We Made Our $51K Jewish Wedding Feminist and Modern

Stomp your glasses, shake your asses

new york city wedding photography

Rebecca, management consultant & Amos, user experience researcher

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: The neon was glowing/The booze was flowing/All the guests left knowing/… how much we love each other

Planned budget: $50,000

Actual budget: $51,000

Number of guests: 125

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Where we allocated the most funds:

A big chunk of our wedding budget was spent on food. Even though we consider the caterer to have been an incredible value (the food was world-class!), with 125 guests, the catering costs (including food, rentals, service, and tips) added up. Other big parts of the budget were venue and photographer. We were pretty committed to getting married in Brooklyn and having a photographer we really connected with who captured the feeling of our wedding. From the start, we knew both were priorities for our wedding and our budget.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

One of our top priorities was finding a venue that let us handle the bar so we didn’t have to pay a per-person cost. This saved us $$$, though it required much more work to estimate alcohol, buy the liquor, store it in our living room for a month, and transport it to the venue. It was totally worth it for the money we saved.

A friend who worked for a stationery company hooked us up with her employee discount, and we paid $500 total for save the dates, invitations, and thank you cards. Also a mistake at the post office got us 300 free stamps.

We got really stressed when we found out what florists charged for centerpieces, but didn’t want to DIY anything the weekend of the wedding. Working with our day-of coordinator, we designed centerpieces with candles and greenery. Our florist put it all together at a price that was way cheaper than having flowers. We read about repurposing bridesmaids’ bouquets as centerpieces on APW, and our florist helped us make those look great too.

We both think we look pretty fly regardless of outfit, so we didn’t want to break the bank on clothes. Amos refreshed a suit he owned (with the monogram “Bomb-Ass Suit” inside the jacket) with a new shirt, shoes, and tie; Rebecca ordered her dress from Modcloth for less than $300 and wore a leather jacket she already owned for outdoor photos. The cherry on top was being featured in the New York Times for one of the best wedding dresses of the winter wedding season.

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What was totally worth it:

Three words: Day. Of. Coordinator. Our wedding wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without Amy, who we found by googling “feminist wedding planner Brooklyn.” She’s all that.

We considered having a friend officiate, but ultimately decided to go with an experienced religious officiant who would lend a spiritual flow and emotional gravitas to our ceremony. We specifically sought out someone who would work with us to incorporate religious traditions that were meaningful and personalized; the result was a process that got us to explore and articulate our values, a ceremony that truly reflected us as a couple, and a new friend who really gets us.

When we went through the APW wedding values exercise, we realized that we wanted to spend quality time with the people we care about, especially out of towners, without breaking the bank on a pricey rehearsal dinner. Instead, we rented out the party room of a local ice cream shop, ordered in fancy pizza, and served beer provided by a groomsmen who owns a brewery. Our rehearsal lunch was a refreshing, kid-friendly way to hang out with friends and family, while saving more of our budget for the actual wedding.

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What was totally not worth it:

Many people and the APW website told us not to sweat the details and focus on what mattered. We generally heeded this advice, except for escort cards. We ended up spending way too much time the week before the wedding trying to get things exactly perfect, and not one guest commented on them.

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A few things that helped us along the way:

Getting help from other people made a huge difference in our process. The bride’s parents let us ship decor and gifts to their home, the bridesmaids and groomsmen arranged all the food for getting ready on the day of, and being equal partners in the planning process helped us tag team when we were feeling overwhelmed. Also, looking for vendors who you know want to give you the best day you could ever wish for, and treating them like friends.

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Favorite thing about the wedding:

A: While there were many highlights from both the ceremony and the reception, there were two distinct moments of the ceremony that will always stand out in my mind. Rebecca and I poured our hearts into vows that truly captured our unique relationship and love for each other. When it comes to creative expression, we always try to outdo each other. In this instance, Rebecca certainly won, and I’m quite all right with it. It was equal parts hilarity and tearjerker, and I loved every second of it. The other moment that I will never forget is when our officiant wrapped us in her tallit (Jewish prayer shawl), giving us the opportunity to linger for a moment in solitude amongst a sea of our closest and dearest friends and family.

R: The ceremony was so personal, heartfelt, and funny. The food was out-of-control good. But most of all, my favorite part of our wedding was the feeling of being married, this indescribable delight after so much anticipation and hard work. When we both stomped the glasses, and then walked back down the aisle (to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love”), the energy was so palpable and we couldn’t stop smiling—although we did stop to kiss for one beautiful moment. I will always remember that kiss.

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Anything else we should know:

When we started planning our wedding, it was so important to us that it honored our values of equal partnership, incorporated a modern and meaningful interpretation of our Jewish tradition, and celebrated what makes us different. From the start, we were both involved in planning, together and with separate tasks. We really wanted every piece of our wedding to be something we duly considered, not something that was “expected.” This made for a sometimes painstaking and involved process, but culminated in a wedding that was truly ours. So many people told us that our ceremony helped them understand and appreciate us as a couple and even allowed them to get to know us better as individuals. It was hard work to put the wedding together, but it was truly our collaborative, creative production, and we were so delighted to share it with our family and friends.


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