I’ve realized that the most difficult part about wedding planning is budgeting. WeddingWire has a helpful calculator but when I share my budget with different vendors, they tell me that price point is unrealistic. Let’s just get to it. Why are weddings so damn expensive? Last night I ended up in tears after I calculated how much everything is going to cost for our wedding. Notice I didn’t say wedding of our dreams. Let’s be real people—the wedding of our dreams would cost at least three times as much. I’m remembering what that rude wedding planner told me earlier this year is coming back to haunt me. She told me with my budget, I could not afford a wedding in DC. I’m worried she might be right. It’s the market. It’s the bridal industry. It’s the fact that society makes this huge deal about throwing larger than life weddings because it’s “once in a lifetime.” But it’s just one day! Vendors hike up their prices because it’s for a wedding. While we have been able to cut corners on certain aspects, it hasn’t made much of an impact. I feel like I spent last month crowdfunding my wedding. Do I take my chances at the casino or on a scratch-off? I made a vow to myself that I would not go in to debt for my wedding. I’d rather place my bets on a debt-free and happy marriage than go broke just for one day.
What are your thoughts on budgeting for a wedding? Any financial advice for me?
Photo by Lauren Peele Photography via 100 Layer Cake
I am so sorry you are stressed about wedding planning – budgeting sure is hard. I am from the dc area too and when my husband and I got married we got married in the winter time which is off wedding season for most places. This gave us a negotiating point with prices and we were able to afford our dream location!
You will also find some great vendors and not so great vendors so just keep searching until you find ones you love! There are definitely vendors who will work with you so don’t let the ones who are inflexible tell you there are no other options!
I hope this helps. Best of luck in your upcoming wedding!
Thanks so much for the positive feedback, Rebecca! I’ll keep those things in mind. xo
Do as much as you can by yourself or with help from friends. Buy flowers and make the bouquets, make the invites and save the dates yourself. Little things like this will save you SO MUCH money. That’s really my own advice from a wedding planned in 2 states. I was planning from MO. and my help was planning from MD. (where we have the wedding).
Good luck. Take a deep breath and try to enjoy the planning.
Love these ideas! I’ve already got on my list of DIY tasks for favors and decor but hadn’t really thought about making the bouquets myself.
Thanks for reading!
I’m so sorry. That’s a bummer. I think you’re right not to go into debt if that’s something you already deemed important. You’re so right about the industry being a racket, with rates tripled for anything wedding-related. It’s not fair, but I guess that’s capitalism. Meh. Take a step back for a few days and give yourself time to breathe and regroup. Make a gratitude list so you can remember everything you do have, like an awesome fiancé who wants to marry you no matter what. And then consult with some trusted friends and head back to the drawing board. The Buddhist idea of non-attachment is very helpful here. Getting too attached to any one outcome leads to fear and sadness if it is anything except that way. You miss the forest for the trees. Best wishes. Positive energy your way.
Just…. Giiiiirrrllll. I live in Iowa and I’ve shed many a tear over wedding budget and planning stress. I’m now at the 6th month mark and we are sending deposits out to vendors that I fear we cannot afford, but what other option do we have? If we are having a wedding, we need to feed people, ya know? That being said…. keep your guest list low. Really cut those extraneous people that might not even come. Our guest list is limited to the people that, if they RSVP no, I’m wondering who died because everyone we invite is expected to be there. Ideally, that’d cut food costs, table décor costs, cake costs, alcohol costs, etc. If you have a close group of creative friends, see how much you can outsource. Since our venue costs an arm and a leg, which yes is our own choosing/fault, it’s my goal for all the décor to be DIY. Thankfully it’s a very rustic venue, so I can get away with burlap and wood. I even considered getting the bridesmaids and moms too cook the meal for us, but that seemed almost unwieldy and stressful for everyone involved.
I’m not planning a wedding, but I’ve been to five this year … My suggestion would be to skip the favor, or make a donation to charity instead. Or make the “favor” something that’s a part of the ceremony/reception that you would already have had to buy. The last wedding I went to had two sparklers on top of a small box of matches from the venue, tied with a ribbon in the wedding colors. We used the sparklers for the bride and groom exit, they wrote a cute note with it, and that was it. Simple! Everyone forgets the favors on the table … the only one I kept was a Stonewall kitchen mini jam that was tied with a ribbon in the wedding color. Because I love that jam. Good luck!!! -Chloe
I feel ya, girl. That’s why I had to do almost a 2 year engagement just for budgeting purposes. And sometimes I still have breakdowns. Let’s breakdown together sometime!
You have to remember that whatever you have or don’t have at the end of the day – you will certainly HAVE each other so don’t sweat it.
I have planned a few weddings and on some pretty strict budgets. Here are my best tips: Call up your craftiest friends, send them a pin and get them to work. If you must have fresh flowers, only go with one color, one type. Your bouquet should reflect a blushing bride so keep it really simple or even a few long stems of something amazing. Go all out on the food OR the guest list but not both. Themes sound like a fun way to save money but it’s a quiet budget drain because you need specific decor. Lastly and this is a great one for this area especially; my golden nugget if you will – check out wedding cakes at Safeway. They are so much cheaper, taste amazing and Safeway has some of the best bakers I have ever worked with. For one wedding, I got a very simple, no frills small three tier and i stuck fresh cut roses in the top and a few around the sides (there are tons of edible flowers too)- was super beautiful and perfect.
Happy to chat anytime about wedding planning on a budget! Don’t fret!
Check with local garden clubs to see if they do wedding flowers. These women are in it NOT for the profit…but for the love of flowers and a fundraiser for their club. My mother’s club did my wedding flowers and I was part of a club that did a nice wedding fundraiser business. Also, think about what’s REALLY going to be remembered by your guests. Yes you want to provide food for them..but in the end, will they actually remember what they ate longer than 24 hours. But they will remember the friends, family and happiness they witness!
We live in Old Town and recently (2 weeks ago!) got engaged. We are both from upstate NY and while we would LOVE to have our wedding here, we can’t believe the horror stories from all our recently married friends. You better believe we’ll be stalking your blog for tips and hints 🙂
Hang in there. I’ve been married before, and all I can say is that pick one or two things that you REALLY want at your wedding and go from there. The rest is just details. At the end of the day you’ll have your dream husband, no matter whether or not it was your dream wedding.
Hey! I’m going through the same thing right now. We’re in the process of booking our venue (the first step) and it’s even hard to budget for that since it’s supposed to be half of your entire budget! Living in a city/area where weddings are more expensive (like NJ for me and DC for you) is hard, too.
I’m struggling with how expensive flowers are! ahhh
We just had our wedding and I can’t even begin to think about the final number of how much money we spent (we’re in the sf-bay area). But the one piece of advice I have is just prioritize what is important to you (photography, venue, catering, flowers, etc.) because when you look back, those are the things you’re going to wish you spent more on because they matter more to you. Everything else is just gravy on top because you’re getting married that day!
Hey Kara! Miss you. Love the article. One of my friends just got married in DC on a pretty tight budget. Check out this blog she did on Budget Savvy Bride as well as some of the other articles she wrote on budgeting and wedding planning. Best of luck!
hi, yes… my suggestion. Agree on a budget and stick to it, (think of a down payment that can go twds a house…) even if (gasp) you may consider limiting your guest size (over 75ppl will be challenging to speak to everyone). I hosted my wedding at a top restaurant in Tribecca (NYC) , a meal everyone spoke about for years (I wanted the food and beverages to be central so guests could enjoy themselves. The place was lovely, plenty of space to wander about), hired a (single) musician to play throughout. The restaurant was very professional (for me it simplified caterers, renting stuff, renting a site), it was the most uncomplicated event. Ceremony was at another location nearby. All very classic and memorable.
most important: you and husband- have fun!