Wedding Budget Breakdown
Happy Friday!! It is now August, which means it’s almost September. Which means it’s basically fall, right?! Summer in Virginia has been kicking my behind and this girl is dying for some crisp air and scarves. Can I get a “woot woot” from anyone else who is feeling me? It has been humid as heck around here lately and the struggle has never been more real. However, I should not complain because Lord only knows, come January, I will be regretting these words.
Anyways, that rant was completely off the topic of todays post! If you are reading this, and are married, you know how difficult it is to stick to a budget when it comes to weddings. I think the wedding industry exists to show us how our Pinterest-worthy dreams will never become reality. It is possible to stick to a wedding budget though! I promise. I mean, we went over budget… but I swear it can be done. The key is to pick where you splurge and where you save. And that, my friends, is what I’m covering today.
Wedding Splurges vs. Saves
Venue: The Preserve at Chocorua
Now, I am of the opinion that your wedding venue should be an area in which you splurge. It is the backdrop and the basis of everything else you are planning, in terms decorations, photography, the overall feel, etc. Heck, it can even help you determine what type of wedding dress to wear! Unless you are a DIY queen and can turn an empty factory into a space worthy enough to hold your nuptials, spend your money here.
Do be aware of what that money includes though! Some wedding venues only allow you to use the space for 6 hours, on the wedding day itself. Or they have have noise restrictions, a certain time of day you must be off the property, the ability to have other weddings on site, and so on and so on. Do your research and make sure that you are getting your money’s worth.
Our venue was a big splurge. But, it was my dream venue and we had the entire private property for four days. Because we live in Virginia and got married in New Hampshire, I really wanted to maximize the time we had to spend with family and friends. The Preserve at Chocorua had sleeping arrangements for approximately 60 of our guests, right on site. We held every wedding event on the property, from the rehearsal dinner, to the Sunday brunch. And let me tell you, I fully stand behind the decision. I would 100% book this venue if I had to do it over.
I feel like everyone tells you to splurge on your photography. Listen to them! The day goes by incredibly fast and there is no possible way for you to see everything that goes on. Going through our 1800 edited images (yes, I said 1800!!), was like reliving the best day of my life.
When it came to choosing a vendor, I really wanted two photographers. And preferably, two that worked together well. We were lucky enough to land a husband-and-wife team, Liz and Dan. Liz handled the “personal” photography, while Dan was the detail-man. I was honestly worried about loving our pictures because it rained most of our wedding day, but I am so in love with them. Choosing pictures to print and frame is going to be the hardest decision!
So, to summarize, spend money on good photography. Be sure to choose a style of editing that you love and read the fine print. All of our images are available on an online gallery, completely edited and without watermarks, which I think is incredible!
Another area in which I “splurged” was our personalized signage. Some people will probably say this is totally and completely unnecessary. However, most brides end up wanting some type of signage or decor throughout their wedding. I figured, why not spend a little extra money and get to use those items are decoration in our home after the wedding.
I purchased a personalized welcome sign, that I am hoping to eventually hang in our front entrance. And, I am in love with our alternative guest book! I also found this item on Etsy and can’t wait to find a place for it in our home. I am planning on doing a full blog post covering my wedding-related Etsy purchases, because there were a lot. And I loved all of them! Let me know if you would be interested in that!
Wedding Coordinator: Inked Events
This was a big one! Planning a wedding 500 miles away from where we lived was a challenge that I did not want to take on solo. Hiring a wedding coordinator was one of the best decisions I made and the best money we spent. Tracy was so incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. I am human, so of course I was stressed planning my wedding! But, I think, and I’m pretty sure my husband would vouch, that I would’ve been a lot harder to live with had I not had help from a professional.
The day of our wedding, I was so calm. I knew everything was going to be executed perfectly and any minor problems would be taken care of without my knowledge. It was amazing to be able to be fully present on that day, and not worrying about if the donuts would be delivered on time. If you have the money to hire a wedding coordinator, I fully recommend that you do, for your peace of mind, and your relationship as an engaged couple. Haha!
Our last “splurge” was on our dessert! No, we did not have a gourmet wedding cake, although it would be easy to rack up the bills in that department! We decided on a variety of donuts from a locally owned bake shop, and a few cakes from Whole Foods. I think, had we chosen to get donuts from Dunkin or the cakes from Sam’s Club, we could have saved money. But, being the foodie that I am, I truly cared about having the best possible dessert options for our guests (and myself!).
Both the donuts and the cakes were amazing! I would definitely recommend splurging on dessert if food is your thing. And honestly, who doesn’t like sweets? Mix it up and choose desserts that fit your personalities and taste buds. Maybe have a pie display or a candy bar? You don’t need to have a big, fancy wedding cake! Be sure to check out my post on that topic here.
We chose to splurge on photography, as I mentioned above, and because of that, we did not have room in our budget for a videographer. I looked high and low for one we could afford and that we actually liked, but alas, both of those things just did not line up. I did not want to pay thousands for a wedding video that I wouldn’t love.
This was a VERY hard decision for me though, as sentiment means a lot to me. What we ultimately decided was to ask friends and family to help film important aspects of the day. What actually happened, was that one of Jarrett’s good friends filmed the entire day for us! It was the most amazing wedding gift and I cannot wait to see it all put together.
If you are debating whether or not to get a videographer and you have room in the budget, get one. I have never heard anyone say that they regretted having that video afterwards. However, if you are stretching your money just a little too thin, think about how often you will sit down and watch that video. We both thought we would be more likely to look through a photo album or glance at framed pictures in our home.
Is it just me, or do people spend way too much money on items that just get thrown away? I obviously cared about the overall feel and theme of the wedding, but spending a ton of our budget on invitations, programs, names at place settings, etc, was just not something I was willing to do.
I loved our wedding invitations and purchased them off of Minted, which has a sale all the time. Another amazing site is Basic Invite. Check out my post on that company here!
As far as programs go, I just think they are totally unnecessary. Everyone knows what happens at a wedding and if they really want details on your bridal party, send them to the wedding website you worked so hard to perfect! Unless calligraphy is your thing, or you have a friend who can flawlessly write for you, I don’t recommend splurging on items that people ignore after 3 minutes. Just my opinion.
Now, we did not purposefully skip giving out favors to our guests. We did, however, decide to have our guests make s’mores at the after party and that was partially rained out. So, unfortunately, I think a lot of guests missed out on that late-night treat, but the ones who did get some, got extra, and they are probably not complaining! Haha!
As far as favors in general go, I think people are leaning more towards edible treats. How many tins of mints or matchbooks does one person really need? Plus, a bunch of guests probably forget to take them, leaving the bride and groom with one too many. Honestly, guests probably do not notice whether or not there is a favor for them to take at the end of the night. I vote you save your money here.
This was a big one for us! Our wedding venue was almost totally DIY, meaning we could choose any vendors we wanted and that we could bring in our own alcohol. Because of this, we probably saved thousands of dollars! Additionally, Jarrett and I only served beer and wine at our wedding. Liquor is more expensive, not something we drink regularly, and encourages guests to drink just a little too much.
Now just because we saved on alcohol, that does not mean we were skimpy. Jarrett (and I) are really into craft beer, so we served up a selection of favorites in addition to crowd-pleasers, like Budweiser. We also had 3 red wines and 3 white wines to choose from, so I’m hoping our guests didn’t mind the absence of liquor too much!
Additionally, when you purchase and supply your own alcohol, you can also bring it home at the end of the night! I think we ended up throwing out about 5 pitchers worth of beer from one keg, but otherwise, everything else was unopened. Figuring out what types of alcohol to serve, and in what quantity, is definitely challenging. However, you could literally save thousands of dollars and be able to afford an open bar for the duration of your wedding.
This last category is probably the most controversial save we made. I think there are many brides out there who would gladly spend a fortune on flowers and if you can do that, go for it! Flowers are gorgeous, but again, I went back to that theme of trying to avoid spending a lot of our budget on items that we could not re-use.
We were lucky enough to have a gorgeous wedding venue, with plenty of greenery to embellish our chosen floral arrangements. Outside of our bouquets, we did keep it pretty darn simple. Jarrett and the groomsmen did not wear boutonnieres, largely because I don’t love how they look, and also because I could not fathom spending $25 per guy. Our reception centerpieces were mostly greenery, with bud vases here and there. Simple, but classic. We also re-used the bridesmaid’s bouquets for the head table during our reception.
We were incredibly blessed to have one of my aunt’s pay for a large portion of our flowers, as a wedding gift, which was the biggest way in which we saved!
Overall, my tips for saving on flowers: stay in-season, re-purpose, and skip the little things no one notices.
Phew, that was a long one today! If you are in the middle of planning a wedding and freaking out over your budget, I hope this helped! Try to think big picture- what things are you going to remember and what will guests take away from the day. It is so easy to get sucked into every last, little detail, but I promise you, no one will notice.