Kate, Teacher & Chris, Grad Student
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Low-key celebration of love and friendship in our local bar.
Planned budget: $12,000
Actual budget: $21,000
Number of guests: 78
LOCATION: Astoria, Queens, New York
Where we allocated the most funds:
Venues: We spent around $13,500, including food and drink.
Photography: This cost approximately $2,200.
Where we allocated the least funds:
Clothing and cake (not because the cake wasn’t great—it just happened to cost $300 and WAS great).
What was totally worth it:
Magbooth: We got a discount on the photo booth for having an off-season wedding, and we added in the photo book of everyone’s pictures for an extra $100. I LOVED having the digitals of everyone’s weirdness. I think the closed booth encouraged wackier behavior than the newer, open-air format.
The Haiku Guys: We found that THG were really great about working with our budget. They worked for a fraction of their usual rate, and it allowed everyone to take home a personalized haiku along with their photo strips, which doubled as favors.
Photographers: Teryn and Dakota were amazing. They were with us all day and felt like part of our family. We’re obsessed with their shots.
Doing everything in-house: It was nice to just let The Ditty take care of everything.
Ceremony: We had our old creative writing professor marry us. It was such a personal and beautiful ceremony. We’re both writers, so we wrote our own vows, picked readings that were meaningful to us, and included our families in the ceremony. I’ll never forget it.
What was totally not worth it:
We ended up bringing a little of our own wine to the venue to put out on the tables, and it wasn’t necessary. The bartenders were doing such a great job, we would have been fine without it.
A few things that helped us along the way:
We started out with a plan to have a VERY small wedding, but six months of tinkering and a near hundred percent RSVP rate threw us off course. That said, we built a lot of wiggle-room into our budget. We ended up spending more than we intended, but we were still able to pay for the whole thing without it really hurting because we started so small. We had also initially planned to have the whole thing (ceremony and all) at The Ditty, but we switched because of space constraints. I was really glad we did. The vibe at the Aurora Gallery was much more dreamy and peaceful. We ended up lengthening our ceremony so that our siblings could do readings and make speeches during it. (My sister brought everyone to tears, including our photographers.) It was really perfect, and allowed us to totally shift gears when we moved down the street to The Ditty and dove right into party mode. Plus, I was able to take a few moments alone with my new husband in the interim, and that part of the day was honestly my favorite. Just the two of us taking it all in.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Everything will cost more than you think. You’ll want to add things that you previously thought were a waste of money. (In my case, I ended up adding many more flowers than I intended, but I think they were TOTALLY worth it. I used to think I had no opinion on flowers, but I loved mine so much that now I think I do.) Pick your battles. Allow people to feel involved. Be nice to vendors; they’re great people trying to make you happy, but they also need to make a living. If you can be flexible, you might be able to negotiate on price. We benefited a great deal from having our wedding on a Sunday (Monday was Presidents’ Day so people had it off) in February.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
Everyone really meshed! It wasn’t a traditional setup with assigned seating, and because of the bar format, it kind of felt like a big dinner party. We had people who huddled around the bar, and others who started quiet conversations in the glassed in backyard. Our families live on opposite coasts for the most part, so it was everyone’s first time all together, and they had a lot of fun.
We knew we didn’t want a huge, prom-y dance party (not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s just not us), so we threw the kind of party we’d want to attend… games, poetry, our own Spotify playlists. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the wedding that it wouldn’t work, because I’d never seen something like it (a dinner party in a bar with no clear dance floor). But it was great. The ceremony was so beautiful and personal, that the party was one big celebration of our relationship in our neighborhood. It just felt very authentic to who we are as a couple.