Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How I Planned My Wedding On a Budget: The Break Down

When I started planning my wedding, I took a look at the Pinterest board. (Yes, if you're a man, every woman has the "obligatory wedding Pinterest board." Moving on.) Using my Pinterest board, I was able to do several things: (1) Prioritize, (2) Determine WHAT I wanted in my wedding, (3) Read how other couples planned their wedding on a budget. All that out of Pinterest - and men say it's a worthless app. ;)

(1) By prioritizing what was important to me, I could prioritize where my money went. A DJ wasn't hugely important to me, so an iPod and outdoor speaker worked perfectly (and cost me no money). Flowers were more important to me, as I felt flowers could set the tone a little better for the wedding (colors, theme, etc.). That's where part of my main focus was.

(2) Determining what you want in your wedding is also important. How do you convey to your vendors what you want if you don't know what you want? Consider it an act of kindness for everyone involved. It means that when you meet with your vendors, your time with them is more productive, cutting down on the time they spend talking and increasing the time they spending DOING.

(3) Research it! No one said you had to plan on a budget on your own! Throw away those bridal magazines (unless your budget is $20K) and start searching - online, google, Pinterest, etc. Use other people and their successes as your inspiration! You are NOT alone in planning this wedding on a budget, and there are some GREAT resources out there for you to utilize!

So you've got your Pinterest board FULL of ideas, themes, decor, THE DRESS ideas, floral arrangements, centerpieces, etc. Now what do you do? You've prioritized what's important (Nod your head yes - if you're shaking your head, go back up to the top and start again). We did not break down our budget PER category, we had a total budget in mind. You may prefer to specifically itemize the cost of each category, but we are "free spirits" as Dave Ramsey says.

Wedding Attire:
Photo Credits: Ashleigh Mallard Photography
FIRST (and to me, most important), I found my dress. $500 off the rack. Yes, you read that right. Many bridal stores have huge clearance sales in July and August as they try to clear out inventory from the past year to make room for the new fall styles coming in. Many stores also offer a discount if you purchase the dress off the rack. Ask if you can pay with cash/check (and if so, will they offer a discount), or if you pay in full if they will give you a discount. What's the worst they can say? No. So ask - they might say yes! I bought my dress in July (a year before my wedding) off the rack for $500. It was strapless and I wanted straps for the ceremony (cost me $15 at the bridal store). I had to have it hemmed, and some minor alterations (plus the straps added) for $125. You don't have to use the bridal shop's alterations lady. Sometimes it is safer as they alter gowns all the time. However, I knew a lady that I used for tons of alterations (pants, formal dresses, etc.), and I knew that she would do a great job for a reasonable cost. Ask around! You aren't the only one who's getting married, and you might be able to find someone less expensive than the bridal store!. So, total cost of my dress (dress, straps, alterations): $640. We bought J's suit as it was actually less expensive than renting (and he gets to keep it!). We found a great sale going on at Men's Warehouse. Normally, I wouldn't recommend them as they are fairly expensive, but we got a great deal! J's Suit (tie and shirt!): $250.
Total Wedding Attire for Bride & Groom: $890

Florist: My first piece of advice when it comes to finding the perfect vendor: shop around. I knew for the most part what I wanted for my flowers. I initially called the florist from my first wedding, but he was unavailable. He recommended the florist that had done his wedding (La Petit Fleur). I was a little bummed, but once I met her, I was so happy I had chosen to use her. She was flexible in her pricing, willing to work on a tight budget, and talked me through some ways to cut down on cost. Be honest with your vendors. If they know you're on a tight budget, they won't do an outrageous set up for centerpieces, your bouquets, etc. (That way you can avoid a $4K quote!). I told Corrine what I was looking for, that I was on a tight budget, and asked what she recommended. Many times if you use flowers in season, it will cut down on imports/costs/etc. I wanted Peacock feathers (which cut down on some flowers in the arrangments) and purple/teal Dendrobium Orchids. I wanted to use hydrangeas, which are a little more expensive. BUT Corrine pointed out to me that while they cost a little more, you get more flowers for the dollar. She worked extensively with me to make sure that I got exactly what I wanted on a budget I could afford.
She did: 2 bouquets (mine was a cascade), 4 corsages, 7 boutonnieres, and a throw away bouquet for a total of $500.

Food: For my cake, I wanted one cake (not 2: classic Bridal & Groom cakes). But I wanted to have half the cake iced in white with a lace-like design and the other half to be chocolate with ganache drizzled down the layers. I also needed a gluten-free cake, which really limited my options, as 4 members of my family (including me) are gluten intolerant. However, we were able to find a vendor that was willing to do a gluten free cake within our budget. Total Cost of Cake: $225.

For our dinner, we utilized J's dad (remember in Blog 1 we talked about using family or friends as a resource). He owns a Barbecue restaurant, which is exactly what we wanted for our reception dinner. He was willing to do this for us, at cost (meaning we only reimbursed him what it cost for the food - he made no profit). Total Cost to feed 65 people: $200.

Photography: When looking for photographers, I immediately asked friends for their recommendations. Ashleigh Mallard Photography. I knew Ashleigh as we group up going to church together, and J knew Ashleigh as she had photographed his son's newborn pictures. I contacted her and was upfront about our limited budget. She was willing to cut her wedding package cost IMMENSELY. While it may have temporarily cost her a little money, she has gained loyal customers in us. She didn't skimp on anything with us, despite we did pay her less than she normally would have been paid. We have 2 family photography sessions coming up in the next 2-3 months - with Ashleigh! Total Cost of FULL DAY Photography: $1000.
Unfortunately, this led to photographers that had a base price (for their wedding packages) of around $2500-3000. Not in my price range. So I started researching photographers that I knew personally. While I was a little afraid of mixing business and personal relationships, I figured I would be able to communicate what I was looking for (and be heard) and that I would be able to set up a payment plan (even if it extended a little past the wedding) that would be acceptable. J & I finally discussed it and agreed on using

Hair & Make-Up: I am terrible at doing my own hair. It's just a simple fact of life. I have 3 main hairstyles for work that simply don't cut it for my wedding. While I was willing (and able) to travel to an outside location for hair and make-up, having my hair & make-up done on location took a load of stress off my mind. We utilized Trio Makeup & Hair Designs. I had utilized this group for my first wedding and loved the results. So when I contacted them 4 years later for this wedding, I asked if they gave repeat customers a discount. Fortunately, they were willing to honor their pricing from 2010, when my first wedding took place. That was actually a HUGE discount. For my mom's make-up, my hair & make-up, and my sister's hair & make-up, it cost us a total of $400. While that is more costly than you may be willing to pay, it was a load of my back that they were willing to travel to me on the day of the wedding.

Ceremony: The church I grew up in (and was till a member of at the time), provided the facilities for a nominal fee for members. While we did pay for a nursery for children under 5, we still saved a substantial amount of money by utilizing a facility that provided us the same services as other locations with nominal cost. We simply had to cover custodial fees ($150), wedding coordinator fee ($250), sound/microphone fees ($100), candle fees ($60), and nursery cost ($150). While that seems like a lot of nickel-and-diming (and it certainly seemed like it at the time!), it was still less than renting a facility outside of our church. All the fees added up to a ceremony venue cost of: $710. Some churches we looked at started their sanctuary rental fee at $1000!!!

Reception Venue: We decided (after much discussion between J & I, as well as my parents) to utilize my parents' home as our reception venue. While we still had to rent tables and chairs, but it cut down significantly on the rental fee for the facility! While we still paid $1000 for rental fees for tables, chairs, tablecloths, etc., we didn't have to pay for the facility (and we could keep the party going as late as we wanted!).

Total Cost for My Wedding: $4925. (Paid over the course of 13 months)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for going through that cost breakdown. That is amazing. When I get married (no boyfriend currently, so it'll be awhile ;) ) I want to have a low-cost wedding, myself. And as much DIY as I can! I love the personal touches when they can be added and I cannot bring myself to rationalize a wedding that is only for a day and costs as much as one year of my graduate education. I want it cheap, put together, and every-bit-of-wonderful without the pain in the bank. It's awesome to hear about how other brides are doing it and how they recommend going about it! :D It gets the wheels turning ;)