Our frugal wedding

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Moolanomy is having a contest for the best wedding tips and stories.  I've been meaning to post about how we were paid just under $7000 for a wedding while living check to check, and how we had the best wedding ever on the dirty dirty cheap.

We were married 7 months ago. My wife and I are both from the South and we went back down to get married. The number 1 piece of advice is to consider hiring a wedding planner. Since we live together up north and all of our family lives below the Mason-Dixon lne a wedding planner was pretty much a necessity. Also, since I haven't lived in my hometown for over 7 years, I had no idea on where to have the reception.

We initially "hired" one of my ex girlfriends to be our wedding planner. She was someone who I had been friends with for many years before we dated for awhile in college. She remained a friend of mine after college. When I told her we were getting married, she offered her services as a free wedding planner since she wanted to get into event planning. I asked my fiancee, and she said no. We started looking into wedding planners in the area and it would cost us about $1500 bucks. My fiancee then though about it some more and agreed to using the ex girlfriend.

We started looking at different places to have our reception. We already knew the church we were going to get married in, so that wasn't really a consideration. The one problem with using a non professional as a planner was she had no connections, no discounts for using certain vendors. She also did not have the best ideas about where to hold the reception. We considered a bunch of areas, even the local zoo. When we didn't get much movement on the reception site, we decided to go with a professional planner. Remember, you get what you paid for, but that doesn't mean there aren't deals to be had.

We did a more extensive survey of planners in our area, and found one for $600. She was relatively new, but still had connections and discounts. The biggest deal we got by using the wedding planner was $500 off the photographer's package price, and an extra 3 hours of picture time. This saved us overall ~$1000 on the photographer services we got. Another way we cust costs on the photgrapher was to not get any developed pictures. In this era of all things digital, it really was a no brainer. We got over 1000 pics of getting ready shots, the ceremony, and the reception.

The wedding planner was also able to suggest a great place for the reception. It was in the covered courtyard area of one of the best restaurants in town. This cost us only $350 for four hours of reception time. This included 8 round tables that seated 8 people each, which was plenty for our small group. The wedding planner saved us about $500 by suggesting this place over other places we were considering that were much crappier. And since it was in the "courtyard area" it looked like a roustic european villa, already decorated with plenty of greenery which reduced the floral costs for the wedding dramatically.

receptionsite 018 receptionsite 054

This allowed us to only have to pay for centerpieces for the reception. We used the normal florist that our planner used, which got us ~25% off the normal prices. We also rented the vases for the centrepeices, which brought the price down $25 per centerpiece. We ended up only paying $650 for all the flowers for the reception, and boutineers for the groomsman, and parents. We did not need any flowers since we were married in a Catholic church that had seasonal flowers all year round.

Harley & Angel284

We had a smallish wedding of only 75 people. This was mostly family with very close friends included. Having a small wedding will save you the most money because food will cost you the most.

We had a dinner reception and got the cheapest package for food, costing only $16.95 a person. Even the cheapest food at one of the best restaurants was extremely amazing. We were able to also substitute some of the more tastier pricier items into our menu by giving up things that we did not want. Always talk to the vendors and see if you can squeeze a little more out of them for the same price. Including the price of the of the site, and the catering that was done in house, we were able to get all of it, including some champagne for $1500. This was by far the costliest part of the wedding.

We "cheaped" out on the inventations and went to Micheals and got very nice cards for $30. We had them laser printed at staples which cost another $20. They looked great since they were laser printed, and saved us about $150 over ordering "real invitatations", none of which we really liked.

Clothing was one of the places where we splurged, and asked our bridal party to fork up some cash. My wife got her dream dress, and with all the alterations, it ended up costing $800 at David's Bridal. We had the bridesmaids buy their own dress, but they were able to choose a style they liked out of a subset my wife picked out, which made it more likely they would wear it again. It was also a nice red color, which also added to the possible mileage of the dress. The dresses were around $150, and since one of the bridesmaids had used the same color almost a year before, she was able to use one of her bridesmaid's dresses, which was free to her. Tux rental was $65 for the groomsmen and dads. Since we had 5 rentals, mine was free. My wife also used her sisters veil and crafted some mods to it to make it match her dress.

We also went with a DJ since we are not the dance all night type of people. We wanted to just have some nice background music after we did the special dances. The DJ cost us $500. The music was great and set a perfect ambience for the reception. Everyone was floating from table to table talking instead of having to shout over an annoying DJ with loud music.

Other incendtals for the wedding were 3 nights at a local hotel. This cost us $297 since we had called ahead and set up a wedding package. Just about every hotel will give your out of town guests a decent discount if you call ahead and set it up. We had 2 cakes that cost us $400 total. We bought table top disposable cameras that cost $100. We also drove into town, which cost us $250 for gas. We also tipped the priest $50, and the parents chipped in another $50. The chruch organist cost $150. My dad also chipped in for half of the rehersal dinner, so that only cost us $250.

The breakdown for the frugal wedding of the century is:

  • Wedding Planner: $600
  • Site rental and food for 75: $1500
  • Photgraphy: $1000
  • Chruch fee / officiant / ceremony music: $400
  • Inventations: $50
  • Clothes: $800
  • DJ: $500
  • Cake: $400
  • Flowers: $650
  • Rehersal dinner: $250 out of pocket.
  • Travel: $550
  • Wedding planner savings: $1750 minus her cost of $650, with a net of $1150 or 19%