want a band whom i've heard play really well, and generally those people will charge money. and i already know which band i want.
- a restaurant will generally not allow food from other places, and will still cost money to reserve. andy is adamant about having food from multiple palces.
- nah, if andy wants a 150 people wedding i don't want him to have to cut it down, it's a big party for our friends.

as for the other stuff that's not in my priorities, like wedding invitations, and flowers, that we can figure out how to make cheap and go with the diy option.

Nov. 12th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
laser printers generate great prints now. They can dust-off if the toner-to-fixer ratio isn't quite right, so I would recommend getting them commercially printed at a place like Kinkos (what is it called now?) or Staples rather than trying to do it at home. This way you can print return cards 4 on a page and they can cut them down in an electric guillotine saving you the effort of cutting them out.
I would NOT use an ink-jet printer because of possible smudging if your invites get caught in the rain.
Don't forget the cost of postage. Both the letter out and the postcard back need stamps on them.
Nov. 12th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
That's a good start to keeping a wedding on budget -- figure out what's most important and don't get sucked into "the happiest day of your life" advertising B.S.

But even things one really wants, like food from favorite restaurants or a live band, though important to you, have their costs. Maybe they're not $2000 important. You can dance with just the two of you anywhere, and the same for eating nice food.

Michelle and I got married for $6k, and $1500 of that was my suit and her dress. But we had simple food (a catered buffet), and got married at our church, so the venue costs were basically at cost. And we skipped serving alcohol.

I'd suggest Lucy's Cakes on Bee Caves road if you haven't picked a place yet. They were a little more expensive, but much tastier than the other options. The cake for us was maybe $300 since we had about 100 guests IIRC.

Good luck getting it together and stying sane and on-budget.
Nov. 12th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
the dance floor is one of my priorities. i love dancing, and i want people to all dance, not just me and andy.
btw, you getting married for 6k several years ago is probably about 8k this year. a lot of prices have gone up.

as for cakes, since it's not in either of our priority list, we may just go to costco and central market to buy the cakes there.
Nov. 12th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Costco's "American Chocolate Cake" is unbelievably good. It's also enormous.
Nov. 12th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
Might I suggest delegating the food pickup to a friend, sibling, groomsman, etc? As the groom, he probably will have many other things on his mind, and driving around town picking up food instead of socializing with his guests seems like a less than efficient use of his time. Also, he's wanting food from multiple restaurants? I'd be wary of really good food becoming really unappetizing as it sits for an hour while waiting for one restaurant that wasn't on the ball having things prepared in a timely manner.

I've seen some lovely bouquets made by the bride from essentially grocery store flowers. I hear it can be time consuming but definitely saves money.

Another thought, if you're serving alcohol, you may be required by the state to have it served by a licensed caterer. Nathan pointed out that in PA, it's determined by the number of guests you have, and over 70 IIRC requires a licensed caterer or else you risk jail time for running an unlicensed bar. I don't know what sort of laws Texas has, though.

If you wanna chat wedding stuff, drop me a line, I've been on the business side of quite a few this year. ;)
Nov. 12th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
"Might I suggest delegating the food pickup to a friend, sibling, groomsman, etc?"
We're definitely doing that.

Yeah, the food from multiple places it's a logistics issue. i'm going to make it happen because it's something he really cares about, he doesn't care about most of the wedding traditions, but he wants really really good food.

How hard is it to get flowers and put ribbons around it? :-P

yeah, we need a licensed bartender, not caterer to serve the alchol.

Nov. 12th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not advocating this (you guys deserve better), but at the low end of the spectrum there is this kind of wedding:

Nov. 12th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
No matter what you do, my one big piece of wedding advice is to get a signed contract with everyone who is providing a service for your wedding, even if they are a good friend.

Also, theknot.com has some great time management and budgeting tools.

Oh yeah, one more piece of advice: come up with some sort of theme/colors for your wedding. There's a lot of wedding crap out there and it helps the decision making process to be able to say "this isn't blue/doesn't have frogs on it/whatever, so it won't work for us."
Nov. 12th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
"doesn't have frogs".

Nov. 12th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's really hard to get weddings down to a sane budget. If no one's pointed you to indiebride.com, let me do so. It was a bit hipster for my tastes, but the message boards can provide good resources and ideas. It's geared for people trying to do weddings on a budget (a lot of people on it are trying to do $5,000 and less). It may give you some good ideas.

Flowers can be surprisingly affordable if you're willing to go for a more unusual, inexpensive type of flower. I think we spent $100 total on flowers, and I loved the bouquets and boutonnieres.
Nov. 12th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
I am looking at bridal bargains book.
I think 8k, is definitely cheap for a wedding :-)

(not including wedding dress, alcohol, rehearsal dinner)

Edited at 2009-11-12 06:48 pm (UTC)
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
I agree
It's cheap, considering the constraints you've stated. (good band, large dancefloor, 100 guests, food from multiple sources)

We spent a lot less, but it's hardly comparable because we had like around 30 guests, and only food from a single source (though excellent food!)

Pro guest, we spent a similar amount to what you're planning though, and we considered it a cheap wedding.
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
Re: I agree
Actually 150 people! :)

but yeah. hopefully we can pull it off.
Nov. 12th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
I have that bargain book, as well as Offbeat Bride if you want them.
Nov. 12th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
i have bridal bargains but would love to borrow offbeat bride!
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
I grabbed my bouquet of alstromeria from Kroger's for less than $5. I loved 'em.
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)

Our budget was $5k. We ended up around $6k, I believe. About 70 guests.

Here's where some of that went:
Venue: $1k (City of Austin, Mayfield Park
My silk dress was bespoke and price included alterations: $400
Jen's wardrobe: $350
Food: I can't remember, honestly, but we did pulled pork and three sides + vegetarian Thunderclouds
Drinks: can't remember, 2 kegs + 4 handles of liquor and had tons left over
Flowers: $500 was my huge fabulous bouquet (I think that was half of that), bouquets for 7? bridesmaids, and boutonnieres for 4? We had a really great florist who was willing to work with our budget. Plus the loose flowers Jen bought and made centerpieces from the night before.
Cake: $250 was cupcakes from Sweetish Hill and rental of the cupcake tree
Invitations: my sister-friend and Jen's friend designed and printed them.

My dad did music and ran the sound and we didn't have dancing, so there's that.

I don't feel like we missed out on anything... it can be done. Sometimes sourcing things and doing things yourself is a lot of work but you can save a lot of money that way.

I think $8k seems totally reasonable for the size wedding you want and the things you want to make sure you include.

Edited at 2009-11-12 09:31 pm (UTC)
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
We looked at Mayfield park but it was too small for a 150 people if it rains.

Bespoke.. what's that?
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
that designer looks interesting.. maybe i'll stop by.
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
The dilemmas sounds familiar. What I discovered during my wedding planning is that if you can get through that without killing each other, you can get through *anything* else life may throw at you. :D It's a sort of relationship endurance test.

Just to pass on the best advice I ever got re wedding -- focus on enjoying the day, so that it doesn't just go by in a whirl but you actually remember everything. :)
Nov. 13th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
wedding finances are crazy my best friend had a decidely mediocre wedding and it was still like £18 K! That was with cutting all the corners they could .. its just madness!
Hope you get the day you want at the right price!
Nov. 13th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
I just know you're gonna look at me funny, but...

Why not have a minimalist wedding for the cost of a marriage license... and then have a party (call it a reception if you like) or two that feature the stuff you want to commemorate the occasion (and none of the stuff neither you nor Andy nor your families actually care about). There's no rule that says a wedding has to have fancy dresses or flowers or whatever; that's just advertising.

Given, this is from someone who's been unmarried to the same person for like 12 years without ever missing the Big Event. So, obviously, different tastes.

Nov. 18th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
I agree with the comments above about invitations. I also think you should look online--printed invites may be cheaper than you think (SOME of them) and save you a bunch of headaches. Or get a friend to do the graphic design as a wedding gift and go the Kinko's route.

You don't need favors at all, girl. Cut that expense out entirely and don't think twice.

You don't need RSVP postcards in this day and age, especially if you're not doing a sit down dinner. Do an online RSVP on a website, or have people e-mail you. It's totally fine for a more informal event, which it sounds like you're having.

I know you have your venue, but don't forget that you can rent a dance floor (indoor/outdoor), so that shouldn't control your decision too much.

I totally agree--you can do your flowers yourself (although the recommendations I've heard say pick *one* big thing to do yourself, so maybe that should be the one last minute thing) but if Andy's family want to pay for it it may be very important to them to have professionally done flowers. You and Andy know his family best, but they may not just be willing to give you the cash to spend on other things. Consider accepting the gift graciously and moving on with planning.

Don't forget all of the little legal expenses--marriage license, blood tests (if necessary), fees to register your officiant (if necessary), ABC permits, etc.

In our neck of the woods you can get your own ABC permit, hire bartenders by the hour (going rate is $25) and buy your own booze. Our caterer is providing bar setup and soft drinks for $3/person plus glassware rental. I have my eye on some very drinkable wines in the $6-15 range and local beer plus maybe a signature cocktail or two. BIG cost cutter.
Nov. 20th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
semi-zombie thread here

So for our wedding, the big important things for us were a) Sage Chapel in Winter and b) awesome food. Therefore, we have cut profound corners on everything else. Because it has to be an inside venue (thanks to winter) and we didn't want to go with just a hotel ballroom (boring) we were forced to keep attendance below 70 with the place that we located. I definitely understand what you meant about vibe - the place we found spoke to us immediately when we got to the webpage and was great in person, so is the young couple that runs it - they opened up only 2 years ago.

I did the save-the-dates, response cards and invitations myself with a home laser jet and got very professional looking results as far as the printing. We actually went with greeting cards with a snowy McGraw tower on them.

I'm getting personal flowers done by a florist (bouquets for me and my 2 bridesmaids, corsages for moms and my aunt, boutinniers for all 7 of the guys) for around 250. The table decoratiosn I'm doing myself (winter greenery with floating candles). Same with the church decorations.

I made my bridesmaids dresses so that was out of my pocket, but it worked out to about 50 dollars a dress (and jacket). And then I'm making my own dress too (which is coming along very well) and with all the supplies including corsetry etc. it's going to come out between 500-600. Lots of time of course, but it's time pleasantly spent (there's been barely any cursing or bleeding...)

Oh, and we're doing iPod for dancing... but to balance that out (at my Aunt's insistence, and on her dollar) we have a string quartet for the ceremony.

The big cost for us is the reception - we were required to book the whole B&B so we're paying for those rooms in addition to the cost of the reception. You have to stay somewhere, but the lodgings is coming out to about ten percent of our budget... (pricey rooms, but at least they're worth it). Um... If you're interested I can send you a breakdown of where our money has been budgeted. I may be including things in the final total that you don't consider, and there are things that I don't have in the final total (like the marriage license fee - it's traditionally paid for by the groom's family, as is the rehearsal dinner) because they are things that we (meaning me, paul and my parents) are not paying for.

Anyway, good luck and look foward to hearing more! The process is stressful, yet morbidly fascinating to watch also...
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )


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