How I Had the Wedding of My Dreams for Less than $5,000 : Part 2

10 September 2013

Yesterday, I shared a bit of the ways that I was able to balance my budget for an amazing wedding for a small fraction of what the average wedding costs.  I really believe that you can have an amazing wedding with any budget.


We scored a groupon for our photobooth. I was going to try to DIY one to save money, but in the end, I am really glad we splurged a little to have it just taken care of and the photos were so special to me.
Plus it gave our friends a bunch of ridiculous props to play with throughout the night

I also was able to find a great photographer who was able to make a special package for me once I told her my budget. We decided to limit our time with the professional to save money - she did our official family & couple portraits, the ceremony, and then just the first bit of the reception. We also asked some of our talented photographer friends to try to take some shots and focus more on the fun candids from the reception. We ended up with so many amazing and beautiful photos.

I am really big on gratitude.  For me, the wedding was not only about my husband and I, but also about our friends and family that had supported us and taught us how to love...without them, we wouldn't really be what we are as a couple.  I wanted the wedding to be about showing them gratitude and celebrating them as well as our marriage, so the little touches of favors were a big deal to me.

We did favors in two ways, the first was that as soon as the guests arrived, I wanted to set the tone of fun, playfulness, and appreciation.  I decided to get a water ice cart to come out and serve treats to the guests as they arrived.  In case you don't know, water ice (you say it "wooter ice") is a Philadephia version of italian ice - it's like if sorbet and sno cones had a baby, it would be water ice.  It was not only a treat to my guests, but also an homage to where I grew up.  We had little wooden spoons stamped with our initials to serve with it.  Our guests loved it.

The other favor was jam.  Obviously if you read this blog, you probably know that canning is near and dear to my heart so it seemed only logical.  Rather than make 70 small jars of jam on my own, I reached out to a few friends who I had taught to can and they each agreed to make a couple dozen jars that summer for me.  It was a really lovely way to have them participate and celebrate a shared love.  I printed custom little "spread the love" jar toppers for each one and put them out for the guests to take.

I like flowers, they are pretty, but they are so expensive and they die so quickly so I just couldn't justify putting much into a floral budget. I had an amazing contact that is a florist, so he took me to the wholesale floral market the day before the wedding and we just bought some inexpensive wildflowers in our colors. I stocked up on mason jars & pretty miscellaneous vintage glassware before the wedding and my mother took on the project of making mixed bouquets to put around our tables.  Nothing about it was very preplanned, but the results were lovely.

Rentals & Thrifting
Always be sure to ask your venue what kind of rentals are included!  Renting chairs, tables, linens, and so on can really add up quickly and can take a huge chunk of the budget.  We were lucky to have a great budget venue with ample tables and chairs that came with it, so I know that saved us quite a bit in the long run.  We also opted to buy inexpensive linens and then resell them after the wedding, which saved me about $75.

I am a thrift store addict and I gave myself a lot of time to plan in part so that I had time to identify what kinds of things I wanted for the wedding and get great deals on them. I was also so lucky to be have Something Borrowed in my city. I was able to get tons of amazing vintage style details without having to buy all of it. The key was getting creative and thinking about how to use simple, inexpensive items and make them part of a special display.  We used vintage books to add height to the dessert table and an old suitcase to hold the plates and cutlery.

Instead of a DJ, Bryan and I created a Spotify playlist for dinner and dancing, borrowed a PA system, and asked a groomsman to be our MC and take care of the music for us. I was worried about this a little, but it ended up being amazing! The songs that were played were exactly the offbeat things that we both loved, there wasn't a stranger being really cheesy and asking us to do the YMCA, and it was awesome!

A lesson I've learned - DIY doesn't always mean cheaper. If you are going to spend 10 hours and $10 on supplies rather than $15 for something premade, that might not be worth it. Sometimes the handmade details are the most special, but there is only so much one bride can do. I tried very hard to pick my handmade details very carefully. I am sure that there were plenty of things on my Pintrest list that I thought I couldn't live without that just didn't happen and I didn't notice one bit. The handmade details that we did focus on were absolutely perfect and made our day more special. I will share a few of my favorites later this week.

Grand Total : >$5K

That's it!  Event planning has a lot of things that go into it and it can be overwhelming, but in the end, when we were really thoughtful about each and every piece of the puzzle and we had clear priorities, we had an amazing wedding for a fraction of what might be expected.  Again, I am not sharing this all to gloat or talk about money, but instead to just offer a little perspective and share what I've learned.

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