Saturday, June 28, 2014

Weddings on the cheap: Average cost vs. the thrifty bride.

Where I live, the average wedding costs happy couple and/or parents  $28,671.00! Which, first of all, is insanity- and second- doesn't even include the honeymoon or rings! Yikes. Tack on those costs, and you have an average of $37,698.00. Some people (ME) really can't afford that kind of nonsense. We need to save our dollars that we bust our butts working six days a week for (True story, I work an average of 50 hours a week). So, I have decided to go through and break down how much I spent, what the average cost is, what I saved and how- for all the different categories.  I will also try to include images of my purchase
  *My average cost of  these wedding items is from the Association of Bridal Consultants in a research study done on January 1, 2014

Rings: $4,500.00 I didn't want a real diamond. They are expensive, pretty pointless, and $1,000 (1/3 of his YEARLY income) buys a very small, chintzy looking ring. Instead we purchased my big, beautiful, glorious ring at a steep discount at Kohl's. Everyone asks me how much it cost, how many carats it is and tells me how gorgeous it is. No one but me knows. I still haven't chosen a  wedding band yet, so I'll update on that when I get it. Jake's ring (black band on the left) cost me a whopping $13. Our total: $113.00 What we saved: $4,387.00

Wedding Planners: $2,491.00 Despite the popular belief, having a wedding planner is not mandatory. Your wedding will NOT fall apart and be a massive failure without one (Though I have had people literally tell me that to my FACE). I will not deny that wedding planners can be both helpful and useful- and there were times where hiring one was tempting- but I knew I could do it. The key is to stay organized, keep track of what you are doing and what needs to get done and to research research research. However, that being said; I do have a very close friend of mine who does weddings. She does it because she loves it, not for money and she was very happy to help with my set ups/ take downs.    Our Total Free What We Saved:$2,491.00

Photographs: $3,091.00– So many people think you HAVE to have a professional, but you don't. That being said, research out your choices. Even if someone does it for free- if they stink, it isn't worth it. The guy who did my engagements did an amazing job, and they are beautiful- but they really aren't my style

As you can see, they are still beautiful, well edited, professional looking pictures- and I'm ok with them being more casual and not exactly my style because they are JUST engagment pictures- and hey at 100% free, they were a great deal. That being said, I knew that I was definatley going to want someone else to do my bridals and wedding pictures. I posted on all my Facebook yardsale sites that I was looking for an inexpensive hobbyist that was looking to build their portfolio, and I happened across an amazing lady who was willing to do my beautiful bridals (4 hours worth of pictures!!) for $15. No joke.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, she wasn't able to make it to the wedding. My mother in law knew I was struggling to find a photographer in my budget- so as a surprise she gave me one as a gift (lol!).  I also ended up with my sister in law taking a lot of pictures as well. I haven't got any professional ones back yet- so the ones I'm showing my sister in law took. Photographers were by far the hardest part to find cheap. A lot of hobbyists are intimidated by the importance of the event and pressure to take great photos. Just be patient and keep your budget in mind!! Also- I downloaded the App WedPics, so that my guest could pool all their pictures of my showers, engagement, bachelorette party, wedding etc. into one place.

*If you do decide to hire a professional CHECK THEIR WORK FIRST. Always, professional or not- no matter what they cost. We almost had a photography disaster over here. My MIL decided to give us a professional photographer for our actual wedding pictures as a gift (she knew I was struggling); so she asked the lady driving our carriage if she has anyone she works with. She did, but he was unavailable. However, HE had a recommendation. My mother in law called this guy, decided on a price worked out details and then gave me a call. I asked if she had seen any of his work, and she said no- but he had come highly recommended and was a professional, so she assumed it would be fine. I told her I wanted to talk to him. She gave me his number and told me to hurry because she was about to send out his check. This felt all sorts of wrong to me. She was going to pay him, without seeing any of his work, and before receiving the goods? In my expeirence, thats how you get screwed. I told her to hold off and I gave the guy a call. He was really nice and cooperative. I told him I wanted to see some samples of his work and he willingly sent them to me. Wow. just wow....He was terrible.  The lighting was bad, the bride/grooms faces were shadowed, the pictures weren't flattering, they weren't posed at all, they had not been edited, the composition was bad...It honestly looked like the bride and groom and been at the temple and shouted to a passing stranger "Hey! Can you take a picture for us?" And handed him their cellphone. I'm really not exagerating. Any one of my guests could have taken pictures just as good or better- and here's the kicker. He wanted $250!! 
        Seriously be so so so careful. He was more money than I could afford and his shots were crap. My bridals and engagements were under $20, and they are beautiful. The word professional means nothing! always check for quality!!
Total for Engagement photos, Bridals, wedding photos and reception photos: $15 What We Saved:$3,075.00

Invitations, Stamps, Save the Date Cards, etc: $1,081.00 I found my invites on clearance and bought them in a kit. The first 100 were $10 for 25 cards, save the dates, and envelopes and were very nice. The other 75 were $5 a box, and are more simple, but just as elegant and include all the same stuff. Stamps were $79.50, but my Mother in Law has offered to pay for postage, so they won't count in my budget. I had my invites, small photos, thank you cards, bachelorette invites, shower invites, temple invites, luncheon invites, address labels, bachelorette detail cards, info cards, and special invites printed and cut out professionally for around $20 at Office Depot (they are so incredible!!) I had originally planned on printing them myself, but my printer broke -.- Total for 175 invitations: $65 Savings:  $1,016

Marriage License $70.00 ours was total: $55.00 Saved: $15.00

Ceremony Venue: $2,050.00 We are getting married in the LDS Temple, so our venue is free- other ideas are churches, parks, beaches, beautiful back yards, etc. Many venues will let you have both the ceremony and the reception there as part of a package deal.  Our Total: Free What We Saved $2050.00

Ceremony Officiator: $219.00 As I mentioned earlier, we are getting married in the temple, so this is also free for us. Not everyone will have the option of a free officiator- but check around. find someone who fits your needs and styles.  Our Total: Free What We Saved: $219.00

Reception Venue: $3,672.00 . Yikes. almost four grand just to use their building? I have decided on using the cultural center at my church, which is nice enough- and free. Other options are parks, backyards, beaches, lakes, camp grounds or places owned by the city, county or non-profit organizations (cheaper!). Our Total: Free What We Saved: $3,672.00

 Flowers, reception flowers, boutonnieres, bouquets, and centerpieces: $1,341.00 First off, I love Our Total $52.50 What We Saved: $1,288.50! (as a side note, when I was doing my bridals, my photographer asked if my bouquet was real. I told her it wasn't, but every time she touched it, she kept commenting on how real my bouquet felt and looked)

flowers. I have a floral(ish) shop on the side that does boutonnieres, corsages, wreaths, etc for way cheap. That being said- I did not make my flowers. I have flowers for my centerpieces, A beautiful bouquet, wrist corsages for the moms and my sister in law, and boutonnieres for my husband, his father, brother, step-father, and my father. I decided at the beginning of this adventure that I didn't want real flowers (I know, I sound white trash again). A lot of people have this idea that silk flowers are cheap, look cheap, feel cheap and will just look terrible overall- but there have been some amazing leaps and bounds in artificial flowers. Places like hobby lobby have flowers that look so real and feel so real- it's hard to believe they are fake. However, flowers like this can cost some bucco bucks (like 6-10 dollars per single stem). However, I went to Hobby Lobby, and found a selection of pre-made, high quality wedding flowers, in my colors (or at least close enough) too. They had boutonnieres, corsages and bouquets; and they were all 50% off. For my centerpieces, I didn't really care about the flowers looking real. I ended up finding nice enough flowers in my colors at my local Dollar Tree. Flowers for all my center pieces (with some to spare) cost me $12. Now, I did end up spicing up my bouquet a little with ribbon, a couple extra flowers, and a jeweled button- which probably cost me around $8 total,

Decorations for the wedding and reception: $467.00 Really research this part out. Get a good, 
 solid idea of what your style is, find some inexpensive ideas on pinterest- and then price compare like there is no tomorrow. For my centerpieces I'm using small Chinese paper lanterns as flower vases and putting them in a nest of tulle. I bought the tulle online- only $11 for an entire bolt! ( guys- amazing place) The flowers I got at the dollar store. I bought my arch at a 50% off sale (only paid $15), I bought a bird cage for cards, also $15 (normally $30), for additional decor I'm using my photo folding curtains, which I had on hand. Also, due to some incredible resources on Jake's side, I'm getting lent table linens, chair covers/sashes, cake platters, flameless candless, etc. Pool your resources!! OurTotal: $72 What We Saved $395.00

Reception food, drinks and accessories (including all wedding tips): $8,290.00 I mostly did my own food. I got lucky when it came to food- Jake had a close

 friend who's family happens to own a catering business. As a wedding gift, she made me sandwiches and a delicious young cheese dip that normally would have been out of my budget. She also loaned me the silver linens I uses. 
instead of doing a big meal (expensive), I opted to do veggie platters, berry bowls, cake, and lemon water. The food will probably cost me about $112 for everything. I bought my napkins online and spent about $7. It would have been more, but there was a mishap with colors- so I ended up with three free sets of napkins, and the company refunded my money. Plates, cups, utensils, bowls, champagne flutes cost $96 Our Total: $220 What We Saved: $8,070.00  

Tuxedo rental shoes and accessories: $382.00 This was not included in my budget- and here is why: I liked the look of the more casual suit and tie approach, So Jake decided not to rent a suit, but to buy one that he could wear for other purposes. Because he is buying something he will use other times, I'm not using wedding money for this. We don't have any groomsmen, ring bearers, etc. to rent tuxes for either.  Our Total: Free What We Saved: $382.00 (As a side note, the suit he ended up buying was $60, brand new)

Wedding dress,veil, accessories: $1,316.00

 Anyone who has been following my wedding chronicles already knows I bought my dress at a thrift store- but you can also look on ksl, classifieds of other kinds, yard sales, etc. I bought my birdcage veil on a 50% of sale; and I got my more traditional veil at a thrift store for $4. I also have a bolaro for my dress that I bought for $10. My wedding shoes were $40 Our Total: $76. What We Saved

Gifts for bridesmaids and parents $344.00 . I don't have "official brides maids" And honestly, none of them helped me out very much, so I decided against gifts.   Neither of our parents are expecting gifts, since they know we are broke.  Our Total:  Free  What We Saved: $344
 Wedding sign in book and guest favors. $321.00 I decided against doing guest favors, because really, the entire reception is for them. I already bought them food and cake. Plus, I don't think favors matter. I can't even remember if I got favors at weddings or not. For the guest book my fiance and I took our favorite engagement picture to walmart and had them make a puzzle. We  provided guests with pens, and a picture of the completed puzzle    Our Total:  $23 What We Saved: $298.00

Wedding cake $386.00 . I bought my main cake from Costco. It might  not have been a super fancy display worthy cake- but it fed the masses, and it will taste amazing. Serving 200 people cost about $72. hadn't planned on having much for a wedding cake- I was just going to make it myself, but it turns out that one of Jake's cousins makes wedding cakes. I also bought a cake cutting set $5, and a cake topper $15 Our Total: $92  What We Saved: $294

Entertainment $1,300.00 My mom had this amazing  CD of piano love songs and a small sound system, problem solved. For me I've never seen the point of a DJ, since you can do the same thing with an ipod.Our Total: Free What We Saved: $1,300.00

 Rehearsal dinners, and/or Wedding brunch: $865.00 I'm not going to be doing one, because I don't really think they are necessary unless you are actually planning the wedding and need to rehearse. If you want to do them, do the food potluck style and use a free venue, such as a home, backyard, church or park.  Our Total: Free What We Saved:$865.00

Videography $1,152:  Jake and I discussed this and decided against it for us. For me, videoing the reception really isn't that big of a thing- and we can't video the actual ceremony. It wasn't worth the extra effort for us.   Our Total: Free What We Saved: $1,152

 Hair, Makeup, manicure, pedicure: $178.00 I'm about to sound like white trash, and I know it- but bear with me. I love artificial nails- particularly gel nails. They are fantastic, but my nails grow really fast. I end up needing a back fill every 1-2 weeks. So at $30 dollars a set and $15 a fill every two weeks, I end up paying close to $60 per month, in my search to save money (here's the white trash part) I found some press on ones at Walmart. They are $6-$7 a set, there's tons of selection, they have multiple sizes and lengths, last a week, are super simple to apply- and they look like a real set of nails. Everyone asks who I go to to get my nails done. They also have toenail ones. So my mani/pedi for my wedding cost me about $11. My matron of honor is attending cosmetology/hair school- so she did my hair for free, and I did my own makeup Our Total: $11 What We Saved: $167.00

$281 .00 Hotel room(s)- I didn't provide hotel rooms for our families. Both of our parents have big enough homes that guests just stayed with them. Most of our guests were either close enough they just went home, or far enough they didn't make the trip at all.  Our Total: Free What We Saved: $281.00

Honeymoon: $3,700.00  - For our honeymoon, we went to Disney Land, and then a few weeks later we stayed in Park City in an amazing villa. The amazing thing about this is that for Disney Land, Jake's adopted father paid for it, and his mom owns a time share at the place in park city.Our Total: Free to us What we saved $3,700

 Total Average Costs: 33,753   Our Costs:779.50 (Note: This cost includes my rings, food, and marriage licence - which I am not including in my personal wedding budget. This is because: Jake pays for  the ring costs, not me; I have a separate food budget; and the licence is a required cost, no matter what; why spend my special day money on something I can't get married without? Cost without those things is $440) 
Total savings: $33,017.50

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