How Much Did We Spend On Our Wedding?


Our wedding has come and gone. We are now married. (This, in my book, was always the minimum threshold of success.)

In terms of cost, I think we did pretty well. I talked with one of my coworkers before the event, astonishingly telling her “average wedding costs” per women’s magazines and the like ($30k+ in our area). As a part-time wedding hair stylist, she didn’t believe those numbers for a second. “It’s at least $80k out where I live on the Cape!” I think we run in very different circles.

As you can tell from the table above, we got a lot of help with wedding costs. His mother insisted on paying for the catering, which was by far the most expensive line item. It costs a lot to feed 60 people! That said, our caterers were excellent. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food; they did all the set-up, clean-up, and serving labor; plus they provided hot apple cider and coffee for our guests, and welcome end to the event on a cool fall day outdoors. And after the event they packed up all the extra food for us, which meant our diet was nothing but wedding leftovers for an entire week.

There were a couple things here and there that didn’t go quite as planned. Because our original musician ended up moving away for conservatory, we decided to go the “let’s play something on our computer” route. Unfortunately, our speakers just decided not to work? So that was kind of a bust.

But overall the event was fine to good. The weather was perfect and the trees in the park had just started turning their leaves, bits of red and orange flecks amongst the mostly-green topiary. I brought a dozen decks of playing cards for people to use during the reception and I think it really helped in keeping our guests entertained. I got to see some out-of-town friends, which was nice. And our families were on their best behavior– a welcome relief.

I might update this post with some wedding photos once our photographer sends us the final copies. Or I might not. If you can’t tell, I’m mostly just glad our wedding is behind us. I love my husband and enjoy being married. But, big orchestrated events? I can do without another one of those for a good, long time.

Did you enjoy your wedding? How much did you spend on “the big day”?


Wedding Planning: An Update

We’re six months out from the “Big Day” and have made a lot of progress on our wedding planning. Here’s what we know:


We’ll be having our wedding in a public park. It’s a nicer park in a more well-to-do (read: expensive) town, so it’s pretty costly for a public space. The ceremony location is a tempietto which looks kind of like this but is on a pond.

Villa Olmo via TripAdvisor

Our wedding is scheduled for the early fall period so we’re hoping we can see some leaf-turning and get reasonably good weather. Most of our spaces are outdoors but have roofs, so a little drizzle is not the end of the world, but could get pretty miserable and cold for our guests. The reception will be in a covered BBQ shelter like this:


I have no idea if we’re going to do any amount of decoration for the wedding. The caterer is going to be bringing linens for the tables. Maybe we’ll get some used chalkboards to indicate where the wedding is? Otherwise, I’m at a loss what sort of decoration we really need. If it wasn’t clear already, wedding planning is not my forte or interest. Thankfully Fiancé has been picking up my slack here.


We’ve decided to go to with a Chinese-American woman-owned restaurant to cater our wedding. I came across this place as a food truck that sells near my work and I love everything they make. Fiancé and I had a tasting to make sure the menu was accessible to his family. No fermented black bean dishes, for instance, even though we both love the taste. Strangely enough, none of the Asian side of my family is likely to come– maybe my dad, except he’s having visa issues– but I know that my guests can generally deal with “weird” food.

Here’s our menu:


  • Sweet corn fritters with creamy maple dipping sauce
  • Scallion pancake bites with cheddar & pesto
  • Carrot & coconut soup shots with mint


  • Thai coconut curry with tofu & veggies
  • Red roasted pork shoulder


  • Honey butter roasted carrots
  • Beet salad with arugula and goat cheese


  • Apple cider
  • Apple spritzer

Fiancé’s mom has graciously offered to pay for the wedding’s catering. This includes set up, tear down costs, silverware, etc. That just leaves fiancé and I to deal with the cake. We probably won’t go with anything custom, but rather get two half-sheet tortes (right now we’re thinking chocolate sacher torte and princess torte) which look presentable but can be served directly to guests without fanfare.

Sacher Torte
via Basheer Tome
via Janelle






Clothing & Appearance

We’re using our engagement rings as our wedding rings. Fiancé has offered to make our clothes for the day, which is a big project. I’m a little worried he may be biting off more than he can chew. He’s made formal wear and has a lot of costuming experience generally, but it is a ton of work. So while the plan right now is that he’ll make our garments, I’m ready to pull the trigger on pre-made garments if need be. That said, we’ve already picked out patterns for the clothes we want and have already bought the fabrics.


In terms of styling, I still don’t know if I even want to do any styling for the wedding. Like, I’ll get a haircut a week out that’s suitable, but otherwise I plan to wear that down and normal. I never wear makeup in my daily life (sensitive skin) so I might want to skip that too. Is that a terrible idea?

Fiancé knows that he wants to his usual hair stylist to prep his locks on the day of the wedding. His stylist has already agreed but also recently announced that he’s moving to Chicago. He noted that he plans to come back into town for the fall season since a lot of his clients are getting married then, but we should probably start looking for Plan B’s in case that falls through.


I know it’s probably gauche to rely on the labor of friends for a wedding, but in our defense there are some things we really prefer our friends be involved with.

For instance, officiating. Both fiancé and I come from mixed-religion families but neither of us are particularly religious. The things we value most are a sense of community and love toward one another. So we though it’d be nice if one of our friends officiated. I don’t know if this is a common thing everywhere, but it certainly is something many of my friends have considered or done for their own ceremonies. We felt it would be lovely if one of his friends in particular, who would have been his best man if we had a wedding party and is the picture-perfect definition of a Lawful Good alignment, would do us the honor. He’s accepted which is thrilling for us, but I want to make sure we give him some material to work with (without being overbearing) so he doesn’t have to work from scratch and we overburden his kindness.

Similarly, another one of his friends is a hobbyist photographer who is amazingly good. It was her wonderful and whimsical photographs, posted onto Fiancé’s online dating profile, that piqued my interest in Fiancé in the first place. We asked if she would be willing to photograph our wedding and whether she had a going rate. While she seemed thoroughly excited for us and graciously offered to help us for free (and some wedding food), we don’t really feel comfortable with that arrangement. Photography is a lot of work so at the very least, we want to give her a token $250 or so to show our appreciation. I still feel a bit guilty we’re being cheap here. I don’t know, thoughts?

Lastly on the labor list, we still have to figure out whether we should get a day-of coordinator or an attendant (i.e. someone who can help clean the park bathrooms). It would help relieve some of the stresses on the big day, but then of course there’s always the consideration of money.


We were planning on Fiancé’s violin instructor, who is just a stunning musician, play at our ceremony. However she recently got accepted to a big-name conservatory in New York so she will be moving before our wedding. She’s promised to help find someone that can play– there’s a very good conservatory here and lots of musicians floating around. But we probably should be prepared if this falls through.

For the reception, Fiancé will be preparing a playlist for dancing / easy listening purposes. He thoroughly enjoys setting the soundtrack for performance events so this is right up his alley. He’s also mentioned that he’s been secretly putting together this playlist (for a hypothetical wedding) in his head pretty much his entire life. So, we’ll be taking the low-key route on that item.


We used Paperless Post for our invitations.


The only stationery we’ll theoretically need on top of that is for thank you notes. Do we have to write thank you notes if we tell people not to bring gifts and to donate to charity instead? I’m really lazy. Also, I have never personally valued correspondence I’ve received as mere formality, though I understand this sentiment isn’t shared by all (most?).


The appeal of flowers is lost on me.

I remember one time I was at a quiz bowl tournament in high school. Each table had a pot of daisies in the center. Bored out of my mind at listening to introductory speeches, I started picking at and then eating the daisies. Which led to the rest of our team looking at me very strangely and then after a few minutes also picking at and eating the daisies with me.

So yeah, flowers. Food, friend, foe, decorative purpose? I don’t know. I imagine we might get a brooch for him and I guess flowers for the tables maybe? Or maybe not, because they are insanely expensive? Still on the fence here.

Second Reception

Around the same time as the wedding, either a couple weekends before or after, we’d like to have a second reception for all our local friends and acquaintances who we couldn’t invite to the wedding itself (since we’re trying to keep it small). Our thought is to have this after-party at a local roller skating rink and pay for folks’ shoe rentals and greasy rink food.

via PfeifferPhotos

Cost Breakdown

Here’s the total cost of everything for our wedding, along with our previous budget.


Note that since MIL is covering catering, we’re responsible for only $3750 of the above. That said, this is starting to get significantly more expensive than I had imagined. And we’re trying to keep things simple and small with an estimated head count of 65 people. Sigh. *braces self for overages to come*

How much did you or would you spend on your wedding? Would you ask a friend to help “work” your wedding? Are written thank you notes important? What’s the appeal of flowers? Any other tips?

How Much Will My Wedding Cost?

We’ve been engaged less than a month and I’m already emotionally done with our wedding. Especially when it comes to the money. Based on initial back of the envelope calculations, our modest park wedding for 65 plus a casual second reception for 35 friends who don’t make the cut for the main event will cost around $5750.

A part of me thinks that’s just ridiculous. We could do a lot with that kind of money. We could travel internationally for a month. We could donate it to help 2000 people get malaria nets. We could invest it in our future-children’s college fund where, twenty years from now, it could pay about a semester of tuition, room, and board.

But on the other hand we want to have a nice outdoor gathering for our friends and family to celebrate this occasion with us (Fiancé welled up in tears when he saw the intended ceremony site). We want there to be music and good food and dancing and possibly a scavenger hunt if we can manage to plan that too. So the best I can do for the moment at least is project and cost management. At which, luckily, I’m decent.

Here’s the breakdown of our wedding budget (total of $5750):

  • Venue, furniture rental, decoration – $1000
  • Catering, beverages, cake, utensils – $2350
  • Clothing, makeup, rings – $925
  • Labor: officiant, photographer, attendant – $525
  • Music, ceremony only – $250
  • Stationery – $100
  • Flowers – $100
  • Casual second reception – $500

The biggest cost, by far, looks like it’ll be the catering. Who knew feeding a tiny village would be expensive? This number is based on food truck catering. It can go up if we use a real caterer and go down (slightly) if we self-cater. If we can get Fiancé’s father to grill up some burgers and bring crudites and other appetizers from a local mediterranean restaurant, we can probably cut that number by around $500-750.

After that, the biggest monetary gains would come if we nixed the park reception altogether and did a restaurant reception instead. We’d have no reception venue cost, no need for attendant, and it’d be much easier to coordinate food. But that would entirely change the feel of the occasion, which we want to be more activity-filled, outdoors, and family-oriented.

Sigh, this all seems like a lot of time, energy, and resources for an event nobody will remember a month afterward.

How much is too much to pay for a wedding? What was your budget for the big day?