Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wedding Budget

Since I've been blogging about wedding plans a lot of late (two months out!) and haven't talked about my quest to get out of debt as much, I thought that it would be a good time to discuss the dreaded wedding budget.

When we first got engaged and started talking about the wedding, we set a budget of $5000. We thought - hey we'll do it at my parents house, it'll be an intimate gathering of loved ones and we'll DIY a lot. We can swing it. Well I'll tell you, sticking to that budget has been HARD. And we are forgoing a lot of traditional elements and DIY'ing a lot.

We've basically doubled the budget. Still far under the average American wedding ($30,000!!!), but way more than I wanted to spend. The main reason is that when we first created the budget, we had absolutely no idea how much things cost. We could have decided to cut way back or do something totally different, but we decided that we were willing to go over budget in order to have the wedding we envisioned - with the caveat that we would get really creative with all of our options.

Our music will be performed by friends or through ipod ; our photography will be mainly done by friends as well. We made our invitations. I will spend a total of $300 on my entire wedding day outfit and hair/makeup. We're making all the decorations and using locally farmed flowers and pumpkins. Our wedding night hotel and mini-moon are being gifted to us.

I've been looking over the budget spreadsheet that I created and I see a few major areas where I way under-budgeted : travel, alcohol, party rentals, food, and miscellaneous.

Travel We didn't anticipate renting a car to drive home, but I don't trust my car to make another drive there and back as it's just too old. That's almost $1000.
Drinks Once I started calculating how much we'd need for drinks (beer, wine, cider, soda, water), I realized that it'll likely be $300 more than I thought.
Rentals Originally I didn't want a tent at all, but since it's autumn in New England and the weather could be unpredictable I was convinced by family that it was necessary. We've booked sides for the tent and heaters. In the event, that its great weather we could end up canceling the extras which would save us some money, but overall it's still another $750 that I didn't originally count.
Food I did some shopping around and found really great caterers that were willing to work with us on price and around our constraints (locally & seasonally harvested, willingness to incorporate vegan options). I'm thrilled with our menu and our vendors, but even with negotiating, it is more than we thought it would be by about $800.
Miscellany The small little crap just adds up before you know it. Shipping costs for anything you order (clothing, stamps, paper, thank you gifts, and on and on). Ingredients that you run out of at the last minute while making favors. Last minute projects.

Overall, I'm still really happy and proud that we are able to maintain our major goal for this wedding - we are not going into debt over it. Anything we've spent so far (~$3100) has all been up front and in cash. We've got money socked away to pay the balances and family has been very generous with some gifting. Friends have stepped up to help us out as their gift. We've made some decisions to cut certain things and add others - all while staying conscious of the impact on our finances. It's the consciousness of our spending that I'm really most proud of - we're planning something that is genuine and sincere and fun and on our terms.

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