Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Budgeting with Style

When I first started thinking about money for my wedding, the $10,000 budget was a necessity.  My parents are not rich, Daniel's parents are not rich either, neither of us has rich family members or friends of any sort who would want to help us out, and Daniel and I are just getting out of school (and my current job has almost kicked me out on the street as it is).  In short, we have no money.  And actually, we were a lot better off when we set that budget, so now I'm doing everything I can to stay under it.

However, the more I've thought about it, the more we could probably go over budget if we really wanted to.  My parents may not have any money to contribute...but they'll probably contribute a couple thousand dollars anyway cuz that's how they roll (understand why they have no money?).  Daniel's dad is doing pretty well right now and has offered us more than I want to accept (I'll explain later).  As long as Daniel has a decent lawyering job next year (and as long as I have a job of some sort.  sigh), we shouldn't have much trouble saving a few thousand dollars from his income.  And then there's me.  I may not have any living wealthy relatives, but my grandfather was a brilliant mathematician and played the stock market well.  Let's just say I inherited a decent sum.  My plan for said money has always, always been to use it as a down payment for a house (even when I first found out about it at 15), and I want to save as much as possible for that purpose.  But...given our difficult current financial situation, I'm taking some of it out for our wedding.  I'll probably end up paying for about half our wedding myself.  In a way, this makes me feel good because I already know Daniel will always be the breadwinner in our family, and this is a big way for me to contribute.  Also, the more money I spend out of pocket, the more control I feel like I have over where it goes (we'll also get to this later).  Anyway, the point is, with all 4 of these resources available, I could probably bump our budget up to $15,000 without putting too much strain on anyone.

But I'm not going to.  Here's why:  through my internet research and wedding books, I have realized how easy it is to save money on your wedding.  Whether it be buying wholesale, borrowing from friends/relatives/random people you meet on the street/etc, bargain/sale shopping, or giving up on things you don't really care about, there are tons of ways to keep your wedding costs down without sacrificing quality too much.  Now that I know this, I'd feel bad wasting my family's and my money on overpriced stuff I don't need.  And this is why no matter how hard it may be, I will keep my wedding under $10,000 (not including the honeymoon, but we intend to pay for that entirely off of our honeymoon registry, so, you know, at least it's not our money).

Here are some ways I'm planning on doing it:

1.  Venue:  This is the really tricky part.  I might cave and go for an inexpensive (actually, we're going to just go with "not ridiculously expensive") hotel by the sea because OMG so much easier, but I'm still aiming for renting something like this:

personal photo

I took this photo on a beautiful stretch of California coastline that I thought would be perfect for our wedding.  And you know what?  I bet we could rent this very spot from the government for under $100.  Of course, then we'd have to rent chairs, a sound system, etc. for the ceremony on our own, but I've got time, I can make that happen.  Then all we'd pay for a venue is the cost of the reception, and I've found places that would cost us significantly less than $1,000 for the entire wedding (post to come on this).

2.  Music:  I'm a control freak.  I'd actually prefer to just hook my laptop up to speakers and have a set playlist for the night.  Maybe, if I feel like it, I'll get a friend to mix in a few requests.  Total cost:  just speakers and perhaps a cord.  Ideally, this is something that would already be available at the venue.

3.  Photography:  I'm more torn on this one because photography is really important to me, but there is no way I am hiring a pro to cover the whole wedding.  I think we're going to do something like this:  professional for ceremony and pictures of us and our family, wedding party, etc., amateur friend for the remainder of the wedding plus single use cameras for guests to take pictures, amateur friend to do video (using my brother's awesome camera).  Total cost:  aiming for under $500 (not including prints, I'll worry about that later).

4.  Flowers:  Still hoping for something like this, but I'm definitely open to non-flower centerpieces.  Plus, I have no desire to provide the wedding party with flowers.  Just a bouquet for me and a boutonniere for Daniel will do just fine.  Just that will save us hundreds of dollars.
5.  DIY:  I'm sure everyone who has looked at wedding blog knows how much you can save by DIYing as much as you can.  At first, I wasn't really open to this because I am just not a crafty person.  But the more I learn about the many options out there, the more I want to DIY whatever I think I can pull off.

6.  Decorations:  For the primary theme we are thinking of right now (more to come, I swear), using stuff that we already have to decorate the reception area makes the most sense anyway.  Sorry to leave you hanging, but I'll talk more about the theme stuff I've been thinking of next week.

7.  Food:  I would be totally down for making all of the food myself, but I just don't want that kind of stress.  However, I've gotten pretty good at finding cheap places to eat that are super tasty, and I would like to put these skills to use on our food.  Keeping our guest list small obviously is a key factor in this, but the more research I do, the easier I think this will be.  For instance, if we're in the Bay Area, I would love to have Gypsy's cater our wedding.  It's pretty good on its own, but for about $5 a plate, it's AMAZING.  Most people in Berkeley think of it as fast food, but most of my guests wouldn't know it from a hotel catering service...except that it's better.  Also, I would totally do Panda Express.  Daniel still thinks I'm kidding, but I'd so be down.  I love the purveyor of orange chicken :).

8.  Accessories:  As in, not having many.  I'm not really an accessories kinda gal anyway.  The only things I plan on wearing besides my dress are a tiara and a necklace, both of which I could probably buy at Claire's if I got desperate, and both of which I will probably actually buy on or something along those lines.

9.  Using talented people I know:  My aunt is a hairdresser.  My hair won't cost much.  I know a few people who can work a sewing machine, so I might have one of them make my bridesmaids' dresses and save them that cost.  And maybe, just maybe, I can use the cooking-savvy people in my family to make our food.

Well, that is my tentative plan.  Hold me to it!

How did you plan your budget?  What is worth spending money on for you?  Fyi, it's totally going to be the dress for me, I'm sure that monster will end up being almost $1,500 with alterations and undergarments.  Are you going to use all the money you can get or try to save wherever you can?


  1. i can help cook! and with some crafts :)

  2. I think you have a very realistic budget, whereas I don't think we ever really set one. I think we would have laughed to talk about saving $10,000 for our wedding, but I think we ended up spending about $7,000 not including the honeymoon. We ended up about $2,000 in debt, but we managed to pay that off within three months, so it's definitely doable. I offer any and all cooking services, but I need to know what date you're thinking of. I won't be back in the states until July 15th, but if you're wedding is any earlier I will of course fly out specifically for the wedding, or try to get my contract to end early (Andrew will be back in May if he gets into Columbia). I can do your cupcakes or desserts or even cook all the food if you want.

  3. I'm probably not going to have people cook. Too stressful. But we'll see. I'll let you know when we have a date. Don't worry, we'll send out save the dates about a year in advance.

  4. I had an argument/discussion with my mom about wedding budget type things today. I'm fortunate enough I guess that my parents are putting on the wedding (I suppose that's just part of indian/pakistani culture) but that takes so much out of my control. And I would have looooved to do a DIY wedding, do the centerpieces, be creative, keep things simple, but... ugh, right now I'm arguing about trying to cut it down from 300 ppl to at least 200.
    Everything is turning out more expensive than: A)I want it and b)it needs to be. I'm super frustrated about that. So i'm happy you are aiming for small budgets. Stay within it. Do it!

    on a different note, I am going to try to incorporate these somewhere (love for it to be a simple corsage for bridal party people) but we'll see. At any rate thought i'd share:
    click on "preserved flowers" at the bottom for a whole slew of colors. something you might be interested in?

  5. Dude! Those are so awesome! I love orchids, and it would be great to incorporate those. Thanks!

    I'm sorry your family's being so difficult. I have a lot of friends who have been/will be in the same situation, so I know it sucks. That's actually the reason I don't want Daniel's dad to pay for too much of our wedding. He'll want 200 people there, and I just can't deal with that. But there's a lot of good advice out there from other brides. I know and both have a lot of brides who know what you're dealing with, and their forums might be really helpful to you. What I've gathered from people is that you have to stick your ground and remind everyone that this is your wedding, and that it should be done the way you want it. Hope that helps! And good luck!


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