We have been seriously looking at our budget, and it's making me nervous spending this much money for an event. I realize that a wedding isn't just any event, but it's an event none the less.
I have been reading wedding blogs for a few years now, and I always hated it when they'd talk about the budget in a round about sort of way. One of the reasons I really like $2000 dollar budget wedding blog is because they were exact when they broke down the budget and didn't just leave it at percentages (ex we spent 40% of our budget on the food at the reception). They told me dollar for dollar what they spent and where it went. Very useful.
So... I'm going to be as specific as I can be in order to help as many people out there as I can.
In an ideal world we'd like to have our parents contributions cover the cost of the wedding, but that just isn't going to happen.
My parents are giving us $5000 with no strings attached. It doesn't even have to go towards the wedding. We could use it towards a down payment on a house, the honey moon, or we could invest it, whatever (this no strings attached thing is SO nice). And his parents are giving us $1000, also no strings attached. For a total of $6,000, which would be plenty for plenty of people out there. We could probably have worked with that kind of budget if we had really thought about it from the beginning, but at this point it's just too late to change it.
For example: We have already booked our venue, we've paid it in full, and at this point if we were to walk away it would cost us $500 (which I guess in the grand scheme of things isn't that much, but still!). Our venue requires that any food or beverage (except the cake) has to be provided by an approved caterer. And because the venue also requires us to hire a security person from them (ie someone who will be there watching us the whole day), we can't just fib and bring in our own bottled water and drinks. Big bummer. So we contacted all of the approved caterers on the list and found one that would met our needs. A brunch for 40 people that includes made to order crepes (with strawberries, bananas, and nutella), sausage, & fresh fruit is $16.98 a person. not bad right? well then we have to add the drinks. We're going to be serving coffee, orange juice, champagne and sparkling apple cider. I've been looking this part over and I think we're going to drop the champagne. Because we're getting married in IL, they're charging us $3.95 a person for a liquor license, which just doesn't seem worth it for champagne. Neither one of our families drink very much, if at all, so I doubt anyone will miss it. Plus we're having a dinner party the night before and there will be booze there. Anyway...
Back to the brunch. We found out that if we were going to rent table, chairs, linens and the like from an outside rental service they were going to charge us $600 to deliver because it's a holiday weekend AND it's a Sunday. Bad news bears. So we decided to have the caterer include these things in the quote. We will have plain white linens, simple wooden folding chairs, a couple of extra tables and all of the service ware that they would need.
Their quote came back at $2900 which includes labor, delivery and set up. The only thing that's left out is tip and taxes. This may not be such a bad deal if we were only having a brunch, but like I said we were planning on having the major meal and celebration the night before. Combine the dinner the night before and the brunch after the wedding and we're up to $8,000 right there (including taxes and tips on both ends), which is just unacceptable.
The venue is $1411.50, which includes everything from taxes to permit fees to insurance and security service. We have the space from 7 am to 2 pm.
$8,000 + $1,411.50 = $9,441.50 for food, rentals and location fees
This does not include...
$100 for cake from wholefoods
$500 for my dress
$500 for his suit
$1,500 for photographer
$250 for decor
$200 for flowers
$500 for transportation (I'll explain why I cannot leave this out)
$50 for favors
$150 for all paper goods including invites, save the dates, and programs
$9,441.50 + $3,750 = $13,191.50
Definitely not acceptable for us. There are a lot of people out there that would be absolutely thrilled if they spent under $15,000 for their wedding, but I am not one of them. For a while I could almost justify it until I started thinking of it like this.
If you divide $13,191.50 by the number of guest that we plan on having (40) you get $329,79 a person.
I looked up the average cost of a wedding in Chicago and it said anything from $17,000 to $28,000. So even there, I'm under budget, until you realize that I'm only having 40 people! I couldn't find the average number of people attending a wedding, but it has to be more than 40 people. I'm going to guess around 150. If you take the median of the average cost of a wedding in Chicago ($22,500) and divide it by 150 people, you would be spending $150 a person. Less than HALF of what we could spend if we followed our budget. Even if we lowered the average number of people to 100, they're still only spending $225 a person for the wedding which is still significantly less than us.
After these calculations I realized that we needed to slash our budget in order to justify the money we're spending on this event.
I started looking at all the things that we have listed and prioritized them.
But I took some things off the list because they have already been purchased.
-the paper (almost)
#1, My dress. I'm sorry but I LOVE my dress and I'll be damned if I could ever find a dress I like as much for less money. Plus it's going to be 100% cotton, which will allow me to possibly dye the dress and wear it many more times.
#4, The photographer. I blame this on my art background. I will not be happy with a mediocre wedding photographer. I thought briefly about having the guest take their own pictures with disposable cameras and leaving our digital camera with someone who would could take casual pictures though out the night, but again, I just can't handle the idea of leaving something I felt so strongly about up to people who had no experience taking pictures. I'm sure some of the photos would have been amazing and a lot of them would have been cute, but I'm sure many important moments would have been missed.
#5, Transportation. The only thing I didn't like about the venue we picked is that it doesn't have nearby parking. The field house is set back from the road and the only way you can get there is on a bike path. The closest lot is a good 5 or 6 minute walk, which isn't a big deal for us, or our friends, but we had to keep in mind that his grandparents are planning on attending and one of them in particular has incredibly bad knees. And in general, who really wants to walk through potentially muddy walk ways in fancy clothes and high heel shoes to get to a wedding. Not me.
#6 His Suit. we do not want to rent a tux because I feel like If I get to buy something fancy to wear he should get to buy something fancy to wear. And beyond that He'll definitely have a chance to wear a suit again.
#7 Cake. you just can't have a wedding without something sweet to end the day with.
#8 Flowers. If I really had to I could find an alternative to flowers that would be cheaper and probably look just fine, but I am IN LOVE with ranuclus flowers.
#9 Favors. This could easily be cut. I'm planning on having chocolate mustaches on a stick that will serve as props for our photo booth. Cute, delicious, and serving double duty.
Then I started at the bottom of the list and tried to justify cutting it completely. if I couldn't I tried to come up with a cheaper option.
Favors: I'm still undecided on this one. I really like the idea of giving something back to our guests especially since the VAST majority of them will have made a significant financial investment just by getting to Chicago, but who's going to notice if they're not there? probably no one.
Flowers: I have to wait until we're closer to the wedding so that I can really hunt around for good prices on these. My fear is that they are really surging in popularity and by the time we get married they may be out of my price range. I pick them, not only because they are beautiful, but because they are (0r were) cheap, and they last a REALLY long time after being cut. Because I'm going to be doing my own flowers, it made sense to pick something that would last. But it would make even more sense to pick something that isn't living, so that I could make them far in advance. I've been toying around with the idea of making pom pom flowers or fabric flowers. But I still haven't actually made any to see if they look good in real life. Either way I definitely want something in all the blue vases I bought to go on the table. We will not be eliminating this part of the budget.
Cake: I may end up making the cake from scratch. We would have planned on this the whole time, but it was unclear how cumbersome it would be to transport 6 or 8 cakes from milwaukee to chicago. So we took a tip from $2000 wedding and decided to go with whole foods. This could easily change once we figure out how much space we'll end up having in the car. We can always make two trips (but would it be worth it after paying gas?). We will not be eliminating this part from the budget.
His Suit: We may have already cut the cost of this one. He's found a place online that makes custom suits for less than $500. I cannot for the life of me remember if it's $250 or $450. I'll get back to you on this. If it really comes down to it, we would not be apposed to having him rent a suit for aprox. $100. But he really doesn't have anything that he already owns that would be appropriate for the event. We will not be eliminating this part from the budget.
Transportation: Like I said before, we cannot eliminate this from the budget, but I'm definitely going to be shopping around in order to get it as cheap as possible.
Photographer: We cannot eliminate this from the budget. I shopped around a lot before I finally landed on the the photographer we ended up picking. I had to get really creative in order to find a high quality photographer for a moderate price. A girl I knew in college (who i'm friends with on facebook) is dating a man in Nashville that works as a free lance photographer. I noticed his photographs because he takes tons of amazing portraits of the girl I know. All of her facebook pics are breathtaking. I emailed her and got his contact info. Turns out he's done weddings in the past and is looking to do more in the future. Another bonus, the girl's family is from Chicago, so he'd have a free place to stay when he's there, and on top of that he's willing to drive here and charge me the fed rate for gas/mileage. I have absolutely no doubt that the pictures will be amazing. We are not changing this part of the budget.
Dinner: Here's where things get tricky. The dinner we have planned now is going to cost $4,600. that's $115 a person. It's a five star restaurant and it's the only thing about the whole wedding that my boy really picked out. We're both REALLY into food. He absolutely loves this restaurant. It would be easy for us to get our deposit back and book a dinner somewhere else less expensive, but I would feel terrible about leaving the boy with nothing of his own. We will have to think about this long and hard before we make any changes.
Brunch: The caterer we picked wasn't the most expensive of the approved caterers on the list, which is good, but they weren't the cheapest either. I always thought that if the quote came back high, we could just leave the brunch out and just have cake and everyone would be happy, right? wrong. Because our wedding is at 9 in the morning (something we cannot change at this point), people aren't going to really have time to get breakfast before they need to be at the venue. Coupled with the fact that they won't be able to leave until 12 or 1, if we just serve cake, people are going to be ready to eat their own feet by the time they leave. I feel strongly that we need to feed them something (more significant than cake). I haven't decided if it has to be brunch.
My Dress: This part of the budget is not changing for reasons described above, even though my mother has offered to make the dress for me, which would bring the cost down to about $100 (for the fabric). I really don't want my mother making my dress because I am not confident in her sewing ability. It's becoming increasingly difficult to make up other reasons. I can't just tell her, "I don't want you making my dress because I'm afraid you'll mess it up."
At this point you may be thinking that I'm missing a few things, which I might be. But we have chosen not to have a DJ. We are going the ipod route. We are not paying for an officiant because we're having our mutual friend get ordained online so that she can marry us for free.
So in the end I really haven't been able to change much of anything, which is a huge bummer.
We're going to keep at it though and I'll let you know what we come up with.
Please let me know if you have any brilliant ideas.