The Budget

30 Jan

And now, finally… a wedding-related post. I said a couple months ago that I was going to share our budget, and then things got busy. You know how they do. But hopefully, this will get me back on the wagon.

First, a few suggestions:

Wedding Budget 101

1) Use Wedding Wire! They have an excellent budget tool that will give you suggestions to get started. More on that here.

2) Track everything! Save your receipts so you can enter when you get home (and in case you need to return something later). Or enter immediately if you’re using their mobile app.

3) Track who paid for what — was that expense on your credit card? Your fiance’s? Your parents’? Wedding Wire allows you to track this too. .

4) Whenever you enter an item that comes in below budget, Wedding Wire will ask you if you’d like to distribute those funds to another category — JUST SAY NO! You will think you’re doing well, all like, hey, my dress was $200 cheaper than I budgeted for, so now I can buy $200 more flowers. Don’t do it. You will have hidden costs, surprises down the road, et cetera, et cetera. If you come in under budget on one category, congratulate yourself, and then stick to your budget on your other categories. You’ll thank yourself later.

So in full transparency, here’s the stats on the budget from our wedding this past September. We aimed to keep it at $10,000. Originally we wanted to go less than that, but when I used Wedding Wire’s budget tool and realized how quickly things add up, I realized there was no way to have a wedding for less than that in our town. So instead of aiming for under budget, we aimed to not go over $10k. Overall I think we did well, coming in at about $11,500. And that includes my engagement ring and both of our wedding bands. Not too bad. We still have some items we plan to re-sell, so hopefully we’ll bring that down even more.

Our Budget

Venue: $3,000

Food: $2,900 (dinner for 100, catering fees, tip)

Alcohol: $550 (Includes alcohol, supplies, and bartender fees)

Cake: $205 (Does not include the rest of the dessert table, which my older sister prepared as her wedding gift.)

Flowers: $400

Décor: $645 (Includes centerpieces, decorations for entrance/ceremony/reception, and purchased linens.)

Table/Chair Rental: $190

Officiant: $55 (We asked a friend to marry us. This cost is for his gift.)

DJ: $65 (We used my iPod for both the ceremony and reception. This cost is a gift for a friend who managed the music plus a few dollars of downloaded music.)

Photographer: $645 (We asked a student from UNC — he was excellent! Includes his fee, 200 digital images, two sets of prints, and a few larger-size prints)

Stationery & Postage: $400 (includes invitations, thank you cards, programs, and postage)

Bridal Apparel: $880 (Includes dress, alterations, post-wedding dry cleaning, undergarments, and shoes. My MOH’s mom made me two hairpieces, and my dad gave me my jewelry as his wedding gift.)

Groom’s Apparel: $170

Rings: $635 (includes both our wedding bands and my engagement ring)

BM Gifts: $78

GM Gifts: $56

Beauty: $425 (hair, makeup, mani/pedis for me and the bridesmaids)

Bridal Lunch: $100

Wedding Day/Night Accommodations: $180

Total: $11,600

* I know this doesn’t add up exactly. I’ve rounded a bit here and there, to spare you weird numbers.

The Stats

We got married in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Between the wealth of the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) and the popularity of UNC weddings among Tar Heel grads, not the cheapest place to get married. Not exactly New York City, but for North Carolina… expensive.

We had just about 100 people attend. I ordered takeout boxes, and we sent everyone home with leftover food and desserts.

We had the venue from 1pm till 11pm.

The Story

First Married Kiss!We did a lot of stuff ourselves. Obviously, no wedding planner. My Chief of Staff Lauren (a.k.a. Maid of Honor) and I arranged all the flowers and created the centerpieces. (My dad helped by spray painting a million things gold.) Lauren also made our bouquets and boutonnieres. My aunt, mom, and older sister created most of the decorations. We ordered one 14″ cake and 4 dozen cupcakes, and my older sister prepared the rest of the dessert bar. We had a friend playing our iPod instead of a band or DJ — for both the ceremony and the reception. A friend of the BF’s dad loaned us a sound system. We ate off eco-friendly paper plates and served ourselves buffet-style so as to not have to pay for the catering staff that would be required if we went with real dishes and silverware. My dad and brothers picked up cases of wine and a keg, set up the bar, and purchased our own wine glasses, which also saved the cost of catering staff. On the day of, an event planner friend managed the wedding and told everyone where to be and when.

On the other hand, there were plenty of things that pushed our costs higher than expected. The venue was much higher than I wanted. They gave us a really small window to prep, have the event, and clean up, so I ended up paying extra to get a couple more hours. The food cost was high — certainly higher than I expected it to be. But after a mix-up about their arrival time, the restaurant ended up sending extra staff to help set up and cater, which was pretty amazing of them.

A lot of our purchases will do double-duty. My brother is getting married in April and will use some of our decorations and extras like the wine glasses. I also plan to sell whatever I can online, from the linens to decor to my dress. I won’t do all that until after their wedding, so maybe I’ll update my final budget then.

Overall, I think we did well. We got everything for under $11,500, including our wedding bands and engagement ring. I don’t think most people’s budgets include ring costs. All that’s left to pay for is our honeymoon, which we’ve delayed due to work obligations. But when it happens, Costa Rica is going to be awesome!


5 Responses to “The Budget”

  1. lifeatthecircle August 27, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    I was married January 27, 2013 and yes – it IS so hard to keep everything under your predetermined “budget.” looks like your planning is coming along well!

    • Alyson August 28, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      Yes, budgets are hard! Congrats on your marriage, and I hope you were (at least somewhat) successful with your budget!

      Thanks for stopping by! You’ve reminded me that I’d like to post more things about the wedding. I can’t believe I haven’t continued these posts yet, and we’re coming up on our first anniversary next month!

      • lifeatthecircle August 28, 2013 at 11:07 am #

        oh geez – yes, you MUST post more :) I have a few friends going through wedding planning right now – it’s amazing how stressful it becomes.
        Honestly, we blew our budget. Twice. (Because of my husband!) Although, we’re pretty frugal people. But, I wouldn’t change it if I could. It was fun!
        Have you posted any wedding pictures?

      • Alyson August 29, 2013 at 9:56 am #

        Haha, of course it was him. For us, we struggled because my priorities and my husband’s were different, so we each wanted to focus money in different areas. And there were a few things my mom decided she wanted and went ahead and paid for those things. It worked out in the end!

        I think I only have the picture in this post. I had a plan for posting wedding stuff at one point and obviously that never happened, but now I’m wanting to get back to it. Thanks for the encouragement!


  1. Getting Started on Wedding Planning « Wine & Plum - January 31, 2013

    […] next time: more on budgeting. For any weirdos out there interested in personal information like how much money I spent on my […]

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