Broke-Ass Tag: $25K Wedding

3/31

Real Wedding Peach Jersey 50Peach

Names: Peach and Jersey

Occupation: IT geeks

Wedding location: Little Gardens

Wedding Date: October 19, 2014

Budget: $15,000 – $20,000

How would you describe your wedding: We had an intimate, simple, outdoor garden wedding with a rockin’ party afterward. The ceremony was short and sweet, spiritual but fun, and we wrote our own vows.  Afterward, everyone enjoyed cocktails, dinner and a fun party.

Real Wedding ceremony 50Peach

What was your favorite part of your wedding? The exit! Our venue didn’t allow anything thrown or flaming (like sparklers), so we provided our guests with party horns and glowstick necklaces. When Jersey and I were standing inside waiting for everyone to finish assembling outside, our ears were met with the most glorious, raucous, synchronized HONK-HONK-HONK-ing of the party horns! It was so funny and happy and celebratory that our faces just lit up with joy.

Real Wedding exit 50Peach

What did you splurge on? His suit. But we felt strongly that a perfectly tailored Armani suit is something that he can wear for YEARS to come … unlike me and my wedding dress. We don’t regret it a bit.

What did you save on? Many things!

  • We opted to not have favors. Instead, my mom and dad graciously handled our out-of-town welcome bags, bless them!
  • My dress — I budgeted about $2000.00, but found mine for $800.00!
  • Programs — my Maid of Honor designed the gorgeous things, then called in a favor for printing them. (Rumor has it that our little 100-count program printing halted the work the printers were doing on the latest major Clinique ads. NBD.)
  • We didn’t do name cards per person, but used a collage picture frame to list out each table’s people. (And saved a damn tree.)
  • I printed out table numbers for free from Pinterest on card stock and used the venue’s included table clips to hold them.
  • We double-purposed the bridesmaid bouquets as our table centerpieces.
  • I also wasn’t afraid to bargain or offer to pay in full up front for a percent discount, which easily saved us at least a thousand.

Real Wedding roses 50Peach

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect?  Uhhh, yeah. I wrote an entire separate post about our blown budget.  Go read this post for more details. But in short, I wish I’d known then what I know now: read the fine print, plan for the unexpected, ask more questions than you think are necessary and do not, DO NOT, pay one cent more for anything than you think you should.

Real Wedding mirror 50Peach

What was your biggest challenge in planning? The guest list and RSVPs. With such big families on both sides, it was tough to choose only 100 to invite. And when about 10 people who RSVP’ed yes didn’t show up on our big day, it was such a letdown … It meant that we could have asked 10 *other* people who we really wanted there to come! Planning a wedding 100% showed me the importance of the RSVP.

Real Wedding arbor 50Peach

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? You can only control what you can control. Do your best to think through all the details, ask questions and don’t apologize for it. But when the big day arrives, LET IT GO. Things will go wrong, but your only job on your day is to be there and be happy and marry your person. Let everyone else freak out about the curveballs!  Also, wine is a requirement when wedding planning. For realz.

real wedding dad dance 50Peach

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

  1. Seeing him standing there, waiting for me, while my dad walked me down the aisle. It made it all worth it.
  2. Having so many loved ones, from all over the US, in one place on that day just for us. Warm fuzzies galore.
  3. Dancing with my Dad.
  4. That we made our wedding day unique to our wants.
  5. I’m finally Mrs. Jersey!!!

Real Wedding waterfall 50Peach

Top 5 least favorite?

  1. Hands down, I hated feeling like I was under a microscope with everyone on the wedding weekend. “Are you okay?” “Are you sure you’re okay??” “You seem nervous.” Stop looking at me, swan.
  2. The day went so fast!!! We did manage to thank everyone personally, but it was all a beautiful blur.
  3. RSVPs: We hated having to hound people to tell us if they were coming. Nothing makes you feel more lame than inviting someone and they can’t be bothered with responding to you. Plus the no-shows, just grrrr.
  4. I wish there had been more time to spend with our out of town guests. We did our best, but it was still difficult.
  5. It’s a little thing, but I only got one bite of our wedding cake that day! My sweet tooth may have cried a little.

Real wedding cake 50Peach

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? I wouldn’t say I had any bad advice from anyone. However, there were more than a few well-meaning but quite obvious and/or obnoxious suggestions. But I was all: Yo. I got this.

The best? On the wedding day, take it all in. Look around and mentally note all the details, the people, the love in the room and enjoy it. We did, as much as we could.

Any other bits of wisdom? Yes!

  1. Brides and grooms: take 15-30 minutes the morning of your wedding day and just gather yourself. It helped me a bunch to have some quiet time to reflect, calm my mind and prepare my control-freak self to let go of the planning mentality.
  2. If you find you and your partner are covering much of the costs of your wedding (as we did), a long engagement will help tremendously. We were able to spread out the payments and time them so that we didn’t go into debt. And same goes for parents, too.
  3. Budget for the bridal party gifts.It adds up quickly, no matter how much you try to DIY or Etsy the hell out of it.

Real Wedding arbor 50Peach

Budget breakdown?

Venue: $13,000.00 *included: ceremony and reception space, seating, decor, linens, all florals, food/drink, cake, lighting, wedding planner and day-of coordinator

Dress + alterations: Enzoani Beautiful, $1040.00

Veil and bling belt: $250.00

His suit: Armani, with dress shirt and tailoring: $2400.00

Pearl necklace, my great-grandmother’s: Gifted

Cuff bracelet and earrings: 150.00

Badgley Mischka flats: $60.00

Photography by Lee Patterson (engagement session + day of, digital-only package): $1800.00

DJ: $999.00

Videography: WeddingMix, $650.00

Officiant: $350.00

Save the Date Magnets: MagnetStreet $180.00 ← ordered waaaaay too many. Rookie mistake!

Rehearsal dinner invites: MagnetStreet $50.00

Thank You cards: MagnetStreet $72.00

Invitations: MagnetStreet $568.00

Guest Book: Shutterfly self-made $72.00

Wedding bands: $2300.00

Bridal party and parent gifts: $1000.00

Hair/makeup: $500.00 — with trials for both and the day-of, both onsite

Hotel suite, 3 nights: FREE – they were comp’ed for us due to a glitch with our hotel block!

Rehearsal Dinner: $450.00, but FREE – We paid for it ourselves with gift cards we’d received since the engagement, so $0.00!

Actual Total: $25,441.00

List of all vendors.

Venue: Little Gardens, Lawrenceville, GA

Photography: Lee Patterson

Videography: WeddingMix

DJ: Lethal Rhythms

Officiant: Jeremiah O’Keefe-West

Hair: Joseph’s Salon, Lawrenceville, GA

Makeup: Andrea Carter

Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn, NE Atlanta

Dress: Ivory Bridal & Formal, Smyrna, GA

Suit: Saks Fifth Avenue, Atlanta, GA

Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Jim N’ Nicks BBQ

christen
  • 1/26

    I don’t want this post to be about regrets. Our wedding day was beautiful and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. However, I feel I should be completely blunt with you fabulous BABs about budgets and how they can easily veer way off course. Because I know I’m not the only bride whose budget took a path into “oh shit” territory, nor should there be any shame attached to it. Instead, there needs to be better communication and knowledge transfer through honesty. So prepare yourself. I’m about to get real up in here.

    Jurassic gif

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    Our original budget: $15,000

    My  parents were able to contribute $10,000 to our wedding day.  How great are they???  So when our venue price estimate* totaled right at $10K, the groom and I figured, “No biggie! The biggest expense is covered, including food, beverage, ceremony/reception space, linens, the whole nine yards! We’ll grab a reasonable dress, a fancy suit, officiant, rings, DJ … we can do that for about another $5K, easy!” And we danced off merrily into the deluded wedding sunset.

    OH, HOW WRONG WE WERE.

    Did you notice that (*) up there? It stands for Beware the Caveats. Because while I give our venue credit for being forthcoming that the flowers, decor and cake would be additional charges, I could also string them up by their toenails for not giving us specifics on how much those charges would actually be. Once the day came to choose these items, my parents, the groom and I sat there silently with mouths agape at the prices. When we ruthlessly slashed all the extras and went with mostly the basics across the board, it left us feeling like we were being cheap!  End result? Our final venue payment was still almost $3K more than the original quote. Luckily all of us felt good about the “basic” decor and floral choices we made together. My parents insisted that they could cover the extra $3K. We were grateful, but still felt kicked in the nuts defeated by the Great American Wedding Factory.

    Looking back, there were plenty of warning signs about our venue that we should’ve acknowledged. In a nutshell, it was their lack of flexibility on just about everything. (Your guests cannot throw anything or wave sparklers during your exit. You cannot exceed the 6 hour window onsite, or you will incur additional charges. If you want your wedding to be the only event that day, you will pay extra. No, you cannot taste the food ahead of time unless you go to a bridal convention where our caterer will be, this one day in five months, after you sign with us, of course. No, you cannot bring in your own votives for your table decor, you have to use ours at our price. And so on.)

    Instead of listening to our instincts, we locked ourselves in with them and paid the price. Dearly. So where are we now?

    Parent Budget  ($10K) + $3000.00 = $13,000K

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    The Snowball Effect

    The venue was the biggest offender, by far. But we quickly discovered we’d under-budgeted for our pieces of the pie, too. We decided together that my husband would get a very nice suit because of it’s long-term use and practicality. Don’t regret that one bit. But what we didn’t expect were the prices on the rest: photography (ouch), DJs in Atlanta are $$$$$, the officiant, our rings and my dress, well … there went a LOT more money. Our own budget was officially toast. And we weren’t even done yet. Shit, double shit.

    Parent Budget + 3000 + Our Budget (5K) + 4200 = 22,200

    source

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    The Rest of the Story

    Here’s where it gets even hairier. Add on videography. Oh, and you still don’t have shoes — for either of you. You don’t have jewelry or any hair or makeup people booked. And let’s not forget paper products and the guest book you made on Shutterfly. But the real kicker — the one I completely and utterly did NOT budget for: bridal party and parent gifts. With 13 in the party + 4 parents, we came in just under $1000 dollars. Dear Budget, excuse me while I prepare my favorite fatality move.

    mortal kombat

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    Parent Budget + $3000 + Our Budget + $2500 + $3300 = $25,500

    And there you have it. That’s how a $15K budget became a $25K budget … all in a matter of months.

    But I can’t leave you feeling this crappy.

    A few disclaimers: Our engagement was 13 months long, therefore our payments were spread out far enough that we didn’t have to dip into extra savings. The payments my parents made to the venue were spread out as well. But we know that if we had had a six month engagement, we’d have been in serious trouble. So remember that the shorter your engagement, the more you’ll need to have cash at the ready.  Another tip — ask around for ballpark figures, not from venues, but from people you know who were married in your town/location. Our original budget wouldn’t have been so laughably bad if we’d priced out DJs, officiants, photographers, etc., in Atlanta before we pulled a number out of thin air.

    I hope some of you can learn from our experiences and follow these nuggets of wisdom: read the fine print, plan for the unexpected, ask more questions than you think are necessary and do not, DO NOT, pay one cent more for anything than you think you should.

    Lastly, look out for my full Real Wedding post coming up soon here at BAB, which describes some ways that we did manage to save serious cash in other parts of our wedding day and other useful things I learned along the way.

    Till next time,

    Peach
  • 11/19

    Dinner, dancing, dresses, oh my! When you came up with your wedding budget, did you base it on how much every individual detail would cost? How about all of those little details -- did you decide any of them weren't worth it? You've heard about our venue hunting adventure, and how we jumped right on it a month after our engagement. Just a few weeks…

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