Did You Stick To Your Wedding Budget?

And some...not so well spent

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer


One of my favorite parts of the How We Did It wedding stories we run on this site, is when couples share the things that worked out best for their wedding, and the things that were, in short, kind of a waste of time and money. Since much of the wedding industry trades in fear (get a three-tiered wedding cake or regret it forever), these little snippets of real life wedding budget planning can keep you sane. Plus, even though they’re useful tidbits, they’re also delightfully contradictory (one person’s money well spent is another’s wasted). And if there’s one thing I love, it’s a little bit of contradiction in the wedding space, because it just goes to show, there’s no wrong way to do this thing.

Planning my first big event at twenty-three meant that our whole wedding was kind of one big learning curve. Maybe if I’d had the APW book (or the coming-in-January APW Planner), or our How We Did It series at my disposal, I’d have known things like the fact that DIY invitations sometimes cost more than pre-designed ones. Or that if you really like dresses, you should probably make a point of giving yourself a budget for your wedding dress. But, you know, I didn’t. And the wedding still turned out regret free… just… more painful planning than I wish for you.

We understand that not everyone can (or wants to) send us a real wedding, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the opportunity to share all of your hard earned wisdom. So today we thought we’d open up the floor for a mini How We Did It. Tell us:

  • What did you spend the most money on for your wedding?
  • What did you spend the least on?
  • What was totally worth it?
  • What was totally not worth it?

If we get enough responses, we’ll pull together our favorites into a future post.

So tell us. What was money well spent at your wedding? What felt a little like you were just setting dollar bills on fire? Twenty-three-year-old mAddie is dying to know.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Sarah

    I can’t say what’s worth it/totally not worth it (I can give an update in 7 1/2 weeks!), but so far we’re spending the most on catering, then honeymoon, then venue, and then the other big ticket items cost roughly the same. Even though our wedding is more expensive than we ever thought it would be, and I was worried for a while it wouldn’t all be worth it, I feel like its going to be a blast and I don’t think I’ll have money regrets. I like all of the elements that we’re spending money on, even though they may not all have been “necessary.”

  • Trinity

    Most: Photography and food
    Least: Flowers; ceremony and reception venues
    Worth it: Excellent photography and food
    Not worth it: DITing ALL of our food; stressing about what people would think of our unattractive venue

  • Violet

    We spent the most money (half of our budget) on venue. We chose a restaurant, so that amount of money covered cocktail hour, dinner, wine at dinner, dessert & coffee (although we also had a wedding cake given as a gift), décor, day-of coordinating, and it meant we had no rentals or clean up or other logistics to take care of. It was… awesome. Highly recommend a restaurant wedding if planning a million things isn’t your forte, and if you’re kind of a minimalist who doesn’t mind a lack of decoration. (The restaurant itself is beautiful, so that was enough. If we had wanted to decorate, that was allowed.)

    We spent nothing on decorations. We spent next to nothing on table numbers, escort cards, and invitations (made those very simply, by hand.). We spent about $25 on music because we did the iPod deejay dance party thing (my cousin loaning us his professional speakers was amazing!). The $25 was for songs we didn’t already own but thought would make good dance party additions.

    Worth it was answering any questions I didn’t feel like answering with, “We haven’t decided yet.” Also totally worth it was my bouquet. Because we didn’t really have a lot of “details,” it really counted for a lot, in my book. It turned out just how I wanted it to, and my partner loved it too when he saw it, which kind of surprised me. He still mentions it every now and then (two years later).

    What was totally not worth it was stressing: about hiring a new-ish photographer, about not having a deejay, about not having favors, and about not having a “real” back up plan for taking photos if it rained. Everything turned out fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

    • Lisa

      I was also coming here to say that about 60% of our budget went to our restaurant venue, which also covered cocktail hour, dinner, open bar, 4.5 hours of space, event planner, sound system, lighting, waitstaff, linens, etc., etc. It was absolutely amazing, and we had to do very little besides have the flowers and cake dropped off and decide on a menu.

      Our second biggest line item was photography (~15%), and it was also totally worth ever penny. Our photos are gorgeous and something we’ll love forever.

      • Violet

        Yeah, and I kept reading about not spending that high a percentage on your venue because then it cuts into other costs. Which I have NO DOUBT that it can, but we simply opted out of a lot of those other costs and our venue covered So Much all in one… it made really good sense, in our case. But it had me nervous for a bit. I’m not sure why I thought that even though I budget effectively in my day-to-day life, I’d somehow drop the ball in Weddingland. Turns out, budgeting skills transfer, ha.

        • Lisa

          Yes, I had a similar realization when I started adding up the amount of money it would take to convert a (moderate to decently located downtown) blank space into a wedding venue. I’ve used restaurants before in planning work events and know that you tend to get good bang for your buck. Plus, since they can get your repeat business (you can always go out to eat at the location), they work extra hard to please you, whereas some vendors don’t have that kind of pressure. (When are you going to come back and plan a 100 person event again?)

  • A.

    We’re on the verge of possibly spending $1k on a rain plan. It feels both like a hugely important insurance policy AND like setting money on fire at the same time. We reckon it’s actually closer to the former (uh, Florida summers get rain sometimes), but it’s very, very weird to spend money on something you don’t actually want for your wedding, but need.

    • Angela

      The most stressful part of my wedding day was that there was an 80% chance of thunderstorms all day and we didn’t have a foolproof backup plan. I tried to be zen about it but it was absolutely on the back of my mind. It ended up working out but I still feel guilty for the mental energy I gave to that on such an important day of my life. It might just be worth it!!

    • Yeah I think of this as spending money on your sanity. I immediately nixed any venue that did not have backup accommodations for rain. It was 70 degrees and sunny on our wedding day, and I’m still glad we were prepared. I did not need to lose sleep over the weather for months.

    • Kira

      Any way you can ‘undo’ the rain plan and not spend $1000 if not needed? We had a tent rental in the works (Florida in May) and then three days beforehand when it was 0% chance of rain we cancelled and only had to pay $100. Which was fine…. until the day of the chance jumped to 30% and I did freak just a little bit. But it only rained at the very very end when it was time for folks to leave anyway. SO all in all, I think a plan is necessary. But maybe you can get creative and not spend $1000? Good Luck!!

  • sarah

    Most money spent – catering & associated rentals (linens, silverware, plates, glasses, etc.), just under $3,600 + venue for ceremony & reception, just under $2,000
    Least money spent – $0 on a friend’s photography
    Totally worth it – DIYing all paper good with my mom (and yes they were very much cheaper than ordering them), DIYing our bar which emphasized craft beer, hiring a florist (just under $800 instead of doing it myself which would have been the same if not more), hiring a DJ (around $600) who played wedding classics instead of listening to our unconventional list.
    Totally not worth it – having a wedding party. The most drama and stress was getting everyone on the same page. If I had to do it again, I would definitely just ask for help doing what I needed doing instead of wrangling so many people’s expectations.

    • Ashlah

      Not having a wedding party was one of the best decisions we made (for us). I was occasionally bummed about not having built-in helpers, but it really simplified things for us. Also made it easier to forego the pre-wedding parties we had no interest in.

  • K.

    Most: Food, attire, honeymoon, flowers
    Least: Invitations

    We haven’t yet had our wedding and so far everything feels worth it. The only thing I wish is that we had splurged for the *full* wedding planning package instead of the semi-wedding planning package (though I’m glad we did that instead of just the DOC package) because I get figurative AND literal hives dealing with the nitty-gritty logistical things and it’s completely out of scope to ask our planner to handle any of that until a month prior (we’re 2.5 out now).

  • Bsquillo

    1) We spent the most money on a full-service caterer. The food was delicious (if a little “traditional”, and not super hipster-y), but the biggest draw of choosing this option was that they took care of EVERYTHING related to food, drink, and service. I didn’t have to worry about renting glasses, or washing dishes, or setting tables myself. And they brought me and my husband a beer as soon as we finished our recessional. In second place was the venue, which was perfect and relieved a lot of setup headaches (i.e., they already had chairs, tables, a fridge, and bathrooms).

    2) We spent the least on flowers- maybe like $500 total- because the space was already beautiful and didn’t need much. We also lucked out on finding a local flower farm that could give us bulk peonies for super cheap. We used those for centerpieces, and then had the farm arrange bouquets and two large aisle arrangements. Done. We also spent surprisingly little on alcohol: maybe around $350 for red and white wines and a custom keg of beer for 80 people.

    3) The food and the venue were totally worth it- the service they provided made everything easy. The custom beer we had made by our favorite local brewery was also very worth it, though super inexpensive (less than $200 for a keg). Also worth it (but inexpensive) was having our musician friends play the reception, and opening up to a “jam session” that we participated in!

    4) There wasn’t too much I feel like we threw money away on, but in general, worrying about all the details of my appearance and wedding “look” were totally not worth it- things like the color or my toenails, or my hair accessories, or my shoes, or makeup. The day of, I just. didn’t. care. And I realized that it was totally stupid to worry about how I would look in pictures, because happy people always look awesome in pictures.

    • neighborhoodmap

      Totally second the full-service caterer. Ours also included a day-of coordinator who stepped up big time when our reception venue didn’t figure out they had double-booked until the day of the wedding. And not having to deal with additional vendors for linens, plates, glasses, etc was golden.

  • Most: Renting out an entire restaurant for our reception. We had to spend a bit more than we would have otherwise to get the whole space but that meant we could/had to spend more per guest. (Prime rib! All the side dishes!) We came in about $50 under the minimum on the day-of so the restaurant sent a $50 bottle of wine home with a bridesmaid to give to us.
    Least (at least in terms of the standard): For about $450 we did a bridal bouquet, boutonnieres for Eric and his men, and baby’s breath for the bridesmaids, plus the delivery fee. We didn’t do any flowers as decor and it was fine. Also my dress, but not everyone can have their grandma make their dress.
    Worth it: Everything! But definitely the DJ! I didn’t think we needed one but Eric pushed for it and he was right. It wasn’t THAT expensive and our DJ was awesome. Glad he did.
    Not worth it: I’m sure there is something but I can’t think of anything off the top of my had. Lots of littl things we did (splurged on the favors, had custom crossword puzzles made, made custom cake slice boxes for everyone to take cake home) were totally optional, but I wouldn’t change a single thing because it was all part of our magical day and our guests liked it all!

    • Lisa

      I didn’t know your grandmother made your dress! (Which was absolutely stunning, btw.) Wedding dress was on the lower end of our money spent, too, because my mother made mine as well. Family tailors/seamstresses are the best!

      • Yesss!! It really is a great skill to have in the family.

        PS Thank you!!

    • Kate

      We made our own crossword too! I wish I had been able to see people actually working on them, but we put it on the back of our program for when they were waiting around pre-ceremony and I don’t even have any pics of that time. We had a lot of fun making it though. #nerds

      • Ella

        My bridesmaids made a crossword for my bridal shower! It was an excellent ice breaker as different friends/family knew different parts of my life. It was very cute to watch them work together to figure out things I did in college or when I was in elementary school. :)

      • PracticalPlanner

        Did you do the crosswords by hand or use software? We want to do this for our brunch wedding too!

        • Kate

          We did it by hand…and by we, I mostly mean my husband. We first started with our theme and longer clues that we wanted to include and blocked off a rough grid in Excel. Then kind of fit in everything else around that. It took some work, definitely, but it was really fun. We also used http://www.onelook.com/ quite a bit. You can search for words that start/end with the letter(s) you’re looking for. Good luck!

          • PracticalPlanner


    • Dal

      Do you mind me asking about how much per person it was to rent out a restaurant? Was it on a weekend? I’m thinking a restaurant would be an easier way to organize everything, and there’s quite a few places around here that are beautiful and would need little to no extra decoration.

      • Lisa

        It really depends on what type of restaurant, how much space you’re using (event room vs. shutdown), and time/day (a Wednesday afternoon is going to be significantly less than a Saturday evening). Our restaurant had a $10k food and beverage minimum that we needed to hit for downtown Chicago on a Saturday evening, but that included EVERYTHING (see other restaurant comment). It worked out to be $164/head, but that’s again including EVERYTHING. And of course your mileage may vary depending on any of the factors mentioned before.

        • emmers

          Including everything is wonderful (and so rare!).

        • Dal


        • BSM

          Another restaurant wedding here! Ours is charging us about $14,500 ($11,250 not including tax and tip) for a Sunday night wedding in Venice, CA for about 125 people, which is $116/head. It may sound like a lot, but, after way too much research, I’m confident we’re getting a major steal. They’re doing absolutely EVERYTHING (set up, break down, changing over the patio space from our ceremony, labor, all the food [cocktail hour with passed hors d’oevres, buffet dinner, dessert, open bar], floral centerpieces!! and decor, etc.). Saturday night would have been about twice the cost, which we couldn’t swing, but I think it’ll still be a wonderful night. We’re about 4 months out, so I’ll report back afterwards how it all went :)

          • Lisa

            Best of luck! Our restaurant reception was amazing, and like you said, a total steal for the market in which we found ourselves. Plus, it was important to us to have fantastic food, and most of the caterers wouldn’t meet with us so we could try the food until we’d signed a contract with an event space, which in downtown Chicago averaged ~$7000/4 hours for a blank space. When we decided to shop restaurants, we just had a few nice date nights and picked our favorite.

      • We’re also using a restaurant, and we have a $4000 minimum spend (altho it’s going to cost us significantly more than that because we are doing open bar and some fancy cocktail food) for a Saturday night in July in Vancouver, BC. We don’t have the entire thing booked, though — just a huge (110 person) private set of rooms with a private bar and washrooms. For us, it ends up being about $150/person, including alcohol and all food and staff and plates/tables/linens/etc.

        • Dal

          Thanks for the note! I guess it really depends on the restaurant, and finding the right ‘size’ for your party

        • RNL

          Would you mind sharing what restaurant it is! Omg.

          I’m in Vancouver, just starting planning, and want a restaurant wedding.

          • Steamworks in Gastown. Uber Lounge + Atrium combo. It’s pretty gorgeous, with an incredible view. And their catering packages are totally reasonable!


          • RNL

            You’re a genius! They are very reasonable! Thanks for the hot tip. We’re totally looking into it. My fiancé and I have fond memories of getting drunk there on XMAS eve… It’s kind of a tradition.

            Congratulations and happy wedding to you!

          • Oh and congrats! :)

          • RNL

            Thank you! And thanks for the great advice.

          • meganfm

            Depending on the size, have you checked out Chamber? They can fit 60ppl /w a dance floor and 80 ppl without in their downstairs private dining space. And I remember their min. spend being pretty reasonable considering the class of restaurant they are. Only challenge is there’s no on-site ceremony space (which is why we passed).

          • RNL

            That’s a great idea! If we can get our wedding numbers that low I’d be into it. I have a friend who supplies produce to them and knows the chef, so I might have an in. As it stands we have way too many people…

            Where did you decide on as your venue? And good luck with planning!

        • meganfm

          That’s VERY reasonable. We’re getting married in Vancouver in July as well and our min spend is $11,000, and I was told by our wedding planner that was pretty reasonable. It’s a painful chunk (considering we’ll have around 90 ppl) but I ADORE our venue and wouldn’t change anything.
          Oh, and that doesn’t include tax and 18% gratuity :( But it will also be our ceremony space, so that helps make the cost a bit more palatable.

      • Nickie I

        I’m getting married in San Diego, CA at a restaurant. We decided on a Sunday brunch/lunch option. It’s a $3,000 minimum. Depending on the menu we chose it works out to about $45-51 per person.

      • CII

        To give an idea of different ends of the spectrum, we had a daytime wedding + reception at a newish wine bar for about $1800+ nice tips. We had a flat fee per guest (which included snacks and unlimited wine from a selection of five wines, setup of food and cake, service, cutlery, takeodown) and no rental fee. We provided ipod (they provided hookups), cake, and flowers (minimal because the restaurant space was beautiful). We did have a small wedding (50 guests) and the time we had was limited (3 hours total — we had a seperate party at our home later that evening). I would very much recommend the restaurant route — you get to deal with professionals in hospitality and it makes it more of a one-stop shop.

    • PracticalPlanner

      Where did you get your custom crosswords made? That’s on our list too!

  • Steph

    Most: Supporting the philosophy that we wanted to feel like gracious hosts to our nearest and dearest. Practically, this meant we spent most on our all-inclusive venue, including ceremony and dinner and reception space, including food and open bar

    Least: Paper (we had digital invitations, no programs, pretty cheap escort cards and guest book)

    Totally worth it: Feeling like gracious hosts! Also totally worth it: DITing flowers with bridesmaids and family the day before (probably still about the same cost as having a professional do them, maybe a little cheaper, but a lot more effort from a lot of people–and to me, worth it to spend that time together making something beautiful)

    Totally not worth it: Worrying about going over the # of guests and not inviting a couple of family members. Wish we had invited them.

    • neighborhoodmap

      If I could change one thing about our wedding it would be to just go ahead and invite the “work friends” that we agonized over cutting. Due to our liquor returns (yay Binny’s!), we ended up under budget after final tallies were made, and it kind of kills me every time I think of it that some people I consider myself close to weren’t there because of the category they fit into on the guest list.

  • Jenny

    What did you spend the most money on for your wedding? Venue (which included several bedrooms that we charged people for-it allowed us our dream venue and them half the price and no driving accommodations) and Amanda Summerlin (our photography)
    What did you spend the least on? Cake (we got A bunch of flavors of Gooey Butter Cake from Park Ave Coffee in St Louis, it was the cheapest option-other than no cake, but also my favorite cake) and flowers (went to a grocery store and Lowes to get loose flowers and potted flowers the day before.
    What was totally worth it? Photography and venue
    What was totally not worth it? We definitely over bought alcohol (beer, wine and champagne), but other than about 1/2 a keg (and the case of wine we forgot at the venue), it was all enjoyed for the next 2 years.
    What do you wish you had spent money on (My addition): I wish I had hired someone from either the caterer, or venue, or just local to do some of the set up, (as it was my friends I set up chairs and tables for a few hours, and my husband and his friends set up the bar). I guess I never realized that you could hire hourly help that wasn’t like a Day of Coordinator (I knew what I needed and DOCs were expensive in the area). I wish I had hired 2 or 3 people to do 3 or 4 hours of work so that my husband and I and our friends and family could have had the whole day “off”, it would have been worth the 200-300 extra dollars.

  • Laura C

    Most: catering, by far. But it was an in-house caterer at a venue that was perfect in other ways, and it included everything, rentals and all, so it certainly saved a lot of hassle. And of course the underlying thing was we had a big wedding, which limited our venue choices, which caused us to have the in-house caterer, and then to pay for a lot of people.

    Least … I mean, I’m guessing the least was some WIC stuff we didn’t even think about doing. A cake server or whatever? I bought a guest book and then when it never got used, I returned it. Our decor was limited to flowers and my MIL dealt with those, so I’m not sure how much she spent but it was just fairly modest arrangements on the tables plus two bigger arrangements framing the ceremony space. (One of the nice things about an outdoor space is it kind of is its own decor.) Our photographers, both of whom were friendors and both of whom were amazing. My dress, which was like 60% off.

    What was worth it: our honeymoon, which was mostly paid for by our parents getting our tickets on miles and then by honeymoon registry. Our DJ, who I worried a lot about but was great. The post-rehearsal dinner karaoke party the night before the wedding, which would have been worth it even if we’d paid for it, which we did not.

    What was not worth it: My MIL did favors, which we would not have chosen, but I can’t say it wasn’t worth it since we didn’t actually have a single thing to do with them. Obviously having bought a guest book to begin with. But mostly, I feel like we did a really good job just not doing things that weren’t going to be worth it. I was going to make bouquets with my bridesmaids the day before the wedding. Instead, I scrapped the idea the night before and had a boozy lunch with them. And so on.

    Maybe the real answer to that is that if we could have kept our guest list 25 or 50 people less, we’d have had more choices and less stress and spent a lot less money, and so those last 25-50 people are what wasn’t worth it. But who are they? Not having them would have opened up a bunch of venues and, with those, catering choices, but it also would have meant a lot of fights and agony. A LOT of fights. And probably a disproportionate number of the people we wouldn’t have been able to invite would have been our people. And for my husband, our wedding was perfect, so there’s that.

  • Kendra D

    We spent the most money on the venue/food/booze and it was totally worth it. The venue provided decorations and did all of the set up and tear down, which made our life so much easier. We just showed up on the day of and had a fabulous time.

    The most important part of doing this, for us, was providing a fun party. Which, to us, meant good food and plenty of booze. Both of the recommended vendors for our venue were amazing to work with. They customized everything for us (seriously, the bar switched out the diet coke for coke zero and they are forever my heroes for doing this) and were just amazing people to work with. We also did a late night snack (donuts!) that were super delicious, but I definitely ordered way too many.

    We spent no money on flowers, because the venue was outdoors and had gorgeous flowers everywhere anyway. I think for my Mom it was hard to not have me buy any flowers, but then a dear friend sent roses on the day of, so we turned those into what the girls and I carried (we were going to carry nothing originally).

    Honestly, I can’t think of anything that I would have had us change for how we spent our money. We were super picky about doing it, and I loved how everything came out. From the photographer down to the sparklers and the gift bags for the kiddos, it was all worth it.

  • Lulu

    Could the peanut gallery chime in on day-of-coordinators? I believe I have the stage management and delegation aspects all planned out (for an easy-peasy restaurant wedding requiring almost no set-up), but coordinators are so frequently mentioned in the “totally worth it” column… I’d love to hear the diversity of experiences.

    • Steph

      In my experience–totally, totally worth it. At my wedding, at weddings in which I’ve been in the wedding party, etc. I’ve been in a few weddings that did not have a day-of coordinator and while things still went okay, it required a lot more work from and caused substantial stress for members of the wedding party and the marrying couple.

      At the same time, if you do have a day-of coordinator, it is worth it to go through all the details with him/her BEFORE the day-of. Trying to get someone up to speed the morning of a wedding is not fun.

      • Greta

        Yes, I was bridesmaid in a large wedding with no DOC. In the end everything was fine, but it caused a lot of stress to the MOB who was, by default, in charge of a lot. Also, the rehearsal was kind of a disaster as the bride and groom were trying to run it, but also be in it, and there were large parties and a VERY old officiant. This resulted in a significant mix up during the ceremony with the officiant not knowing when music was happening or when people were supposed to stand up or sit down, and was definitely a bit awkward – but it all worked out in the end, and is a funny store to look back upon. I can just see that having one designated person running the rehearsal and ceremony would have solved all those problems!

      • SLG

        As an occasional DOC, I second the recommendation to *please* go over the details with him/her before the day of. That’s for your DOC’s sake, and for your own. Let your wedding day be about the fact that you’re getting married, and not the logistics of what everyone else is doing. :-)

    • Kendra D

      I used a DOC through my venue and if it hadn’t been a requirement, I totally wouldn’t have done it. I sent her a detailed email regarding how things were going to go and she just seemed to struggle to keep things straight. Honestly, she was the one downside to the whole venue, though it was a tiny blip.

      On the morning of our rehearsal, she kept trying to explain how she wanted things done, which were directly contradictory to the way I wanted them done. For instance, my husband escorted his parents down the aisle as part of the processional – it was important for me that both of us walked in with our parents, because I didn’t want to be given away. On the day of the wedding, she tried to get him to go seat his parents so we could get things started and I came from around my hidey-corner (she also really harped on no one seeing me, which I didn’t care about at all) and explained that he wouldn’t be seating them until the processional was on because it was part of the ceremony.

      Honestly, if I was going to do it again, I would appoint a friend. But, that’s in part because there really wasn’t much coordinating that we needed. On the other side, I’m not sure how much she did with the venue that otherwise would have fallen on a friend. So, it was worth it so that everyone could just have fun. I just wish she had been a bit better at paying attention to what I had asked for in the first place.

      • Maddie Eisenhart

        Just chiming in to say, in my experience as a wedding photographer, vendue DOCs and full-time DOCs are world’s apart. While obviously not true of ALL venue coordinators, I often found myself in the same boat as you when working with them; it would have been easier without the “help.” A pro DOC, however, is usually worth it. If you can afford it!

        • TeaforTwo

          Vendor coordinators aren’t really working for you – they’re working for the venue. You haven’t found them, they don’t have as much of a brand to manage. And they’re also there to do things like make sure that you’re not violating your contract etc. They can be wonderful, I’m sure, but they are there for the sake of the venue more than they are for your sake.

        • emmers

          I too was confused about the venue DOC vs your own DOC. Maybe a good idea for a future post? I eventually figured out that the venue DOC would not be doing things like telling the bridesmaids when to walk, so I had a friend DOC, but it would have been great knowing about the differences earlier!

        • Kayla

          For us, this was so so so true. Our venue DOC showed up to our first meeting stoned. Like actually, “Sorry, what did you say? I can’t find my files… I just smoked a joint and it hit me harder than I thought it would” stoned. She lied about what was included with the venue during the consultation. And she quit two weeks before the wedding without telling us.

          Our full-time DOC was the best. Capable, committed, wonderful in all ways.

          • neighborhoodmap

            I mentioned this somewhere up-thread, but yes — the DOC who came with the caterer was amazing. The “DOC” who came with the venue (really the event coordinator at the venue, who stuck around the night of the wedding) double booked the space and didn’t realize it until the day of. So yes, big, big difference between someone who comes with the venue and someone who is actually working with individually.

        • I had the unique position of having both. Our venue came with a DOC and I had a wedding planner. So I got to see both types in the same room at the same time. The venue DOC was awesome in a “this is how things work in this building” sort of way. My wedding planner was awesome in a “this is how Addie wants this event to go” sort of way. Venue DOC knew how many chairs would fit in the living room and where to get them. My planner knew who was supposed to sit in which chair.

      • Angela

        We had a similar experience with the wedding coordinators at the church where we had our ceremony. They seemed set on a more traditional way of doing things…for example, they were totally confused by our female ushers. I would have actually preferred not to have them there at all–they just confused everyone!

        On the other hand, my godmother–our stage manager–was wonderful as a day-of point person. I didn’t have to field a single question the day of the wedding about the venue setup, directions, etc. Highly recommended!

    • Lisa

      It really depends on how many moving parts you have, what you need done, and how many people you have to do it. We sprung for a DOC about two weeks before the wedding, and it’s some of the best money we spent. He was the one who set up the church decorations, met with the florist deliveries at the church, picked up the cake and transported it and the decorations to the restaurant between the ceremony and reception, set up our minimal reception decor, ended up MCing our toasts, and drove us back to the hotel after the reception after we realized we were never going to get a taxi on the street.

      Reasonably, yes, a lot of those tasks could have been accomplished by friends and family, but most of our people were from out of town without cars, in the bridal party, already performing other duties, etc. If we had asked, I am sure our families and friends would have been willing to provide the extra support, but we wanted to give them the chance to enjoy the wedding without worrying about doing anything more than they already were for us.

      We got a discount on our DOC because he’s a former employer of one of my co-workers, and honestly I’d say that $600 was one of our best investments to not have to worry about anything on the day of.

      • Lulu

        I hadn’t even considered, after initial research made me think otherwise, that it could be that affordable! If I can get a “fixer” for $600, I am so in.

        • Lisa

          When looking at it in the scheme of our wedding budget, that money was relatively small. We did get a discount based on my connection, but I don’t think it was more than a few hundred for just DOC responsibilities. I’m seeing $900 around the comments, and I would have paid even that much (especially once we reached the “throw money at the problem” stage) for the peace of mind he brought us and our families. (My dad is a super-uptight, Type A planner, and I wanted him to relax a little. I knew, if we didn’t hire a pro he could trust, my dad would have been the one to get the cake or take down decorations because he wouldn’t have trusted anyone else.)

    • TeaforTwo

      Totally 100% worth it, for reasons of mental health. I found wedding planning overwhelming, and was so relieved to walk into my wedding rehearsal the night before the wedding and announce “Everyone, this is Emmy. She will be answering all of your questions from now on.” And any time for the next 24 hours that anyone tried to ask me a logistical question and make me be an organizer/party planner instead of a woman focussed on getting married, they got a firm, “I have no idea, you’ll really have to ask Emmy.”

      (My dad: “You’ll have to tell them how you want them to walk in.” Me: “Emmy, could you please tell them how I want them to walk in?”)

      There are just any number of small details that can go wrong, or that aren’t going wrong, but do need a decision (for us, things like someone to tip vendors, the order for the speeches, keeping the whole thing on the timeline, making sure the ushers had the programs, etc.) It was wonderful wonderful to have someone else to solve all those problems and make sure that I didn’t have to think about a thing.

      • Lizzie

        Amen to this. You won’t miss the money if you hire a good one, but you’ll miss your sanity if you don’t.

      • Lulu

        A question-deflector would be huge, and I love thinking of it as an investment in being able to focus on what’s important.

    • qj

      This is something that’s pretty common to be delegated to a family or like-family member in my circles … and it’s honestly one of my favorite roles to play at family/family-like weddings. We had a few things that needed a little bit of wrangling day-of, and asked a very assertive + awesome “Aunt” who had offered to help earlier on in the process if she would be willing to wrangle. She was fabulous at it, all of our friends lovingly still call her “Aunt So&So,” and it was a super wedding gift. We wouldn’t have hired someone to be DOC because the stage management elements were AOK, but for this particular task, it was super handy to have her there.

    • Jules

      Sooo…our upcoming wedding is heavily DIY in the sense that the venue is simply a venue and all they will do is set up some chairs & tables. We’re bringing in every other vendor and own a lot of things versus renting them all, and we’re even providing some of our own food (dessert and apps) even though dinner is catered. We let our first coordinator go (that’s what I get for not going with my gut) and replaced her 3 weeks from the wedding. Although I am VERY organized, I can’t be in two places at once and knowing that I have a competent person (and heck…maybe even just someone sharing the pressure/responsibility/blame?) has been a lifesaver. She’ll be executing everything, and I’m resting easier knowing that break down, set up, and vendor jobs will get done without me directing all day.

      For a wedding where the ceremony & reception are one location, it has a smaller guest list, there’s no “rain plan” to consider, and the venue is more like an all-inclusive – I might not have done it. Because of the complexity of our logistics and such, though, I feel like we’re getting super value.

      • Lisa

        You ended up definitely replacing the first girl then?? I was thinking of you and wondering how that turned out!

        • Jules

          Yes! And thanks for the happy thoughts!! We met with her for the second time last night and I have a lot of confidence in her. The first one ended up giving us our money back and interestingly, now ONLY offers wedding planning packages sans DOC. You can hire her to plan your whole wedding, but she won’t actually be there, nor does she offer DOC a la carte either, which sounds like a really good way to have a ton of miscommunication to me…

          @Lulu, yes…..the first was stressing me out and I was loathe to give up control of anything to her because of the lack of confidence. We didn’t jive when we met. Lesson learned. Hah.

          • Lisa

            That is awesome that you got your sanity AND your money back! Win-win for everyone.

            It sounds like that first lady doesn’t really know what she’s doing. I have a difficult time believing she’ll survive long in this business if she continues to conduct her affairs like you’ve said.

          • Kay

            I wondered too. Sounds like it’s worked out in your favour – great news!

      • Lulu

        I remember your story, and had taken note that bad help can be worse than no help at all and the importance of trusting your gut. So glad things are going better!

    • Rowany

      I did not have a day of coordinator, because we had a 3-day weekend wedding on a mountain and it didn’t make sense to have someone schlep there for such a long time. Instead we had friends help out for different duties at different points in the days. I had an elaborate spreadsheet to make sure no one spent an inordinate time helping, and individualized schedules for the helpers. It definitely involved a ton of work preparing, but everything went very smoothly. For each set of tasks, I had a Czar/mini-DOC so I could still enjoy my day. Responses from the helpers were mixed, from most people LOVING being involved and felt like it brought them closer to the other guests, to some others feeling like it was an imposition (which could easily have been prevented if we had known they didn’t want to do it. Making it clear that they could opt out would be something I would have done better.) I think if finances aren’t an issue, hire a DOC. If you’re struggling with your budget, think of people among your friend/acquaintance group who are amazing project managers and outsource that ish. And if it’s not anywhere within financially possible, I can tell you that as long as you designate a clear go-to person for the wedding that is NOT you or your husband, if you plan and communicate things clearly enough, your wedding will still be fun and wonderful.

    • Greta

      Our DOC was totally worth it. She cost $900 for a weekend wedding, which was her one-day price, but she agreed to come on Friday if we paid for her hotel at the venue. We also had a venue coordinator, but what I learned pretty quickly, as others have mentioned, is that she is working for the venue. She wasn’t going to run my ceremony, or help the chair guys set up, or tell my uncle it’s time to take pictures. We had a fair amount of moving pieces/people to coordinate, and stuff, and our DOC set everything up. She was also the designated question person, she ran the rehearsal, and she ran the ceremony, which we wrote and was officiated by my brother. I thought she was totally worth it, because with 165 people we had a lot going on and I didn’t want any of my guests to have to deal with that.

      Conversely, I was just recently the DOC at my friends 70 person wedding. I had so much fun planning my wedding I’m now forcing myself on all of my friends to let me coordinate theirs for free. I would not have felt comfortable in the coordinator role if I hadn’t just gone through the whole process myself as a bride – that and I am a program coordinator for my real job, so I’m naturally a spread sheet, timeline, and check list kind of person. I think you can definitely get a friend or family to help, but then keep in mind that they won’t be participating in a lot of other things happening at the same time. I had a ton of fun being the coordinator at my friends wedding and absolutely loved it, but I’m usually happiest when I’m in charge. Not everyone feels that way.

      • Lulu

        I am also a spreadsheet and checklist gal who is happiest when I’m in charge… but thanks for the reminder that I might not want to be that version of myself on my actual wedding day!

        • Libby

          This is delayed, but just want to pop in to say that I am also the spreadsheet checklist gal happiest when I’m in charge. My DOC actually commented that she had never in all her professional event planning had a bride that was more organized, I had everything completely ready for her. That being said, HOLY FREAKING MOLY I am so glad I didn’t have to be that person on my wedding day. Really, truly it was so incredibly wonderful to relax and let go. So different from my normal day to day life when I would usually want to be making sure people were doing things as planned, so just make sure at the very least you have most things delegated before the day of.

    • Jules

      One other thing I thought of….most of our VIPs aren’t familiar with things that might seem like common knowledge. For example, the fact that we’re taking posed family portraits, or that there is a processional that will include grandma, and so on. My 20-something year old American girlfriends are well-versed in it, but not necessarily 50-something year old French future mother in law. 1980s France versus 2015 USA weddings = wildly different.

      It was as much for my sanity as everyone else’s, really, and my fiance is so glad to have someone helping manage the stress.

    • 39bride

      We had a small church wedding/reception (65 guests) that was very DIY/DIT, so a family friend known as a great organizer and party planner filled the DOC job for us. I gave her a notebook with all the info (roles, contact info, timeline, layout drawings/photos, etc) and we sat down and talked about it in detail a couple days before the wedding. Not only did she make sure everything ran smoothly and keep any concerns from me while they were resolved, she became the one person who was focused on me and checking in with me since I didn’t have a bridal party. She was priceless!!

    • anony-nony

      Dude. We did not have a day-of-coordinator and I regret it, big time. We could have afforded one, but foolishly thought we could handle everything with a little help from family. As a result, memories of my wedding day are frenzied, hectic, and make me feel stressed even as I sit here – all punctuated with a few moments of awesomeness and joy. I would much rather have it be memories of awesomeness and joy punctuated by a few moments of stress. Everything worked out, so you know – guests didn’t realize how frazzled everything was behind the scenes – but I can’t help but feel that my guests enjoyed the wedding way more than I did, simply because I took on way more than I should have.

    • Kayla

      Ours was SO WORTH IT. She planned the entire day/timeline flawlessly (the day-of package came with three free planning sessions before the wedding day), kept things running right on time, handled a million things that we never would’ve thought of, helped us DIY our flowers, and ended up saving us more money than she cost.

      If there are any soon-to-be Seattle brides reading, Katie at Wonderstruck is the secret weapon you didn’t know you needed.

      But for a simple restaurant wedding? I’m not sure. It might help to consider what you think you do want help with (developing a timeline? ushering guests around for pictures etc.?) and then see if someone will do a mini-package just for those specific needs.

    • Jessica

      We didn’t have a DOC and I haven’t been to a wedding that has had one, as far as I know. So it never really occurred to me to get one, and I didn’t regret not having one. That being said, here are the people that helped out in a way that the DOC might have:
      – We had a sponsor couple at our church that helped with our preparation as a couple and also ran the rehearsal. They met with just my husband and I the Sunday before the wedding to go over details so that we weren’t trying to hash things out at the rehearsal with the wedding party actually there. The sponsor couple also was there for the Mass itself and did things like bringing a few snacks for the morning, telling people when to walk down the aisle, etc.
      – Our reception venue included the catering and there was a coordinator on-site, although I didn’t really have much interaction with her — she was there to do things like make sure the food got served, not introduce the wedding party or wrangle photos.
      – My mom and I made our programs and we gave them to as many people as possible during the rehearsal (musicians, officiant, etc) so that everyone was on the same page (literally!).
      – A very committed friend did my hair and make-up and generally helped make sure I was ready to go. This friend and my MOH also took my cell phone at 8 am and didn’t give it back until the end of the reception so that I couldn’t find out about anything going wrong! :)
      – We had lots of church friends and family members help out with decorations for the church and the reception. I sent them all an e-mail about a week or two before the wedding. I started with something like “Thank you so much for helping out! Disclaimer: I’m sending super-specific e-mails to everyone who’s helping out, not because I don’t trust you, but just to be as clear as possible about where you’ll find the supplies you need and where everything goes at the end of the night. With your help, I’m sure it will be awesome no matter what!” Then I would give really specific instructions like “put the pew flowers back in the cardboard boxes after the Mass and bring them to X’s car.” I don’t think anyone got too annoyed with me haha, and it was pretty cool at the end of the night to realize that almost everything went according to plan (like, I asked a friend to box up our portion of the cake for us to take on our flight home the next day, and voila! it was exactly where I told her to leave it. Cake = done.)

      So in summary…I think a DOC is pretty optional, but you do have to have some trustworthy people around to make sure stuff happens, and you have to be willing to think through the details yourself ahead of time.

    • emmers

      We had a wedding at a place sort of like a restaurant. We had a venue coordinator (she did things like make sure the servers put our flowers in the right-ish places), but I had a friend act as a DOC (she did things like tell the bridesmaids when to walk & figure out where the family would sit for the ceremony). If we could have afforded it, I may have sprung for a professional (because they would have had more experience & I feel like you can be more bossy with them), but since there wasn’t that much coordination really required, it was fine. If we had had a tent wedding on family land with a lot of DIY, I think a paid DOC would have been worth it in spades.

    • Lawyerette510

      Our wedding was about 60 people in a tiny town in northern California and the venue was a hotel/ restaurant that provided everything. The only set up was 1) stringing up a banner around the outside of a gazebo 2) rolling out some burlap on the ground 3) hanging some paper lanterns from already existing cafe lights 4) setting up our DIY photo booth 5) running some twine between two redwood trees and clipping up the place cards. I had a friend who was the “stage manager” and who knew all the details as well (if not better) than my husband, and we had other friends all situated ahead of time to assist with the few tasks. It worked great and a DOC wouldn’t have really added anything to it.

      • Lulu

        Oooh, interesting. That’s analogous to (or maybe even more than) the scale of tasks I’m thinking of. So glad it worked well for you!

    • Eh

      We did not hire a DOC but we did have a friend who filled the role (she was also our MC). It was totally worth having someone coordinate things so I didn’t have to worry about it. I was pretty laid back on the day (I couldn’t do anything by that point so I went with the flow) – our MC was actually more upset with things went wrong then I was.

    • PracticalPlanner

      Still 3.5 months out, but I am totally type A spreadsheet type and still very glad to have hired a DOC. For me, it came down to not wanting to worry about it day of, and having other tasks for my family friends. This is totally something to use your networks for – we found someone for less than half of standard prices for our area.

    • CJ

      My only real regret about my wedding is not hiring a DOC.

      We thought we could do it all ourselves, with the help of family, and we did all the planning with no problem . . . but in the month before the wedding we had a serious, and unexpected family crisis (my mother died 8 days before the wedding), and I had NO time to do all the last-minute details for the wedding. So basically, it fell to my groom to do all the things, and he did with the help of my brother and SIL, but one month later, I still do not think he has recovered from the stress it put on him.

      But even without that crisis, we should have hired a DOC. It was just so much work for my groom and my family, all the setup and breakdown, and my family didn’t complain, but I felt bad and the stress was not worth it. We didn’t think we had room in our budget, but we should have made room.

  • Kara

    Most: venue, catering, photography, fixing vintage car for getaway & pics (plus it became ours after the wedding–awesome gift!)
    Least: Flowers (grocery store bouts / bouquets), decor (borrowed hurricane vases + candles on sale), paper goods (invites from costco), dress (bridesmaids dress in white)

    Worth it: DOC (a relief that I didn’t have to worry about vendors / plan B / people), friends and family supporting us, sticking to my guns about not having kids at the wedding

    Not Worth it: the anger at having to explain why I didn’t want kids at our wedding–because I damn well knew you wouldn’t discipline/control them (and there was no place for a baby sitter)

    Wish: I still wish it wouldn’t have rained (and flooded in some areas)….but there’s no controlling the weather

    • Kara

      Also worth it….alcohol. Our venue only allowed open bar beer and wine (no liquor), but it was still awesome to be able to serve adult beverages at our adult event :).

      I’ve been to dry weddings, and they haven’t been as fun (but this is also one of those “know your crowd” sort of things).

  • EF

    What did you spend the most money on for your wedding?
    The venue. It was a pretty cool ancient building in a little countryside British town.

    What did you spend the least on?
    My dress. It was free, plus alterations I did by hand. I’d ordered it gently used off ebay — it was jcrew, I knew my size and wasn’t worried — but the seller found a small stain on the skirt and refunded the money, then offered to send it anyway. Since I was planning on putting a layer of chiffon over the skirt, it made no difference to me, so I got it for free! Fabric for alterations (including the chiffon) was about £20. Lots of man hours, though.

    What was totally worth it?
    My partner was thrilled with the cake, which he made himself (and supplemented with two grocery store cakes). That, and having a rehearsal lunch where all the internationals of the wedding party could meet each other. It was really cool to see the bonding.We paid for the lunch, a day before the wedding.

    What was totally not worth it?
    Stressing over music. The venue’s speakers didn’t work day-of anyway, so we pulled out computer speakers and used those. Half the room couldn’t hear it (we didn’t have dancing, just background music), but y’know, it didn’t matter all that much, and the hours I spent on perfecting a playlist that wasn’t toooooo hipster, just hipster enough, probably could have gone somewhere else.

  • Meg

    Most: Venue/bar. 5 course dinner. Open bar. Midnight sweet table(s). People are still raving about the food a year later.
    Least: Card box my BIL made out of Barn board from my husbands family’s barn. It’s now our end table in our living room. It looks awesome.
    Worth it: Graphic designer for ALL of the paper goods I needed. Because we went with a local shop (more expensive than online) She was able to take the layout for my invites and create everything else I needed. Seating chart, signage, labels for the wine bottles (our wedding favours and had it printed on sticky labels). I would hire her again for twice the price.
    Not worth it: Cake. (See midnight sweet table). The venue forgot to cut it so we have half leftover in my parents freezer. Wish I had just got a small one for pictures or nothing.

  • qj

    Most $$: Also venue. This included rentals, linens, bar staff, food, the grounds, a day-of coordinator/site coordinator, and the whole dang day. It was REMARKABLY affordable given all it included, and was totally worth it to not have to outsource everything. (When we started pricing DIT picnic getups with all of the rentals + coordination for our 125 people, this was by far the less expensive + easier option.)
    Least $$: Desserts & booze. It’s a Pittsburgh tradition to have cookies at the wedding, and our generous relatives gifted us with *cookies* to set out at the wedding. We gave everyone little tiny bags as favors (with an at-home printed card that explained the cookie tradition to our out of town guests), and sent the cookies home with them. We had gelato, as well, which was far.less.expensive than the cakes we’d considered, supported an awesome local business, and was inherently gluten free (a consideration for our Celiac-rich families).
    Worth it: THE BUS. We waffled on the chartered bus for.ever and finally bit the bullet and it was the probably most peace-of-mind inducing $650 we spent during the whole shebang. Compared to the rest of our budget, it was a big % of the relative costs, but we loved having everyone arrive at the wedding + back to the hotel safe and sound after drinking + dancing all night long on a sweaty August night.
    Not worth it: Hmmmm. No real regrets here. There were several DIT projects that we almost did that *would* have fit into this category, but we decided it wasn’t worth it beforehand and went canoeing, hiking, and biking the week beforehand with family + friends in town vs. making paper lanterns and painting wineglasses. Really glad we made that decision.

    • snf100

      Agree we rented a school bus (too cheap for a charter) and it was amazing for our guests comfort and making their lives easier

  • Jessica

    We spent the most, like 80%, of our budget on food & drinks. Totally worth it. The food was amazing & our family and friends had a great time.

    We had our event at restaurant with no separate venue fee. We were very intentional to create a warm, welcoming feel but we found that was largely free (a product of time & choosing priorities, not money). We did the picture table cards on APW with sweet notes on the back – free yet deeply personal. We crafted an agenda with lots of time for interaction with us. One of out guests said she’d never spent that much time with the bride & groom at a wedding.

    We spent minimal money on invites (used Glosite, great), my dress (Rent the Runway), flowers ($150), and transport (we were in NYC so used public transport). A/V was minimal (a mic) but important.

    We spent nothing on a cake (restaurant provided dessert in our package, a DJ (iTunes playlist worked great), wedding planner (strategic asks of friends), centerpieces, decorations… Basically anything that created more work for us day-of we mixed.

    I’d definitely invite who you want to. There were a few people we should’ve just invited but we were nervous about numbers.

    Also I should’ve paid for A/V pickup for $35 instead of having my dad take it back the day after the wedding! He was glad to but he already did so much.

    • Jessica

      Oh photographer – we asked a friend, paid for their travel & got great pictures in return (at a much lower cost to us).

    • scrutables

      Could you share more about how you made time to interact with guests? We have huge families and I’m a little worried about that aspect.

  • Charlene E

    Most: Reception. We did our reception at a Dave & Buster’s because neither of us is into dancing. They provided the tables/chairs/etc., of course, and great food, even if it was a “typical buffet”. In lieu of party favors, we provided every guest with a play card that included $5 of play on the ticket style games and unlimited video game play.

    Least: DJ (no dancing, remember?): $0. We just had a computer with music videos I put together for the father/daughter, mother/son, and first dance. Then played some misc music softly during the meal.
    Also flowers. I just bought an inexpensive (fake) bouquet for myself and maid of honor (no other bridesmaids), then corsages/boutonnieres for my husband and best man and the men and women of the family that are important to us (e.g. parents). Bought them all online for good prices. No flowers for decorations.

    Worth it: The play cards at the reception! Everyone had so much fun playing the games. I was repeatedly told it was one of the best weddings people had been to.
    Also photographer. I looked around for one with an affordable rate for us, but it was still a decent chunk of change, but totally worth it. He did an awesome job! Anyone in the Milwaukee, WI area that would like a recommendation, let me know!

    Not worth it: Can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I did a lot of things myself and a couple probably could have been cut out, but were so inexpensive and not very time-consuming to do that it doesn’t really matter in the end. I had fun creating them anyway.

  • Emily

    Most: Catering from a sandwich shop in my hometown. We had a pretty small budget and so we had to do some work to find the right things for us. Our caterer was the first person I talked to who didn’t laugh at my budget. She was SO excited to do a wedding, and gave us a major discount when we told her of course she could use our menu (which was bistro style sandwiches salads and soups) and take some photos to show other prospective clients. She also turned into our wedding planner when I realized that I didn’t know where anything was in my home town any longer. She found me a solid bartending service, a flower mart i didn’t know existed, completely coordinated with our venue and made me a cake. At the reception she made sure I ate and kept my MIL on the other side of the room with a drink in her hand.
    Least: Ceremony venue! My beautiful Lake Michigan beach was FREEEEEEEE and my wonderful husband and brother in law built me an arch as a surprise.
    Worth it: Spending comparatively a lot of money on invitations because I LOVE them. We went through Printable Press, I could not recommend them highly enough. Also my caterer, duh.
    Not: Stressing out whether my guests could be adults. I was sure everyone would be starving, hate my venue, not be able to find the ceremony etc etc etc. Of course they found everything, it’s not like we were in Siberia (which even if we WERE in Siberia, they have maps there). The food was plenty and everyone was happy to have lunch food at lunch time. No one complained that there were no chair covers.

  • Lizzie

    Most: Photographer (shoutout to Jonas Seaman, who was worth every penny and then some!)
    Least: Cake (friends baked/decorated 10 dozen truly amazing vegan cupcakes as their wedding gift to us)
    Worth it: Photographer (see above)
    Not worth it: Favors (gourmet popcorn that hardly anyone took home, but hey, we enjoyed the leftovers)

  • snf100

    Most $ spent: all inclusive hotel reception venue, this was well worth it though, it included everything, linens with chair covers, all dinning needs, 6 passed apps, 3 choices of entree for dinner, and cake, open bar. I had to make choices but not many and this was wonderful for me, it worked for all of our guests travel and food related needs and made my parents and grandparents happy and during the planning process I loved that I only had to coordinate with the events manager at the hotel, that decreased my stress levels massively
    Least $ spent: my dress, I found a sample dress that was way way marked down and it fit perfectly (my only addition was a bustle) it was simple but very me and I felt amazing in it, so spending under $200 made sense for me
    Totally worth the money: our band/dj combo everyone was dancing all night long, both to the live stuff and the dj stuff (they alternated hour by hour), and the school bus we rented to transport people btwn the church and the hotel/reception venue this meant our guests didn’t have to park on the streets or in public lots in Philly, no one got lost in Old City, and no one had to pay $5 to cross the Ben Franklin Bridge unless they felt they were above riding in a school bus
    Not worth the money so I didn’t spend it: paper goods, I used vista print for the save the dates, another online vendor for the invites, very simple just added our specific wording and printed them, and created our programs in MS publisher and printed them at staples

  • Jules

    Still geeking out about wedding data, so here is my pie chart. This doesn’t include our rings (about $1000 for two) and our honeymoon. The band and reception are broken into two slices because it was easier to process that way.

    Our wedding costs could have been cut by….oh….almost 30% fairly easily (for a different looking/feeling wedding), but one of those things would have been switching from an 8-piece band to a DJ. One interesting thing I wanted to do in a submission post-wedding is show how our wedding would have looked at different price points. We could have easily had a wedding that was 30% more expensive too by having pro flowers, a full bar, catered apps, and letterpress invitations. Sometimes I would look at wedding budgets of real weddings and think “$30K, there’s no way I could afford that!” but it would turn out (with more digging) that I could afford some of the key elements and drop the price a TON.

    We get married in FOUR DAYS, so we’ll see what’s worth it!

    • Sarah E

      I’m with you on what things will look like a different price points. As I sifted through the “How We Did Its” on APW, I definitely looked for things that had our “look” as well as things that had our budget. Most people with our budget chose to have a much smaller guest list, then pay a premium for fantastic food or venues. So when I found people who had the same look/feel, I could easily subtract money when I saw things we weren’t spending on (flowers, attire, dinner, etc)

      Happy next four days– four weeks to go here :-)

      • Jules


        I just think it would be suuuper interesting to see one wedding and see how some tweaks can put it in a totally different budget category (higher or lower)!

    • Jules

      Oh, and not worth it: save the dates. We did them through Vistaprint. I wasn’t sure, but he insisted and I caved because we only had a 5 month engagement and lots of out of town relatives. I wish we had just sent Paperless Post save the dates or something instead. It caused me a lot of headache (our STD’s have to match the THEME!! I haven’t picked the invitations yet, how can I pick a STD?? How are we going to get them to France in a timely manner? Doesn’t everyone important already know?). Then I spent a stupid amount of time addressing, stamping, assembling, and mailing them and ultimately it didn’t truly make a difference in who showed up. The overseas relatives got emailed anyway, the ones who were stateside had the expected turnout (I was surprisingly accurate with my predictions) .

      It did let us test out the addresses of our VIPs….some of them gave us an address with no apartment number, or an old address (wtf?). But it sure as hell wasn’t worth the $75-$100 and more importantly, the time and stress.

      • Alexandra

        TOTALLY!! STDS ARE DUMB! We had a five month engagement and paperless post would have been a WAY better idea. But everybody I knew had STDs so I wanted one, too. I spent a lot of time gazing at people’s STDs on my fridge. Seemed like a must-have. Totally was not.

      • VKD_Vee

        On the OTHER hand…

        I loved our “STDs”! We *also* used Vistaprint so they cost barely any monies – like, $20 for 100? I just used a picture of a local beach and with the limited basics (“save the date for the wedding of ‘[our names, a date, a city”]). I thought sending a scenic shot of Vancouver might entice some out of towners, I think.

        Forever on the fridge and so worth $20 plus postage.

        • We also used Vistaprint and used a photo of us from our engagement shoot standing in the old port of Montreal with the Jacques-Cartier bridge in the background. $100 for the engagement and $40 for the STD (we sprung for the jumbo sized ones)!

      • Mim

        We did a picture text for our STDs and we loved them and got a fantastic response. We are having a small weddind (40 guests) that over half will have to travel for. We really just wanted to let people know the place, date and that they were invited so they could book transport. It ended up being a huge excitement builder for us and our guests and we had a lot of fun putting it together. Don’t think I would have had the patience or budget for addressing and posting them. It was also really fun getting instant responses!

      • Lauren

        …was scanning this thread and totally thought you meant the other kind of STDs for a moment…hehe

      • Kate M

        We did a stop motion video save the date. Cost free, it took about a day to do and I still love it and would do it again. Bonus, we emailed it to our guests so I now have updated email address as well as physical addresses for everyone on my guest list. STD’s are nice to have for out of town guests who aren’t sure they are invited to the wedding and gives more time for them to plan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWDpPhV5QOw

    • laurasmash

      Pie chart! I’m gonna have to do one too. My mom kept a spreadsheet with every wedding expense down to the penny.

    • Lauren from NH

      On your submission idea, it sounds awesome, I have totally thought about that as we have gone along. There are SO many choices, which is sometimes painful, but it means there are lots of price points at which to pursue your ideal wedding. I believe our wedding (meaning everything going to the wedding day) is going to come to 16K but if we made a few different choices it could have been done for 13K and if we made other choices it could have been done for 20K and still looked pretty similar.

  • SarahG

    Most: feeding everyone. Followed by DJ, because…
    Least: Not counting amazing donated gifts (photography and invitations — both free thanks to talented family), we spent the least on table arrangements: went with paper flowers and made our own table name cards and seating chart.
    Worth it: spending the time going through my husband’s father’s old suits. We found a total gem of a suit, a vintage 1970s Yves Saint Lauren cream colored three piece number, totally seventies awesomeness, and got it altered for $80. I am not at all sad to say he looked better than me at our wedding. HAWT. And $80. And also a really nice connection to his dad, who passed away when he was a teenager.
    Not worth it: a few weeks before we got worried that there weren’t enough drinks options and appetizer options, and panic-spent money on those. There was plenty of food and that was a bit silly, in retrospect, but I am Italian-American and nothing stresses me more than the thought of people not having enough food :)

    • Lawyerette510

      ” I am Italian-American and nothing stresses me more than the thought of people not having enough food” this is the story of every social thing I’ve ever been associated with from book club meetings to the wedding and back again.

      • SarahG

        YES! I am currently planning a baby shower for this Saturday and the food panic has set in. Last night I said to my husband “maybe I should just make lemon bars. And gluten-free brownies. In addition to the cake. In case we run out.” And he gave me that “remember the wedding appetizers” look. But I can’t promise I won’t go home and make lemon bars tonight. It’s a sickness, I tell you!

        • Lawyerette510

          Yes, the thought process goes something like “but what if someone wanted a third or fourth piece of dessert, and there wasn’t any more. It would be HORRIBLE! I just can’t handle risking that…” I think it’s a genetic condition for sure. I’m sure the shower will be a hit with or without the lemon bars.

  • We’re renting out an airbnb for our intimate destination wedding. That means accommodations for 12 for the weekend, also doubling as our event venue, for $700.

    Also, making my dress mostly out of tulle, which will come to around $60. Folks, tulle is cheap! Llike $2/yard in stores, or $25 for an entire bolt online. If you’re into the tulle look, and can sew a straight line/know someone who can sew a straight line, you can probably make a simple, full tulle skirt for around $30 that work as a bridal separate.

    • Anna

      I’ve had that tulle skirt idea for ages, but I’m not sure if I can pull it off. Do you have a pattern to share? Are you doing the top out of tulle somehow too? Exciting!

    • Tulle skirts are so cute. i totally want to make one.

  • laurasmash

    Most: Venue – a historic hotel which included food and drinks
    Least: Our wonderful officiant, a retired judge who would not accept payment or even the reception meal, though we did convince him to stay for the cocktail hour.
    Worth it: Photographer, flowers, the venue, string quartet for background music during our no-dancing reception, and spending extra to have the venue bring out the espresso machine for fancy coffee drinks with and without booze. It was a brunch reception and we had to pay per drink for these as opposed to a flat rate, but our guests loved it and I needed that espresso toward the end of the reception!
    Not worth it: the $250 it cost to add the bustle to my dress. There were 13 hook and eye sets to do the bustle and my mom couldn’t find a single one on the day of the wedding. I didn’t mind carrying the train, it was the fact that all that money was spent for nothing.
    Also not worth it: all the time and energy I spent worrying that people would judge us for our non-dancing brunch reception, it was amazing and everyone had a great time.

  • Michelle

    Not hiring a professional photographer was was the greatest money saver, AND totally worth it. We did a lot of non-traditional things, which most people seemed ok with….until I told them we weren’t having professional photography. People lost it there. I was warned over and over that we’d regret it, but it wasn’t something that was super important to us. If it had been in the budget, or had been highly important to us, we probably would have hired someone and gotten totally gorgeous photos. Instead, we got a big group of family and friends (who had varying skill and all had moderately good cameras) together and divvy’d up the day. Did we get gorgeous, artistic prints? Some, but mostly just good ol’ fashioned pictures of the day. But what we did get was an uncle stealthily rounding up old college friends during cocktail hour, two of my best friends from totally different parts of my life getting to know each other as they planned shooting our ceremony, my new mother-in-law gritting her teeth and telling my new father-in-law to “get on with it, we’re going to miss all the whiskey” during his meticulous shoot of our families, and my mom’s hilarious partner jumping up on (kind of rickety) chairs to get photos of us during the hora.

    At first we thought it would be too much to ask of people, but in the end we found that “your wedding is not an imposition” to be true a million times over and people were so honored to help us with such an important task. Recently I started a new job with one of those friends that photographed our ceremony, and I brought a bunch of pictures to put on my desk. As I set them all up she ventured into my office and picked up the photo of me and my husband right before the ceremony, and with a huge grin she exclaimed, “I took this photo!” I would most definitely do it again.

    • Angela

      We also did not have a professional photographer. A friend with no events experience but who knew photography volunteered to do it for the cost of a plane ticket (less than $500). We went for it and I’m overall glad we did! Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts on the whole thing:

      -The cost, obviously! We saved anywhere from $1,500-$2,500, based on what we had been looking at.
      -She was a friend, so we were extra comfortable around her.
      -She was there for the whole weekend and got shots of the rehearsal dinner, drinking with friends the night before, etc.
      -It was just a really cool thing to share with someone we love. She photographed our wedding, and we’ll always have that connection.

      -She was (understandably) a little nervous/unsure and there was a lot of back and forth on things like whether we should rent a certain lens so that she could take pictures from the balcony of the church during the ceremony (we did and I’m really glad that we have shots during the ceremony)
      -Because we de-emphasized photography in general and didn’t have a professional working for us, we don’t have a single picture of–for example–me and my parents.
      -Some of the low-light pictures aren’t great. They’re kind of grainy and orange. Since she basically did it for free, I felt weird asking her if she could fix them.
      -I felt a little guilty, since she was a friend, that she had to work during our whole wedding. She volunteered to do it–but I’m not sure she knew exactly how much work it would be.

    • jubeee

      I’m not using a pro either, a friend offered, he takes good photos so I trust him. I feel like everyone has become a professional photographer with affordable digital SLRs and photoshop these days, so its not a risk to use a hobbyist.

      • Kate M

        For those going this route, I would definitely make sure to do a wedding hashtag or app for photos so that you can corral them after the fact. Even with a professional photographer, there were a few pictures I know people took and I never got a copy of that I would have liked.

        • jubeee

          I think everyone should do that! This friend will give us photos though, he’s a graphic designer/videographer professionally so he has the skills, just not a professional wedding photog

    • Christina A.

      I’m not sure yet where we’ll end up on the pro/not pro photography fence. We went with the semi-professional option, as in the photographers who you could book along with the DJ from a one-stop-shopping location. The DJ(s, as we ended up with a trainee too) were miles better than we could have hoped for, but the photographers felt awkward all day long and missed a number of shots we specifically asked for–to the degree that we’re hiring another photographer after the fact (a friend this time)! There are many, many excellent shots of my brother, though…they thought he was the groom for about twenty minutes.

      So…I guess where I wish we had spent the money was on a photographer we felt listened to us and was comfortable with us, pro or not? That’s our big “not worth it/didn’t get what we paid for.”

      Also! Printing our own simpler invites, thank yous, etc. via an online printer (CatPrint) was incredibly worth it. We didn’t get programs and menus printed until the day before the wedding (whoops) and realized what an amazing deal we had on printing once we paid way more for printing, part 2.

      Also, also worth the money: a local venue with good food that took care of 100% of everything else. Didn’t have to worry about napkins, tablecloths, decor, anything–all we had to do was show up and party.

    • Alice

      We went the amateur photography route as well. A pro just wasn’t in the budget for us (our whole wedding was about 2k). While I love photos and would have appreciated professional ones, I look back on the shots we have, taken by my brother and best friend, and think what a great day it was, and not how I desperately regret not having pro photos. As a side note, my dad is a ‘serious amateur’ photographer, if that’s not too much of a contradiction, so we did have access to pro equipment. Someday, when he gets around to it, he’ll be editing a few of our favorites with good composition, so we have some swankier-looking shots to frame.

    • Sosuli

      Our wedding is over a year away and we’re just looking into photography now so I really appreciate seeing these comments! We’re looking at booking a student from my university – we haven’t met him before, but he’s the president of the university photography society and runs a freelance photography business alongside his completely unrelated university studies. Essentially, he has all the equipment, plenty of photography experience from various university related events, and he’s less than half the price of a professional wedding photographer (so a £500-£1000 saving for us). Reading these comments on semi-professional or DIY photography make me feel a bit better about going this route, if he seems to be on the same page as us once we meet him.

  • Caroline

    Most: the venue and photography. We also spent a lot on food, and also the rabbi’s few
    Least: invites, favors,

    What was totally worth it: Everything. I feel we did a good job planning the wedding, and didn’t have much waste. The money on a stunning venue after our plan 1 of a at-a-family-member’s home venue fell through was a ton of money, but the venue was so stunning, and perfect. The food caused lots of angst, but we ended up with a delicious caterer. I love our photos. I’m glad we got married by a rabbi instead of a family member, it was really meaningful and a good choice. Plus he did a lot of helpful premarital counseling.

    What was not worth it: Fighting with my mom over catering. We wanted cheap but yummy restaurant catering, she wanted a traditional caterer. We ended up with a great caterer and delicious food. It was more expensive but we made it work in budget. Not worth the fuss.
    Also, I loved my dress, but it was so stressful having a yoke added to a strapless dress. I think maybe I would have looked harder for something nice with sleeves or at least straps built in. I did love the dress in the end though.

    The areas where we were thoughtful about our values and what we really wanted for our wedding ended up being worth it. The fights over stuff/details were not.

  • Greta

    Most: Venue, which included all chairs, tables, linens, decor, food, booze, etc for the whole weekend! It was awesome, but weekend weddings are expensive.

    Least: Our doughnut buffet line – under $300 for 28 dozen doughnuts (2 per person for 165 people!) plus a giant doughnut that we did a “cake” cutting with. The doughnuts were a huge hit that people still talk about to us, and they were totally awesome.

    Worth it: The awesome venue for the whole weekend, with our awesome food. Everyone loved it, it was totally a blast, even though the decision to use this space, and to have an entire weekend wedding with everything provided for all our guests costs a crap load of money. Also, our Day of Coordinator, who worked the whole weekend for $900 was amazing and totally worth it. She took all the stress off, was a great person to run questions/concerns by, and made it so that I didn’t have to think about anything, and neither did my family or friends during the weekend. She made everything run smoothly in a wedding with many moving parts and was the best $900 I’ve ever spent!

    On the fence about worthiness: DIY invitations – I loved our STDs and Invitations, designed by my mom who loves paper craft, and put together by me, painstakingly but enjoyably, over many hours over many months. They ended up being quite expensive, and part of me really wishes I had just gone with paperless post – even though I did love our invitations, and had so much fun making them.

    Not worth it: Real flowers – they were expensive, and though they were GORGEOUS I don’t think they added all that much. I wish I would’ve skipped them entirely. Welcome bags/favors also were something I fretted about a lot and they ended up being expensive and useless – and a lot of stress to deal with leading up to the wedding – putting all the bags together, assembling them at the venue, totally not worth it. Skipping the photo booth also wasn’t worth it. I love photo booths at other people’s weddings, and I wish we had had one at ours. We skipped it to save money, but looking back I would’ve loved those photos.

  • What did you spend the least on? My wedding dress, $40 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006AAHKI4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).

  • Felicity

    Totally worth it:
    -Hiring of day of coordinator. I wasn’t sure about this at first. But her recommendations helped guide the rest of my planning, plus she made the day super easy. She also calmed down my anxious mother-in-law which was so amazing.
    -Transportation for our guests. I know this is not a must, because guests are adults, but I’m really glad we just did it even though it was several thousand more dollars than I wanted to spend. We received so many compliments and words of thanks for taking care of our guests, most of whom were from out of town.

    Not worth it:
    -the dress. I bought a relatively cheap dress (in wedding world, under $1500) but now that the wedding is over, I don’t think it was worth it. I wish that I’d explored more off the rack or online options that didn’t require so much tailoring.

  • emmers

    Most: food + booze (more or less equal amounts for each), for heavy appetizers, and unlimited beer & wine for 3 hours.

    Least: tie between invitations (template through e.mpapers/self designed, printed on colorful paper from paper source through FedEx Kinkos) & dress (online purchase through ideel, only needed to be hemmed).

    Worth it: Buying a dress online. I got something super unique and cute, for pretty cheap, by using ideel.com (a daily deals kind of site). I got soooo many dress compliments, and I don’t think I could have found something like that in a bridal salon if I’d paid 5x as much.

    Also worth it: Springing for the open bar, but having it close 1 hour early to make it affordable. I worried a lot about it, but by that point in the reception, a lot of people were gone, and those remaining were fine buying their own drinks or tapering off. I’d debated doing a bar cap, and am so glad we didn’t do that–we would have drank that thing into the ground!

    Not worth it: Flowers & stressing about them. I worried long and hard about whether I should spring for some awesome orange roses to make my bouquet more like one I found on pinterest. I skipped that, but still bought a ton of flowers from “cheap” places (Costo & fifty flowers). The bouquets and centerpieces were beautiful, but our venue was cool enough that even if we’d gotten even cheaper flowers/a lot less flowers, it would have been fine. Things that photograph well don’t actually add to having a good time.

    • kate

      “Things that photograph well don’t actually add to having a good time.” well-put. :)

  • Rowany

    Most: Venue (we booked all of the cabins at our mountain venue and had people pay us back 1/3 of the cost), and Photographer/Videographer.
    Least: No flowers! No DJ! Decorations were luminarias and christmas lights, we bought 8 cakes (1 for each table, so guests just cut their own) from a Chinese bakery and had a helper add decorations from Etsy.
    Worth it: Venue and photographer/videographer. Our wedding video and photos are amazing, and we barely had to decorate because the venue was so well-equiped and beautiful. Most of the items we bought for the wedding are currently in use in our home: christmas lights, projector and screen.
    Not worth it: Pulling out my hair stressing about where to put guests in the cabins. I wouldn’t recommend paying for other people’s accommodations, but it was important to me and I’d probably do it over again. But I shouldn’t have tried to plan too far ahead and just wait for people’s RSVPs before trying to figure out where to put everyone. Also, trying to do DIY for the seating charts with magnets. I just returned the dirty magnetic metal sheet to Home Depot and ended up using a gifted cork board instead. I also bought a lot of makeup products that I will probably never use again.

    • Lauren

      For your makeup products that you won’t use, try Reddit’s makeup exchange! You can sell gently used products at a discount (assuming they are things that can be easily sanitized/shared) and get some of your money back :)

  • Kerry

    Spent the most on – Catering and chair/table/linen rentals and Photography
    Spent the least on – Flowers.
    Totally worth it – Photography all the way!
    Totally not worth it – The dress – my first choice I loved was a few hundred dollars out of my budget, and the dress I finally chose was under budget and not as comfortable as the first choice. But after all the alterations, it pretty much put me over budget anyways, so I should’ve stuck to my original dress I fell in love with.
    Only regret is not having videography. We used a GoPro to record the ceremony which was fantastic, but I wish i had left an iPad or iPhone for guests to use during the reception to capture their video messages and other fun moments we missed.

  • jubeee

    My wedding is 5 months out but as of right now we are spending the most on food but I think its totally worth it. We are still spending a lot less than traditional caterers by going the food truck route but we are getting hyper local, fresh food so I am pumped. Plus ice cream and waffle truck for desert, woot! We are spending the least on a photographer, a friend is gifting us his services.

    • Lawyerette510

      ice cream and waffle truck!?!?!?! that will totally be WORTH IT!

    • sugar&spice

      Waffle truck! We are too – is your wedding near New Hope by any chance?

      • jubeee

        In New Hope!!! At Bowman’s Hill…I guess you are using Nina’s? They are doing our cake aswell.

  • BD

    Spent the most on food, booze and rentals (tent for the outdoor reception, chairs, tables and linens). Those things are necessary for a traditional dinner wedding party so they were definitely worth the money. We probably could have skipped the tent, but I thought knowing that things wouldn’t be ruined if the weather didn’t totally cooperate was worth the extra cost.

    Spent the least money on flowers and decor, which I also don’t regret because honestly, I don’t even remember what my flowers/decor looked like, or how it looked at any wedding I’ve ever been to.

    Biggest regret: spending too much on the dress. I convinced myself that it was absolutely important to find THE DRESS and ended up buying two! And in the end it didn’t even matter – both dresses are sitting in my closet completely forgotten and taking up space. I don’t have memories of the dress actually feeling important to me on the day of my wedding – it was just another THING.

  • Moe

    What was totally worth it? DIY-ing my centerpieces with simple flowers purchased wholesale from the flower mart. I had volunteers arrange them into jars, done! Because most guests look at the flowers for about 3 seconds when they sit down and then party the rest of the evening. My florist would have charged me a few hundred dollars for 10-12 arrangements.
    What was totally not worth it? I tried to save money on my dress by having it custom made. What I didn’t know was that the person I paid was here in the US but the dress was actually made in China and shipped here. It got lost in customs and was very late. It didn’t arrive until a day before the wedding causing me sleepless nights and angry confrontations with the dressmaker. It’s the only regret I wish I could take back. I would have put more money into my dress and purchased it off the rack myself.

  • Ella

    What did you spend the most money on for your wedding?
    Besides the venue/food: flowers. My parents very generously paid for our wedding and I could not give two f*cks about flowers, but that was my mom’s thing. She wanted ridiculous amounts of flowers. I think we spent like $6k on them. I didn’t care, so I let her have that. But seriously, I’ve been to weddings where there are 0 flowers and they are just as beautiful. Just not my thing/battle.

    What did you spend the least on?
    Um, shoes maybe? I bought white heels that I dyed yellow and also a pair of platform knockoff Chucks (also yellow) for the reception. Such a solid choice. Platforms are key because my dress was cut to fit my (relatively short) heels.

    What was totally worth it?
    Again, this was totally my parents’ idea, but they through a brunch the next day for all the hotel guests and as many wedding guests as they could wrangle. My dad has said often how glad he is that he got to talk to everyone after the craziness of the wedding day. Unfortunately we had an early-morning drive to the airport so DH and I missed out, but everyone has said how much that after-wedding get together meant.

    What was totally not worth it?
    You know, I don’t watch my video as much as I thought I would, but I am SO GLAD we did it for our ceremony and for the wedding toasts. If you want to videotape anything, those are the two things I would recommend. I
    thought I would be more into watching the dancing, but seeing as my dress (corset) tried to kill me, I ended up throwing up the whole wedding and missed the dancing, so it’s kind of a painful memory for me. That said, I don’t regret hiring a videographer. I know I would have regretted it.

    • Kate

      Oh my gosh! You poor thing re the corset dress. Do you still look back on photos and love the dress, or does that remind you of it too?

      My Mum was all about flowers too, and I didn’t give a damn. I totally agree re not a thing or not a battle – sometimes it has to be about Mum instead :-).

      • Ella

        You know, surprisingly I really don’t. I still really love that dress. Part of that is because I wore the dress for almost 8 hours before it became a problem. The issue was my stomach didn’t have enough space for any food so as soon as I started to eat my stomach just said nope. I so wish that wouldn’t have happened but honestly the dress was still very comfortable and not a problem at all until the food issue. I wish I could’ve had more time to dance and party but I’m fortunate that it only really impacted the last hour of the reception. I did have a hard time listening to dance music because I was so excited for that at our wedding, so I didn’t sing in the car or listen to that kind of music for a while. :( I’m okay about it now.

        I now always tell my friends who were looking at dresses to make sure they are aware that a corset can cause this issue lol…

  • Stacey

    -What we spent the most on: our venue, photography, and a live band to play our reception.
    -What we spent the least on: paper goods (hook-up through work), centerpieces (wine bottles- free!), and bouquets (made them myself).
    -What was totally worth it: Having a unique venue that let us do our own thing. We got to pick our own vendors and they didn’t have many restrictions as far as set-up which was great. But the biggest perk and sanity-saver was that we got the place for the WHOLE WEEKEND, so we had the entire day before to set up and the following day to take everything down. When you don’t have money for a wedding planner and are doing everything yourselves, this is HUGE. None of us had to worry about trying to rush in and set things up the morning before or not drink and party the night of the wedding so we could tear everything down. Another thing that was worth it was serving BBQ – it’s a food that’s hard to screw up, it easily serves a lot of people, and most importantly…it’s cheaper! Last thing: having a live band play our reception. We got SO MANY compliments on the band we hired- everyone loved it and it made a huge difference in the vibe of our reception. People danced until the music stopped! I’m also really glad that we paid for a shuttle to take our guests back to their hotels – there wasn’t a taxi service nearby and there were definitely guests that shouldn’t have been driving!
    -What was totally not worth it: Stressing about things like the seating chart and if we’d have enough ice or booze. I stayed up waaaay too late the night before figuring out the stupid seating chart and it turned out that many people ended up doing their own thing. I also had plenty of people on hand to go run and grab extra things, so the fact that I spent so much time fretting about it beforehand now seems silly.

    • KH_Tas

      Oh yes, the whole weekend thing. We haven’t had ours yet, but the number of times we’ve been so much more relaxed by a logistical planning thing that could be done the day before or after has been a massive sanity saver already.

  • Lawyerette510

    I keep meaning to send in our wedding, but then life happens and I get distracted from finishing the submission, so this is right up my alley:

    Most money: dinner (including lots and lots of wine, beer and cider)- our venue (Boonville Hotel) requires you use the onsite restaurant, which we were more than happy to do because it’s delicious. We had a 4 course meal for about 55 adults and 5 kids (well the kids had a kid entree but they could also eat whatever else they wanted). Three appetizers (spring pea shooters, bacon-wrapped dates and a third thing I can’t remember) were passed post-ceremony, then the salad, fish and main courses were served family style. We chose 1 sparkling, 1 red and 1 white wine with all three available all night, and the guests could order off the beer, cider or non-alcoholic menu. They were able to accommodate our few dietary-restriction (1 no- lactose, 1 pescatarian, 1 vegan) guests and everyone raved about the meal. By having the wedding on a Monday in “off season” (early May) instead of Friday-Saturday (especially late May- October), we were able save a significant mount that made the venue and meal within our budget.

    Least money: music with spotify premium subscription for 1 month and a second-place tie between decor and flowers- we spent $25 on flowers at whole foods a couple days before the wedding, and about the same on little chalkboards on strings to hang around the necks of the water bottles for the table numbers, the chalk pen to write the numbers, and pretty twine and clothes pins to use to create our seating card holder (twine strung between two redwood trees). The flowers were used to create my hair piece of a peony and two small roses made by a friend (well she made 4 options of headbands and combs and I chose one), a boutonniere for him, and a very last-minute bouquet that I wanted once I saw the arrangement of the left-over flowers in a vase she did, so she tied it together into a tiny bouquet for me. For the ceremony gazebo, we borrowed a flag pennant banner another friend had made and used for her banner, and the runner into the ceremony was of burlap borrowed from a friend who had used it to hide some unsightly signage at her wedding. The hotel provided the cute striped table cloths and the candles for the tables and around the patio as well as the flower arrangements the hotel normally has on the bar, in the bathrooms, etc. Because the venue itself was so gorgeous we didn’t really need decor, although we did borrow some white paper lanterns to add to the cafe lights already on the site from the same friend with the burlap, also from her wedding.

    Totally worth it: keeping it small, doing it fast, having it on a Monday, and having a welcome dinner the night before for everyone. The under 60 size was hard for me, and there are a few decisions re invitations I would make differently, but it was the right size for us especially because my husband really wanted to keep it small and to people important to us as a couple. Also, it was possible for my friends and I to bake around 400 cookies for the wedding to be part of the dessert and also the favor– a larger wedding would’ve made executing on that more difficult. The wedding was 73 days after we signed the contract on the venue, which made it easy to stay focused on what was important to us, because there just wasn’t time to get bogged down in the details, and because all the weather patterns in February 2014 indicated May 2014 would be dry. it made it easier to roll the dice on having our outdoor wedding on a date normally “early” because of rain and lower temps. Having it on a Monday halved the cost of the venue making it much easier on the budget and of the 10 or so “no” rsvps, 8 of them would have been a no even if we would’ve had it on the Saturday of that weekend. Plus having it on a Monday meant I was able to spend Friday and Saturday nights in a rental house with my close girlfriends which was a huge sanity savor and a great “bachelorette” of sorts. The welcome dinner on Sunday night was a great relaxed time and resulted in people having way more fun at the wedding because of all the cross-group mingling that happened the night before.

    Totally not worth it: declining offers and opportunities of love and celebration. For a host of reasons having to do with lies that I’ve told myself for a long time, (emotional) lies by others that I bought into, group and family dynamics, and hesitancy about feeling negative emotions, I declined some very loving offers of things like showers and other ways to celebrate what was getting to happen. Not only did I miss out on some excepting those gestures of love and celebration but I also deprived some people I really care about from doing for me the same things I have done for them that brought me such great joy and were a privilege to do for them.

    ETA: also, I really regret not having decent video of the ceremony and the toasts.

  • Izzy

    Not worth it: I really wish I hadn’t had the brilliant idea to save money on rentals by buying my own linens. Yeah it’s cheaper to buy, and you can always sell them…but then you actually have to sell them to make it worth it. I still have tablecloths and napkins in reusable bags in my guest room closet waiting for me to do something with them. In retrospect, it would have been worth the extra $$ to have rented them and then be done with it immediately after the wedding.

    • kireina

      Oh, God yes. All the washing and ironing/steaming beforehand as well to keep Mom happy… Not worth it.

    • YetAnotherMegan

      I thought the same thing about the vases we used for our centerpieces. We gave away a few, but I still have 3 boxes of them stashed here that need to be sold eventually. Paying a premium to have people make the extra stuff go away would have been a much better plan.

    • RachelH

      Izzy- What color are the napkins and tablecloths? I might be willing to buy them from you.

  • Most money:

    Food: ($3780) The cost of the venue, 60 tables and chairs, dishes, and white tablecloths were all built into the cost of the catering (you have to use their caterer). Considering all that was included, I thought this was a great deal.

    Least money:

    Flowers: ($37) The flowers were a DIT effort. I made all the bouquets out of paper,
    using tutorials from Ellinee http://www.elli.com/blog/category/tutorials/. My husband
    made all the boutonnieres using this tutorial: http://www.elli.com/blog/diy-paper-ranunculus-tutorial/

    Worth it: I can’t pick one thing, so here’s two:
    In lieu of a first dance, we sang a song together and my husband (Sam) played the guitar. This took months of convincing, but Sam finally agreed to do it a couple days before the wedding.
    I loved the overall look and feel of the wedding. I’m so glad we hired a decorator for the ceremony. She set up and cleaned up everything. I’m so, SO glad I made paper flowers. I started making them 7 months before the wedding, so I didn’t feel rushed to get them done, and I LOVED how they turned out.

    Not worth it:
    DIYing my veil: I read several tutorials online and this seemed like a very simple project, but it was not! Due to the shape of the lace, it could not go through the machine and had to be hand sewn. I am not super talented at hand sewing, so this turned out to be VERY tedious. I ended up using a combination of spray glue and sewing to speed the project along. This was the least enjoyable wedding project that I tackled, and the most expensive. For the same price that I spent on the lace, I could have ordered a pre-made veil from overseas and saved myself the headache.

  • Kelly

    Most money: photography and food. Both WORTH IT
    Least money: invites ($0 electronic), flowers ($140 worth of whatever was in season at a local farm. they were gorgeous), cake ($30something at costco…not what i had dreamed of as a cake lover, but absolutely delicious…i’ll buy myself my own fancy cake some other time). Zero regrets about not spending more money on these things.

  • leafygreen

    Most spent: photography. Venue and catering were separate expenses, each a bit cheaper than the photography…together photography/catering/venue made up about 60% of the budget.

    Least spent: Invitations were a particular area where I scaled back my initial ambitions and ended up buying a print-your-own kit on ebay for $16. Decor was also pretty scant (but part of our venue search was getting somewhere that was pretty as-is).

    Worth it: I loved our venue, I loved all our vendors (there were not very many of them!), I loved our clothes and the rings. I ordered way too much dessert, but we got to send a lot of it home with people so I don’t really regret that, either.

    Not worth it: the one thing I’d say is that we paid for a 5 hour party and we called it an hour early, so we paid for an extra hour of time we didn’t end up using. I have avoided calculating how much we paid for that hour we didn’t use, but I’m sure it’d come in under 5% of the budget. It was the best call for our sanity and I don’t regret calling it early, but I wish I would have known we’d want to.

  • Samantha

    We spent the most, hands down, on the venue which included the ceremony and reception locations and the food and drink (~$3,600). A similar-sized chunk was on airfare/ hotels for some out-of-town guests whom we wanted to be able to attend but who couldn’t afford to come unless we brought them up to Alaska (siblings and aunts/uncles). The least amount of money was spent on invitations (~$150), which we made by designing a 5×7 card in MS Publisher and having Kinkos print and trim them for us. A close runner-up was the reception/ceremony decorations (including floral) at about $200.

    Worth it: people tell me the food was delicious, but I didn’t get to eat hardly anything because of nerves. We were contractually obligated to use the venue’s in-house catering, but it was pretty reasonably priced for what all was included. I liked the fact that the venue staff took care of all the set-up and take-down and food because as I discovered (as a 23/24 year-old bride) that I had no idea how to plan or inclination for planning large parties or navigating logistical issues.

    Also worth it: Going to a floral wholesaler to buy a sh*t-ton of daises and making the floral arrangements ourselves.

    Not worth it: the dress. I cringe thinking of that once-worn dress hanging in the closet at my parents’ house. It’s gorgeous and I looked very pretty in it, but ~$600 worth of dress and undergarments for 4 hours of wear? Sorry, mom. : Maybe I’ll think of something to do with it some day…

    • Samantha

      I forgot another not worth it: trying to fold 1,000 paper cranes for centerpieces. I got up to about 800 before giving up and to this day have not folded another. Yikes what a hassle.

      • MommaCat

        Yeah, I made a bunch of paper flowers that I forgot to give to my inlaws to bring to the venue; oops! They’re gathering dust–ahem, decorating my house now. ;-)

  • YetAnotherMegan

    In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that my parents generously paid for a lot of the wedding. My mom had always expected/planned to and we were broke, so doing that allowed us to invite our huge families instead of eloping just the two of us. This does mean that I didn’t see a lot of the final numbers, but I have ballpark ideas.

    Most: Hands down, our venue and food.This was all on one bill – four adjoining rooms during the reception (main room, side room for cocktail hour/card & gift table, staging area, and spare room people could flow into for quiet) food, staff, linnens, glassware, plates, silverware, etc.

    Least: Paper products / Church & ceremony. We used the best looking cheap invitations we could find (the kind that are printed and sent to you as one perforated sheet – it took a few extra minutes to pull them apart but brought the cost down to about $1 each including envelopes) and I designed our programs and everything else myself and printed it at our local Office Depot. We are still members of the church we got married at, as are my parents, so that was free. Both ministers and the two musicians have known us for years and offered to do it free. We insisted on giving them something, but it was still a lot less than it would have been otherwise.

    Worth it: Florist, DJ, & cake. Having a florist who I could show ideas to and she would just run with it. I don’t know names of flowers or what different bouquet shapes are called, but I could look at pictures and say like it / hate it, and she went from there. I never would have imagined a lot of what she came up with, and it was fabulous. Our DJ kept everything going smoothly and created a lot of memorable moments for us. His song choice was so good I had to send a bridesmaid up to request he play a song I didn’t like so I could go to the bathroom without missing out! Our cake was fantastic. We were aprehensive once we realized that we had two options – 1 bakery or the grocery store (more Price Chopper than Trader Joe’s). As soon as we did a tasting with the bakery we know it was the right choice, and their prices were nothing compared to what you normally hear about online ($1.25/slice I think?). She worked with the florist and created a delicious masterpiece.

    Not Worth it: The four? pairs of shoes I bought trying to decide what to wear. One got returned. Another is still in a box somewhere. The blue peeptoes I wore for the ceremony were super cute, but I spent most of the night either barefoot or in a pair of $10 payless flats. Also not worth it were the favors and kid’s activity books. We had a bunch of leftovers of each that we’re still trying to pawn off on people.

    Wish we’d spent more: Photographer. No doubt about it. We didn’t have a lot of options for local photographers and got talked into using a friend of my MIL. Worst decision ever. She was unprofessional and the photos range from meh to unflattering and gross, with fewer than 5 that we actually like mixed in. There was someone I’ve worked with before who had moved out of the area. I agreed to not use her because she would have charged a travel fee. If I could go back in time, I’d switch photographers in a heartbeat.

    • YetAnotherMegan

      Also not worth it: The DIY aisle runners I made. I started less than a month before our wedding and made 2 strips 20 feet long x 3 inches wide hot gluing fabric flowers to them. Yes, it broke up the ugly carpet in the church, but the three burns and all of the stress was not worth it at all (yes, my husband tried to help. That’s how I ended up with the scar on my ankle that ended his helping thankyouverymuch.)

  • FancyPants

    16 days out til wedding, but my anticipated answers:

    Worth it and Most money spent: Venue we are super psyched on. Band we think is going to really tie it all together. We love to dance and this band is alternative to traditional Southern weddings I’ve been to, so I think it will make it feel more like our event rather than us feeling like we’re guests at someone else’s party (something we have feared). Transportation to and from the venue. It makes me feel that we are being thoughtful and hospitable to our many out of town guests.

    Not worth it (I think….) and Most money spent: Fancy catering. We are casual folks throwing a cocktail party. While we are happy there is going to be fancy food (to us), we would have been just as happy (more so? don’t know yet) with a traditional (in the region we’re getting married) Pig Picking. We were hesitant to work w/ the traditional ‘show up w/ a smoker, down home boys’ who do most of the Pig Pickings. Why? Because we thought it meant no vegetables and no options for vegetarians. BUT! I totally think if we had thought outside the box and gotten creative, we could have had BOTH visions of vegetable options+pig picking, (perhaps get the local natural food store deli to make healthy veggie sides to be picked up day of).

    Regret: I wish we had hired a coordinator to help with rentals and contracts, etc. We are planning from 3,000 miles away and my wonderful, selfless mother is pouring ALL of her time and self into this event. I am trying to help as much as possible, but she prefers doing it in person. I feel really terrible right now for how stressed she is right now (and will be until after this event).

  • Kate

    I LOVE those sections about what couples thought was and wasn’t worth it. That’s where APW totally saved me during wedding planning. Unlike a lot of people, I thought getting a photographer was totally worth it. Also worth it was having caterers. It felt like such an over the top expense at the time, but everything was served, cleaned and coordinated (and it did help that there was a lovely waiter who seemed to ask me if I wanted another drink every 30 minutes while I was busy ‘working the crowd!’).

    Having no centerpieces made no difference at all – so glad we saved money there! Instead we had bowls of marshmallows that people could roast in the fire. I kind of regret spending so much on food. It was amazing, but no-one remembers the food. Having online RSVPs also saved us heaps. Thank goodness for glosite :-)

    I think the other bit that people don’t talk so much about is time saving. I am not a DIY person, and in the end, not a single person noticed that there were very few ‘details’. People barely remember the ones that were there. I just wish I hadn’t spent so much time stressing about things like marshmallow bowls, blankets and shoes. None of that stuff actually mattered in the end.

    • Erin B.

      I LOVE the marshmallow idea. I hope I have occasion to do this at a future dinner party!

      • Kate

        It was awesome! We had a big bonfire, and we had skewers out next to the marshmallows so people could toast them at the end of the night.

  • Erin B.

    The best money we spent was on a day of coordinator. Having a coordinator actually saved us money because we were able to hire a bunch of inexpensive vendors that don’t usually do weddings (for example, we spent $13 per person for appetizers and dinner – seriously). It would have been impossible to coordinate them all ourselves.

  • CP2011

    Thanks for posing the question! This will be a long one but I love sharing how we did our wedding.

    Sort of worth it: We spent the most on food. We had a sit down plated dinner (prime rib/chicken/veggie) for 85. Our venue was all-in-one for the rehearsal dinner (we ordered pizza), ceremony, reception and lodging. As an aside, I absolutely recommend that route especially if you’re planning from a different city. Since we didn’t have the option of a caterer, we stuck with what was most affordable yet still nice. Including appetizers, tax and gratuity we spent $4,675 on food for the reception. It definitely wasn’t the best meal our guests have had, but it was adequate for a smallish kitchen catering to 85 people.

    Worth it: For beverages, we got 2 kegs and then bought all the wine at trader joes and grocery outlet (around 80 bottles for the wknd) with no sales tax in the state we live. The venue charged us $15/bottle in corkage but it was cheaper and tastier than the wine available thru the venue. I was also able to return all the unopened wine– a major plus and way worth the hassle of transporting approximately 5,000 lbs of alcohol across state lines.

    Worth it: Where we spent the least was likely decorations, DJ (we made several playlists and we had an awesome dance party) and makeup (did my own).

    Worth it: My biggest value recommendations are getting flowers through SAMs club (can’t speak to how environmentally friendly they may be, but I got beautiful roses at a fraction of what I would have paid elsewhere) and cakes from whole foods. I spent $150 on cakes and they looked and tasted great with tons leftover.

    Worth it: Our photographer was a friend of a friend who was just starting his business so he was way cheaper than anyone we could have found in the Tahoe area. We paid $100 in gas for him to drive the hour from his town and we got 5 hrs with two photographers for $850. Great pictures too. If you’re in northern California, my photographer’s name is Kurtis Ostrom.

    Not necessarily worth it: What I wish I’d have known was about the cost of alterations. I bought a dress as a floor sample for $375. I also ended up paying $375 to have it altered :/ still a much better deal than buying most new dresses but I was not anticipating that high of a price tag.

    Reluctantly worth it: I was adamantly opposed to renting chairs because of the expense but my mom was insistent — even telling me that rental chairs were her “#1 priority for the entire wedding”. I’ll concede that they did look way nicer than the venue chairs, and they cost almost nothing compared to the food.

    If there are any Lake Tahoe brides/grooms out there looking for advice please feel free to ask me.

  • Cara

    Our caterer was our biggest expense. My mom wanted family style more than anything, which ended up being slightly more expensive due to the extra serving dishes and stuff, but she was paying for it so we went with it! But the food was good, and it was nice.

    Least money was probably favors. I baked a ton of cookies, got some big serving dishes and goodie bags, bought a couple other kinds of cookies, asked friends and family to bake some, and used tile corners as labels. It was effort, yes, but I enjoy baking and having the huge baking project with a system that I could follow and feel accomplished about during the week before the wedding was pretty awesome! And the love of friends and family making something to share made me so happy. Our cake was also a steal, we went through a nice grocery store near us that makes super delicious but fairly simple cakes, and was totally perfect (we initially put down a deposit at a fancy place for a relatively simple cake, but their cake didn’t really… taste… good… So I’m happy we abandoned that $50 and went with a cheaper and tastier cake!)

    Worth it: caving and getting invitations through a professional company and not trying to design them myself. I had high hopes, but after the fiasco of designing the save the dates and not coming up with anything we loved, it was so much better to get invitations that looked perfect and were nice. We got a lot of compliments on them, even! (We went through Smitten on Paper, and they were awesome to work with).

    Also mostly worth it: Flowers. I was done making decisions so my mom took over the floral situation almost completely (she was amazing). I showed her what I liked and didn’t like, and she ran with it, HARD. Like, the flowers cost significantly more than our photographer, but slightly less than catering. But they looked incredible, totally set the scene, added some interest to the venue, and were just gorgeous. So while I have heart palpitations thinking about how much money she spent on it, it really did make a big impact.

    Not worth it: Napkin rings that I decided I wanted to make. Between sourcing unfinished napkin rings, sanding and painting them, then recruiting friends to finish them off, it was 100% completely stupid. I mean, I think I was at that point where the major things were decided, but we were too far out for other more detailed things, so I was making up projects to do. Dumb. I like fiddly little projects (like the ribbon wands I made) but this one was completely unnecessary.

    Man, so many things were worth it, I would love to keep talking about my wedding! I think we made some really smart decisions (and didn’t waste time over-thinking most of them)!

  • Tania

    Spent the most on food and booze… Spent the least on our wedding venue… It was free. It was spectacular… It was rightfully the star of our wedding…

    • Sosuli

      Wow! Where is that?!? I’m assuming England based on the Union Jacks and St George’s crosses, which just makes me more amazed that it was free. You can get a wedding venue for free somewhere in England?!? Everywhere I’ve looked at is hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds.

      • Tania

        It was at Leadenhall Market in central London. We had to do the legal bit elsewhere due to the rules re: marriage venues but we just asked the Council if we could have our ceremony there on a Saturday when the market was closed and they said yes! Just like that! Couldn’t believe it! We had our reception at the pub in the market and danced the night away on the cobblestones. It was dreamy perfect!

  • Penny7b

    What did you spend the most money on for your wedding?
    Food and drink. We cut costs by having a cocktail reception, but feeding 50 people well is always going to be expensive.

    What did you spend the least on?
    A bunch of stuff we did for basically free or didn’t do at all, we emailed invitations, used an iPod for music, had a good friend help coordinate, I wore shoes I already owned, he wore a suit he already owned. It was all fine.

    What was totally worth it?
    Paying extra to get a nice venue that we could use for the ceremony and reception. It was a beautiful art-deco hotel that didn’t need any extra decoration and felt really special. We could have gone with a cheaper option and it would have been okay, but I’m glad we didn’t because the space helped make the whole thing feel glamorous and awesome.

    What was totally not worth it?
    I probably spent more than I really needed to on accessories for my outfit and makeup. It may have actually been cheaper just to pay to get my makeup done professionally than buy the high end products I splurged on.

  • Rebekah

    What did you spend the most money on for your wedding?: We had a $10,000 total budget, and the largest single expense was the $3,500 on photography. Aside from that, the venue rental (church for ceremony and reception hall, about $900) and the catering ($900 from our favorite date night place) were the largest costs. This doesn’t include our rings, which were about $1,200 each.
    What did you spend the least on? My attire. I got a dress on craigslist for $40 and my mom altered it. I wore underwear I already had and bought gold flats at Payless. We also used my iPod for music since we didn’t want a dance floor or a big to-do, so it boiled down to a few song purchases I didn’t already own. We did Vistaprint for our Mark Your Calendars and half came with flaws, so we got all our money back on those, aside from postage. I designed our invitations using (uncopywritten) images from online and Microsoft Word, got them printed and cut at FedEx and added a little color with sharpies.
    What was totally worth it? Gift bags. I put together state-themed gift bags for our guests, most of whom came from out of town. The photography, too. I knew long ago images were worth paying for to me, and the best part of that was actually that the moment I met Raven in person she felt like a friend I’d had for ages. We still talk regularly. Finding a venue that allowed us to use my family pastor and choose our own caterer were worth it for us, and buying cheese wheels instead of cake were personal choices I will trumpet forever.
    What was totally not worth it? Some of the details. I bought silk hops boutonnieres for the men, I got handkerchiefs for the women, a new tie for my dad, a fancy garter I forgot to put on, and some gussied up Christmas lights to hang at the venue. Although I’m glad we had them, I don’t think the experience would have been worse without them. What really wasn’t worth it, emotionally, was stressing about representing “us” in every decision. It’s super true the the best is the enemy of the good, and I bless Meg for speaking truth into the fact that your wedding can’t be and isn’t timeless. Bless you ladies too for guiding me towards wedding zen. Doing it from a distance could have been harder, but I let it be easier to let go of things.

  • Most spent on: catering. Our venue uses an exclusive caterer, which is pricey but we knew that going into it. And the food was really absolutely delicious. We cut costs by having a limited bar (wine/bar/signature cocktails only) and our cocktail hour food consisted of fruit/veggie/cheese trays and 1 only “fancy” appetizer. The catering check was the biggest check I’ve ever written, but it was so worth it. People are still telling us they loved our food.

    Spent the least on: our stationary items. Our Save The Dates and invitations were bought from MagnetStreet using coupon codes. Our day of items (table numbers, escort cards, programs, menus) were designed and printed by my company’s print shop, and turned out to be $70 instead of the $450 I was quoted by another printer. And then a work friend bought them for us as a gift.

    What was worth it: The day of coordinator, hands down. She was the element that allowed us to be guests at our own wedding, which is what we wanted. We didn’t have a single care except for getting married and having fun. She made everything happen seamlessly and we had a great party as a result. Our other choices like the venue and photographer were definitely worth it as well.

    What wasn’t worth it: The $$$ and time I put into DIY projects. In the end, some things like the paper flowers in the centerpieces didn’t even happen. I wound up finishing our chalkboard card box the morning of my wedding. I felt like I HAD to do some DIY for my wedding, even though it’s not really my thing. It would have been better to find vendors on Etsy that specialize in the things I was looking for.

  • SLG

    Best money I spent and totally worth it: renting out an entire B&B the night before the wedding for immediate family only, location pointedly undisclosed to everyone else. We’re a very close family and that gave us some much-needed time to pull together, with all the privacy our introvert hearts desired, amid the wedding craziness.

    Least money I spent and no regrets: programs. We had decided not to have them at all. But late in the planning process we discovered that the church would charge us an extra $1000 to project the lyrics for congregational songs on their overhead screens. To enable folks to sing along while not spending $$$$, we threw together some quick programs with song lyrics and asked a friend to photocopy them. By that point we were so hilariously over the whole thing that we decided if folks didn’t know what else was going to happen at this wedding, our program was not going to fill in that educational gap, and if they wanted the bridesmaids’ names, they could walk up and ask them. A few years later I discovered our program on Buzzfeed, which cracked me up: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/66146688252681390/

    (Obviously this is a know-your-crowd thing. We knew that almost all our guests had been to several similar weddings, so we were comfortable letting a familiar liturgy unfold without much explanation. Also, exhausted.)

  • Kate

    Most money on food! Our venue is less than a grand, food is three and a half times that. After food it’s my masculine-of-center fiancee’s bridal suit. Custom made so she can feel good on the day. Then the photographer, a friend who is flying out from NYC. We are paying her a flat rate and she can spend it on a nice hotel and a cushy flight or stay at the Motel 6, take a red-eye and put some in her pocket. Her choice. Next most expensive is the table/chair/linen rentals for the day. Then probably the wine, which the Moms have already bought at the 5 cent Bevmo wine sale, then catering for the day-after brunch (I’m assuming, though they haven’t gotten back to me with a quote.) The venue is last on the “big ticket” items.

    Least? Definitely DJ/Planner expenses! We’re in theater and events, so we have a boatload of friends ready and willing and experienced in set ups and strikes, and we’re obsessive music nerds who throw dance parties all the time so we are crafting a masterful playlist to be altered if need be by one or two trusted, pre-designated co-DJs. Also, flowers. We are pre-ordering eight buckets of “whatever is available” from the local organic florist and picking them up that morning from the Farmer’s Market. My mom is going to plunk them into random jars and buckets and scatter them around, just to add color and liveliness. Whatever they look like will be fine.

    What we’re hoping will be worth it? Having a destination wedding with a large guest list. We have crafted a wedding centered around gathering our favorite humans together in one place and I can’t wait to see all our disparate friends and family come together. If the “butchelorette” party is any indication, it’s going to be so magical. Also, my boots. Bought for $280 from Etsy store Good Bye Folk, they’re the glitter gold leather Bowie boots of my dreams. F*ck a dress, these are what I’ve been wanting since I was a little girl.

    What we are assuming isn’t worth it? Videography. Fussy clothes. (I’m making my wedding dress – a blouson kimono-sleeve tube with a waist. Novie-level sewing. Bridesmaids and Bridesmen can wear anything that’s a shade of grey.) A first look. We’re getting ready together and walking together down the aisle. Formality. We’re skipping a lot of regular traditions and just doing what will feel good for us. No first dance, no cake cutting. Just lawn games, family-style dinner, a Willie Nelson song, cribbage and dominoes, and a rockin’ dance party.

  • E.

    I’ve been married for 2 years and have had some time to reflect on this. Our wedding was about $15,000 with 100 guests and I used all kinds of tips, tricks and hard negotiations to get it down to that, including Sunday discounts. 1/3 of the budget went to Photo and Video, which was hugely important to us. 1/3 was for catering, open bar & reception hall rental (on a Sunday). The rest was ceremony location, parking, attire, DJ, yada yada yada. We spent $500 or $600 on fresh donuts made on site and it was 100% the best decision. The video was the biggest splurge, at just under $3000, but it was incredible and I can’t imagine my life without it. The photos were great–we went all out with the album and it also was one of the best decisions. The biggest save was my dress, $200, purchased from a pre-owned wedding dress site (but was unworn). We also saved big time on centerpieces by using in-season fruit instead of flowers. We did not have save the dates. I wish I wouldn’t have purchased an aisle runner because it was super slippery, even though we had taped it down. We also skipped Save the dates and no one noticed or cared. Oh! And holy shit, I’m so glad we had an engagement photo shoot. It made me sooo much more comfortable on the day of, plus I actually love those photos of us maybe even more than our wedding photos.

  • Meg

    What did you spend the most money on for your wedding? – The food cost the most, but it was only about 2500, so that was still not that much
    What did you spend the least on? – It’s hard to say. There were certain things I just didn’t bother with (Like a runner for the church or decorating the church at all)
    What was totally worth it? – the photographer, she wasn’t terribly expensive because she was new but having those professional photographs meant so much. Also having my makeup professionally done by my hair stylist.
    What was totally not worth it? – my dad insisted I needed monogrammed cake boxes for the caterer to put the leftover wedding cake in. I mean they were about $150 dollars? They looked great. I gave them to the caterer, showed them to them. THEY NEVER PUT THE CAKE IN THEM, and I ended up going home with a giant leftover cake and a bunch of empty monogrammed boxes which I still have. I can’t help but feeling this is a very common thing to happen. So. Don’t do that.

    • Oh my. That’s awful!

  • Eh

    What did you spend the most money on for your wedding? Food and alcohol: We had a roast beef buffet as the selection met all of our dietary needs and provided options for our very picky eaters and was kid friendly. We also wanted supper to be casual and for people not feel like they were confined to their tables. We made our own table wine and we had an open bar. My MIL was very concerned about having an open bar as it’s not common practice where my in-laws are from (which is where we had our wedding) but it is important to my family (my dad feels strongly that you don’t ask your guests to pay for alcohol at weddings).

    What did you spend the least on? We did not have favors so we spent nothing on them. We used board games we owned as the centerpieces (we did have to pick up a couple extra but they were not included in our budget since we would have bought them anyways). No one missed the favors. My MIL had reservations about the board games (mostly that people would take them home since that’s what people do with flower centerpieces) but we got tons of comments about how much people enjoyed them and how very “us” it was.

    What was totally worth it? Paying extra money to have two venues. We are both from small towns so people are used to having weddings in churches and then a break before the reception so we didn’t worry about our guests at all (on our wedding website we did have a section on local attractions for the out of town guests). The ceremony venue was an old train station converted into a theatre – it was ideal for the ceremony (and pictures) but too small for the reception. The reception was in the banquet hall of a golf club. There was a room where we could have had the ceremony but it would not have had the feeling we wanted (plus it would have required a lot more decorating than the theatre).
    Another thing that was totally worth it was paying more for our awesome officiant. We had a secular ceremony and that was the first secular ceremony for my husband’s family. My MIL was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get married in their church or by their minister. I think she was also concerned that we were not having a religious ceremony and what that would be like (she had never been to a secular wedding before). We needed the ceremony to have a strong emotional feeling and not be too different than what they were used to – our officiant did a great job at meeting both of those requirements. Many of the religious guests commented on our “minister” and how lovely the ceremony was.

    What was totally not worth it? The only thing that wasn’t worth it was the fighting with my BIL/SIL (and all of the stress that caused). We tried to make peace with them many times but they were not ready and claimed we were only doing it because my in-laws wanted them at the wedding. Some things could have been handled better on both sides (especially the fight about

    • Eh

      Another thing that was totally worth it was getting recommendations from other people. I am not from the area (we got married in my husband’s home town and we live an hour away) so I don’t know many vendors. Many of my husband’s relatives (brother/cousins) got married in the area in the last few years so we asked them for different vendors (cake, flowers and make-up). I also had a friend getting married a few months before us and we got suggestions from her too (we used the same photographer and officiant and we even used some of her décor and the photo booth her FIL built). It was nice to know that the vendors were already vetted by others. It being a small town there were a limited selection of vendors and sometimes they acted oddly/not professional (or at least how we expected). For example at one point while we were getting ready the make-up person took a break and started taking pictures of the room we were getting ready in, and the food service manager from the reception venue was told the contact person for everything was the MC but still handed my husband the invoice which was illegible – after our wedding I was at another event at the same location where he instructed his staff to remove the table linens while people were making speeches at an awards banquet.

  • Gen

    I don’t think we did anything that absolutely wasn’t worth it. However, I have mixed feelings about how much we spent on certain things, such as:
    -We got our bridal bouquets (two brides=more flowers), bridesmaids bouquets, and bridesmen boutonnieres done by a professional florist, and it was not cheap.(Almost $600 for two bridal bouquets, 4 bridesmaid bouquets, 4 corsages, and 6 boutonnieres.) We could have done it cheaper ourselves, but honestly they were SO GORGEOUS. I still look at the pictures of them and swoon. There’s no way we could have made them look that good by ourselves.
    -Another thing that was surprisingly expensive was the party bus for the wedding party. It was about $700 (with a tip for the driver) for 4 hours. Yikes. At the same time though, there was no way I was going to be worrying about driving and parking and shuttling my whole bridal party around on my wedding day. We went to a couple different places for pictures in between the ceremony and reception, and it would have been hell to coordinate the driving and parking for the whole bridal party. The bus was expensive but worth it because it made our experience of the day much less stressful and so much more fun.
    So the point is it sucked to spend that much money, but I wouldn’t have changed it.

  • Manya

    Our DJ was awesome. We didn’t decide to have him until the very last minute, and then ended up using his sound system for both dinner and dancing. It was money well spent.

  • macrain

    100% worth it: Day of Coordinator and kick ass photographer.

  • The most money was tied with food and our photographer, both of which were TOTALLY worth it. We probably spent the least on flowers. One bouquet, mine. About $50. We could have spent even less and been happy. Our attire was in the middle of these expenses, which was totally worth it. What was totally not worth it? The worry we spent about how people would get along, who was coming, etc. Everything worked out much better than we could have ever planned.

  • TeaforTwo

    Our biggest expenses:

    venue/food – $12Kish? that seemed more or less unavoidable as we had about 150 guests. I think we could have done it cheaper if we didn’t have to use the venue’s preferred catering company, but the venue was right behind the church where my parents met, and three blocks from our apartment, so that feels worth it.

    attire – $3K, split about evenly between the two of us. I loved my dress, but was crestfallen when I started to take it off after the wedding and realized that all of that time/energy/money had gone into a dress I only wore for 7 hours. If I had a do-over, I would have spent $500 on the nicest non-wedding dress I will ever own, instead. Not worth it for me, but worth it for my husband who got a bespoke suit that he wears to work frequently.

    his ring – $1600. Mine was free (I wear my late mother’s wedding band). This is waaaaay more than I expected to pay, but it is 18K reclaimed gold. It was important to me that we buy our gold as ethically as possible, but I think we could have done it cheaper with some more research. I try to amortize it over the 50 or so years that I expect we’ll be married to consider it worth it.

    swanky and spacious hotel suite for me and my wedding party to get ready in, and for our wedding night – $1Kish – worth it. Our apartment is just too small, and I loved having space for my whole family to hang out before the wedding. Those hours with my dad, sibs and BFF are one of my cherished memories of the day.

    rehearsal dinner $2Kish – a sit down dinner for our immediate families (25ish people) the night before the wedding at our favourite local restaurant. We bought out the whole restaurant (it’s small) and sat at one huge communal table. It was the first time our families had met, and since our wedding was an afternoon reception, I liked also getting to have a big formal meal together.

    Smaller expenses that were worth it:
    our DOC – a few hundred dollars, but worth three times her fee in sanity saved.
    favours – we had a December wedding, and set out Christmas crackers as favours. They looked beautiful and festive on the tables (which were otherwise undecorated) and the popping sound all around the room as people sat down, plus the photos of our guests in their paper crows was SO WORTH IT.

    Where we didn’t spend:
    -Transportation (we took taxis from the hotel to the wedding, and my husband walked from our apartment). No regrets.
    -Flowers – I bought 100 white roses from Costco and some winter greenery from a local florist and my MOH made our bouquets. The flowers weren’t fancy but it was a winter wedding and they were never a high priority. Total cost maybe $250? No regrets.

  • jspe

    While our wedding is not for three weeks (!) I’m thinking a lot about how much money we’ve spent and what’s left to spend it on…but without a real sense of what will be worth it, in the end.

    We’ve spent the most money on comfort for ourselves and our guests. That means things like the location (downtown in a city instead of in the country), a babysitter, lodging for our officiant who is traveling from far away (he didn’t require it, but we had the cash), plentiful food, timing it so people can get home after the wedding, a day of coordinator to limit the work of our guests (though we still need some help, alas), and not being stingy about catering and bar tending staff to care for our guests.

    We also prioritized photography – we’re spending about $2500, which felt like an absurd amount of money (even if I understand why it isn’t).

    We spent the least (relatively speaking) on our outfits, though again, it feels like a lot. Shoes, jewelry, and dresses are totaling about $1200 (not per person, that’s all together).

    Nothing in this feels cheap, though. Flowers, vases, centerpieces, all decoration, are coming to about $400, which, again, I understand is below the minimum, but our original plan was to spend $100. We’ve had serious budget creep.

    Lastly, (and this is just venting) – I’m still amazed at what this will all cost. The whole weekend (out of town happy hour, rehearsal dinner, wedding) will probably run us $29K when we’re done. (We’re at $27K right now, but I’m sure there is a surprise expense or two). It’s for 175 people in a major Northeastern city in May, and we had the cash, so it became hard to say no when the money was there to solve a problem or make people comfortable and happy. I don’t regret it, I feel lucky that we can host people, I just didn’t think this would cost quite what it does, even without spending thousands on dresses or flowers or decorations. I’ll pie chat it when I’m all done.

    • jspe

      oh, and I don’t regret at all the DOC we paid for (thanks, APW discount!). Well worth the $1K, and our wedding hasn’t even happened yet.

    • PracticalPlanner

      Similar location and guest count, and our budget is looking like yours. Shocking yes, but reality for this type of event in this area.

      • jspe

        I feel like such a jerk for spending so much money, but eventually I’ll make peace with these decisions, right? I’m glad for the normalizing of lower budget weddings, but I feel like something is wrong with me that we didn’t have the willpower to make tough budget decisions, instead of feeling thankful that we didn’t have to. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that family challenges remain present despite us doing everything we can to make them comfortable. Nope, nothing to do with that at all. :-)

  • Julianne

    Most money: We spent the most on the venue and catering, it was more than I wanted to spend but it was really important to us to be able to sit down for a meal with everyone near and dear to our hearts.

    Least money: We went to the San Francisco flower market and did our own flowers, it was a little stressful but it was really fun gathering with my side of the family and eating pizza and making center pieces the night before the wedding. We also did pie from Mission Pie instead of cake, it was delicious!

    Totally worth it: Getting my hair done! I’d never had it done before but I wanted it up and was only slightly horrified at how much I spent, I was feeling super grateful that morning and ended up paying for my mom and matron of honor to get their hair done too and it was totally worth it to not stress and to have everyone feeling fabulous. I’m not great with my hair nor is anyone close to me to it was a good choice.

    Not worth it: We were super careful about how we spent money and not having “all of the things,” I was just looking at our excel speadsheet and couldn’t see something that annoyed me. Part of me wishes that we had not had the wedding at the venue that we did so that our biggest cost was less but at the time it was the best fit for us, it was hard to figure out where to put 150 people in the Bay Area. I suppose all the worrying was not really worth it because the venue was pretty, worked well for us and the food was good.

  • Kate M

    Most money: Reception venue, and it was worth it. It was on a farm with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, they included linens, chairs, tables, vases and various other decorations (they keep a walk in closet full of items used at previous weddings which you can use from, and donate to after your wedding) bartenders and other day of help and the people were amazing to deal with.
    Least money: Music, ironic since both of us are pretty passionate about music. For our Church ceremony my dad pulled together a choir and I picked the music and it was awesome, and a friend who had DJed in college volunteered to to DJ the reception as our wedding present, the venue had the sound equipment already.
    Worth it: I spent about $500 on flowers from Costco, Sam’s Club and then some one offs from the grocery store and a few from my mom’s garden. I had 4 big bouquets, 4 small nosegays for flower girls, 10 buttoneires, flowers on every other pew in the church, on the altar and then center pieces at the reception. There were flowers everywhere, we did it ourselves the day before the wedding and it was fun and gorgeous.
    Not worth it: My dress, I spent about $800 on it and it didn’t look that great on me. I was stressed when looking because of body issues, and so I just went with it. I wish I had spent more or less, more to find something that looked great, or less because I didn’t love how it looked on me, so why spend $800. I really really wish the BHLDN line had been around when I got married, it came out about 3 months after I bought my dress.

    • Maruatto

      Would you mind sharing the name of your reception venue?

      • Kate M

        Sure, It is call Khimara Farm in Luray, VA. We did not have our ceremony there as we had a church wedding, but they do them as well and the pictures look beautiful. http://eventsatthefarm.com

        • Libby

          Bah! I’m a Khimaira bride as well!!! When I read your first sentence about the panoramic views and what was included I thought, “could it be?!” Fist pump for Khimaira awesome-ness :)

  • CoastalCreature

    I’d just like to say that because of APW posts like this I can announce (with 100% honesty) that we did not spend any money on things we regretted and we wasted no time on projects that weren’t important to us. Our wedding had all the good, meaningful things and none of the stuff that didn’t matter to us. Perfection!

  • bsc

    We spent the most money on our venue – but we got such a great deal on it that it was totally worth it! We used our venue for both ceremony and reception and our rental allowed us in on Friday night to set up and decorate. We spent the least amount of money on invitations and programs – we designed and printed them ourselves on card stock. Everyone loved them!

    What was totally worth it – just ordering sheet cakes from Costco as our wedding cakes. We had “giant” cupcakes for my groom and I that we had displayed and “smashed” into each others faces, and then we served everyone awesome sheet cake and everyone loved it! We also loved our caterer – a local BBQ place – who allowed us to buy food by the quantity instead of per person. We purchased some things a la carte (buns, tablewear, drinks, veggie trays), had plenty of food, and everyone loved it!

    What was totally not worth it – I can’t think of anything! We were very conscious about what we were purchasing and how we spent our money since we had a pretty tight budget. We don’t regret any of our purchases nor wish we would have spent more money anywhere! Everything worked out great!

  • Angela Howard

    We didn’t spend much on flowers, but I think the money that was spent on flowers for me and my MOH were wasted. Sure, I carried the bouquet down the aisle, but other than that it just sat on our table during dinner. I’m glad we did the boutonnieres & corsages for VIPs however.

  • GT

    Where we spent the most: Food. I forget exactly how much it was, but I think it was around $1200 for 80 guests. Our wedding was catered by a local BBQ joint and we had lots of delicious leftovers.

    Where we spent the least: Flowers. $0. I spent a summer and fall collecting and drying different grasses and wildflowers that we collected from local parks and our yard. While our bouquets weren’t everyone’s taste, I thought they were lovely.

    What was worth it: Renting a U-Haul to pack up all of our DIY wedding goods without having to worry about what was going where (I believe we got that idea from Meg, actually). Also, taking time to scan in and print out hundreds of old photos from family photo albums and from our own collection. We used them to decorate; only cost about $60 when all was said and done and it everyone loved it!

    What was not worth it: Skimping a little too much on photography. We were working on a tight budget (our whole wedding came in less than $6K) but our photographer was just okay. I wish we would’ve looked around a little more.

  • emilyg25

    Most money: Photography. It was our top priority and we spent about 30% of our budget on it.
    Least money: Venue (family home = free!), my dress (a $200 bridesmaid’s dress), decorations other than flowers
    Totally worth it: That photography. It’s the only thing we have to remember that day and it’s perfect. (Thanks APW sponsor Kelly Prizel!)
    Totally not worth it: Moneywise? I dunno, we were pretty judicious with spending according to our priorities. I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about whether everything would look good. It did, and it didn’t matter anyway.

  • shakes29

    I got married in March. I definitely ended up going over-budget, but still within reason. Here’s a few things that came to mind for me:

    Worth splurging on:
    – Shuttle transportation between the hotel and wedding ceremony/reception. Since our wedding was about an hour outside of Boston, the majority of our guests stayed at the hotel we blocked out for the wedding. We hired 2 school buses to shuttle the guests there and back. It was more than we had budgeted for, but we didn’t want our guests to worry about drinking and driving, getting lost, etc. I was actually surprised at how many people commented on the convenience of the buses afterwards.
    – The DJ. We hired a DJ that was a little more expensive than others we had looked at, but he came highly recommended by friends of ours and has a ton of experience in the industry. He was great – he knew how to read the crowd, get them going, and did a great job turning our reception into a kickass dance party. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to since the wedding talks about how great he was and how fun it was on the dance floor.
    – Having the wedding in March, and thus saving major bucks on off-season discounts. Neither my now-husband and I were particular about which season we wanted to get married. Once we started looking at venues, it became clear that we could save some major money by having the wedding during November-April, or on a Friday or Sunday. Taking advantage of the off-season discounts freed up money in our budget so that we could splurge on things like our great DJ and shuttle buses :)

    Not worth splurging on:
    – My veil. It was beautiful, but I bought it on impulse a few weeks before the wedding, and it was expensive. I wore it for the ceremony and pictures, but then took it off for the reception since it kept getting in the way. If I could do it over again, I’d look around and try and find something similar for much less.
    – A late-night snack. I went to university in Montreal and have a weakness for late-night poutine. We decided to splurge on serving poutine about an hour before the reception ended. By that point, everyone was on the dance floor and pretty much ignored the food (I still snuck away and scarfed some down though).

  • Aubry

    We got married in July. Summary: total spent – about 10k, Vancouver, BC (aka second most expensive cost of living in the world – a fact), 100 ish guests.

    Most spent: photography takes the cake here at $1800. I am in love with my photos and they are worth every penny. The cost was way low for usual wedding photos, although my mom thought it was extraordinarily high (last had white wedding in the 70’s so there was some sticker shock).

    Food and drink was the next. We self catered and food probably cost my mom and I around 2k. I feel like we almost could have gotten some things catered, and spared her freaking out and strained tensions with my home owners (family friends). We did crock pot pulled pork and chicken (4 crockpots total). I also wish the dessert could have come out sooner and have more serving utensils handy. I feel like we could have had more eaten that way. We also could have halved the about of dessert we had (granted I kinda knew it was overkill – 4 pies, 2 smallish pavlova, doughnuts and macarons. I was way more excited about dessert than lunch, but mom went to town on food).

    for drinks we pre-made waters and some alcoholics for the lunch reception – these were great. Super tasty, super pretty and super cheap! For the after party we did 4 pre-mixed cocktails and could have halved the amount made. Once the huge bottle of vodka is in there you cant take it back out! At least have left overs for yourselves, although open bottles can’t be returned. We poured out minimum $100 worth of hard liquor the next morning. Heart breaking.

    Least spent would be on venue at “free.” It was at a family friends home. A lovely home, that C and I love. However, we took on a huge landscaping endeavor that in hindsight was totally not worth it. Not only did we end up dropping hundreds on the cost of plants etc, we also spend so many hours (and hours and hours) doing the landscaping. It wasn’t done long enough in advance and looked great but not perfect on the day. We also strained tensions a lot with the homeowners. Looking back I should have expected this, but I was blinded by optimism. C was also confident it wouldn’t go sideways. My takeaway: just pay $100 to rent a freaking park and be done with it.

  • JJ

    Is it just me or are weddings in the US massively cheaper than those here in Australia, I suppose namely in Melbourne, and Sydney?

    • BettyGemma

      Exchange rate perhaps?

      • KH_Tas

        The exchange rate has *tanked* lately (from an Aussie POV) so there’s that too.

    • KH_Tas

      Melbourne and Sydney are stupid expensive, which I found when trying to figure out how to get married in Melb. Hobart has much nicer prices (one non-wedding example: you can leave your car in the Hobart centrepoint carpark for close to 24 hours for $29. In Melbourne you’re lucky to get an hour for that money).

  • Carly

    The most money was spent on my dress (1,000) and rentals(3,000) The wedding was held in my childhood friend and MOH’s parents backyard, food and cake was homemade, flowers were from Whole Foods, my husband’s cousin got ordained online and officiated, my niece’s 20 year old girlfriend who is an art major did the photography, we didn’t have programs or Save the dates and did our invitations on Vistaprint, there were no favors, music was from an Ipod run by my teenaged nieces, we only had a MOH and a Best Man. Our total budget was 8,000 and we spent just under 7,000. The rentals were important(tents, chairs, tables) but I wish I spent less on my dress. We had 70 guests including 23 under 18 with 11 of those under 10.

  • Photos are getting a bit dated these days. You can have your own wedding movies made for around the same price as a photographer!

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