How is everything adding up to more than $20K??

I’m putting most of this behind a cut (or whatever the WordPress equivalent is called) because I swore that I wouldn’t become one of Those Girls who writes incessantly about her Special Day and forces everyone else to pretend they care.

However, the situation is kind of wigging me out, and you never know.  Someone might actually find this kind of helpful.  Probably not, though, since this post will involve more wanking and hand-wringing than actual constructive solutions.

So, I’m sort of a spoiled brat because my parents are kicking in for my wedding.  In all fairness, without their help, I might have done a Vegas wedding or a town hall wedding.  The money came attached with the knowledge that I would be disowned from the family if I denied them their right to party.  We take parties very seriously in my family.

I already wrote that I’m not planning on having a frugal wedding, but I scoffed at spending $28K. Now my budget has far surpassed what I expected, and it’s embarassing. I mean, once you decide on a traditional wedding (and your damn fiance has a gigantic family) you’re sort of stuck with most of the costs, but really??

The budget:

Item Projected Cost
Pre-Wedding
Save The Dates (100 ppl) $150.00
Invitations (100 ppl) $300.00
Wedding Rings $1,000.00
Tux $100.00
Dress + Alterations $1,000.00
– Shoes $250.00
– Hair $100.00
– Jewelry $100.00
– Makeup? $50.00
Attendant Gifts – Groomsmen $500.00
Attendant Gifts – Bridesmaids $500.00
Attendant Gifts – kids $300.00
PRE-WEDDING TOTAL $4,200.00
Wedding Ceremony
CEI Setup Fee $500.00
Officiant $200.00
Music before ceremony $600.00
Photos/Video $1,000.00
Decorations $200.00
Flowers $850.00
Ketubah $250.00
CEREMONY TOTAL $3,600.00
Reception
Venue Fee (CEI) $0.00
Food (100 people) $9,702.00
Booze/Bartenders (95 ppl) $2,513.70
Photographs $1,000.00
Music $1,500.00
Cake $500.00
Favors (100 ppl) $300.00
Miscellaneous
Hotel Room 2 nights $698.34
Airfare (round trip) $800.00
RECEPTION/MISC TOTAL $17,014.04
TOTAL $24,814.04

I don’t think that any of the items are too out of line with the actual cost, although it’s likely that my estimates are on the more expensive side (there’s something so thrilling about beating your budget, even if you know the numbers were slightly inflated).  In a lot of the areas, you can spend less or you can spend more:

Currently, our invite list is over 100 people due to Chad’s guest list bloat problem (his mother keeps adding random cousins!).  He’s insistent that most of these people will not be coming – apparently, Lancaster County, PA is not a huge draw for Jewish people – but that they must be invited for propriety’s sake.  Luckily, I am merciless: my list of family members was slashed to only people who are important to me.  I don’t want to play the if-I-invite-you-you-must-send-a-gift game.  The problem is that we have to plan for ~100 people to show up, which means that at $75 a head for dinner and $25 a head for open bar, we’re spending $10K on people we mostly don’t even really like.

We’re looking for photographers that might save us some money.  I’m loathe to do this because I truly believe that you get what you pay for with photographers (although I don’t go so far as to call it an “investment,” as all foofy photographers seem to enjoy doing).  We’re still looking, and there are some promising people whose photos are better than average while not costing more than we can afford.

I have absolutely no idea how much flowers are supposed to cost, but my mother said $1000.  I cannot fathom spending that much!  I also cannot wrap my head around a $500 cake or $600 for some damn violins to play “Here Comes the Bride” (except not that song because I always accidentally slip into Darth Vader’s theme song when I try to hum it).  But these are the things my mother tells me we need.

We have the money, I just hate to see it spent this way…

Please send me links to brides who spent $100,000 on their weddings.  I need to feel less like a cliche.

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9 Responses

  1. Do you have time to be watching Slice.ca?

    It may only be open for Canadians, but the show is: Rich Bride, Poor Bride

    I can’t remember which bride it was in there, but they spent $130k on their wedding.. although they had 500 people. The couple’s names are Dave and Cinzia (she’s cute as a button with red curly hair).

    Weddings are EXPENSIVE. That, I know. And you’re right – I hate the feeling of being invited to a wedding to someone I barely hang out with or talk to, just for the sake of being invited.. then I have to send a gift, and then think about inviting them to MY wedding.. Ugh.

    Good luck with everything.

    Fabulously Broke in the City
    Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver.

  2. Yikes. I mean…. it all seems pretty much reasonable, until you get to that line where it says “TOTAL”

  3. I totally feel you! I drove myself crazy trying to save money in different categories, only to find other areas costing more than I ever realized they could. In the end, I definitely spent less than I could have, but I don’t know if it was worth the stress of contacting 50 photographers or 10 caterers to see who offered the best quality for the price. (By the way, definitely don’t skimp on photographers!)

    Actually, I take back the part about trying to get the best price being worth the stress. I was able to find a string trio for $350 (versus the $700 some quartets were charging), get cheap save the dates on Vista Print, get the photographer to throw in services for free, have centerpieces that doubled as favors, etc…I never really looked at how much I saved by adding up what I could have spent, because I still shudder at what I DID spend, but it was worth it to know I wasn’t just accepting the first astronomical price given to me.

    There are tons of tips out there about saving money on your wedding, but the reality is, there’s only so much you can cut and still have a wedding of a certain size. (Plus, most of us don’t have Martha Stewart-like friends who can make our flower arrangements or design our wedding stationery.) However, you can go simple with the things it seems crazy to spend on (flowers, programs, cake, whatever you decide), and use that instead on the things that matter to you (whether it’s beautiful photos, great food, or good music).

    It’s hard, but don’t let other people convince you that you need certain things! People aren’t going to talk afterword or even remember if you skip the favors (who really wants that trinket or piece of chocolate anyway?), if you don’t have a fancy pocketfold invite, or if you have a violin soloist instead of a string quartet. Hopefully what they’ll remember is that you got married, were in love, and that they were glad to share in that.

    Good luck to you!

  4. Ugh, it’s difficult to control wedding costs once you go the traditional route and family becomes involved. We’re not even engaged yet and I worry about these things! Question, you have $75 a head for food but in your list the total is close to $10k for 100 people. Is there a venue/place serving fee in there too? That better be some good food for the money.

  5. @ SP: That’s how I feel. I go down the list, but there’s nothing I feel is way off. Our best bet is to cut down the guest list & minimize everywhere else. I don’t have grand plans for anything, so I’m hoping it won’t be hard to find ways around the costs.

    @ MissM: The price in the spreadsheet is a little high in case we decide to upgrade (you can add extra entrees, or add chocolate covered strawberries to the dessert bar, or have 2 different kinds of coffee instead of just one, etc.), and it also includes tax & gratuity (combined about 26%). I assume we won’t have to spend all of it (cut down guest list, not do all of the upgrades), but the extra 26% was substantial and I wanted to make sure it was on there.
    No venue fee for the reception, just for setting up our ceremony. THeir food is actually really good – my parent have been going there for dinner ever since we discovered it!

  6. @ Laura: Thank you so much for your note!
    The money-saving tips are always kind of useless, because it does involve mooching off your friends and family. Sadly, I come from a family of engineers & blue collar workers who are awesome but generally useless when it comes to weddings.

  7. wow…I agree with SP. The amounts seem right, but the total seems ridiculous! I’m sure you’ll be able to find ways to knock down prices.

  8. Whee! I’m at the other end of this awful process!

    The photographer is way low. You won’t even find a student on Craigslist for that, and forget the video.

    For your paper (save the dates/invites/menus/thank yous), I highly recommend etsy. There are so many talented ladies! If you know what you need and what your budget is, they will work with you. And it will be custom. You might be able to get it down a little, especially if you use postcard save the dates.

  9. A friend of mine spent more than $100k on their wedding and honeymoon. And let me tell you, they are still paying it off today.

    We’re planning for our wedding right now and some of the ways we’re considering cutting back costs are not sending out save the date cards (we’ll just let our friends know by email), buying flowers from wholesalers, making our own decorations and favors, and maybe not having a wedding cake.

    On the other hand though, we will be spending heaps on the food at the wedding and our photographer cost a bomb! But those were the two things we were happy to splurge on.

    I should do up a spreadsheet because looking at yours, I think I’ve missed out on a couple of things. Uh oh!

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