We haven't done very much wedding planning this week, but last week, we picked out our entree details and ordered the invitations. Considering that, I feel comfortable resting a touch on our laurels (also, I hate working on stuff when my back hurts, but that's an entirely different story). But I'm ready to start thinking about it again, so I'm starting with a blog post.
We've been saving up for the wedding since we got engaged, just over a year ago. We managed to sock away about 12k (including the $200 or so in interest from HSBC, yay!), plus two of our three sets of parents have agreed to help with some things. Our goal is to keep this thing under $20k, mostly because I feel totally ridiculous spending that much on a single day's party. If I look at it another way, it's really averaging 10k for my parents to get both their two kids married off; my brother and his wife got married in September for under $100 (streamers, cake, and dinner for ten), so it's like we both just had smaller-than-average weddings, right? Right?
So far, we've spent just under 5 grand. That's a couple of deposits on the reception site, photographer, florist, invitations, and honeymoon plane tickets. The estimated amount left to pay (unless all 192 of the invited guests show, and all want the beef dinner instead of the fish or pasta) is around 13k. All in all, I think we're about where we budgeted for.
We saved money in some places--as many as we could. The first step any manual suggests for this is cutting down on the guest list. The problem is, we both have a lot of people to invite (his dad has 8 siblings, most of them married with kids; I have very close extended family and a sorority). Trust me when I say that the guest list has been cut until it cries, and unless this becomes a very different sort of party, they stay. So the budget has to squeak in other places to accommodate people.
The first, very effective, budget cut was the dresses. My gown, all four bridesmaid dresses, and the flower girl dress are all being made by the same woman in my hometown in the Midwest. Because my mom's handling that cost, I'm actually not entirely certain of the exact cost, but I'm pretty sure it's not a lot higher than the cost of the fabric. Also, I'm borrowing the hoops from one of my attendants, who wore them at her own wedding 5 years ago. And the bridal tiara, as described earlier, will be very cheap. Wedding shoes and underwear--also bought at 75% (or more) off. I'm planning to get some tulle and make the veil myself, once I get the tiara.
The next was the invitations, which we ordered from this website, very kindly recommended by David. Budget was $400; total cost for 150 invites, $292. Rock! If I didn't have the design skills of a rhesus monkey, I'd've gone with the print-your-owns from Costco, but even though we have access to some very nice printers at work, I wasn't willing to try to make the damn things look good. So, midrange savings overall.
I'm over the moon about the next one: a friend of mine who deejays on weekends has offered to spin for us in exchange for free beer. Hooray! (This is not a budget-related hooray. I'd be thrilled to have him, even if we were paying his going rate. For starters, he is standing staunchly with us in our firm desire never to hear the Chicken Dance ever ever.)
Our honeymoon is going to be 6 days long, mostly because I don't have very much vacation time. Fiancé gets three weeks a year because he's been there for five years, but I'm only at 18 months or so, so I only get two weeks. Sigh. But we're still going to have a great time. The savings on the rental car and hotel room comfort my mind enough to be happy splurging on activities (spa day, here we come!).
The photography package is actually quite inexpensive as well. The studio makes most of its money on the expensive and very nice photo albums they sell, so having chosen just to receive digital images saved us quite a bit. And I'm really glad, because that way we can choose to have just a few shots printed very cheaply for framing, and have only a CD of photos, rather than a big ol' book to dust.
We're also not having a videographer. We have a very eccentric and funny friend who's volunteered to bring his digital camera for documentation, and that'll be far preferable (even if it will feature his wife in her bridesmaid dress a little more than is strictly proper) than having some pro who doesn't know anyone there. Again, personalization is worth zillions.
As for favors, we don't want to go overboard, especially because Fiancé is unfamiliar with the practice. What we're planning to do is have a disposable camera or two for each table to play with during the reception, and a little tulle package of Jordan almonds for each guest. Cameras are about $5 each, and the almonds packets are about 30 cents per person (bought in bulk), so about a dollar per person for a couple of cute traditions (one old, one new). I'm also planning to do gift baskets for out-of-town visitors, but baskets are cheap at Michael's, and the thoughtful touches almost free (town maps, homemade cookies, photos, things like that).
A big money-saver (I can't believe I just thought of this one) was that we booked the hotel reception site as a package deal. Reception decorations, cake, champagne toast, and dinner are all packed together and calculated as a per-guest cost. It worked out to be thousands less than most any other local reception site, and still really lovely. Before we booked it, I was pulling for the local VFW hall, which at home is a very cheap yet perfectly respectable reception site, but which here, apparently, are not well-kept. Too bad, really.
There are a couple of places where we just totally splurged, though. Fiancé is allergic to a lot of metals, so the bands (and my engagement ring) are platinum works of beauty. We're also paying for our attendants' dresses and tuxes, which is only fair, since 80% of them have to pay for airfare (international, in one case) and lodging to be here. My parents are also paying for a lot of our family to fly out; this is going to be a pretty big vacation for many of them, which is exciting. We're also paying a bit of a premium for nice silk flowers. I don't want to be sniffling and sneezing on our wedding day! There's going to be some real blooms, but I just can't face a room full of pollen and scent for hours. No WAY.