Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Breakdown of Our Own Wedding Budget

These prices are approximate, because I didn't keep track of all my receipts. However, we probably spent less, not more, because I have a tendency to overestimate costs.

Food, $358.00.
This included our steaks, baking potatoes, the salads we ordered, everything for our side dishes, and the condiments, as well as the items like coolers, ice, and charcoal. (We bought vacuum-sealed frozen steaks and thawed them just before the big day; they were much cheaper than freshly cut steaks and were still really delicious.)

Beer, $42.00.

Liquor, $45.00.

License, $90.00.
The self-uniting license was a little more expensive, but getting it allowed us to skip the expense of hiring an officiant. [Edit 10/07/09: I realize this isn't entirely clear, so I'll explain a bit more. In addition to the traditional marriage license, Pennsylvania offers what is known as a "self-uniting marriage license." It allows a couple to get married without an officiant. A few other states have similar licenses, but most do not.]

Rings, $55.00.
We went with matching titanium bands from eBay.

Gifts for the kids, $18.00.

Venue, $90.00.
This price gave us a large park pavilion for the whole day!

Invitations, $15.00.
We made these with blank-inside note cards, colored paper, and tracing paper.

Sand for our sand ceremony, $13.00.

Clothing, $295.00.
Sales, sales, sales! And discount stores.

Wedding arch, $25.00.

Silks, $60.00.
Yes, we used silk flowers. And it turns out that sometimes they really don't photograph as well as the real things - but they looked great, and I still have them! [Edit 05/18/10: I like working with silks because I can arrange them far ahead of time, but it's certainly possible make economical and beautiful fresh flower bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and arrangements yourself. I live in an expensive part of the Northeast, and even the priciest grocery stores generally have gorgeous fresh-flower bouquets for $10.00 and under.]

Vases, $16.00.

Tulle, ribbon, and other decorating incidentals, $21.00.

Disposable napkins and cups, $15.00.
We had to use plastic cups. The park rules didn't allow us to use real glasses.

Punch bowl, china, flatware, and serving bowls, trays, and utensils, $71.00.
The punch bowl and china came from our local thrift store, Impact. It is fantastic.

Favors, $20.00.
We displayed an assortment of Hershey's Kisses and favor boxes so that people could have exactly the flavors they wanted. I don't think anyone took any, though - we were eating chocolate for a month! (I'm not suggesting that's bad.)

Tablecloths, $10.00.
We got flat bedsheets on sale, made sure the edges faced each other where the tables met, and covered them with tulle. They looked great.

Batteries for portable CD player, $17.00.

Umbrella in case it rained, $4.00.
It did rain, so I'm glad we got this.

Grand total, $1,280.00.

I'll be adding photos sometime soon, so you can see how it all worked out.


  1. What about the Officiant's or Minister's fee?

    ...anywhere from $50 to $500...

  2. Oh! Sorry - I guess that wasn't very clear. In Pennsylvania, we have something called a "self-uniting marriage license." With it, you can get legally married without an officiant. It cost us a little more than a regular marriage license, but it worked out well for us.

    We'd actually just found a home church, and our minister was about to go on sabbatical. If we'd gone with a hired officiant, we'd have had to pay quite a bit to customize our ceremony. This way we were able to do things exactly the way we wanted.

    I'm actually pretty firm in my belief that monetary gifts to those who give of their time and specialized talents are not the things you cut if you're cutting costs - though I do believe that financial gift amounts should be figured in relation to a couple's combined income.

  3. I love that you used flat sheets as table cloths. We used them for a friend's dinner party (borrowed table, no cloth) and it looked fantastic.