It's funny that in a matter of weeks since I wrote this, our budget has been completely blown. Now that all the response cards are in and the final count has been given to the reception site, we are way over budget! We had more people RSVP than expecting, and every little thing just seems to cost more than you expected. Ex- picking up my dress from alterations yesterday. That was not a fun check to write- but the end result is worth it.
With our wedding less than 5 weeks away, and a likely "wedding detail freakout" 2-3 weeks away, I thought I would write about how our planning process has been. We have a relatively small budget (as far as weddings go, it seems) of $5000, and are doing our best to stay within that amount. This is a second wedding for both of us, and other things like home improvement projects, traveling, and retirement funds are much more important than throwing an all-out bash. Besides, the best thing about planning a second wedding is that you get to forgo many of the "traditional" things that seem to add up so quickly, in favor of a much more personal event. Since we are just about finished with the planning process, I thought I would give my 2 cents about how we were able to pare down costs and still plan a special day. I will note that this budget did not include our wedding attire- we each paid for that out of our own funds.
Choosing a ceremony site:
Think outside of the box. In Austin (and many other cities, I'm sure) there are plenty of special places that don't cost a thing to use. Or, if you're willing to not go with a traditional Saturday evening wedding, you will have much more luck getting a reduced rate by choosing a less popular day and time. We happened to choose a public space that is special to both of us, and asked my brother to perform the ceremony. It was easy to get ordained online, and most states have few rules over who performs the ceremony. While we're not having to pay hardly anything for the ceremony (with the exception of 2 pedicabs and a few rental chairs), the risk is that anyone could be there at the time we have designated for the ceremony. But I have faith that the kind folks in Austin will be willing to give us about 15 minutes of privacy so we can say "I Do". And if they aren't, one of Hank's beefier friends will be in place to make sure they do.
If you're having trouble finding a ceremony site, combining it with the reception venue is also an easy way to go. This is our backup plan, should the weather decide not to cooperate on our wedding day. The main thing that I looked for in a reception site was a private space, and no additional fees. We were also hoping to find a place that had the "Austin character" we were looking for. We found all of that and more at Lambert's, located in a historic building downtown. Most restaurants will allow you to pay just a deposit that will go towards the cost of food and drink. We also chose brunch, given that it would significantly lower the cost of food. Most private venues will charge a rental fee starting at $1500, and it usually doesn't pay for much else. It would have been impossible for us to stay under budget with that wasted expense. Get creative with menus and drink offerings, too. We toyed with the idea of just having an hour long cocktail reception before deciding on brunch. If you're wanting to completely avoid a traditional reception, you could easily plan a "picnic" with something fun like a food trailer. Many food trailers will do private events for a minimum amount, often costing far less than using an actual restaurant space. This is especially fun for any out of town guests who might appreciate some local flavor!
All the other details:
One of many things that I learned from my first wedding is that very few people actual remember, or even care about, all the little details. Yes, flowers make everything look better. But they aren't really necessary. Neither is a candy bar, a photo booth, or a specially carved ice bar for a frozen yogurt station. Seriously. I'm resisting many DIY projects, and just hoping that people show up, enjoy some food and conversation, and then go about their day. If my mother was not helping out with flowers, I would have gone to HEB, picked up some simple yellow and white flowers, stuck them in some type of recycled container and called it a day. It's really easy to get wrapped up in all the little things, but I've tried so hard to not stress myself out about them. As the clock ticks down, I've decided that personalized fans for the ceremony, favors for the reception, etc. just really aren't necessary. Avoiding most of this is how we will (hopefully) stay within our budget. After all, what's most important is making the promise to love one another, and stay together through thick and thin. Making that our priority has made it really easy to not get too wrapped up in everything else.
With all that being said, below are the few vendors we have used to make this day happen:
Minted.com- They have quality products, for less than what you would pay for in a store. I was beyond happy with my invitations, and paid under $300 for 50 invitations and RSVP cards.
Blue Bridal Boutique- Purchased my wedding dress here. They really have an amazing selections of more affordable dresses, and you can read my review of this store here. Going online is the best way to really manage this cost though.
Melanie Wright Photography- I am lucky in that I have a friend who is working to expand her business to include more wedding photography, and was kind enough to offer me a lower rate. Most wedding photographers charge $2500+, so finding a talented friend is the most affordable way to go.
Verbena Floral Design- They are doing my bouquet and some lovely arrangements for the tables. This wouldn't have happened if not for help from my mom, so it would have been cut accordingly without her help.
Lou Neff Point- A public space that is part of the Austin Parks & Recreations program, and does not require a deposit to use.
Lambert's- A $500 deposit (that goes toward the food/drink minimum) reserved our reception venue with a private upstairs space perfect for our smaller sized group, and that also serves a really great brunch!
Whole Foods- I'm getting 2 large Chantilly cakes for $60, and then 2 chocolate cakes from another bakery (none of them are traditional wedding cakes). The total cost for 4 cakes is less than $200.
So there you have it! I found my wedding shoes this past weekend ($32 at DSW!!!) and I'm taking my dress in for alterations this Friday. Other than a shirt and socks for Hank, wedding attire is done. Now we just have to get logistics of the day nailed down, and finish playing the waiting game. We couldn't be more excited for our big day, and look forward to sharing more about it with you! Feel free to ask any questions- I'm happy to share any info about planning/vendors.