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Number Crunch

by Meghann on January 31, 2012

My head hurts.

Derek and I just came from a meeting with the folks at Cross Creek and the numbers weren’t pretty. Not pretty at all.

The numbers we saw today included everything from the DJ to flowers to cake to decorations to food. Which is great that they were all included, but the total was more than my planned budget and still didn’t cover dress, rings, photographer, or invitations, which could all easily run a couple thousand more. We reviewed a couple of different scenarios and what it really comes down to is cutting our guest lists (our Moms are going to love us), serving really, really cheap food (Cuban rice and beans for everyone!), and just plain sucking it up and adding more money to the budget.

We had a long talk on the way home about how much we realistically want to spend on this wedding. Both of us want to relax on our wedding day and have everything taken care of, but we’re not sure how far in debt we want to go over it, so I’m not sure how much that budget is going to move.

There’s still the option of Birdsong Barn in Titusville, which would be considerably cheaper, but a lot more work and there’s still the constant worry of weather. I keep referring to the possibility of ‘Disney marathon weather’ and what our plan would be for that. So far I’ve just been promised lots of heaters and blankets. Of course we could luck out with weather like tonight (clear skies and a current temp of 72) and be fine. Ahhhhh…. I hate the unknowns!

We’re going to continue talking it over through the weekend and I’m going to continue crunching the numbers. I’m also going to price out a couple of more venues in the area. A couple that I have priced out were a little high for my budget, but another one has some possibility, but would again be completely from scratch. We’ll see.

This afternoon I had a mini bowl of yogurt with muesli, peanut butter, and strawberries as an afternoon snack.

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Our meeting with Cross Creek was at 7:30 and I didn’t give myself time to eat before hand. Big mistake. My stomach was loudly growling through the appointment and I just about ate the entire fridge when we finally made it back home at 9:00.

I began eating mushrooms, broccoli, and pieces of pasta as I threw together a dinner of leftover pasta with a scrambled egg, broccoli, and mushrooms mixed in.

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A much needed chocolate chip cookie for dessert.

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And now I need to pack.

Good Night.

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caroline January 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Planning a wedding can definitely be stressful, and it’s certainly unfortunate how much the “basics” end up being! The guest list can be tricky too because people can easily get offended…

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2 Carissa January 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Good luck with all that! I think it’s best to give yourself a few days to think over big decisions like this….the answer generally comes to you and you know in your heart. Are there 10-20 people you won’t miss at the wedding? Can you have less food choices? Will you pay for weather peace of mind???

It’s a lot but in the end you’re married!

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3 Mary January 31, 2012 at 10:38 pm

The only thing I found more stressful than planning a wedding was buying a house!

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4 Jennifer @ Eat With Knowledge January 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I totally know what you mean and it SUCKS. I’m planning our wedding right now too and it’s so hard to get everything you want while still in budget. The best advice I was given by lots of friends is to try to cut your guest list (as hard as it will be). Family might not be happy but it really is YOUR wedding and that’s the most important thing to remember. I’ve also heard of some people doing “A” guest list and then “B”– you send out all the A invitations first and ask them to RSVP ASAP- and then send out the B’s based on what you get back. I think that would only work if those people’s paths didn’t cross that much but it might be worth a try??

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5 NJ February 1, 2012 at 8:30 am

Please don’t “B List” it’s incredibly rude and totally breaches etiquette. And guests WILL know if they were B-listed most of the time. Why risk that?

The best way to save the most money off a budget is to cut the number of guests. Our wedding was aout 80 people and that was the max I would have wanted (I don’t like large weddings as you really don’t get the opportunity to talk to everyone at all).

I am sure some people who didn’t get invites (which included some of my extended family and my H’s as well) were disappointment but that is their problem. When people asked me about the wedding and I knew they weren’t going to make the list I just kept repeating “we are having a small wedding” and “our venue doesn’t hold a large number.” Everyone understood and I didn’t lose any friends out of it like I may have if I straight up obviously B-listed them.

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6 Julie February 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm

I completely agree with NJ. That does sound pretty rude to me, and I would be offended if I found out I made the bride’s B list instead of A list. That seems more hurtful to me that just being upfront about the number of guests you can have. My husband and I (married since Oct 2005!) deliberately chose to have a small wedding. My husband was very adamant about not having people celebrate his wedding that he didn’t know, so that meant my mom’s friends and co-workers could not make the list. Was she upset? A little. But, it was our wedding, and ultimately, she agreed that the party was intimate and beautiful.

I also have over 50 first cousins but I’m one of the youngest. Instead of inviting all of them and their families, I addressed the invites to “Aunt and Uncle and family” and the cousins that wanted to come were more than welcome, but not everyone felt that had to make the 4-hour trek to attend. Helped the guest list and the family guilt and my closest cousins came!

This weekend, you and Derek should figure out what YOU TWO want. Big? Small? Huge? I would try not to let your mothers’ guilt play into it too much – they’ll survive and be happy for you anyway! Promise!

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7 Sue Kauffman January 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Seriously trying to talk my daughter into a destination wedding when the time comes. I think it will be less stressful and less costly for all concerned. They can always throw an informal party for the friends and extended family later.

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8 Brittney @ Brittney Breathing January 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I completely understand. I am also in the midst of planning a wedding (Sept 2, 2012!) and it is so much pressure to make sure everything is perfect, yet keep it within your means. Our budget is….relatively high (at least I think so!) and we are having to take out a loan for part of it. Yes, I don’t really want to be in debt but it’s also the one day we have to share with all of our friends and family that is super special. My piece of advice would be to pick 3-4 things that are your absolutes and that you are willing to spend money on and all the others try to cut corners or go cheaper. Good luck!

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9 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy January 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I’m getting married in July, and I know how stressful those initial weeks of planning are! We found a venue that includes the caterer, bar and linens, and will set up and tear down everything for us, and then we get to choose our other vendors. We were also able to negotiate prices. We got the Friday night rental price even though our wedding is on a Saturday, and they are allowing us to have china (rather than plastic stuff) at a very low price. Try bargaining! If they want your business, they’ll listen to you! I have heard that it’s usually cheaper to find the DJ, florist and bakery on your own. Sometimes the smallest, hole in the wall places have the best options and the cheapest prices! Anyway, advice session over :). I’m just currently obsessed with weddings, haha.

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10 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife January 31, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Yes, weddings are expensive–so sorry to hear about your worries :( But flowers def add up!

best of luck to you!

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11 Liz @ Tip Top Shape January 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Sounds like planning is stressful, but at least you’re at the beginning of it. You two have lots of time to figure everything out.

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12 Melissa @TryingtoHeal January 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Ah, try not to fret too much. Take the weekend to sit on it and see how you feel about things next week! Enjoy your trip!

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13 Olivia January 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm

That’s such a shame. I’m so worried for the day I get married, because I am super cheap and will want stuff that’s nice but will hate all the prices, for sure!

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14 Christine @ BookishlyB January 31, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Maybe just charge people to attend? ;)

I don’t think the budget aspect is ever easy, unless you come from a wealthy family or are okay with simplifying it. We paid for our completely on our own and had to make tough decisions, like a cash bar (I know, so tacky, but we gave everyone a drink ticket, plus the wedding party unlimited drinks) and a more inexperienced photographer (she turned out awesome). We served good food, had a great DJ and a amazing venue, though. It’s tough, but in the end you’ll be glad you worked so hard.

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15 Megan January 31, 2012 at 11:30 pm

I can’t even imagine the numbers! No stressing…everything will work out perfectly!!!

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16 Cm @ Lazy Healthy January 31, 2012 at 11:31 pm

I think I need more dessert in my life. Just looking at your choco chip cookie is driving me nuts!

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17 Lisa (bakebikeblog) February 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

I think having a budget in mind is really important!

Mr BBB and I kept ours fairly small – for us, we didnt want to go into debt for a wedding, and would rather spend our $ on building our new house / travelling overseas etc!

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18 Allie @Being Allie February 1, 2012 at 12:39 am

Keep looking and keep your hopes up! I am sure you will find something within your budget (or close to) and it will be perfect for you :)

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19 Vivian34 February 1, 2012 at 2:09 am

As a mother I’m always securing that i will not experience a kind of shortage in my budgeting that’s why i write down every expenses i gotten.

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20 erica February 1, 2012 at 3:37 am

ah, number crunching is so stressful when wedding planning. honestly, cutting the guest list saves you money all around. less food to order, less favors, less tables, less chairs, less invites/save the dates, less everything.

try to list what’s most important to you and start cutting stuff from the bottom up.

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21 Lindsey @ Sound Eats February 1, 2012 at 4:16 am

Hey! Not sure if it’s a helpful suggestion, but definitely price out other options, and if you’re not set in stone about the date, inquire about different days of the week (sometimes Fridays or Sundays are cheaper), and different times of day. I ended up going with a not-for-profit country club (I.e. there’s a max they can charge) and saved thousands by having a luncheon reception versus a dinner. And everything day-of was taken care of. Oh! And the book “How to Have an Elegant Wedding for $5,000 or Less” was a great resource. And yes…we did our wedding for slightly under $5,000 (haha and yes, still had alcohol). Email me if you want to chat anymore!

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22 Coco February 1, 2012 at 5:39 am

Don’t be bummed out lady! There are so many things that you can do to yourself to save money.. My wedding was around $3000 (that’s including wedding rings which- we got both for $500 because we had over $400 in coupons!) Of course it is all in what your going for- but I got married on a boat which was docked off shore- from my friends beach house, made almost all of the food myself (with the help of mom and dad) and didn’t buy a wedding dress- but a skirt and tank.. We were known as the hippie wedding- and had people there we didn’t even know helping out.. We had boat rides with Tubing, swimming, drinking and plain old fun! And seriously to this day- almost 5 years later- people still talk about it… as being the most fun and beautiful wedding they had been to.
I know that isn’t for everybody- but I’m merely saying that for me I would much rather save some money by doing some stuff myself and have a simpler wedding because thats just one day- and I didn’t want to have $15000 in debt right when we started our life together (which allow us to buy a house a few years later) You can have your dream and everything will pan out… and it will be memorable and beautiful :)

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23 Tabitha (From Single to Married) February 1, 2012 at 6:57 am

oh – I remember that so well! I lived in DC at the time that we got married and everything was just SO expensive! Just to rent the hall we were looking at was $4,000 and that didn’t include the valet attendants that were required and all of the other stuff, it was just the space. But, it worked out. We found other options that were less expensive, we did lots of research and cut corners in some areas (music, location – on the outskirts of the city, etc.) and spent our money on areas that were most important to us (photography, the dress, etc.). You’ll figure it out and it will be just what you want!

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24 Hillary February 1, 2012 at 7:00 am

You guys just need to decide what’s most important to you and go from there. Stick with your gut—it’ll work out!

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25 Annalisa February 1, 2012 at 7:17 am

Hi Meghan! I got married in 2009 with a similar style to your’s. Here’s my advice — no one will remember details you obsessed over!! Have good food, good music, and lots of booze. Make it at a decent time (11AM wedding with a 5PM reception – LAME).

We did loads of appetizers in place of a meal and no one noticed (I think we had homemade chips + salsa, guac, shrimp, meatballs, etc — catered). We bought all of our own booze but did very nice wine + beer. We saved money by doing homemade apple pie w/vanilla ice cream. I had a few batches of sunflowers in a few places and did plain white tables — when people are seated, no one notices. We were lucky that we got married in the gorgeous, snow-capped mountains of Idaho and the background was stunning enough. I had 110 people and I think it all cost us (travel and hotel excluded) for $8000?

I found a great non-profit organization – womancraft – who made our invites that were amazing. We had friends of friends photograph our wedding (professional but not a ton of experience at that point). Our DJ basically had an ipod w/a great sound system.

Scale back the details and you will save tons. Remember – good food, booze, and music is all people (and you!) will remember.

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26 Caitlin in MD February 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

Such practical advice!

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27 S February 1, 2012 at 7:19 am

First time commenter, but long time wedding planner. It’s usually cheaper if you contract out flowers, dj, and cake on your own. You can do alot of negotiating by just getting several flower quotes. Can you hire out those vendors? I’m not the biggest fan of complete wedding packages, they tend to be slightly overpriced for the quality of goods (at least here in NY), but at the same time from the other venue you mentioned a totally blank slate is alot of work and can easily blow a budget if you aren’t careful. If you do choose the second venue I’d really really advise hiring a wedding planner to keep things in check.

You could also consider moving the wedding to a Friday or Sunday. If there is a holiday weekend around when you are thinking of getting married (MLK day) that Sunday before may be a Sunday price for a Saturday feeling (since most people are off). In general I would advise that if your budget is still blown without photography then you need to rework the budget or find a different place because that is one thing you don’t want to skimp on.

Hope this helps! Good luck planning. It gets to be alot more fun once you have a venue!

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28 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope February 1, 2012 at 7:41 am

I’m getting married in August and I completely know what you are going through. Have you thought about getting married on a Friday night? That is what we are doing to save money. It’s amazing how much money you will save and how many extras they will throw in for you! It’s incredible. Most of the time you can wheel and deal with the places. That is what I have been doing. As for the guest list, that has been a major issue that we are still working on and I’m only weeks away from sending out save the dates. It does get easier. Best of luck to you :)

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29 Katie @ cooklaughmove February 1, 2012 at 7:43 am

We had a “from scratch” venue and with the help of 2 amazing couples (close friends), everything came together with nary a worry from me! They did EVERYTHING from letting the cake lady in, to directing the flow of the evening, directing the caterer and dj set-up, they did it all.

It was better than I expected because I felt SO comfortable giving them directions and they checked it with me multiple times to assure me things were going fine.

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30 Dana @ the Big Fat Skinny February 1, 2012 at 7:54 am

I can really relate to your wedding planning woes — I desperately wanted an out of the box wedding in an outdoor setting. Something no one that we knew had done before. It was difficult to find a senario that would allow us to enjoyo our wedding day rather than have to orchestrate everything, but as the day grew closer I considered hiring my our wedding corrdinator, and I couldnt have been happier! I thought it would be SUPER costly to have someone like “David Tuetera” but it really wasn’t. Even though my wedding was on a private estate with NO accomidations and we had to bring EVERYTHING in, I didn’t lift a finger that day, and I didnt hear about who did what, when or where. My coordinator was a blessing. So my advice to you is, why not consider hiring an outside coordinator, and having it a the less expensive venue – you guys will certainly be able to rest and enjoy your day while everything is taken care of, and you wont have to go into debt over it. Good luck! Stay positive, this should be one of the most special time of your life!

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31 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 1, 2012 at 8:19 am

oh gosh, i would certainly be overwhemled! I’ve never been married, but from all the wedding shows I’ve watched, things always seem to turn out more expensive than expected. You just have to decide what’s most important and put your money there. And everyone loves rice and beans!

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32 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups February 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

Ugh, I know how stressful the cost of a wedding can be. I feel like I’ve been having nervous breakdowns every week and probably will until I get down the aisle. Some ways we’ve cut cost is to only have beer and wine at the reception, do a “first look” photo to keep the cocktail hour shorter, making my own Save the Dates (no engagement photos). Also, I’ve heard that some couples open a joint account to dump funds for the wedding so you’re guaranteed to be saving that amount and you get interest on it. Good luck! I know it’s super stressful!

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33 Emily February 1, 2012 at 8:44 am

There’s a post about big guest lists on A Practical Wedding today that was great! Plus lots of sage advice about budgets and guest lists and saving money, etc. We chose not to buy an all-included wedding package. I think we saved money by working with individual vendors. And I was still very relaxed on my wedding day. I had a fabulous caterer and great friends and family who put the reception together with absolutely no stress on my part. I’d given everyone helping a very detailed to-do list which I prepped before hand. Everything came off with out a hitch, and I was able to relax and enjoy the day. It was so much fun to get to the reception site because we hadn’t yet seen it all set up.

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34 Jennie February 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

We got married 3 years ago this summer and our budget was a bit tight as well. I was so stressed about it at the time- I felt like I had to have everything I wanted or my wedding would be horrible. We had to sacrifice things and the wedding was great. Everyone had fun and never even noticed what I thought was missing. Looking back now, being stressed about those little things was silly. It ruined the joy of the whole planning process. Remember that you need to focus on the positive! You’re getting married! It doesn’t matter where and it doesn’t matter what you eat or what flowers you’re holding. You’re getting married and your friends and family just want to be there to support you.

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35 Megan @ bump on a log learns to jog February 1, 2012 at 8:53 am

I totally can relate with you there. My wedding is on May 26th and I am in the midst of trying to DIY everything so that it costs less. The other place that I wanted to cut down was on flowers. I dont need a bouquet the size of my head if it’s going to cost hundreds of dollars. What I do for inspiration is go on etsy and then I’ll try and copy things that I see. But I think when planning a wedding you will always spend more than you want to. “Oh you want those chairs? that’s $1.50 extra per person.” Who knew.

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36 KatieTX February 1, 2012 at 8:55 am

A couple shortcuts we used for our wedding this past November. Number one best decision I ever made was to get invitations from 123print.com. They always have coupons and are really reasonable. I am NOT crafty so making my own invites was out of the question. A lot of people told me to do invitations from Office Depot or Target and print them ourselves…however, it was SO much easier to design them online and have 123print do them. I had never heard of them prior to my wedding planning so just wanted to share! I did invites (including reply cards), place cards, and ceremony programs using the same design. They were high quality and cost under $100.

Also, stamps are a money suck. We did NOT include a stamped RSVP card and gave people the option to RSVP at our wedding website. No one complained.

We chose a reception venue (ceremony was at a church) that included cake, food, a flower package (decoration for tables), a coordinator, and a hotel room for us that night. It ended up being absolutely perfect.

Weddings are tough because you want to save money without compromising on quality. I think shopping around is the best way to know how much things should cost. I didn’t choose any vendors without seriously interviewing them or having them recommended by a friend.

Happy wedding planning!

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37 em February 1, 2012 at 9:09 am

I do not recommend going into any debt at all over your wedding. It’s not worth it. You will have an amazing day surrounded by friends and family, no matter what.

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38 Megan February 1, 2012 at 9:10 am

Have you considered getting married on an “off” day of the week? We did things non-traditionally and had a small family only ceremony, but, did a bigger reception a few months later. We saved a ton of money on the reception by having it on a Friday evening – it was half the price to rent a venue, DJ offered a discount, etc.

We also kept the guest list down by inviting only people we knew personally (i.e. – no friends of my parents who we did not know). Good luck – I am glad that we had a reception to celebrate our marriage, but, I never, ever want to go through that again.

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39 jena February 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

Elope. Ha
Honestly, when it was all said & done, we should have just eloped.

We had a private ceremony on the beach – and by private I mean we only invited our immediate family (siblings/grandparents & one set of aunt/uncle who live out of town). After the ceremony we headed back to Clermont for a reception w/ the rest of our family/friends. Were feelings hurt? Probably. Do I care? No. It was my wedding, and I was the one footing the bill, not my guests. IMO, it’s not worth going into mega debt over. It’s one day. Yah, it’s your wedding day, but do you really want to be paying for it for the next 15 years?

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40 Michelle February 1, 2012 at 9:33 am

Remember – a wedding is ONE DAY. The important things? The people who are there to celebrate, the photographer to capture the moments, the dress (and it doesn’t have to be expensive) and entertainment to keep the party going — and alcohol if that’s your thing (it was important to me!). Everything else? Nobody cares but you! And 9 years later – I don’t even remember what I cared about!

It’s not worth it to go into debt over one day. I LOVE a big party and a wedding SHOULD be the biggest party you ever throw – but there is so much more to a marriage than just that one day. Good luck with your planning!

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41 Theresa @ActiveEggplant February 1, 2012 at 11:11 am

I’m with Michelle – I say DON’T go into unnecessary debt for your wedding. Yes, you want it to be a special day – and it will be no matter what! Whether you spend $1,000 or $50,000 (eek!) it’s going to be your day. The biggest lesson I learned was to keep yourself (bride + groom) happy – not your guests. Sure, you don’t want pissed off and crabby guests, but the little details we tend to get caught up in – like whether you should have 3 meat options or if just 1 is ok – go unnoticed by the guests. My husband and I have been married for just over 6 years now & we definitely had a pretty low key wedding (church ceremony, buffet reception in a hotel ballroom) but everyone remembers it as one of the best receptions they’ve been to – and we walked away with $0 debt and a total cost of under $5,0oo!

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42 Claire February 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

Welcome to wedding planning! I’m in the midst of it myself, so I certainly understand your frustrations (my fiance and I are on a fairly tight budget, too). P.S. We booked our photographer yesterday and it’s going to cost us around $3000 – that was a shock to me, but apparently it’s the normal rate.

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43 sara February 1, 2012 at 10:19 am

We’re venue shopping too and its sooo frustrating. Its just so expensive. We finally admitted to ourselves that we have to seriously cut our guest list and probably put our honeymoon on a credit card. Deep breaths girl, we’ll figure it out and have the best day of our lives!

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44 Cait's Plate February 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

Ugh sorry to hear it. Just remember that it’s the union of two people that makes a wedding special! Everything else will fall away when you see Derek on your wedding day!

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45 Kathy February 1, 2012 at 10:36 am

The items I most remember from my wedding is the music and close friends/family being there having a great time. I can’t even tell you what I ate…probably some chicken dinner but I honestly don’t remember! ha!

We had 225 guests….I could have easily had less but had to have some “older friends of my parents” and “old neighbors” to keep mom happy….honestly, don’t know if I even talked with those people….maybe scale back a few guests to the ones that mean the most and do away with the ones “who you think you should invite just to keep others happy” ha! It is about you and Derek after all…especially if its your budget.

(Or invite some only to the dance later and skip the dinner?)

You will figure it out…..but try not to get too stressed in the mean time. ;-)

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46 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs February 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

Keep an open mind, and the right solutions will present themselves!
Choose the aspects that are the most important to you to splurge on, and then use more budget friendly options for the rest. Your day will be amazingly special, no matter what the decor looks like, or how much you spent on favors.
Good luck! :)

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47 Jamie @ Food in Real Life February 1, 2012 at 10:52 am

Uggh wedding planning sucks sometimes. And I’m sure you’re getting plenty of advice but let me tell you- overspending on a venue is a surefire way to stress yourself out for the rest of your planning experience. I did it, and then I was instantly TIGHT for everything else in my budget and the rest of my planning experience was tied up in nerves and I had to cut corners in areas that I didn’t want or expect to. If you give yourself leeway in the venue budget, the rest of your planning will be more fun and less stressful. Why would you want to cut people just to have a fancier place? It’s more about the experience and the place is never as important as who is there helping to create those memories.

I’d explore more options so it doesn’t have to be the outdoor venue or this venue. You have enough time to do so, don’t sell yourself short. Also- remember you can always attempt to negotiate. Tell them what you can pay before you walk away. They may work with you more than you would believe. This economy is not so hot right now, so you may get what you want.

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48 Emily February 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm

The budget is definitely the most stressful thing about a wedding (in MY experience). I hope you gus figure it out and realize what you need to do!

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49 Sarah February 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Don’t go into debt for your wedding. It’s one day.

Keep reading “A Practical Wedding”, Meg talks about not having to cut your guest list but also having a fantastic wedding.

Engagements are stressful!! Don’t listen to anyone’s advice about manners, just do what you feel is right.

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50 PaigeP February 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Just a thought– Why not make the ceremony itself very small? You could have the parents, grandparents, siblings, and bridal party. The ceremony would be very intimate. During the ceremony, the rest of the guests would gather at the reception area and be there to greet you and Derek.

A friend of mine went with this option, and it was FANTASTIC. They didn’t have to spend as much (church decorations), and they were able to spend more money on the big party (reception).

I thought it was kind of cool that only their inner circle was in on the ceremony. It made all of us just that much more excited when they arrived at the reception.

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51 Meg @ My Chocolate Covered Life February 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Hey Meghann,
I just wanted to offer a little perspective to hopefully make you feel better.

I grew up in a very affluent community and went to an expensive small liberal arts college out east. The result is that I have wealthy friends and as they have gotten married, they have hosted lavish weddings, some incredibly so.

When I got engaged and started pricing out the market, I quickly realized that venues, vendors and friends have expectations that I wasn’t comfortable with. I was not okay with spending more on my wedding than a year’s worth of rent; that just didn’t sound right, regardless of what I could “afford.”

So my then fiance and I said “no” to a lot of things including a wedding planner, and viewed it as planning just another party. Once I got in the mentality that I was throwing a party instead of “wedding” it seemed so silly to spend ungodly amounts of money on decorations and other accoutrements.

Now that I am 8 months out, the wedding seems so distant and I am so grateful that I didn’t let expectations dictate the scale of party I planned. As long as there’s good tasting food, an awesome playlist and free booze, people will stay late and dance the night away. And they did!

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52 Gwen February 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm

We saved a ton for our wedding and my parents helped out…and we still took out a loan. But it was so worth it. BEST weekend of my life. Good luck with budgeting. It can be super stressful, just be true to you and Derek. Mother’s already had their weddings :)

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53 Chelsea February 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm

You’ll figure it out! & I bet your wedding will be gorgeouuus!

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54 Sarah February 1, 2012 at 1:16 pm

It sounds like you really need to prioritize. What’s most important to you:

Decorations, dress, amazing food, inviting lots of guests, a full bar or just wine/beer, amazing photos, experienced DJ, etc.

I think you and Derek should sit down and decide which parts are most critical to your vision of an ideal day. Then you can feel comfortable skimping on certain things, knowing it’s not an important part of your plan.

*Also consider getting married on a Friday. We did that and it worked out really well. Saved us 20-25% on the venue and most of the vendor costs.

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55 Chris February 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Oh, I feel your pain! Here is what we did to save $$$ – and were still able to have exactly what we wanted.
* STD’s and invites on paperlesspost.com Highly recommend, they are adorable, cheap and in line with our enviro ethic. We got no complaints, lots of people seemed to love them.
* No DJ – made an ipod playlist – hubby did an amazing job and dance floor packed all night- and rented speakers for about $50! We MCed it ourselves and had friends help introduce things like father/daughter dance
* No real flowers- paper pinwheels for bouquets, paper flowers for centerpieces. Adorable!
* Rings from etsy – $80 for both from Titanium Knights- would totally rec them!
* Prof photog a friend so excellent deal
* Friend who sells wine and got us a great deal!
* Cheap dress for me

This allowed us to splurge on what was important to us – photobooth, cake (I know some people don’t care about that, but I am a cake hound!), awesome free bar and delish food at a really nice venue. We stayed on budget and had the best day ever!

I think you should consider using your Meals and Miles cred to help you out! Offer reviews, recos, whatever it takes to get the free stuff. You’ve worked hard to build up a good reputation online, time to cash in!

Oh, and I used to think B-lists were crass until I had my own guest list woes – we wound up doing a B-list and I don’t think anyone was the wiser. I am all for it now and totally cool when other brides need to do it. The guest list is tortuous!

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56 Kathryn February 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm

why not a simple church wedding, with a simple reception afterward (finger foods, cake & punch), and save the money for fantastic honeymoon trip?

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57 MissPinkKaet February 2, 2012 at 10:16 am

This is what we did and it worked out very well for us. Going into debt for a wedding is crazy- it’s a party, it’s one day!

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58 Lesley Zinn February 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Do you have the option to not invite children? My husband and I did not for our October wedding and it kept the guest list down considerably. We did have some people that we really wanted there not be able to come due to not being able to find child care, but its chance we were willing to take. We invited 148 ppl and had 98 at our wedding. Best of luck and congratulations – it is stressful but it will all be worth it in the end.

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59 Eliza February 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Previous commenters have highlighted the need to prioritize. I think this is key. What do you both envision for your day? The details will fade away. Don’t just do things because “its how it is done.” For example, my aunt is making my dress, I’m not carrying a bouquet, and we are creating playlists and hooking a computer up to rented speakers instead of getting a DJ.

A wedding is a really silly thing to go into debt for, and starting your life as a married couple in debt really stinks. Aren’t there other things you’d rather spend money on (or go into debt for) than a party?

For us, the food and having our friends be able to stay onsight were the two most important things. When we pictured our wedding, we pictured friends and family enjoying really good food, booze, and getting to spend the night so we could all wake up in the morning. We figure people will dance without a DJ (as long as there is beer!), and nobody notices centerpieces (unless they are planning a wedding, I guess) so we’re just collecting glass jars to put candles in, and using my aunt’s collection of old glass bottles to stick wildflowers in.

When I first started planning I thought I wanted all the things that the wedding industry was trying to sell me. Turns out, I just wanted to commit to spending the rest of my life with the person I love, surrounded by our community. The rest is just silly details.

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60 Camile February 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Keep working on it. You guys are still early in the planning stages. I know everything will come together. You two are adorable and remember that the important thing is being happy and enjoying your day! =)
If you need a photographer, I work freelance with a partner at great prices. Feel free to contact me. https://www.facebook.com/ExArtePhotography

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61 Sara February 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Definitely try to negotiate prices, etc. We actually got married on a Friday evening instead of Saturday because it was so much cheaper. Our venue included the cake, but I wanted cupcakes, so we asked for a discount to not have the cake. They gave us more money off than we paid for the cupcakes! Since the venue meal included the dessert, our cupcakes doubled as our favors (I bought cupcake boxes in bulk: http://www.brpboxshop.com/2366.html). I added stickers with a little message to personalize them.

I made my own invites, menus, placecards, table numbers. Here’s a great website for all sorts of fancy paper, cheap, and you can order samples first: http://www.paperandmore.com

Let me know if you need any ideas. I’d be happy to help. I really enjoyed planning my wedding. Making everything myself made it more personal and unique!

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62 julia February 2, 2012 at 10:39 am

I feel your stress! I’m getting married in 3 months and still am somewhat agonizing over guest lsist–mainly who can have a plus one or not.

Just remember, everyone has limits, and people need to respect that.

There were over 30 people on my dad’s side that I knew we couldn’t invite. My dad wanted them to meet my fiance so we met at a restaurant in Jersey and rented a room and all split the bill. (Actually an older relative surprisingly picked up the tab for everyone, but that wasn’t planned!)

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63 Leana February 2, 2012 at 11:35 am

Hi Meghann! My husband and I definitely had a bit of sticker shock too on the cost of a wedding. Ultimately we chose to go with a place that included everything (venue, ceremony, chairs, food, alcohol) because we didn’t want to get surprised by little costs adding up. We figured out what was most important to us – excellent photography and good food – and let the rest go. I didn’t put a lot of money in to decorations because the venue was so pretty. For flowers I only got bouquets for myself and my two girls in my bridal party. The only other flowers were roses I picked up from Costco the day before in bud vases on the dining tables.

The guest list is the first place you can save a bunch of money on. We booked a venue with a hard limit of 60 people (before we got engaged) and that stopped relatives from inviting an endless stream of people. If the guest list is important consider an afternoon wedding or go with passed appetizers/food stations, have a cash bar.

Ultimately remember that this day is for you and Derek. Do what is important to you and don’t be afraid to tell someone if something isn’t what you want. Good luck!!

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64 erica February 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Have you checked out Young House Love’s wedding page? They did a beautiful backyard wedding for 75 people for $3,999 ($1,200 of which was for a photo booth).

Don’t stress too much about the wedding; it should be fun. People these days are worrying more about their weddings than their actual marriage.

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65 Erika Walker February 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Have you thought about doing a Friday wedding? I know it’s not ideal but a lot of venues/photographers/dj’s etc. will give a discount for holding your on an off-day and that way you might be able to afford to do it at a venue you really love!

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