How much did you spend on your wedding?

Cakes!

As our first wedding anniversary approaches in July and the official summer wedding season kicks off down here in central Florida, I’ve been reflecting back on our wedding last year and looking over the budget spreadsheet to see if there was anything I regretted on it.

Chris and I were married last year for just under $9000 (including the rehearsal dinner, rings, clothing, marriage license, all vendor fees, decorations, and food) for a wedding with around 120 guests. We fully planned on paying for the entire wedding ourselves with a budget of $5000-$7000 and a guest list of around 80 people, but our parents surprised us by contributing lump sum gifts ($5000 from my parents, and $1800 from DH’s parents) for us to use as we chose and by picking up the costs of the cakes ($175 from my parents) and rehearsal dinner (~$800 from DH’s parents). I know that a lot of people would simply add the parental contributions to their original budget and up the total for the wedding to $11800-$13800, but we opted instead to stay as close to our original amount as possible while squeezing in the 40 additional guests that our parents more or less made us invite, LOL. Between the unexpected help from our parents and the monetary gifts received from our guests, our out of pocket cost for the wedding was only $704. We are definitely not one of those couples who will still be paying off the wedding 10 years down the road.

Since I have more of a frugal male geek’s attitude toward most things, including weddings, I would have been perfectly happy with a rented dress (bridal gown rentals are pretty popular in my birth country of Taiwan–my mother wore a rental on her wedding day) for myself, origami flowers, 30 guests from my side, a reception dinner held at my favorite Asian fusion buffet at $16.99/person, and a DJ that could also provide karaoke services. Alas, DH is apparently more romantic and traditional about this sort of thing than I am, and I ended up buying a dress after all ($99 David’s Bridal clearance with free minor alterations from my younger sister; it pays to be a stock size 6), paying for flowers (I almost threw up when I placed the order at the florist 2 weeks before the ceremony–I will NEVER spend that much on plant material that I can’t plant in the ground and eat later again), extra required guests, and a reception and ceremony at our local country club that was $25 per guest plus beer, wine, and appetizers.

Well, at least I did get my karaoke DJ. 😛

Centerpieces and favors

We did a lot of things ourselves and shopped around for the best bargains on venue (a friend of the family was a member of the country club and got us the $25 per guest rate; the regular price was $30 per guest), favors, decorations, jewelry, and apparel. We used friends for photography and videography, designed and printed our own invitations, ordered many supplies online with coupon codes and free shipping, ordered half a dozen delicious, regular-sized cakes in different flavors from the local Asian bakery and Publix grocery store instead of paying hundreds for an overpriced tower of dry cake coated with fondant, and generally tried to make things nice without paying inflated wedding industry prices.

The only thing I’d change if I could do it all again is to allot some time to learn how to do flower arrangements myself. And maybe to have the wait staff set aside some of those yummy cakes for us. The desserts must have been great, because there was absolutely none left by the time Chris and I finished talking to all of the tables and had a chance to look for some, LOL.

I plan to do what my parents did and contribute a lump sum amount of around $5000 (adjusted for inflation) to the weddings of any children DH and I may have, but we won’t be paying for a $20k extravaganza even if we have a daughter and our finances allow for it. I like the idea of letting the kids know early that they need to foot most of the bill for the extras in their lives and at least half of the bill for grown up things like college and weddings as well. If we do have more to give beyond $5000, we would prefer to earmark that as a gift to help the couple get a start on a downpayment on their home.

Oh, and I will teach myself how to do flowers WAY ahead of time so I can handle that portion of the wedding for my kids and spare them the nauseating “OMG, I just squandered $823 on flowers that will die in 3 days. ARGH!” feeling that I had last July! I may even take up cake decorating.

😉

How much did you pay for your wedding, and is there anything you regret purchasing for it? Did you receive any help from your family and/or friends (monetary or service)? Do you plan on helping your children out with their wedding expenses?

18 thoughts on “How much did you spend on your wedding?

  1. I think our wedding was under $100.00 That covered the marriage license and required blood tests.

    I wasn’t into the whole wedding planning thing and since most of our relatives are *difficult* to get along with, we eloped instead. There was no fighting, bickering, complaining about food choices, drunk relatives to deal with, ect. Our 12 year anniversary is coming up this December and I still don’t have any regrets with our decision.

    For those that want the massive weddings, I say all the more power to them. I’ve never been the princess type and preferred to buy a house instead of dumping all of our funds into one day.

  2. Dress ~$150 CAD, custom made one of a kind from Hong Kong..off the rack and altered in 45 minutes.

    Dinner for 11 people ~$700

    Licence/chapel fee ~$300

    Hubby’s suit ~$500

  3. Hey Maggie – I’ve been following your blog for awhile. Thanks for the tip on the sports bras. I took advantage of that deal, they are great! Our wedding was so much fun and I think we spent about 1500.00. We had a lot of help, though. My sister had recently married and we were able to use her bridesmaids dresses again for my bridesmaids (since I have three sisters and they were in her wedding, too, they already fit.) I sewed my own wedding dress. It was a challenge but it was rewarding too and I really liked the end result. We rented a hall at a college campus which was beautiful but really reasonable. My mom and my mother-in-law prepared most of the food. I created the bouquets out of silk flowers, cousins brought candleholders, friend of my sister did the cake … so many people helped. That is one of the great memories about the wedding. I would do it that way again, no regrets. And everyone I talk to said it was a great wedding. I think sometimes having to b e more creative makes it more special. Happy First Anniversary! Rhonda

  4. I agree completely with the lump sum to the kids for weddings, if they choose to get married (and my parents always said it was the same lump sum if eloped or had a big party but they did want at least a small celebratory dinner).

    For college however, one of the most generous things my parents did was give me the luxury of no debt coming out of my undergrad education. They had a certain amount set aside for college. If I had gone to a more expensive school, I would have had to complete the sum but since I chose a state school they covered all fees, books and the dorm/apartment rental. I worked for spending money and extras. I am so thankful for their gift. It gave me so many options coming out of school.

  5. Maggie~

    When DH and I got married 2 years ago (next month) we started with a budget of $7000. DH’s parents never let us see the bill from the reception, but even cosidering that in, we would have come pretty close to our original budget, which included everything!

    That included a cake that would have served 200+ people (friend of ours did the cake and gave us a great deal), DJ for the reception, food and open bar for 110 guests, professional photographer, ceremony at the same church my parents were married at, champagne toast for everyone, plus decorations and gifts for the bridal party and hotel room for us and my MOH and her husband for the weekend.

  6. Hey, Maggie…

    Our wedding was cheap/chic. My family couldn’t afford to help out, but dh’s parents were kind enough to pay for the rehearsal dinner, and the reception afterward.

    My dress + veil + shoes + hose = $298.00

    Total wedding cost for us= 500.00 friends assisted by making the bouquets of silk flowers so that we didn’t have to pay for those, and to help the bridesmaids out… we used dresses that they had from previous weddings they’d been in…

    Happy Anniversary… I don’t think I regret one thing that we paid for. except… we had way too much cake left over. Way Too Much!

    Love your blog…

  7. Ours was done on a budget too – I think we spent under $3K total, but we only had 50 people. Each set of parents gave us about $1K each. My Mom made the cake, my dress was on clearance (yes!) and everything else was pretty modest. I think we spent the most on the reception dinner.

    Our honeymoon was more important that the ceremony/reception for us – we went on a 3 week trip to England and Scotland, so our money went towards that – still have fond memories of the trip to this day! 🙂

    I don’t have kids yet, but I’m sure I would give them some money if I could.

  8. Hi Maggie!

    First I have to tell you I saw your commercial on TV and you look amazing! It’s a really cute commercial!

    With regards to your questions…you don’t want to know. My parents are paying. Had it been up to me to pay, we probably would have had a very simple ceremony with maybe dinner after. I just can’t justify spending that much on a party when I can’t afford a house. I told my mom this and she was horrified, and exclaimed “I want a wedding!” Since then it has ballooned into an extravaganza for which I am tremendously excited and grateful.

    Your wedding looks like it was gorgeous! Congratulations on your impending 1 year anniversary!

    Jenna

  9. The wedding was not really my thing, but my husband and his family were very into it. We spent $2200, back in ’86, including the trip to Hawaii, which WAS my thing. We did our own flowers, just zipped down to the flower district that morning.

    If I ever do it over again (unlikely!), I would just go to Las Vegas and do the drive-thru. Seriously. Or maybe the Star Trek Experience wedding package. That would be worth it.

  10. My husband and I eloped 12 years ago this October. We had just moved to New Jersey to take jobs at a newspaper, and decided we wanted to be married. We didn’t want a wedding…just the state of marriage. Neither one of us could fathom spending thousands on a wedding when we knew there were many things coming up in the not too distant future (home ownership, etc) that were more worthy of such an expenditure.

    We didn’t want to deal with blood tests (which NJ and Penn required), so we opted to elope at the municipal building in Manhattan. A young couple from Queens who got married right before us acted as our witnesses. We did the “OMG, we’re married!” happy dance on the subway platform, then had a long, leisurely lunch at an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village.

    Our only costs were the wedding license fee, the train tickets to and from NYC, subway tokens, our lunch, a small single-layer bakery cake and a bottle of champagne. Oh, and we bought some wooden spoons at Zabars, just for fun.

    My father was the only family member who took our elopement hard. He wanted to walk me down the aisle. This unfortunately formed a minor rift between us for years. About five years ago, I finally had to tell him gently but firmly that if I had it all to do over again, I would do exactly the same thing. I truly have no regrets. Fortunately, when my younger sister married a few years ago, she had a good-sized (yet financially conservative) wedding!

  11. Wow…apparently my blog attracts a lot of frugal brides, LOL. Kudos to all of you who eloped or otherwise bucked the $20k wedding trend. Several times during the tedious planning process, I tried to convince Chris that we should go with the Star Trek wedding in Vegas (and indeed, my mother even hinted that a really simple ceremony with just close family would be fine with her), but my future in-laws really wanted the traditional wedding. I think they used it as an excuse to have a mini-family reunion. :em04:

  12. I love that idea you had for the cakes. I bet they tasted about 16 million times better too. :em36:

    I’m willing to spend the big bucks on good food, but refuse to spend it on flowers. I am bound and determined to make my own arrangements, should that day come.

  13. My budget goal was $10,000 total and my parents were expecting to pay for the entire wedding; we had about 120 guests but planned for 150. Well…I ended up going over so my parents spent $10,000 but I spent about $3,000 for a combined total of around $13,000. I did a traditional wedding but was budget-minded. I did waste some money on handmade favors that didn’t work out–had to run out and buy some store bought favors instead. No one was in debt, we all had the cash on hand to pay for the wedding so there weren’t any credit card balances. Of course DH and I were engaged for 2 full years so everyone had time to save up.

    DH and I spent a large chunk of our wedding gift money on plan tickets that year to visit his family (including a surprise visit right after the honeymoon because his mom was so torn up over her baby boy leaving–that was an awesome surprise as she had no clue! :em20: ) and to pay for the honeymoon (which was mostly on my credit card). The rest we used to buy more household items we didn’t have as it was our first time moving out of our parents’ houses so we had nothing but bedroom sets, so we didn’t do anything that financially savvy yet we still spent less than the average American couple. Also not too shabby considering I had virtually no help from friends or bridesmaids (and DH was out of state) so all my budget-cutting efforts took 2x longer from me doing the work solo; I do feel cheated of those moments bonding over wedding crafts with other people, instead it was me thinking “OMG, I’m never going to finish all this stuff by myself!” but somehow getting it done on time.

  14. Not quite a frugal bride here! I thought that I could do it for 10K but we will have just about doubled that when all is said and done. I am including absolutely everything spent in that figure though from postage to honeymoon spending cash. My parent’s kicked in $3500 and I’m sure my mom has spent another $1500 that she hasn’t told me about (we are having it at her home and she’s doing all the decorating). The positive is that we are paying cash for the whole thing. The negative is that I should be using that money to reduce my debt. Sigh. I could have been more frugal with this but I just don’t have the time to do a lot of DIY type stuff. That would drive me nuts. I wanted a wedding, but I didn’t want to be involved in too much of the planning and such. I figure the payoff is that not going the DIY route gives me time to workout 10 hours a week so that I can look extra fab in my dress. 🙂

  15. We spent *gasp* $14,000 at our wedding in ’97, which I fought tooth and nail, because in my mind that was down payment on a house. Well, we pulled off an incredible wedding, paid it all :em70: off and purchased a house within 8 months of being married. It is amazing how much you can save if you put your mind to it!

  16. I heard a great quote from, of all people, Kelly Ripa (who seems surprisingly down to earth and normal for someone who could easily be a living stereotype of ditzy blondness) … she and her husband eloped to Las Vegas. She told her (horrified) girlfriends after the fact: “I want a marriage, not a wedding.”

    I have nothing against weddings, big or small, but I though her quote was a great reminder of what the day is really about, in a world where people get so caught up in candied almonds, party favors and hooplah.

  17. First-timer to your site. Wife bought the p90X and searching found this area. We were married in feb. Paid for the whole thing ourselves except for cake and videographer/photographer (1150).

    Reception: $9500 ($3000 in alcohol 🙂
    D.J.: $850
    Favors, table set up, chapel fees: $2500
    Rehearsal Dinner: $ 1100 (ouch!)
    Misc. Gifts, hotels for family: $ 2000

    Was the best day of our lives , but (there is always a but :em20: ) it is only one day in what we hope will be a long marriage. I would just remind people of that fact. Spend what you can afford to spend. Don’t spend what others “think” you should spend.

  18. Hi I spent about £3000 about £1000 was on the meal and evening food, I had about 30 guests at the wedding and meal.
    I got married in a registry office. I was lucky the dress I picked out ended up being on sale with 75% off so it was £65 though the matching shawl wasn’t in the sale and cost the same and the dress. I borrowed shoes from my sister. My friend took the photos. I had some helum balloons for decoration and the lady who worked in the shop also did bouquets and she only charged about £50 for the bouquet and buttonholes. I made all the invites, menus, favours, lavender decorations and mini origami roses for my hair. My mother in law made the cake.
    http://www.powerofmoo.com/ourwedding.html – scroll to bottom for photos on the stuff I made

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