My Real Wedding Budget Part 1

There are many fellow PF bloggers that are engaged and planning their wedding right now.  I don’t know if there’s similar number of engaged PF bloggers every year, but it seems like a lot of the ladies/men got engaged last year.  I’ve been meaning to post my own budget for a while, but my lazy butt got me again.  I remember getting frustrated when I was searching for real wedding budgets that other average American brides were spending.  Stuff I found were either extravagant $100k weddings or super frugal ones with $8k budget.  No matter how I changed the numbers around and searched and searched, I could not get my numbers that low for 100 people wedding.  So even though it’s been a few years since I got married, I wanted to post my wedding budget to tell you to not feel bad either way.  I felt like I was too poor to have a nice wedding and I also felt like I wasn’t frugal and smart enough to pull a real budget friendly wedding.  It’s your wedding, so as long as you can afford it and it makes you, your fiancé, and your family happy, don’t think about what other people are spending.  It goes without saying though that you should be smart about it and get the best deal possible.

1. Flowers $1,500.00 – My theme color was deep purple with hot pink as secondary color, so the main flowers used were lisianthus and hot pink roses and other flowers as fillers.  But I specifically asked to not use daisies, mums, carnations, and lilies.  Because I ruled out a lot of cheap flowers that can be used as filler, the price went up.  Now that I think about it, I should’ve let her use some of those flowers and cut the price by few hundred dollars.  But the flowers turned out well in general.  I didn’t really care for the flower girl basket or the way she decorated the cake, but I loved my bouquet and the head table arrangement.

So the pieces that were included in the price was: -1 theme color bride bouquet -3 ivory and cream bridesmaids bouquets – 1 theme color groom boutonniere – 3 ivory and cream groomsmen boutonnieres – 7 boutonnieres for family, pastor, ushers – 1 mixed color welcome table arrangement – 8 theme color aisle chair arrangements – 1 flower girl basket – 1 theme color head table arrangement – hot pink rose pedals for cake table and the aisle – 10 mixed color centerpieces for reception tables – 2 theme color altar arrangements

2. Cake $300.00 – This price included 3 tier cake for 74 servings, VT football shape groom’s cake for 12 servings, 7 cupcakes, and delivery fee.  I was really happy with all the cakes she brought.  They looked gorgeous, flavors were rich, and the cake was so moist.  I didn’t do a bouquet toss and instead I had the baker put a silver ring that I gave her ahead of time to one of the cupcakes and did a cupcake pick.  I had 7 single girls out in the front and had them pick a cupcake and eat it.  Whoever found the ring got to keep it.  Overall, money well spent.

3. Venue for ceremony and reception $6,648.28 – We got married at a mansion on a golf course.  This place is pretty inclusive of many things needed for the wedding reception.  Basically you pay for the food and meet the minimum spending amount with food, then the tables, coordinating, servers, candle vases, tables, chairs, covers, and most everything is included.  We got a great deal at $44.76 per person.  Ceremony fee was $249.95 and host bar tab came out to be $726.30.  It was a lunch wedding and our friends don’t drink that much.  Plus, their host bar drink price was pretty good.  The total amount includes the tax and service charge of 20%.  Overall, I’m really happy that I chose this place.  They were easy to work with and they didn’t nickel and dime me.  Since they’re pretty much all inclusive, I didn’t have to rent anything or pay for anything additionally as little thing as table number stand.  They even included projector and screen service for free.  The place is beautiful and the food was great.  We didn’t do steak, but instead went with chicken.  I was a little worried if people might complain about the lack of choice or the fact that I didn’t serve beef, but quite a few people came and told me after the wedding how they liked the food.  The service was attentive and quick.  My wedding day had thunderstorm all day, so they had to move the ceremony indoor.  They did it quick and although I was upset I didn’t get to have my outdoor wedding, the set up was gorgeous and made me stop whining.

4. Rehearsal dinner $579.80 – We had our rehearsal dinner at the same venue as our wedding, but they have a pub/café in a separate building right next to the mansion.  After the rehearsal, everyone walked over there for dinner.  It was $28.76 per person and this included little candle light decoration, plated Italian dinner, displayed appetizer, and dessert.  Also included in the price was coffee/tea station, tax, and service charge.  We had a host bar set up as well and that price was included with the reception host bar total.  Not much drink was consumed on rehearsal dinner night.  Since our wedding was at lunch time that meant that the girls had to wake up at 5am and the wedding venue is about an hour away from where most of the people lived.  Most of our friends don’t drink much anyway, so we all went home pretty early in the evening.

5. Invitations $200.00 –  We didn’t make a custom designed invitations.  We ordered invitations from Korea since printing in both Korean and English is super expensive in the U.S..  The price includes 200 invitations, envelopes, stickers, shipping, and currency conversion rate.  I couldn’t order it myself online, so I had my friend in Korea order it for me and she shipped it to my address.  I had to wire funds to her account, so it was a little complicated, but still cheaper than what I was quoted here.  We designed and printed a simple RSVP inserts ourselves and put it with the invitation.  We had them RSVP through just calling our moms or posting it on our wedding website.  So no separate envelopes for the RSVP cards.  I really like the design of our invitation.  It’s very simple and has traditional Korean feel in a modern way.  Everything printed correctly without any problem.  I had no high expectation, so that’s good enough for me~

6. DJ $674.00 – This was for 4 hours of service from ceremony to reception.  I went to a bridal show and got a coupon for $550.00 discount.  It would’ve been well over $1,000.00, which I don’t think is worth it at all.  I didn’t have live instrument for the ceremony and just had the DJ play all the music for us.  This included the microphone equipment, tip, and tax.  Overall, it was whatever.  During our slideshow, the video only showed half of the screen for some reason and he played the wrong music when the ceremony was done and my hubby and I were talking out for the first time as hubby and wife.  The dance portion of our reception, he didn’t hype people up.  I think it would’ve been better to use Ipod and just use the money for lighting service to make it more intimate and make the atmosphere more pop.  Even with the discount, I don’t think this was worth it.

7. Photography $1,500.00 – The photographer is someone we know through church and we had our couple’s photo session done with him when we were dating.  Although he’s talented, I wanted to look around for a  different photographer since he uses photo shop heavily and I wanted more natural looking pictures.  However, my hubby insisted that we go with him since he hates taking pictures already and it’d be better to deal with someone he’s comfortable with.  That’s the one thing he asked for during our wedding planning process, so I gave in.  The price included session starting from when we were getting ready to ceremony, cocktail hour, and through reception.  400 4×6 prints, 1000 enhanced digital proofs in a CD, 1 20-page coffee table album, one picture canvas signing board were included as well.  We had a quick picture session before the wedding for him to make the signing board, which turned out great.  I really didn’t looked into pricing of other photographers that I liked looking through blogs, so I can’t compare my photographer to others in terms of combined value of price and quality.  But I’d give him B.  I wanted an A+ on photography since this is what lasts, but it is what it is.

8. Pre-marriage class $50.00 – We had a 4 week 2 hour group sessions at our church.  It forced us to talk about things that we never discussed in detail and it opened us up more.  We even fought while doing homework from this class one time because we actually talked about important real things that we needed to sort through.  Fighting part wasn’t good, but talking about tough topics and questions was necessary.

9. Church $300.00 – We made an offering of $300.00 to our church for our pastor officiating our wedding.  No doubt it was worth it.

10. Facial $360.00 – I had one of the worst acne problem during this time and I bought 10 sessions of facial on a discount.  One week before the wedding, my face calmed down and I looked great, but 2 days before the wedding I broke out again.  I wasn’t getting much sleep and was so stressed out, it kind of reversed the effect of few months of facial in a few days.  Getting facial was good, but I should’ve gotten some prescription acne pill too.  I had to cake on makeup to cover up my bumpy face on my wedding day.

11. First dance lesson $50.00 – This was a nice surprise from hubby.  He bought a groupon deal for 2 group sessions and 2 personal sessions for $50.00.  It wasn’t enough time to get a whole choreographed routine, but we got our simple steps down and the intro and ending.  We weren’t planning to do anything fancy, so it was fine.  I recommend dance lesson to any couple period.  It was lots of fun and I felt so close to him learning this together.  One thing I didn’t like about it was how they’d call us over and over to sign up for regular dance classes.  We told them it’s not in our budget.  Haha~   

12. Videography $300.00 – My nephew (second cousin) is a videography major and it was a lot to ask of him to do this since he was coming from California.  But I put my thick skin on and asked him.  He gladly accepted it and I’m so grateful for his generosity.  I basically made him work on my wedding day.  He sent the finished product to me a few months after.  He was so apologetic to me saying that he wasn’t able to put much time into it because of his school and work.  I didn’t care since I just wanted something.  But it didn’t matter, because it’s great.  I sent him a VISA gift card for $300.00.  I wanted to give him more, but we had to be brutal with our money at this point.

This is just part 1 of my real wedding budget.  I will reveal the grand total after I list all my categories of expenses.  I hope this is helpful to someone and it’s also fun for me to reminisce about my big day.

What were your biggest wedding day expenses?  What do you regret spending money on for your wedding?

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7 thoughts on “My Real Wedding Budget Part 1

  1. Love that you did a budget breakdown! Our largest cost will be the wedding rentals since we are having our wedding on a private property. It will be around $4,000 just for that!

    • Renting can add up for sure. I looked into that too, but aside from the cost, it was too much for me to handle without a wedding planner. Your wedding will be awesome. I can’t wait to see the pictures~^^

  2. Our venue was the largest cost (by far!) It was just under $10K for just over 60 people but that includes all food (including cocktail hour) and an open bar (which my Mom and and Aunts paid for as a wedding gift, and because they insisted on an open bar). But the venue was perfect and the food amazing, still getting compliments! The cake was free (gift), photography was a good deal ($1K) because they were friends of ours. I DIY’d everything I could (including invites and bouquets). The best thing we did was have a band instead of a DJ. The band rocked out all night and everyone danced and had a great time. At my friend’s wedding last year they had a DJ and it just hit home even more how much better having an actual band was. There’s a few things I would change if I could do it all over again, but not the band, they were awesome.

    • Isn’t hiring a band a lot more expensive than a DJ? I think we’ve should’ve gone with Ipod either way since our reception was very short. People weren’t really into partying since it was during lunch and it was pouring rain all day. And my friends aren’t the type to dance much. It’s great for your family to pitch in. My mom wanted to pay for the food, but I refused and had her give a nice gift to my hubby.

      • Yes, the band was more expensive than the DJ but for us so worth it. We still get compliments to this day about how much fun people had. And compared to the DJ my friends had at their wedding, I really reminded me how much better a band can be. Fortunately (for us), we found a bar band that had never done weddings before so they charged us less to get started with a wedding “resume” so to speak and to be able to use us as reference. Instead of the $3-5000 price tags we were seeing from other bands they only charged us $1000 which is about what you’d pay for a DJ with equipment. Well worth the money, IMO.

        • You got a great deal~ If you can afford it or get a great deal like you, it’s definitely worth it. I think band makes the wedding more cool or sophisticated depending on the type of band you hire.

  3. Pingback: My Real Wedding Budget Part 2 | Michelle's Finance Journal

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