Arielle, Therapist & Greg, Truck Driver
sum-up of the wedding vibe: An intimate, jewel-toned, romantic, blended family wedding.
Where we allocated the most funds:
The bulk of our funds went towards photography and videography. It was very important to us to capture the day, so that we could look back on it for years to come. Greg is very sentimental, so having these memories to look back on is important. The reception venue was another large piece of our budget but their fee included all the alcohol.
Where we allocated the least funds:
The least amount of funds went towards the cake. We spent $70 on a three-tiered cake from Sam’s Club. I decorated it myself for another $30. No one had a clue it was from there. Our flowers were $800. I ordered them online and bought all of the milk glass vases from Goodwill. We had flowers everywhere and had we not posted the process on Facebook, everyone would have thought we used a $5,000 florist.
What was totally worth it:
Finding a DJ that would keep the dance floor hopping. I’ve been to too many weddings where no one dances. Our DJ kept it lively the whole night. I also bought glow sticks and light-up rings, and our guests LOVED them.
A good photographer is essential. They caught some of the most important moments of the day. They were also extremely easy to work with and helped me nail down a good timeline. While budget was really important, I’m glad I spent a couple grand on photography. It was also completely worth it to do the flowers ourselves. I enlisted the help of a creative friend. While it was labor-intensive, they were beautiful, and there is no way we could have afforded the quantity of flowers I wanted with a florist.
What was totally not worth it:
There really was nothing that wasn’t worth it. We were very intentional about our spending and cut stuff upfront that didn’t make sense. No one cared that we didn’t have favors. I spent $40 to send online invitations and again, no one cared about not having a paper invite. Our church was beautiful so I didn’t waste my time decorating it or making additional arrangements. The whole day went seamlessly and we had amazing vendors. We both agree we wouldn’t change a thing.
A few things that helped us along the way:
We were engaged for almost two years. This was mostly because I was deployed, but the long engagement really lowered the stress and we were able to stretch out when we had to pay for the big-ticket items. I am a researcher and I took a lot of time to really look at reviews before interviewing vendors. I went for middle-of-the-road pricing but with five-star reviews and everyone was literally perfect. Our reception venue had preferred caterers. However, I negotiated a change with them. I have the philosophy that the worst anyone can say is no. I’m really glad I at least asked because our food cost was half of their vendors and tasted much better, too!
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Black Friday deals apply to weddings, too. I bought all of my accessories at about 50% off that day. I also booked our honeymoon with Black Friday deals, again saving a ton. Don’t get too hung up on things being perfect. Some of the flowers arrived in the wrong shades. I didn’t sweat it and made it work. I did not stress small details that didn’t matter in the long run. I never felt stressed during planning because I took a laidback approach. I assumed something would go wrong, accepted this, and actually everything went seamlessly.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
Having so many important people involved in our day. A close friend helped with the flower arrangements, my stepdaughter’s family gave readings and were part of the wedding party, and having the entire wedding party at our home for the rehearsal dinner was intimate. We kept the guest list small and we both felt it was perfectly warm and we had the ability to talk to everyone.
Greg and I are both Veterans. We didn’t do anything traditionally military for the wedding but our photographer brought an old flag to take pictures with. They turned out beautifully and were a nice homage to our service. Greg has an 11-year-old daughter and it was extremely important for us to incorporate the blended family. Her maternal grandmother was a reader during the ceremony and her maternal uncle was the best man. Her mom also attended. I wanted her to see that even though her dad was with someone else, we could all still be a family no matter what.