Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Weddings are not that expensive

If you're lucky enough to be getting married in rural Ohio, anyway.

A cost breakdown, which I'm providing mostly for my own amusement. You might find it interesting too. (This is mostly money I spent on the wedding; in certain places I will note how much other people spent, but obviously I don't know all of that.)


My dress cost $200. This was the result of having a friend who was willing to be my dressmaking slave for about 4 months. I'm not sure what my dress would have cost if I'd bought it; I didn't see any dresses available for buying that I really liked. (And I mean that stylistically; not just "Oh, that dress costs $5,000; it's "not my style" therefore.") I also spent $56 on accessories (Shoes: $11 ballet flats from Wal-Mart. Tiara: $15 from Claire's. Necklace-which-was-an-impulse-buy-the-week-before-the-wedding: $30 from Amazon. I was buying a bridesmaid gift which was $10 and was therefore trying to get Super Saver Shipping and one thing led to another. And I ended up doing the free trial of Amazon Prime anyway, because it was too late for the 3-5 business days Super Saver Shipping.)

I also spent, according to my handy-dandy spreadsheet, $209 on bridesmaids dresses. This was mostly for the rush shipping, not for the dresses themselves. It was worth every penny, by the way, because as it was some bridesmaids barely had time to get theirs altered. (In case anyone's curious, the total bill for bridesmaid dresses was $928; I think that was the single most expensive money-spending incident in the entire wedding.)

I have no idea how much any of the guys' attire cost or even who paid for it.

We also spent all of $45 on wedding bands. I was all embarrassed to admit that, but then I decided frugality is nothing to be ashamed of. So there.

Total for attire: $510

Reception venue:

We spent a total of $250 for the hall. (Plus a $150 deposit, but we got our deposit back.) Said hall was clean and reasonably well-appointed (the bathrooms were really nice), but nothing very fancy. In my home city there are a couple of places that charge $1000+, but those were less desirable for other reasons, actually. (One required you to use their catering, which was a) expensive and b) not actually very good. The other doesn't allow children or really anything interesting. Way too many rules for me.)

We did end up spending some money on decorations. I have no idea how much. I know the linens were $8 (yay for secondhand linen outlet stores!), but then we just bought out the dollar store, basically, getting silver-colored plastic utensils and little candy dishes and this and that and the other thing. I'm just going to say decorations were $50.

Total for reception venue: $300


This was the biggest area of concern for me before we got back the RSVPs. We invited 200+ people but only had about 60 attend. I think part of that was due to the fact that it was Thanksgiving weekend, but part of it was also due to the fact that about 90% of our guest list lived out of town (most of those out of state, a few out of the country...). We had 100% attendance from the people we invited who lived in the same county.

Anyway. I ended up paying the caterer $628. This was for two meat options (ham and chicken; beef was too expensive) and literally something like 7 side dishes. And most of it was really good. (I didn't try the baked beans, because I don't like baked beans as a matter of principle, but Scott tells me they were delicious.)

Cake was $85 for one smallish tiered cake and 80 cupcakes. (40 chocolate, 20 white, and 20 spice cake. It just seemed Thanksgiving-y to have a little spice cake.) I did have one person tell me the cupcakes were a brilliant idea (rather than cutting a sheet cake or something), so yay me.

I also spent $36 on Hershey kisses to use as centerpieces. We also had chips and nuts and pretzels and pastel mints given to us for free because they were leftover from a friend's wedding.

We still have some leftovers a month later.

Oh, and we spent maybe $35 on drinks. I don't remember distinctly. The hall provided drinks and basically at the end of the night they tallied up how much your guests drank and you wrote them a check. Scott wrote the check and I was stupid tired at that point in the wedding day, so I really don't remember. It was somewhere between 25 and 35, so I'll err on the side of more expensive.

Total for food: $784


As I've mentioned before, my godmother paid for these. After I went and picked out what I wanted and it had all been ordered, I sat down and added it up and realized it was probably about $600 worth of flowers. I do seem to recall that my godmother pulled some small business owner strings (her husband runs a dry cleaner's), so maybe she didn't spend that much. It still feels a little weird. But not too weird because my flowers were gorgeous.

Total for flowers: $0


We found our photographer on Craigslist (really) and it was supposed to be $550 but because of a goof they made at one point we got that reduced to $500. At some point we will also need to pay for prints of our pictures, but I'm not in any great hurry, since we have the CD of high resolution photos to keep forever.

I am unequivocally happy about how our pictures turned out, by the way. Really, the only people I love more as a result of the wedding are our vocalists. (Who had to deal with a lot of disorganization and unclear expectations and still sounded AMAZING.)

Total for photography: $500

Paper goods:

I have on my spreadsheet that I spent $157 on invitations. Basically, it was $1 per invitation and $1 for postage (and I sent out about 110 invitations), but I had some coupons and also my mother-in-law pitched in. So we'll say that figure is accurate.

I've spent about $17 on thank-you notes (a package thereof, plus some stamps). I might spend more on postage at some point, but so far I still have a lot of stamps. (And a lot of thank-yous to send. Need to get on that.)

The programs were free. I had some pretty paper on hand, and my maid of honor's mom allowed me to use their color printer for nothing.

Total for paper goods: $174

Tips and gifts:

I wrote $575 worth of checks to my priest (as his own personal gift), the church, the organist, the two vocalists, the two altar servers, and the one Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

I also spent about $63 on gifts for my bridesmaids. (Gifts for our parents kind of...didn't happen. I also didn't get them anything for Christmas. Maybe they need a combo wedding-Christmas-Epiphany gift.) These were pretty much just normal gifts, like I might have gotten as Christmas presents. My mom was all, "Aren't bridesmaids gifts just supposed to be something they'll wear at the wedding?" and I said, "No, the Knot says NEVER DO THAT and if I read it on the internet it must be true."

Total tips and gifts: $638


We spent $100 to register for Pre-Cana. I thought that was kind of ridiculous and spent 2 months complaining about how we'd better get some REALLY fancy pamphlets for that kind of money. We actually did, and the food wasn't bad either, and the whole thing was not the colossal waste of time I thought it would be. (It wasn't a life-altering experience either, but it was a fairly pleasant way to pass a day and Scott and I had some fun conversations as a result.)

We also spent $40 to get a marriage license. We ended up getting one in Scott's county of residence even though we got married in my county of residence (this works in Ohio, trust me), because in my county of residence it cost $66. See above where I'm not ashamed of my frugality.

Total miscellaneous: $140

Grand total: $3046

My goal budget going in was $4000. I seem to have accomplished that, thanks in very large part to people who either gave me stuff for free or who pointed me in the direction of places I could get it cheap (a friend's mother clued us in to the cheap linens). Also, included in that $3000 I spent was $900 my parents gave me when I got engaged; not included in that $3000 was money they spend on clothes for themselves and my sisters or on the rehearsal dinner or on my grandma's hotel room. Speaking of which, I also didn't include the fact that Scott and I stayed in a hotel room the night after the wedding (which was a very good call because of the aforementioned stupid tired; I wouldn't have wanted to drive about 80 miles to our apartment in that state). Or the fact that since we couldn't have hot apple cider at the reception I took us by Tim Horton's on our way to the hotel and bought us some. (Scott REALLY likes hot apple cider.)

Um...The End. Go back to your lives.


Calah said...

I love this. Our budget was also $4000 and we spent about three hundred dollars over that. We also got great deals; my sis-in-law is a wedding photographer by trade and she did ours as our gift; my MIL worked at a university so we got the reception venue and the catering at a deep discount; we bought the flowers bulk and my MIL and her sister arranged them for us. It was great! Weddings do not have to be expensive at all. My SIL's cost well over 10,000. I keep wondering how they managed to spend that much money.

The Sojourner said...

I can imagine how it'd be possible to spend that much money, especially if you live in a more urban area or have a large guest list (one of my friends, who was born and raised in my very rural county, married a young man also from our county and they literally invited about 500 people and had about 400 attend--mostly their local relatives. Their wedding was still pretty simple and I know she bargain hunted pretty fiercely, but even at $10 a head that's a lot for food.). I'd never spend that much myself, partly because I'm just not much of a party person, but I can't muster much outrage over it. What does get my hackles up are people who talk about a $50k wedding being "budget". I seriously read an article once where a woman did a destination wedding in Mexico for something like $35-40k, and that was all kinds of frugal by New York standards (or Boston or some other East Coast city, I don't remember that part). If you want a real budget wedding, have a destination wedding in Kansas, lady. (It's the same principle as those "How to save $100 a month" articles that tell you to cut your trips to Starbucks down to every other day. I laugh at their idea of frugal. [I'm not saying Starbucks can't be somebody's little indulgence, just saying that it's a whacked assumption about the lifestyle of most Americans. Until recently I didn't live within 30 miles of a Starbucks.])

The Sojourner said...

My point (which I kind of lost in that ramble): I don't care how much anybody spends, but I don't like the idea going around that you either need to spend tens of thousands of dollars or you need to go to the Justice of the Peace and have dinner at Pizza Hut afterward.

Liza Jane said...

Your wedding was lovely, dear. And it is impressive that you managed to get by with it being so nice and so low cost. The pictures I saw were really nice, too! I want to see more!!

In the middle of planning my wedding, I must say I realize how weddings can be nickel and dimed all the way to 10K over budget. I thought your invitations were lovely, but after reading your blog post and talkign to a few friends about it... there is no way I'm dealing with making my own invites (factor in 9 hours on the job and 12 hours commute time). I know they're gonna cost me a fortune. I'm glad, though, that I didn't get them before because we've changed the time and the place (by 30 min).

My reception hall (including catering) is HALF my budget. Sheesh. But it's really nice. There are a million little things I would never have thought of before, too. We're throwing in our wedding budget trying to get one of the guys James wants for a groomsmen over from England... and thinking abotu renting a van for those who come without cars. I haven't even looked at flowers.

I just found out that the Schola concert at our alma mater is the same day of the wedding... guess we wont be able to hire them...

The Sojourner said...

Hey, totally not judging. Bear in mind that I was unemployed my entire 5-month engagement...and I still barely got everything done.

By the way, I've been meaning to mention that if you ever need boring menial labor and I'm still hanging around being unemployed, feel free to ask. I learned how to iron last month!

Becky D. said...

Liza Jane,

Megan's mom nosing in again. If you haven't done the invites already there is a printing company up north here that did the family friend's wedding invites and I thought they had decent prices and a nice website. Let Megan know and I will dig up the website if you're interested.