Wedding Wednesday: The Budget…We Think

Let’s talk money.

This is where I begin by saying that the wedding budget is NO WHERE NEAR set in stone. But having done some initial talking and looking at average price points both in DC and in WNY, we’ve been able to at least speculate where we hope to spend our hard-earned dough.

On that note – and this is all still entirely up in the air – our budgets will have to differ DRAMATICALLY depending on which scene we choose. Scott and I are paying for the wedding, and we know we would like funds for a house more than a party. However, we plan on making a beautiful day happen on a relatively small budget. 

For now, here is the budget if we plan our dream wedding on my Mother’s farm in Western New York:


The reception obviously takes the majority of our budget, and hosting a wedding outside means some fancy footwork with caterers, power supply, and rented bathrooms.  I am sure I haven’t a clue how difficult it will be pulling this thing together from the ground up, but maybe my mid-life onset of being organized and a perfectionist planner will help.

The next item of most important to me is the photography/videography. As I type, my other computer is running and I am streaming old VHS family video tapes to archive for my family. I have around 20,000 photos on my computers, and I am addicted to maintaining and preserving memories of the past. Living in the moment is hard for me if I don’t have a camera in hand. To that end, I know how much I will value those photos and video, and I have already spent the last two months pouring over wedding photographer’s websites.  So, a fair share of our budget will go here.

The other piece that most people say is an exorbitant cost for something people throw away are the invitations. I am a stationary aficionado, and I can’t bring myself to wasting a perfect opportunity on playing with paper :) I believe the invitation really lays the framework for what to expect at a couple’s wedding, and I have yet to figure out how to do this elegantly, but cost effectively. 

The wedding itself will be small, and if it is on the farm I plan to have my own cut garden for flowers and save money on that front. Additionally, I think the DJ scene is mildly overrated, and in my experience has ruined a good wedding. With the help of my friends and my own obsession with great wedding tunes, we plan on procuring the sound system and creating our own playlist.  One of our best friends is marrying us, and will also serve as MC for the night – totally up his ally. So, this saves quite a bit.

We won’t need money for transportation/limos, and by having the wedding on our property, we can avoid miscellaneous charges for the space. We need to look into permits, etc, but that will come in time.

I haven’t even thought about dresses or accessories. But I’m no fashionista, so not worried about a whole lot there.

Ok, let’s hear it. We want your advice – if you have planned a wedding, where did you allocate most of your money? What turned out to be a huge waste? Where do you wish you spent more?

We are having a wedding, as small as it is, so you can’t talk us into eloping ;) but we definitely would love some tips. Ready…Go!


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    1. My husband and I dj’d our own reception and had a blast. It was a pretty informal affair at the local VFW hall, but still a party. We spent many (fun) hours putting together a playlist on the Mac and hooked it right up to the PA. Just had a couple of hiccups here and there, but no big deal with our crowd. We had a friend “reverend” too who also was the MC! :)

      I would also agree that photography is something to invest in. We had a friend of my mom do the photos and they just didn’t live up to what i wanted/expected. I regret not putting more effort into that.

      Finally, for invites, you can have a lot of fun with letterpress if you are into that. They do classes at Old City Press specifically for couples to press their own invites.

      We were married in Montana, so I ended up giving up a lot of control to my local family and just had faith that the food would be decent and the party would be fun. At the end of the day, we were with so many loved ones and friends, that it really didn’t matter. Have fun!

      We saved a lot of money by just buying a couple of kegs and a selection of wines through the VFW bar. Bartender was included in their $400 rental fee! :)

    1. Wedding planning is so exciting! I think the most important thing for me was excellent food, drinks and music. Those are things i wouldn’t cut costs on. I really think people remember them! I think you could definitely get away with doing your own music as long as you have it planed out well! I also agree that you invitations can be high end and inexpensive! One thing that doesn’t involve money but I always suggest is make a time line for your day and give one to your maid of honor and your MC. The day flies and you want to make sure to get everything in. Also I feel there is nothing worse than sitting around waiting and waiting at a wedding wheather it be for dinner or what not. I was really concerned about everything flowing smoothly and my guests not getting bored waiting around! I know it may sound silly but I think it is instrumental to start the day off right! Oh and set two tables up for food, 4 lines = faster serving= happy guests! Good luck!

      1. These are all fantastic suggestions, thanks Katie! I know we are biting a lot off when it comes to doing the music, but I’m always that person at the wedding judging every song and its placement :) With the wedding a year+ away, I imagine I’ll be throwing in the towel on some of my DIY ideas, but for now I have high hopes. Thanks for reading and all of the advice! Did you get married in this area?

        1. Yes, our ceremony was at St. Mary’s and reception at East Shelby Fire hall. I always dreamed of an out door wedding, I’m sure it will be beautiful! I’m a DIYer also, you can do it as long as you plan! :)

    1. Wow, sounds like you have a budget of sorts in mind, at least how much you want to allocate to certain things. My 4 year anniversary is tomorrow, so to reminisce about wedding planning – it still feels kind of recent for me. We definitely spent the most on the wedding on the reception (catering, venue, etc.), which I think is where we spent the majority of our time anyway. I didn’t spend a lot on decorations, or flowers which was good because the flowers will die eventually and I didn’t want to have all of the decorations laying around and collecting dust. Plus the venue let us borrow things that they already had which helped, vases, containers, etc. One area where we saved a lot of money was transportation. We didn’t need it and I don’t regret not getting a limo. I was sad at first when my dad said that we didn’t need a limo, but looking back, he was right. We kept the cake/desserts to a minimum too. I think overall we spent the most on the reception, then the photographer, then attire, flowers, cake, and a DJ.

      Oh another place we saved money was we bought our own invitations and then printed them out ourselves on our printer. So the places to save money is definitely invitations, transportation, music, flowers, and decorations! You can make the most out of very little. One thing that I may have wanted since we didn’t get one was a videographer. Looking back when we were thinking about it, it seemed like a waste of money since we had a photographer, but since then I have seen some friends have a videographer and have seen their videos and thought they were sweet. But it is what it is and I wouldn’t have changed the day and the decisions we made. Because in the end, it is what you make it. People told me, “You aren’t going to remember the color of your napkins or other details, but you will remember the day as a whole and the little details aren’t going to matter.” I think that is about right. I was no bridezilla by any means, I kept it sweet, simple, and enjoyed the moments.

      I know whatever you choose and however much you spend, you will be satisfied with the outcome. Because in the end, you are getting married and that is more important than what color flowers you have or what flavor cake you choose! Good luck!! :)

      1. Thank you so much!! I’m glad you didn’t see an issue with cutting some of the misc. expenses, which is what we are trying to do. We really just want it to be a beautiful evening with our closest family and friends :) And you’re totally right – at the end of the day, I’m marrying the man of my dream and best friend, so it will be perfect regardless!

    1. If you’re SURE I can’t talk you into eloping … :) We spent close to 60% of our budget on food/drinks/reception. That was the biggest thing to us, good food and good drinks. I ordered invites on (seriously) and they were well-made, totally, and cheap. I’m like you, so NOT a fashionista, so the dress was seriously not that important to me. I mean, I loved my dress, but it wasn’t like the end all be all of everything – i think b/c accessories, dress, total, I spent like, $400. Seriously.

      Good luck…. :)

      1. Believe me, I’ve thought about eloping :) But I do think our budget for the reception will be a lot closer to 60% – we just need to figure out the logistics of outdoor catering!

    1. I think you could save money on the invites. While I agree that stationary is always fun and it DOES set the tone, you are correct in thinking that most people will throw them away. For that reason, I wouldn’t spend a whole lot on them. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t need to LOOK high end. Etsy is a great option. You can find a beautiful downloadable template, customize it with your information, and then buy thick/heavy weight paper from PaperSource (and really pretty invitations to go with it) and print them yourselves. Just make sure the paper you buy matches the size of the template you order (i.e.: 5×7)…

      I also think your ideas for the flowers are perfect! I did that and have no regrets. You could do the same for the boutonnieres.

      1. Excellent advice!! Thanks Lauren, will now look into Etsy for the invites…And glad to know the cutting garden worked out!!

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