Our budget wedding started with a lot of research, creativity and willingness to follow our own rules. I hope this provides helpful to everyone while staying on a budget.
Guest List- your first step to budgeting
Before we looked at any venues, we tackled the guest list to get an accurate number of people. I have a huge family, but we wanted an intimate event so we managed to get it down to the bare minimum friends and family we are in contact with on a regular basis. We asked ourselves, "could you imagine getting married without this person witnessing?" for every single guest. Your guest list is probably the single-most deciding factor on your budget.
We also decided to have our siblings be our only attendants- my 2 sisters and his 1 brother. While this decision was made based on us wanting to honor our siblings, we are also going to save some money on flowers and gifts in the end by having just 3 attendants.
Here is a budget breakdown for 75 guests on a Saturday night in October.
Ceremony/Reception Venue- $330
We are having both our ceremony and wedding at a local wine bar/restaurant that is gorgeous. There is a fee of $300 to have your ceremony in their very romantic "bubble room" and no fee for the reception (providing you meet their food & bev minimum of $3,000). Yes- the white curtains already come with the place- which makes it feel like a wedding already!
The ceremony will be officiated by my uncle (the mayor of our town), so there is no clergy fee. Our marriage license will be $30.
Food & Beverage- $3,989.16 (including tax and gratuity)
Our ceremony starts at 7pm and our reception will begin around 7:30 pm or 8pm. We chose this time of day (1) because it fits our style and (2) because it is after the dinner hour and we can serve heavy appetizers instead of a plated meal.
Our menu is locally grown and chef-created, so we know it will be yummy. We will be serving 5-6 appetizers per person for 2 hours (12 pieces per person). Some of our choices were thai vegetarian spring rools, mushroom vol au vent, ratatouille tartlet, insalada caprese skewers, chicken lettuce wraps, crispy duck wings, pepperoni calzones, artisian cheese, fresh fruit.
For the alcohol, we are paying per consumption for beer and wine. We have selected hand-crafted microbrews and local Michigan wines to support the local area.
To estimate our beer/wine consumption, we have used Evite's drink calculator http://www.evite.com/pages/party/drink-calculator.jsp
75 dozen hors d'oeuvres x $18 per dozen appetizers = $1350
188 bottles of beer x $4 bottle = $752
38 bottles of wine x $28 bottle = $1064
6% sales tax= $189.96
20% gratuity= $633.20
Our venue is responsible for tables, linens, plates, silverware, glasses, etc. We also got the venue to do us a favor by printing our menu on little table tent cards for us which will save on additional paper costs.
Cake- $20 (including tax)
Okay- I have to say we are not actually having a cake. Neither of us really enjoy cake, but it is fall in Michigan and we love donuts! We are having donuts from a local cider mill instead that cost 25 cents each. We are borrowing a pretty cake stand from a friend to arrange the donuts as a display/focal point in the venue.
We found our wedding photographer on Craigslist. They are a couple that enjoys taking photos in their freetime. We reviewed their portfolio and they agreed to a fee of $500 for 6 hours of shooting (with 2 photographers). We will not receive any prints, but they will give us the rights to the digital images to print on our own whenever we would like.
We were not planning on taking engagement photos, but then I came across a deal that was too good to pass up. Groupon.com offers a deal of the day in Phoenix (where we live) and a few months ago it was $65 for a 1-hour photo session with a great photographer. We scooped that deal up to get some engagment photos taken- 1-hour photo shoot, 5 prints and the digital rights to 1 imagefor only $65.
Paper- $285 (including postage)
Oh, how I love Etsy.com. We bought our invitations from Baumbirdy- 50 invites for $262.50. They also perfectly match our bridesmaid dresses from J. Crew in dusty shale. Here's the photo:
We also found some vintage 45 cent Love Stamps and bought 50 of those for our invites for a postage total of $22.50. I am doing the calligraphy myself because I have pretty good handwriting and have been practicing.
Attire- His $40, Hers $200
My groom and his brother having matching suits that they wore to his brother's wedding a few years ago. We are repurposing those and just adding new ties instead for $40.
My dress was purchased used from another bride on Oncewed.com. It was $200 total with shipping and fits perfectly because it is from J. Crew and I already knew my size. No alterations. There is a built in shelf in the dress- so no undergarmets need to be purchased and I'm wearing metallic heels that I already own.
My bridesmaids paid for these, so I will not include them in this budget. However, we got a great deal on our J. Crew dresses in Dusty Shale during one of their 20% off sales online.
We are using an iPod at the reception. Our venue has a speaker systems so we can stream music directly into the space. Our wedding is at a wine bar, so it will be more about the mingling/socializing and not so much dancing.
We will order flowers in bulk from fiftyflowers.com to create the bouquets and to use the rest on decorations. The venue is really pretty and we don't want to overpower it with decor. Our first choice is 75 stems of White Fresh Cut Anemones with black centers for $189. We are borrowing my grandmother's collection of milk glass vases to arrange the extra flowers. We will need some supplies to secure the bouquets- floral tape, ribbon, for $10. My aunt used to work in a flower shop, so she will help us with the bouquets for free.
Favors- $43.40 (58 cents per favor)
We decided on edible favors and will make some whoopie pies at home 2 days before the wedding. Our baking supplies will be about $20. We also ordered some kraft boxes and baker's twine from etsy.com for $23.30
Some common budget items we decided to skip were music (using iPod), transportation (we will drive our own cars to the ceremony location), decorations for the venue, guest book, bridal veil, wedding programs, and some other small details.
Staying on track financially was more important to us than the little extras. We feel great about our decisions, but what to cut/keep will be different for every person. Happy Budgeting!