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What Is Your Wedding Budget?

This isn't Fight Club, people. Let's chat.

The tricky thing about wedding budgets is that nobody likes to talk about wedding budgets. They’re a little Fight Club like that. And in a total absence of information, it can be really hard to get started planning. I was lucky, because when we got engaged, I’d just spent years planning events that were supposed to look luxe for theatre companies that had no money. I had a pretty good idea of what things cost and was delighted to get to pull off the same pain-in-the-ass project as always (feed all these people, make the money go far enough) without working for an asshole boss. You know, like the one who asked me to throw a dinner reception for fifty people in Manhattan for $500, who later told me, “It really looked unacceptably minimal.” I, meanwhile, was pleased that I’d fed them more than gumdrops and water. Jerk.

Long story short: when I got engaged, I had a sense of what events cost. (Hint: kinda more than you want them to.) So armed with the outlines of what our families’ expectations were, I was able to set a budget that worked on day one and mostly stick to it. But if you’re only relying on the wedding internet for information on what things cost, it’s easy to get in trouble fast. Because you don’t know that awesome super indie venue costs $20K just to walk in the door (looking indie is hot right now). You think that awesome rooftop pizza party wedding in Brooklyn was probably $5K… when in fact it cost $27K. (Brooklyn be ‘spensive.)

The fact of the matter is, if you can afford a marriage license (and it’s legal for you to have one, but let’s not get STARTED with that nonsense), you can afford to get married. And getting married to someone you love is awesome, period. Every time I hear some wedding planner say something like, “You can’t have a $10K wedding for less than $30K” or “If you’re going to spend $10K or less, don’t even bother with a wedding,” (sad story, both of these quotes are real examples), I fly into a blind rage. BECAUSE OF COURSE YOU CAN HAVE AN AWESOME WEDDING ON WHATEVER YOUR BUDGET IS. But all that said, it helps to know what things actually cost. Because no, you’re probably not going to exactly replicate that awesome rooftop pizza party wedding in Brooklyn for $5K, because things cost what they cost. (Though you will do something totally kick ass and awesome for $5K in Brooklyn, trust me.)

Every year, we try to lead with an open thread on real wedding budgets. For those of you just getting down to the business of planning, looking at other people’s real numbers is the sanest possible place to start. (That, and the budget chapter in the APW book.) So today, we’re inviting people to share their budget numbers. If you wish to do so anonymously, leave a comment using the guest posting feature of Disqus.

To be as helpful as possible, consider giving:

  • Your goal budget
  • Your actual budget if you’re already hitched (Let’s take the shame away from the idea that yeah, sometimes you spend more than originally intended. Or hell, less.)
  • A general breakdown of what you spent
  • What was worth it and what wasn’t (again, if already hitched)
  • And most importantly, your location (Because you cannot compare prices in Manhattan Kansas to Manhattan. You just can’t.)

Let’s do it!

Photo by Gabriel Harber 

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