Day 380: After my fiancé and I recovered from the initial bliss that inevitably consumes after getting engaged, we immediately tackled the most ominous wedding topic: a wedding budget. We happily agreed that our wedding budget should be realistic. How about $15,000? Happily, we toasted to ourselves and our ability to resist falling into the commercialized wedding trap. Such fools we were.
Joe and I have big, happy families. We started adding up the guest list and, with our families combined, it came to about 200 people. That’s not including friends, co-workers, friends of the family, etc. Just. Family.
Whoops, we thought. This may be a little more expensive than we thought. We brushed it off, continuing to think that we are smart, frugal individuals and we can surely find a venue that’s affordable to feed all these people.
I searched around and contacted halls, barns, any place that would host a wedding reception. I reached out to venues on theknot.com. I was shocked when I received the price estimates for roughly 250 guests. There were venues that were incredibly affordable; some had a flat rate of $1,000. But the catch was that you had to order through their caterer, which comes at a steep price. Or there were other types of places that were affordable, but required you to bring in all your own food, drinks, tables and chairs. After doing the math, it was just as expensive.
After comparing and contrasting, Joe and I settled on a reception hall that included the hall, food, tables, chairs, and alcohol in the price. It’s a gorgeous hall owned by a Croatian family with a big dance floor. They have bartenders and serve dinner family-style. It was the most affordable option we could find for 250 guests and the price estimate was roughly $10,000. So with our original budget, that left us $5,000 for a wedding dress, tux, favors, photographer, band, decorations, etc. We shook our heads at our naivety.
Once we accepted that our budget needed to increase, we sat down with two glasses of wine and each chose one thing we really, really wanted for the wedding. Joe wanted a live band to play at the reception and I wanted an amazing photographer. These were two of the priciest things, but we knew we would just have to compensate on everything else.
From there, we made a Google spreadsheet to help us track our wedding spending. This has been an amazing help because we can both be in the document and editing it in real time. Also, it’s really helped us keep track of what’s been given to us by parents and when payments are due. We put all our estimated costs in red and real costs in black font. So far, it’s been better than any wedding planning binder I’ve seen.
As for the compensation part, I’ve developed a list of what I plan to spend a little less money on:
- Bridal party gifts
- Wedding favors
- Limo/Party bus
- Save the Dates and Invitations
The trick for us now is to stick to the budget. If it’s not necessary, we need to remind ourselves to JUST SAY NO.
In conclusion, I leave you with this video that accurately illustrates the wedding planning process.