Knowing Where To Draw the Line on Your Wedding Budget

Okay, time for some tough love. My average wedding while I was a wedding coordinator was $17,000, and I simply received that amount for the venue, tables and chairs, linens, the dinner catering, and the bar tab. For those couples who wished to add music, photography, desserts, decorations, and any other basic wedding niceties, you could be looking at a minimum of another $10,000 added to your budget. The Knot actually stated that the typical modern wedding averages $35,000. My jaw dropped reading that article, actually. For G and I, this *clap* was *clap* not *clap* an *clap* option.

When G proposed and we began our engagement and journey into wedding planning, one of the first things we did was sit down and realistically draw up a budget. We began by setting a maximum amount we were willing to spend ($10,000) and a goal amount of which we wanted to spend ($7,500). I use the word “wanted” extremely loosely because it physically hurt both of us to fathom spending even $7,500 on 8 hours of our lives. However, a wedding was our/my dream — “I’ve planned over 70 couples’ weddings, shouldn’t I get my own?” — so we worked to set items in stone to not overdo our budget.

As we listed the things most important to both of us, we also did research on those items in order to predict their expense. Photography was my biggest want, as photos are the pieces of the wedding you truly keep for years afterwards. Photography also happens to be one of the most expensive parts of a wedding — who knew, right?! Being married in the church was also important to us as it is where we met. Unfortunately, our church charges close to $1,000 for a ceremony on its grounds. So once we covered photography and a church ceremony on our budget, we had a little over half the $7,500 goal left in which to cover food, venue, music, clothing, etc.

Suffice it to say the first few rounds of attempting to budget brought a lot of tears and curse words in front of our spreadsheet.

“They want to charge us how much per person for a taco?”

“They have to be joking that it’s $13 per table linen!”

“So that DJ provides only three hours of music for $1200 and doesn’t bring his own sound system?”

“Why are weddings so expensive?!”

Continuing to write our budget line item by line item, there came a time at which we simply had to draw the line.

I am a huge fan of those beautiful sequin linens and the thought of having one for a sweetheart table was enticing. So enticing. I kept thinking of the photo opportunities, of how perfect seeded eucalyptus would be lying across the rose gold coloring, of how gorgeous the overall look would be… Then I looked at every website I could find who carries such a linen piece as well as called rental vendors on them. Guess what? I could use $75 for one linen on a whole case of other types of decorations. It was an easy decision with the price tag in front of me.

I also have always loved the idea of a globe guest book. You know, a cute antique globe with all our loved ones signatures able to sit in our future living room? Perfect, right? Not so much when the cheapest one we found (of worthy-enough quality) was over $60. Nope, I decided to spend that additional little “pocket change” on other necessary pieces of our wedding instead.

When it comes down to it, you have to know where to draw the line.

With the money I could have bought that rose gold sequin tablecloth, I instead found an amazing deal (TableclothsFactory.com) and paid for an order of 32 linens for all our tables. That $75 fulfilled half the cost of these linens, and now we do not need to worry about renting ivory tablecloths for double the price of what we purchased. Plus, a friend has offered to borrow a beautiful striped ivory cloth for our head table which can be decorated just as beautifully as the sequins.

And for a guest book, I opted for a more functional and less expensive option: a calendar. Confused? Hear me out. I bought a large calendar from VistaPrint for only $12 with our engagement pictures littered across its pages. My plan is for guests to sign their names on their birth dates, thus so functional and still a spin on a traditional book. I was happy to have found this inspiration on Pinterest!

By and by, my main points when it comes to your budget are these: figure out the essentials, save for the necessities, research high and low for various options and best costs, and know where to draw the strike-through on an idea that simply doesn’t fit the bill.

Your wedding is about the marriage, after all. Why spend a down payment on a house for only eight hours of your life? There’s no reason to create unneeded stress following your wedding when you should be enjoying the beginning stages of being husband and wife.

I’m curious, are there certain aspects of your wedding you felt were high necessities on the budget? If so, what were they? And was there a time you had to draw the line on a wedding piece you deeply wanted but knew wouldn’t truly be missed in the long run? Please feel free to share in the comments below or DM me at @uncorkingpeonies on Insta. I’d love to hear what trials you have been through or are going through when it comes to your own budget.

Until next time,

 

Vendor News: Videography Decided

We have been going back and forth on the topic of videography since we solidified our budget five months ago, and some great questions are been risen: should we hire someone, should we buy a video camera, who would we have film everything, would a cellphone work just as well, won’t photographs be just as good, where could we place a camera rather than have someone hold one, who do we know that can edit, what fits our budget, where could we elope, etc. And we have finally decided on an answer! (Plus we’re proud to say discussion on elopement has dropped from 10 times daily to nearly three…)

We are going with the online videography option called WedIt. With WedIt, we will have five iPod Touches delivered to us the week of our wedding in which we can disperse among our guests, set up in special locations, or pretty much do what we would like with them in order to film/snapshot the important parts of our ceremony and reception. Then, once the wedding is over, we can either download all the pieces on our own in order to edit them or send them back to the company and have a edited video made for us. Though we aren’t sure exactly how we will edit the camera footage, we do feel this is a great option for us while trying to safe-keep memories without spending an arm and a leg on a professional videographer.

Thinking ahead, I plan to have two of the cameras stationed on tripods to capture the ceremony and one camera at the reception’s photo booth in order to capture all that fun. The other two I am going to ask a few artsy friends to safeguard and capture some important moments throughout the night. All in all, we are excited for this Pinterest find and for another budget-beater!

#Inspiration: Rustic Cake Toppers

Our days are quickly passing and the final orders are being made to make sure we have everything we need for the Big Day. Which means another #Inspiration board post is due! Since my last one on bouquets and boutonnieres, we are happy to say that our flower order did arrive. Though the shipment came about four weeks after the date stated (I was sweating, friends), all the silk flowers did arrive and they were perfect! I could not be happier with the stems purchased from LightInTheBox.com, and even happier with the price point being a third of the costs I would have spent at Michael’s or another craft store.

Those flowers are currently at a friend’s house being arranged into some beautiful bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and a cake topper. However, I am not 100% sure I only want the floral on our cake or if I should also add a rustic-themed embellishment above the petals. Hmm.

Well, while I continue to sway back and forth in my consideration, take a gander on some rustic cake toppers I’ve discovered on Pinterest and Etsy which might just take the cake… (See what I did there?)

I am also a big fan of this little digit:

So many adorable choices, only one cake. How do you think it would look for all of these to be on a two-tiered cake? Too much? Not enough? Ugh, decisions, decisions. 😉

I would love to see other wedding cake topper inspirations, be it for rustic or non-rustic themed cakes. I am a big fan of peg people, cascading flowers, and funny couple touches. Please feel free to send my readers and me inspiration by commenting below or DM me on Instagram @uncorkingpeonies.

Until next time, friends,

I Bought My Dress Online & I Adore It

Traditionally, wedding dress shopping is done in a wedding dress boutique. The bride-to-be, her mother, and perhaps even a few bridesmaids join in for a day out on the town scouring shoppes for the perfect dress. Even before they’re engaged, most brides have their ideal gowns chosen and are on the hunt for either that exact designer dress or something very similar.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for me), I am not traditional in this sense. I never wanted to go to David’s Bridal or a local boutique to shop for my dream dress. Instead, I took to the World Wide Web and found exactly what I was seeking, and for a fraction of the price.

I have been on the committee for a local gala for the past four years. Each year I buy a new gown to wear, and I’ve always shopped online. Once through Rent the Runway, once on Azazie, and twice on JJsHouse.com. All three sites I highly recommend for their quality of product and great customer service.

Though all of the gowns bought online have been outstanding, I specifically want to praise JJsHouse. JJs was the first online store from which I ever purchased a gown. I read numerous reviews prior to ordering my first gown from this online store, and the majority were high ratings. Wanting to save some cash from buying in-store, I opted to give them a shot — and it was so worth it! I received a beautifully embellished gown made of high quality material and perfect measurements. It is no wonder the site has earned my return service for my bridal gown now.

I found my wedding dress in November, and I have been putting off ordering it simply due to forgetfulness. There have been so many other aspects of the wedding I have focused my concentration that the gown sat quietly in an online shopping cart. I wasn’t too concerned though once I finally remembered its existence. JJs has never been anything but speedy in their production and shipping of gowns I’ve ordered over the years. So when I ordered the dress on February 25th (only three and a half months prior to my wedding), I wasn’t worried that it would arrive in enough time to have any alterations completed before June.

The dress arrived today, a month after the order was placed. As I picked the package off my front step, I could hardly contain myself as I opened the box and out slipped the dress bag. I moved my fingers meticulously over the material and seams to check their status. Then I took to my bedroom and full-length mirror to see the final outcome. I was enthralled! The dress had high-quality lace and tulle, a built-in bra, boning, and had been custom sized to fit me like a glove. Plus, one of my favorite features of JJsHouse dresses, the gown had a covered buttons on the back which fastened via a hidden zipper. Thus it was an easy-on process!

For anyone considering purchasing their bridal gown online, I know there are a lot of horror stories out there when it comes to buying products online. However, I could not be more thrilled with my purchase of my wedding gown, or any of my gowns in the past. You simply have to be realistic and use common sense when it comes to the designer and online store you choose: do your homework, read multiple reviews, and go with your gut on whether a site can be trusted or not.

It can be such a cost-effective and convenient solution for the bride-to-be on a budget.  I had gone through the traditional boutique for my prom dresses in high school and was still salty towards the price points of which I foolishly chose to buy those gowns. As a wiser and more penny-conscious adult, there was no way I was spending over $500 for a dress I’d wear one day of my life even if my wedding is more momentous than high school prom. I could not stomach the thought when I knew those extra funds could be spent on something else for the wedding instead. My heart happily skipped a beat when I saw the grand total of my wedding dress — which included custom sizing, shipping and handling, and the gown itself —  cost only $190.

The secret behind shopping online for your wedding gown are simple: be smart and knowledgeable on what you want to purchase.

If you do choose to shop online, I have a few extra hints and tips to suggest:

  1. Go online with a game plan. You know what you’re looking for, so start researching the best online stores to find your dream dress. (Etsy is a great place to look as well as Google!)
  2. Know your budget, and stick to your budget. You’re looking online for a reason, and that’s so you can spend money on other wedding necessities. Can I get an amen?!
  3. Have a vision of how you want to look on your Big Day. I’m sorry girls, buy you will not find a Maddie Sottero or Alfred Angelo in your online budget-cutting hunt. (If you do, then please share with the world!) I suggest finding some designer gowns you admire and starting with similar silhouettes or fabrics for a dress to fit your goals.
  4. Measure yourself. Custom sizing may be a little extra charge on some sites, but will cut costs in the long run. Remember seamstresses and alterations can be pricey once you receive your dress, so try to get your sizing as accurate as possible!
  5. Leave plenty of time for delivery. Yes, I cut delivery of my dress a lot closer to the wedding date than most brides will. However, I knew the store I was buying my gown and trusted their shipping department. If you’re buying from a new vendor, make sure to give yourself some squeeze time just in case shipping takes a bit longer than stated or alterations do need to be made to the dress.

In the end, remember to have fun with your shopping as well! I am not a fan of shopping in general, so going to a boutique just didn’t sound like a productive way to spend my time. (Something about the fake salespeople and high price tags, I guess.) Yet I could look online at dresses all day — and did until I found my perfect fit! Enjoy this time and the process of finding the right gown for you.

Be beautiful, friends, 

How We Saved Costs on Invitations & RSVPs

As I finish off my last bottle of Syrah and wait for G to finish leading his youth group, I am in a slightly better mood than when I arrived home this afternoon. I came home after a typical work day to find a sweet little gift on my front step. The gift, lovingly given by Mr. Postman, was a carton full of G’s and my wedding invitations — the invitations we had hand-crafted and dropped into the mail only two days prior. To accentuate the package, a handwritten sign was taped to the carton as well which read, “$0.21 needed on each due to enclosure.” It made me grimace…

And face-palm myself.

Now, to our defense, G and I did take a sample of our invitation to the post office when we bought postage. We tried to think ahead! This was to weigh the invite and purchase the correct amount of stamps necessary to mail. I am to blame for not including a piece of twine and paper doily to the mix though. So for any other bride-to-be out there, take your entire invitation package with you to the USPS when considering postage pricing.

I;m going to warn you: postage in itself is quite pricey, and also something I am not familiar with — I’ve never actually bought stamps before wedding planning. On top of the additional 21 cents now needed for our invites, the original postage cost was 50 cents per envelope. We opted to also provide postage for our return RSVP envelopes, so our grand total in postage was a hefty $120 (12 books of 20 stamps each, covering postage on 120 invitations and 120 RSVP envelopes.)

If those postage prices make you cringe, I urge you to stop reading now as our actual discussion today on invitations as a whole will leave you in the fetal position.

Still here?

Well let’s dive on in then…

One recurring theme in all my planning posts has been that G and I are attempting to cut costs at every corner while maintaining a fun, modern, and fashionable wedding. That means we want the majority of today’s wedding must-haves while also keeping a few dollars in our bank accounts since a large portion of the budget is coming from our pockets. This has not been an easy course as anything with the word “wedding” attached is priced high.

When it came to our invitations, I didn’t know much about stationary. I did know the theme I wanted them to have though: romantic and rustic.

By searching the multitude of websites boasting beautiful invitation designs available, I found the “funky names” invite on Minted and fell in love with its simplicity.

Cute scrawled letters and easy-to-read information on kraft paper was exactly what I was looking for! And with Minted, all the necessities (envelopes, RSVPs, details cards, etc.) are available with the same design. It seemed like a perfect match for #SlackTieEvent!

MIN-YRA-INV-001_E_PZ

As I began to input some numbers for budgeting’s sake, though, I quickly found my love melting away. For a guest list of 250 loved ones, we needed about 125 invitations. With “funky names” this meant that a flat card in kraft paper would come to $2.15 each. That made for a hefty price of $269.

Capture

This is not including any additives. Our guest list has a vast millennial deficit to it, meaning many of our guests would not be privy to online RSVPing. Since we kind of need to know a body count for food’s sake, this meant we needed RSVP cards. Add those little beauties to the package and you’re looking at an additional $172.

Then there is the necessary Reception — to remind guests that YES there is a party after the ceremony — and Direction cards for numerous out-of-town guests, and you’re looking at an additional $187 for each type. Since I also was wanting a bit of embellishment to the invites, I also threw in belly bands for an extra kick bringing my grand total for invitations to $886.

Say what?!

I could think of a whole lotta other things I’d rather spend that money on than some pieces of paper. So I started thinking of thriftier options…

It so happened that while I was searching for less expensive stationary, I came across a Pinterest board pointing me to the quaint little Etsy shop VineWedding. And all my hopes and dreams were answered by the click of a button!

VineWedding, as well as many other Etsy shops, provide all-inclusive, printable invitation templates. This means you could purchase a pre-designed invite to edit and print on your own. I am all about supporting artists on Etsy, and VineWedding had some of the most adorable templates imaginable! Plus, I could buy an invitation, detail card, RSVP, and small embellishments for the very-welcomed price of only $12.00. (My invitation choice has actually gone up in price to $15.60, but that is because the shop now offers a range in sizes for the templates.)

Since G and I already opted to have our Save the Dates printed at a local printer and we were adamantly against paying over $800 for stationary, we were on board to do the same with our invites. I contacted the printer with a template of our needed invites, and waited patiently for a response.

And we were so pleased with the results!

This is what we sought pricing on:

  • 125 invitations with our ceremony information on the front and our additional details on the back on a “light brown” cardstock
  • 125 ivory envelopes to fit these 5×7 invites
  • 125 RSVP cards on ivory cardstock
  • 125 RSVP ivory envelopes

Figuring we would print our own address labels, we did not utilize the printer’s offer to also address the envelopes. So, with those 500 pieces of stationary the printer came back with a quote of $149.57.

Thinking we were getting away with something, we jumped at approving the quote and sent our order to the printer.

Our order was ready within three days and the final product was nothing short of amazing.


To add even more spice to the invites, I used VineWedding’s suggested embellishments and went to my local craft store for a stamp, paper doilies, and twine. The shopping cart came to around $13.

So, instead of paying a (IMO ridiculous) fee of over $850, not including postage, G and I bought all our invitation supplies for a fraction of the price! And we could not have been more happy with our decision.

Not only were we able to edit the wording on our invitations to exactly what we wanted, but we also were able to add our own personal touch to the invites. The stamp I chose actually looked like a doily, and the twine with lace gave a rustic nudge to the otherwise classy feel of the stationary. Adding a few pops of rose, and our invites were better than we could ever have purchased on a premade invitation website.

The only aspect of buying online which was still appealing was the issue on time of putting the invites together. Luckily, we had an answer for that as well!

Two of our wonderful bridal party members joined us this past weekend for a “wedding work day.” The four of us were able to put all 125 invitations together in about four hours time. This meant cutting out our date tags, color stamping the RSVPs, labeling both invite and RSVP envelopes, stamping both envelopes, folding doilies around the invites, wrapping twine around the entire package, and stuffing and closing each envelope. It was quite the process, but the good company sure made the time go quickly! (A BIG thank you to those two awesome people!!)

Baddabing, baddaboom, our finished product:

Now, maybe doing this isn’t your forte/idea of fun/etc. That. Is. Totally. Fine. There are so many options out there in regards to invitations, that I know you can find something to fit your needs and your budget. Fortunately for G and I, we found what we wanted on the second try.

If you do go another route, I would love to know what it is! What are some other options you’ve found to be savvy with your stationary dollars while wedding planning? Please feel free to leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram @uncorkingpeonies. I would love to hear from you!

Until next time, friends,