Money Talks

One of the most frustrating things about planning a wedding is trying to cut costs. Weddings are expensive, even on a small scale for the average bride. There is also a lot of judgement and sometimes shame surrounding the topic of money, in particular in dealing with weddings because couples want to have a nice wedding day without wanting to appear to have spent too lavishly or too cheaply.

We also live in an instant gratification society and when you are looking in wedding magazines and on the internet for inspiration, it can be discouraging to see all the beautiful weddings featured and then realize you can’t afford a lot of the items featured, even if you DIY a lot of the details. And if you are aren’t particularly crafty (like me), having to come out-of-pocket for the little details that make your wedding special, can start to add up.

Which is why I think that’s important to talk about wedding budgets to show that you can have a nice time at a decent price, even in a city as large as Houston. Mr. Google says that the average cost of a wedding here is from 17K-28K. WTF??? If I had 28K, I wouldn’t be spending it all on a wedding, that’s for sure.

I had a mental budget of 10K, all inclusive. I deliberately looked for venues where I could do a ceremony and reception at the same place. I deliberately sought out venues where I wouldn’t have to deal with multiple vendors for food, alcohol, chair rentals, linens, etc.

Here are our final numbers, exclusive of wedding rings and our mini-honeymoon.

Category Budget Actual Variance
Venue 5,295 (5,295) 0
Flowers 175 (141) 34
Dress 739 (739) 0
DJ 500 (500) 0
Photos 600 (600) 0
Cake 535 (535) 0
Alcohol 500 (176) 324
Invitations/Photobooks 400 (400) 0
Misc. 475 (636) (161)
Gifts (bridesmaids, hostesses, parents) 300 (78) 222
Totals 9,519 (9,099) 419

We were extremely pleased with how the wedding turned out BUT we were extremely blessed with lots of contributions from family and friends. Myron and I actually only had out of pocket costs of $4464.00. The remainder ($4645.00) was gifts to us from parents, family and friends. For example, my aunt gave me $500.00 toward my dress and one of our groomsmen gifted us our DJ. My sorority sister works at Anheuser-Busch and was able to get us 10 cases of beer for free. One of our twitter friends designed my invites for free and printed address labels for me.  I selected a venue that was already very aestically pleasing and didn’t require a lot of extra decorations. I didn’t do wedding favors. I used artificial flowers. All of those choices saved us a LOT of money.

I think the lessons a couple can learn from us is to research a lot of venues, limit your guest list, and don’t be too proud to accept help if folks offer.  The people that love and support you really will move mountains for you if they can.

I’ll be glad to answer any questions in the comments and hopefully by talking about this subject, someone can be helped and not discouraged from having a wedding if they really want one.

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15 thoughts on “Money Talks

  1. We ended up at a little over $11k…not bad for 130 folks in the Chicago area!

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing. I know weddings are expensive but since I’ve never planned one I didn’t realize how much stuff costs.

  3. Girl your event was a class act. I think your breakdown of costs will be very helpful for others!

  4. Very thoughtful of you to share your budget and your thoughts. It should be a help to many brides. I’m happy that you guys got exactly what you wanted at a price point you could afford. Add another voice – I’m liking the new look too!

  5. Thanks for sharing this. So impressive. And I’m sure it’s a relief to go into marriage without still paying for the wedding for years to come.

  6. Love it! You did a great job at staying on budget! Now if I can do the same…. :-/ definitely taking heed of your wise words!

  7. God bless you for posting this!! Congrats on coming in so far under budget AND on personally spending less than $5k! What’s miscellaneous? How many people did you have? What were your particular priorities for this day (just link to it if you’ve already discussed that) as far as where you spent your money?

    • Jameil,

      The misc consisted of beautification for me that I underestimated (hair, professional makeup), my shoes, jewelry, hair flower, cake topper, guest book (purchased at last minute for TOO much), nails/mani/pedi for me and hubs, and giving my folks a little bit of money toward a rehearsal dinner hosted at their house. The little details like that add up. Even then my makeup artist didn’t charge me for my makeup trial because she was my chapter soror but she did usethe airbrush application which tends to cost more.

      We paid for 150 people and ended up with around 142. My priorities were the reception (esp. the food) and my overall look. Flowers and wedding favors were low on the list. We also didn’t have any kids (excluding immediate family) at the wedding.

  8. 1st – love the new blog. 2nd – great budget breakdown. I wasn’t surprised at the cost of weddings around us. We live outside NYC & the cheapest venue we found was $135 a head. The avg cost around us is $60-80k. Whaaaa?? We tried to stay under $30 and I think we did it.

  9. Great job! It’s good that you guys aren’t starting out marital bliss in debt.

  10. Yes you were indeed blessed ! Thank you for sharing a smary grown up way to execute a wedding. After all, it all about the marriage anyway :)
    Hugs ! Mrs. Mack (I stand forever corrected Mr.Mack LOL ) I LOVE MY 2s !

  11. New blog layout :)

    Good for you guys for not going broke to have your wedding!

  12. When you want to know something, an Accountant can always logic out the process for you. Excel is my friend too!

  13. Great post! I like the new look and theme of your blog!

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