Our $25K Wedding Was A (Huge) Celebration Of Family

Maddie's baby sister gets married

casey, insurance & daniel, machinist

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: An update on your traditional church wedding, with 240 of our closest friends and family. (Seriously, that was the short list.)

Planned budget: $20,000
Actual budget: $25,000
Number of guests: 240
LOCATION: Portland, Maine

Where we allocated the most funds:

$14,000: Venue, Food, Setup and Breakdown, Linens

Where we allocated the least funds:

  • $3,500 Photography
  • $3,000 Florist
  • $800 DJ
  • $500 Cake
  • $2,000 Gifts
  • $500 Church Fee
  • $900 Wedding Bands
  • $200 Favors

What was totally worth it:

The venue. Our venue cost $14,000 and included two hot and two cold appetizers, champagne toast, a buffet for 240 guests, the actual venue, setup and breakdown, linens, and charger plates.

What was totally not worth it:

I spent WAY too much money on my bridesmaids’ gifts, and I should have known better. I bought them each a pair of Victoria’s Secret pajamas ($25 each that I got on sale after Christmas), a pair of earrings, and a personalized tumbler. I don’t look back and regret it, but I think I could have done away with the pajamas. They were super cute, but when you have fifteen bridesmaids, fifteen of everything adds up real quick. They would have been happy with literally a bag of dirt and a card.

A few things that helped us along the way:

Delegate! When people ask what you need help with, tell them! Whether it’s trying to figure out how you’re going to get to the venue without breaking the bank or if it’s asking someone to pick up a last-minute item… just ask for help and don’t try to take on everything yourself. And if someone (like a parent) offers to pay for something, just let them and move on.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Make a list of literally everything you need to purchase the second your venue is booked. This made it so much easier to figure out how much everything cost and what I could afford and when I needed to get it.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

All of my people. Seriously, I look back and I do think, “Wow people were right, no one noticed that,” about stupid things I stressed over. My wedding was amazing because of the people surrounding Dan and me. I know that people thought we were crazy when I told them we invited 290 people to our wedding, but it was so worth it! Some people want extravagant food and an open bar; I just wanted to have everyone that Dan and I wanted to be there celebrating with us.

Something else I’d like to share:

I think it’s important to note that I planned our wedding with my divorced parents. First off, they are the best divorced parents ever. But in terms of money, their finances are OBVIOUSLY separate. My advice to anyone who is getting married and has divorced parents who would like to contribute is to sit down with your parents (without their new spouses, if they exist), seriously talk about what people are willing to pay for, and write it down. I found that worked well for us. I basically said, “This is what I can afford, and this is what I picture my wedding to be like. I am not asking you to pay for my wedding, but if you would like to contribute, I just need to know who is paying for what.” Just asking for what I needed to know in a very blunt way avoided a lot of miscommunication and stress.

Another topic that I should touch on is having fifteen bridesmaids. I couldn’t even tell you how many group texts we had. If you have bridesmaids, ask for help! Ask for ideas! Include them! Let them have a say! They are investing a lot of money and time into your wedding and they deserve to be appreciated. Tell them you love them and appreciate them.


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