D1RTYMART1N1'S Budget Savvy Guide


No matter what budgets we all start with - it is almost improbable to stay within the "magical" number without sacrificing one or two elements, right?

Wrong! Okay - maybe a compromise - but that's what managing the tightrope of being in the red and in the black is - a dance of sorts between "must have" and "would love to have"...

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention - and well, we needed to slash our bottom line because... duuun duuun duuun - i am going to be a CA state statistic come June.  So now we needed to re-invent our wedding!

Yes ladies, yours truly will be out of a job.  I mostly kept this under wraps because... well.. it's personal and I didn't want people feeling sorry for me, especially since fh was laid off for 8 months from last quarter of 2007 to 2nd quarter 2008 - which is what prompted us to push our wedding from August 2008 to August 2009.

But now that I've spilled the beans - I am now excited to share with you how we're managing to still have a fantastic day without sacrificing style, substance and sexy!




We all know that the fastest way to cut the food and beverage total is to start purging the guest list.  This was priority numero uno.  We trimmed the list from 250 to 150. 

In conjunction with this "guest slash", we also ate our deposit at a 4-star hotel venue and moved it to a local restaurant on the water.  Not only that, we also moved our date from a Saturday night to a Friday night.  Some may say that losing the deposit is a waste of money - but not when our minimum for f&b was in the neighborhood of $20K, not including full open bar.  

The combo of these 3 factors reduced our per person price from $120 to $50.  In a blink of an eye, over 50% of our cost for food was eliminated.

We are most definitely not compromising on the dinner selection either.  This was a major deal for us.  This is, in essence, our first dinner party we are hosting as man and wife and we wanted to offer our family and friends a proper meal.

Our Dinner Selection:

Cocktail Hour: 4 pieces per person: combo of passed appies and stationary appies

Salad: Butter leaf lettuce with candied walnuts &  bleu cheese crumbles

Entrée Duet: Almond Crusted Chicken: Stuffed with Brie Cheese, Pears and Roasted Almonds, Breaded in Almond Crumbs, Pan Fried Golden Brown with Amaretto Butter AND Grilled Prime Top Sirloin: Charbroiled with Spiced Ground Black Pepper Crust


BAR:  Still being "compliant" with the "no cash bar rule", but still also being compliant with the "new budget" mandate, we decided to compromise and host soft bar, all domestic and imported beer, wine, champagne and 2 specialty drinks - chocolate martini and jack & coke.  Most of his friends drink bud light and most of my friends drink wine; his family does not drink at all and well, my family... let's just say they'll drink whatever - hahaha.  I normally don't like for guests to open their wallets at weddings, but we felt this was the right compromise for us.





Most of the bakeries I called were quoting me a minimum of $600 - $800 for a cake for 150 people.  I dont know about you, but doesnt flour cost the same for a Vons or Gelson's cake versus a "wedding cake"?  Yes, precisely!   To save some "dough" hehe, we opted to have cupcakes for our guests!  We are ordering a small plain white cake from a local bakery for us to cut into - and NOT telling them it's for a wedding.  Plain white plain white plain white cake (wink wink)  with lemon-raspberry filling and buttercream.  The groom's cake will be a baseball in homage to fh's love affair with the NY Yankees, again not telling them it's a groom's cake - for all they know, it's for a birthday or something, right??  No sacrifice on flavor, we still keep the tradition of cake cutting, AND save some moolah!



CAKE TOPPER:  SHARED the cost of this with my girl JackieG.  i knew i didnt want to spend alot on something with such a short "shelf life" such as a monogram cake topper.  Well, what a difference sharing makes!





I was on the fence about DIYing these once i found out I was losing my job.  I dont have anything against DIY per se - I am just not that great at it and my golden rule for DIY is that it should never ever ever ever "look" DIY.   Had i done my own invitation suite, I am certain my lack of DIY skills would show and my invitations would..well..in one word--->suck! haha  To save my sanity and save money, I asked Alex (PW bride abattyref) to design my invitation.  All i gave her were the fonts i wanted, the size paper i was going to use and she ran with it.  Lightning fast, she had 2 options for me to choose from.  

I decided on thermography since I was just sure that letterpress was out of the question.  But what was holding me back??  Oh yeah - my love of letterpress!

I had contacted a few local printers and wasnt really thrilled with the total cost - then once I got news of "you know" I had to just put letterpress out of my mind, figuring it just wasnt in the stars for us.  But then just like a meteor shining in the dark sky - I found Alex from the Aerialist Press (thanks to finding her bio under "what's new" and a post from Jaryce).  Well - it turns out that Alex would be able to press my invitations for much less than what I was being quoted elsewhere. Talk about being at the right place at the right time!   So off we go to get letterpressed invites! Whhheeeeeeee!   Once again, not sacrificing on style - but definitely saving some benjamins!  ***singing to self*** it's all about the banjamins baybeh





Veil:  I always wanted a cathedral mantilla veil - but not at the cost of $500, which is what the bridal salon was charging - I mean really? And we're not even talking about silk tulle - that was going to be even more money!  That's just wedding crizack if ya ask me...  Based on reviews from PW, I contacted Candi Merle and she is custom designing and making my mantilla veil for...wait for it... $80!  

Jewelry:  I definitely believe in sharing the cost for items you really want - in this instance, I am borrowing the popular brooch bracelet style from fellow PW bride and friend, starg8zer, who also shared it with Kristeen.  I also purchased a fantastic pair of cushion-cut earrings from yet again another PW bride for 50% of the retail price.

Shoes:  I bought 2 pairs on sale online 





We once had big pimpin' plans of renting a large party bus or 12 pass limo - uuuuhhh then that idea got the red light!  As it turns out, most of our bridal party didnt really want to ride separate from their spouses or so's.  So then we thought, ok - maybe we'll just get a limo for the 2 of us... unh - not really needing one though.  After some discussion, we decided we didnt really need a limo to be sitting there waiting for us for 5 hours during the reception. Talk about wasted money!

So on the way to ceremony, my dad and i will ride in my car and after our reception, my dad will roll out with someone in my family who is staying at the same hotel (we're all staying at the same hotel) and fh and i will roll out in my car.  It's definitely not the S Class V12 Kompressor that I've been drolling over - it's a smaller Kompressor sport - but still not bad nonetheless. and this way - we can stop at jack-in-the-box or taco bell before heading back to the hotel! 


NEW AND IMPROVED: $ZERO - I own it!  uh okay - $50 for gas



Flowers to a wedding are like jewelry to a naked earlobe or wrist - you never really know the impact until you see it and allow the decor to envelop you.  Again, on a newer stricter budget, I had to "let go" of all orchids and incorporate more budget friendly blooms.  There was no way jose I wanted to use silk florals - this is a personal choice - there are lots of brides who go this route - but I am certain silks can run just as much as the real deal - one just has to know how to allocate what to where.

I started out by purchasing my low cp glass containers from a fellow PW Bride (Pinkjane).  I got 20 glass bowls (orig from Ikea) for $200; included in this were black river rocks and floralytes.

Now on to the blooms themselves.  To keep things clean, effortless and timeless with a modern twist, I chose to use all white for everything.  The constant use of all white in different textures brings a certain cohesiveness and makes a statement.  I chose flowers that will be in season in August.  

I scaled back the use of orchids, and included tulips, hydrangea, ranunculus, chrysanthemums and lotus.  the upside? i still get my orchids and by incorporating less expensive blooms, am saving money too!  By using my own cp bowls for half my tables, I'm saving money on the rentals for the tall cps.

What was once quoted at $3500, is now in the neighborhood of $2K





Hiring a top photog was imperative and I didnt really care at what cost...until i got "the news".  Not wanting to sacrifice on the quality of my images, I called my awesome photog & videog and we re-worked the package.  There was no way I was going with another team on this one.  We eliminated our e-session, the 3 albums (ours and parents), did away with the 2nd videog - and voila - savings!  We will still have amazing photos and video by keeping our talented team and have left the option open for ordering our albums later on.

ORIG BUDGET: $10K range

NEW AND IMPROVED: $6500 range



Entertainment is key in getting the party started and keeping the party going!  We went with a local Long Beach area DJ who had off-the-charts reviews and references that he provided at the time of our consultation.  The normal price for a Saturday night "gig" was $5K... uhhhh...  But, since we had moved our date to Friday, we got an awesome awesome discount without leveraging the professionalism and experience we wanted and needed.  So instead of a random guy from Craigslist who had no references - we are still having "our guy" spin.





As soon as I say PW bride' Budoh's photostation - i fell in loooove ***sigh***
Rather than hiring a random photographer, we hired PW bride and developing star Cari Hollis to shoot our rehearsal dinner and "man the station"!





Let's be real here - paying $100 for a flower girl dress was out of the question - just on gp alone! hahaha  some of the styles at Pegeen were so cute - but I was not willing to spend that on a little dress.  So off we went to the garment district downtown.  Boy oh boy did we find a deal. Granted, it's not raw silk, the dress is still cute and more importantly - I paid what i felt was what the dress was worth ($20 each).  It's a poly-satin blend with organza overlay and floral emroidery on the organza.  Still full-length so the girls will feel like princesses all dressed up. but on my budget!  Shoes will be purchased in July - I am not spending over $20 for each pair (so $40 total)

And the little dudes - we will be heading back down to the garment district in July to buy their pants and guayabera shirts!  Our budget is $40 for each dude and another $50 for vans - or some type of casual kicks.





We originally budgeted $200 for each bridal party member for one night hotel stay; one week stay for ooc family for one week, one room for me and my father for one week; and one room for me and new hubbs for 4 days.  This was no easy task trying to coordinate with everyone and ensure we were all within a 5 mile radius.

I was also having palpitations with the cost of hotels in SoCal in August.  And yes I'll say it - Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn, or Travelodge were not going to cut it.  I mean, I do have standards ya know? hahaha  kidding!

Well, what's a girl to do?  I looked at renting a house, no go due to the parking situation.  I looked at hotel sites - no go at $300 a night.  So, i turned to hotwire.  I've never booked using hotwire before, mostly b/c they dont disclose the hotel until after the purchase.  But then - the clock is ticking - and i just needed to pull the trigger. So off I went to score some deals - and man did I ever!

We are all staying at 4-star hotels in Costa Mesa area - and I only paid $80 per night, per room! Talk about hitting the goldmine! Eureeeka! I struck gold!  As it turns out - I was able to pay for two nights for my oot bridal party also since our budget was earmarked at $150 - i paid for 2 nights for that instead of just one.




DOC / Reception 911:

After separating from a doc I orig had planned on helping me - I put out an APB for volunteers to help out with the set up and was super lucky to have rec'd responses from the LA/SoCal gals!  KristinKay and Starg8zer have both graciously offered to help out and I'm beyond thrilled.

Part 2 to this is... you ready??  Back in 2007 - when we were planning for our 2008 wedding, I hired and paid for a DOC local in the Long Beach area.  Since we scrapped our 2008 wedding and pushed it forward, I was sure I lost out on the money we paid her, etc.. Well, we talked it over and she is still willing to honor our 2 year old contract!  How amazing is that?  So, it's not really "free" since we paid already - but we dont have to pay separately for this new date - our awesome DOC just mvoed our monies to this new date!


COST: $1800 with no penalty for changing dates and no addtl deposit



We were originally going to have to pay $1500 for the church - BUT since fh and his family are members and very active - the church has offered it to us for NO CHARGE!

ORIG: $1500

NEW AND IMPROVED: $500 (donation)



Hired another PW vendor Susie Chhour!  Excellent rates and kickass personality!


NEW AND IMPROVED: $180 for makeup - hair undecided



Frames for our table names - dollar tree! $21
Fabric for aisle runner - WalMart at $1.12 per yard = $95
Acrylic paint for aisle runner - $5
Our table names - FREE - graciously mailed in from all over the country by fab PW brides
Frames for bathroom (2), suites (2), and memorial table (1), ancillary tables (3) - dollar bin at target = $8
Fabric for custon napkins - $4 per yard x 30 = $120
Labor for custom napkins - $150
Silver Plate Chargers (sharing with 2 PW brides) = $81
Soloists (2) - Fellow PW Bride germexican = $200
Fabric for photostation backdrop - $3 per yard x 10 = $30
Floorlength table linens: $120 (shared with fellow PW bride heartsetfreebylove)
Spandex chair covers: $400 for 150 (if we rented via venue - $13 a piece! wha??)
Lounge furniture: $350 
Bathroom baskets and toiletries: $20
Paper for non-invitation items: $100
BP gifts: not including hotel stay: $30 per person x 10 - $300
Rehearsal Dinner: $1500

ORIG OVERALL BUDGET: $70K - $73K range
not including rings, honeymoon, vendor gratuities, gowns, things we already purchased before my layoff notice etc...

(Varying on final comsumption of alcohol and if 'extra' people show up)


ok ok ok - i know - you are probably saying - "that's so not a deal - that's still 30 million pennies"

Well, I agree - yes $30K - $33K is still a nice chunk of change - BUT to go from what was basically our orig food and beverage allocation to still having our wedding with no sacrifice in style and overall look - well - that's a feat in and of itself - and in SoCal no less!

I kinda wish this contest was after my wedding so I'd have pics of everything.  I do know, however, that with the all-star list of vendors and with a little switcharoo of Saturday to Friday and omitting little things, SHARING the cost with other trustworthy brides and BUYING USED ITEMS from other brides - this wedding is going to be even better than originally planned.    All the blood, sweat and tears of reworking and re-allocating money with all be worth it in the end!

I hope our story - complete with job loss obstacles - i hope this motivates others who may find themselves in the same situation to not lose sight of your vision, but learn how to make it happen on your terms.  We are fortunate enough to pay all of this cash - and will be starting our married life with no wedding related debt (well - aside from the ring - but that's a different story, no?)

It is true - the meaning of the day is priceless and yes, we can all have weddings without all the other stuff, but let's face it - we secretly (or overtly) WANT that other stuff, we sometimes NEED the other stuff - if only so we can say  we had it.

So while the vows and commitment are paramount and trump everything - we can still look back and say "wow we had a gorgeous beautiful wedding day" if we use our money wisely and allocate funds properly to the most important elements that is specific to each couple.  While never losing perpsective of the marriage - you can still have the day of your dreams without the disappointment of eliminating something - it just takes a little cleverness, tenderness and PW-ness! 

See you in August with my pics!

Last Updated: December 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm
Tags: Budget
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