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. 😛
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?