Wedding Summary: We wanted a nice, relaxed outdoor wedding that shared our style and preferences with our friends and family. We agreed, early on, that we would spend $2,000 on a wedding for 75 people. We invited more than a 100 and we got a little more than 75 in person. We did everything ourselves — the invites, the decorations, the dress, the food (oh my), the shelters, etc.
Wedding Location: I sent “cold-call” letters to several farms in the area to see if they would be willing to host a wedding on their property. All we wanted was a plot of grass and a nice setting, nothing else was required of the land owners. Two people responded and we went with the second couple because they were so sweet and the place was amazing. The wedding was held at a fruit orchard, on the top of a hill, at the highest point in the county. It was beautiful. The owners did provide me a room to dress in their beautiful house and also mowed the grass in the field we used.
Wedding Materials: We borrowed three 20×20 shade structures from friends [photos below] — this saved us over $600 because we didn’t have to rent a tent and have it delivered and setup. We borrowed 12 tables from friends, rented 80 chairs, rented two porta-johns — one had a sink and was a total waste of money (it was my mom’s urging that made me get it). We bought bowls and serving utensils from Costco and bought all the plates, napkins, handi wipes, etc. that were used.
Wedding Decorations: I made table cloths out of butcher paper that the daughter and I decorated with stamps and hand written quotes. We bought 12 glass one-liter carafes for the iced teas and I decorated them with handmade labels and rafita ribbon. We bought a small helium tank and tied balloons to the shelter tie down straps. For favors – we bought mason jelly jars (canning jars) and glued a ribbon around the top and added a star made from polymer clay [photos below].
Wedding toys: We bought kites, frisbees, and other games for the kids to play with. Most went unused. We brought some of our board games and card games – Apples to Apples was very popular. The partner brought his juggling gear and it was used extensively by many people.
Food: This cost a lot more than I expected but it was yummy. Everything was made of fresh produce, except the chicken and pasta, and that meant a lot of veggies. I bought boxes of produce! Almost everything was from local farms and the Dutch farmers market. It was great to see all of the fruit and veggies around the house as we were cooking. We used Costco for the purchase of chicken and just a few other things. We also bought several pies from the local farmers market. However, I must say that if you are going to make all the food for your wedding – you need more than just one or two helpers. It was madness getting it all done — but we pulled it off anyways and got great compliments on it.
Clothing: I made my dress as a work of art. Pieces of fabric were arranged to give a nature scene on the dress and it needed lots of small cuts of fabric [photos below]. The partner bought his outfit at Mens Warehouse and it looked great. The daughter’s dress was made by my mother and looked beautiful.
Invitations; We made several test invitations and I really went overboard on buying stuff for them. This was the first thing we spent money on and was purchased before establishing a budget. We decided to exclude the invitations from the budget calculations, though I will include them now for a total amount and eliminate them upon final examination.
And now, for the money:
$300.00 – Location Rental
$200.00 – PortaJohn Rental
$176.00 – Chair Rental and Pick Up
$275.00 – Officiant Gratuity
$55.00 – Marriage License
$221.37 – Groom’s Attire
$234.20 – Bride’s Attire*
$287.00 – Invitations
$623.22 – Food
$150.00 – Supplies
$39.61 – Decorations
$63.55 – Favors
$73.00 – Pampering
$176.42 – Last Minute Purchases – supplies mostly
-$120.00 – unused items returned
This total exceeds the $2000 budget considerably, until we recognize that we did agree to exclude the invitations and dress from this total.
So, in our agreed upon budget – we spent $2233.17 just 233.17 over budget. Not bad for as beautiful of a wedding as it was.
Now, though I don’t know how “appropriate” it is to mention, we received many gifts of money, and they totaled more than our in-budget spending. I was floored, and a little embarrassed, by the amount given in gifts because I’ve never given money gifts like we have received. So, I suppose that in all, the wedding broke even, even though all of the financial gifts will be going right to savings or toward the house.
If anyone plans to do their own wedding, like we did, I’ve got all sorts of advice. Especially considering the food. I’m happy to share them with anyone willing to listen. And, as a conclusion, I’m so happy that it is all over and that it was a beautiful day.
Photos [added 04/08/07]:
As I mentioned, the shelters were borrowed; someone brought the balloons with them and they were a nice summer touch. The carafes for the iced tea were the sole decoration I really wanted, I’m so glad the partner convinced me to buy them. The little mason jar on the left were the glasses and they also served as the wedding favors. This is the best pictures of my dress that I’ve found so far. My mom also made herself a new outfit for the wedding and it looks fabulous in that picture.
The entire wedding was paid for in cash — nothing purchased on credit — we refuse to start our lives together going further into debt.