How We Came in Under Budget for Our Minneapolis Pi Day Wedding

Sometimes the all-inclusive option is the best option


Jareesa & William 

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: Our Pi Day wedding was a nerdy celebration of love, family, and friends.

Planned Budget: $18,000
Actual Budget: $15,500 (not including honeymoon)
Number of Guests: 85

Budget BreakDown

Officiant: $0

Photographer: $2,000

Venue: $1,800 ($1,500 standard fee + $300 room flip fee)

Catering: $7,000 (includes limited bar, cocktail hour appetizers, plated dinner, and wedding cake)

Day-of coordinator: $550

Groom’s outfit: $100 (free tux rental, purchased shoes from Aldo, and tie from The Tie Bar)

Wedding gown boutique: $400 (alterations only; gown purchased by mother as a gift)

Flowers/decor: $1,650 (includes all flowers, ceremony, and reception decor)

DJ: $595

Hair: $60

Make-up: $80

Save the dates: $170

Invitations: $340

Favors: $170


Where we allocated the most funds

We spent the most on our venue and catering. Finding a nontraditional wedding venue was one of our top priorities, and we fell in love with the McNamara Alumni Center immediately. It’s a beautiful space on the University of Minnesota campus, and it’s known for its unique architecture. We had our first look in the Heritage Gallery, which is a multimedia museum in the McNamara Alumni Center. We loved the wall of books and it totally fit into our nerdy Pi Day wedding theme, and we were super excited to have our first look in that space. The room where we had our ceremony and reception has these stunning copper walls and floor-to-ceiling windows, and the outside architecture is this interesting geometric shape, which you can see in some of our wedding photos.

The venue uses an exclusive caterer (D’Amico Catering) so we were locked into their pricing. The great thing about D’Amico is that they have a TON of options and their staff were more than willing to work with us to craft a delicious menu. It was also great to get all of our food items from them, including liquor and our wedding cake.


Where we allocated the least funds

We eliminated “must-have” categories like videography, ceremony musicians, and transportation for the wedding party. Our ceremony and reception were in the same location, which was also connected to our host hotel (The Commons Hotel) via a tunnel or a five-minute walk outside. My aunt took video of the ceremony and reception toasts, which she had edited and put onto a DVD for us as a gift. For ceremony music, we put together a playlist on my iPod and our coordinator queued the music.

We also saved a lot on our stationary items. We used MagnetStreet for our save the dates and invitations, and took advantage of coupon codes for our orders. For our day-of materials (programs, table numbers, escort cards, menu cards) we utilized my company’s print shop. They designed and printed all our materials, saving us eighty percent compared to using a traditional printer.

We also took advantage of as many free things we could. Our cake topper and photo guestbook were both free offers from online vendors, and my veil was free from the bridal boutique.


What was totally worth it

Hiring Maddie Hughes from Ask For The Moon Events to coordinate our day was more than worth it. When we hired her, we told her we wanted to be guests at our wedding, and she made that happen! She started working with us a month before the wedding, and on our wedding day we were able to relax and celebrate. She kept us on schedule, she diffused issues before we knew they were problems, and she made everything look beautiful.

Our photographer, Allie from Studio 220 Photography, was such a gem. We worked with her for our engagement photos (which we loved), but our wedding photos were more amazing than I ever expected they could be. As a plus-size bride, I worried I wouldn’t like how I looked in our photos, but I didn’t have to worry. I loved the photos and I love showing them to everyone who will look!

Premarital counseling was also totally worth it! We already thought we communicated, compromised, and shared space well, but premarital counseling helped us solidify our foundation.


What was totally not worth it

We did a good job of paring down our “must-have” list, so all the elements we invested money into for our wedding were worth it. The only thing that wasn’t worth it was the time and energy I spent worrying that things wouldn’t go well!


A few things that helped us along the way

Our families and friends graciously provided help throughout our wedding planning and at the wedding. A good friend served as our officiant, allowing us to have a sentimental, thoughtful ceremony that we designed together. My mother purchased my wedding gown as a gift, and my mother-in-law hosted a festive rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding that everyone loved. During planning, friends and family helped provide ideas, links to resources, or served as a sounding board.

Having a Pi Day wedding made wedding planning a bit easier, because we had such a specific theme. When it came time to make choices, it was easy to zero in on what we wanted based on fitting the theme or not. It also helped that the two of us were on the same page for what we wanted for our wedding, so we didn’t have to do much compromising.

The APW community was so helpful when I was planning, whether it was to get advice on a wedding dress or calm my worries. Seeing so many beautiful, quirky weddings helped us feel confident that we could pull off our type of wedding.

Anything else we should know about

Our wedding incorporated a lot of elements that were important to us. Instead of the traditional “Wedding March,” I walked down the aisle to “Picture Perfect” by Eric Roberson, escorted by my brother. We ended our ceremony with “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, which sums up how we felt at the moment! We entered our reception to “I Do” by Young Jeezy—a hip-hop song we both love.

At the end of our ceremony, we jumped the broom, which is an African-American tradition, honoring our ancestors who were unable to legally wed. During the reception, William and his fraternity brothers sang the sweetheart song, and my sorority sisters saluted us with a toast. We also heard some beautiful heart-felt toasts from our family and friends.

As part of our wedding theme, instead of table numbers at the reception, we had used chemical elements from the periodic table. We chose interesting elements, like krypton, praseodymium, and silicon. We also rented Erlenemeyer flasks for our table centerpieces.

My best practical advice for my planning self

Figure out what’s really important to both of you for the wedding and trust your gut! I loved wedding planning but I found I was second-guessing myself thanks to reading too many blogs and spending too many nights on Pinterest. My husband helped me stay focused on the elements that were important to us.

I also worried a lot because I am a plus-size woman—I wanted to look and feel beautiful and I didn’t want to hate my wedding photos. I’m thankful that I found an amazing bridal boutique that specializes in plus-size brides, where I found my Stella York gown. I felt so beautiful in the gown and it looked awesome on me. I didn’t want to take it off at the end of the night!

Favorite thing about the wedding: I love how authentic our wedding was—we were just our nerdy selves. We both wore our glasses—it was really important for me to wear my glasses because I wear them every day, and I wouldn’t have felt like myself without them. I’m also really happy that our friends and family enjoyed all the nerdy elements in our wedding, from the Erlenmeyer flask centerpieces, to the chemical elements as table numbers, to the mini pies we handed out as wedding favors. At the end of the night, seeing our guests having so much fun and telling us how much they enjoyed the wedding made it all worth it.


Read more about Jareesa’s Pi Day wedding planning on The Broke Ass Bride.


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