Our $28K MKJ Farm Upstate New York Wedding

Bringing the Middle East to a barn in Upstate New York

Emily, Policy Analyst & Omar, Deputy Director of a nonprofit

sum up of the wedding vibe: Bringing the Middle East to a barn in Upstate New York for the party of a lifetime.

Planned Budget: $25,000
Actual Budget: $28,000
Number of Guests: 170
Location: MKJ Farm | Deansboro, New York

Where we allocated the most funds:

We spent the most on our venue and the food. The owner of the venue basically acts as a day-of coordinator, including running the rehearsal, and the venue included bartenders and help with setup and cleanup. So all-in-all, it was well worth it. The food was actually pretty reasonable (and delicious!), but feeding 170 people just adds up.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

My uncle agreed to be our officiant, which was really special, and he wrote a really personal and beautiful ceremony. Neither of us is particularly sentimental, but he made it a tear-jerker for both of us. Also, Omar wore a suit he already owned (no one noticed).

What was totally worth it:

We splurged a bit on our awesome photographer and videographer (a husband and wife duo!), but they were amazing—and come on, look at these photos. They worked magic. I also had way too much fun creating the table cards from pictures of vintage travel posters to fit our Mediterranean vibe.

What was totally not worth it:

No one—and I mean no one—took any of the programs that I made for the ceremony. I guess the ceremony was self-explanatory?

A few things that helped us along the way:

Our parents were really supportive and willing to step up whenever we needed it. My parents especially helped with a lot of the planning and the costs, and my mom made amazing favors out of local spices, including some from her garden.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

I’d tell myself that the year of planning will be worth it a hundred percent when I was completely relaxed the week of the wedding and able to just enjoy my time with family and friends. I even got a sunburn the day before the wedding because I was having so much fun with my family that I never even thought about keeping myself pristine for the next day. That said—seriously, no one will care about the programs.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Omar’s favorite thing was the incredible Palestinian zaffeh (a traditional entrance to the reception) his brothers and cousins performed for us. And man did we get lucky with our family and friends. They stayed with us on the dance floor for hours, my family came out for the traditional dabkeh dance, and Omar’s dad joined my dad in a Springsteen dance-off. It was epic.

Something else we’d like to share:

We had a Mediterranean theme to tie Omar’s Palestinian roots in with my hometown (Utica, New York)’s Italian-American culture. We had citrus fruits and olive branches throughout the decor, and the tables were named after Mediterranean places. The menu included a mix of Middle Eastern and Italian foods, and the desserts included baklava and cannolis. The favors were little bottles of spices, including Utica grind crushed red pepper, an Italian seasoning mix, and thyme.


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