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First draft of wedding budget: $15,000

May 28, 2009

I swear, I’ll write something related to normal personal finance soon.  In the meantime, here is my first draft of our wedding budget.

Our parents have each committed $5000, which leaves roughly $5000 for us.   If my parents have a good year (last year was bad) I wouldn’t be surprised if they give us a bit more, as the initial words from my mom were “at least $5000”.  But who knows, as they’ll probably have to pay for lodging as well.

I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to spend $5000 of our own money.  I should be able to save it up by October, no problem (mostly due to a sudden $525/mo decrease in rent).  Since T already bought a ring (and our money is going to eventually be merged anyway), we might use my savings account for the wedding expenses for now.  He certainly has the cash to help, but his earning power is less.  (He doesn’t know this yet, but I’m going to encourage him to start contributing to his IRA instead…  Hear that T?)



  • I have no idea what these things cost, so I guessed on a lot of items
  • It is still very much TBD how we are going to handle the reception.  I decided to nix a party in my homestate (would only be for a few relatives, most of my friends have moved on) and instead we’ll just go visit home afterwords.  No party.  This means 10-15 of my relatives that would not have came to CA before now might will show up.  I still hope to spread the word that the whole affair is going to be low key and simple so no one feels pressured to show up.  But we have to be prepared for the whole crowd.
  • Which makes the idea of renting a large home and trying to throw a low key reception there more dicey.  It is still on the table, but I also found a restaurant that can do a sit down dinner for $45/plate (+tip+tax).  That will be more expensive, but also much less stress.  We’d need catered food anyway.  So now that, and other restaurants, are on the table.   As well as a couple other options.  Still trying to figure this out
  • I put $1000 for the wedding band, but then T told me that I probably should get the band that matches my ring.  The plain one is ~$750 and the fancy one with sparkles is over $2000.  We’ll have to try some on, but initially I want the sparkles since I don’t have sidestones in my ring.  But we’ll see.
  • Credit to Paranoid Asteroid — I used her wedding budget as a starting point of how to format it and such.
  • I didn’t include bridesmaid dresses, but I might pay for them out of my personal clothing budget.  I’m having my two sisters (none of my friends — I think they’ll be ok with that) and letting them pick their own coordinating or matching dresses.
  • The honeymoon will be saved for as well, but I don’t think it is fair to count it as a wedding expense, because it is a vacation that I’ve been dying to take anyway.
  • I do not think we will get $5000 worth of gifts.  My family is not like that.  And I’m totally fine with that.
22 Comments leave one →
  1. SoCal Savvy permalink
    May 28, 2009 11:06 am

    I know you’re probably not even thinking of details yet, but if I would have done a beach wedding I would have done these to save myself $15 per bouttoniere.

  2. May 28, 2009 11:17 am

    Wow – it must all be so exciting.

    My initial reaction to the ring was that you’re going to be wearing that 24-7 for the rest of your life, it seems like something worthwhile to splurge on, and it is still fairly reasonable.

  3. May 28, 2009 11:20 am

    Good luck with all of this. I should really put up our budget one of these days. Thanks for the inspiration. I think I’ll show Bird the $100 you have budgeted for flowers and tell her that the $2000 estimate we got for flowers is a bit steep. 🙂

  4. May 28, 2009 11:26 am

    @SoCal Savvy – thanks! That is a great idea!

    @Jessie – Exciting, and a little overwhelming!

    @Forest – hahaha, I have a feeling Bird has bigger ideas for flowers than I do. And my estimate might be quite low! I’d love to see your budget!

  5. May 28, 2009 12:40 pm

    Bless you on behalf of this year’s beknighted bridesmaids burdened with Ug-Lee dresses. 🙂

    Looks good for a roughed out budget for now.

  6. May 28, 2009 2:27 pm

    Just a couple comments worth what you paid for them:

    I’d cut the tux. If he doesn’t already own a tux, he’s not a tux kind of guy, and tuxes don’t belong on the beach anyway.

    To have 50-60 people, you send out, what, 50 invitations (couples?). $150 might be hard to pull off.

    DON’T SKIMP ON HAIR AND MAKEUP. You have to live with those photos forever. The same is true for the photographer, I would argue, though you can get some photoshop work after the fact.

    You can have a friend do your engagement shots. If you have a good photographer, he should throw them in though.

    The wedding industry is hurting. It never hurts to ask vendors you don’t think you can afford to fit in your budget.

  7. May 28, 2009 2:36 pm

    @revanche – 🙂 I briefly worried about friends whose weddings I’ve been in wondering why they weren’t in mine… But I’m pretty sure they are just relieved.

    @Dog – thanks for your suggestions, esp. as you recently went through this. I suggested a non-tux option, but he’d probably still need to rent/buy something (khaki suit?). I’ll leave it up to him. I’ve looked at some photos, and you really can do it however you want it seems

    BTW “If he doesn’t already own a tux, he’s not a tux kind of guy”. EVERYONE i know has gotten married w/groom in the tux and NO ONE i know already owns tuxes. Just sayin’

    Thanks for the hair/make-up tip. I am nervous about letting someone else do my make up, but… Well, I have a long time to figure that out and how to find someone I trust. And I need to find a hair stylist I actually like…

  8. May 28, 2009 5:46 pm

    I work at bridal store and I just wanted to give you a heads up that just hemming a simple wedding dress is most likely going to run you more than 50 dollars. With some dresses that look simple and you wouldn’t think cost much to alter it ends up being a quarter or more of the price of the dress.

  9. El Cheapo permalink
    May 28, 2009 6:03 pm

    I’m with others on the no-tux for beach wedding thing. My best bud got married last summer in Kauai… the bride wore a sun dress and my bud a nice tailored white shirt. Looked beautiful!!

    Btw, the wedding posts are great!!! They are finance related too 😀

  10. May 28, 2009 7:05 pm

    @bakergirl – maybe i’m tall enough that hemming won’t be needed… with some tall flip flops? Haha, kidding (though they do make them!!) I’ll take that into consideration and research what a more realistic number might be.

    @El cheapo – I’m leaning no-tux as well, but T seemed to want to wear one. And my dress is not a sundress. It is not a gianty poufy thing, but it is an actual wedding dress.

    I’m glad you aren’t sick of them, but it has only been 1 month… 11ish more to go!

  11. jade permalink
    May 28, 2009 7:29 pm

    I’ll second bakergirl. I just got my wedding dress hemmed to take off five inches or so off the length of the dress – nothing else was altered – but it cost me $100, a quarter of the dress’s price! I shudder to think what it would have cost at David’s Bridal, where they try to sell $100+ tiaras!

  12. May 29, 2009 8:35 am

    My Dress alterations cost me over $350 this weekend. Ouch. Of course, I went with the bridal shop’s seamstress because it was easier that way. Most of the $$ was from decreasing the bust size.

    As far as Dog’s suggestion that you can’t pay $3/invitation, Chad an dI are using, and they’re more than reasonable. We expect to pay about that much, including response cards. It can be done!

  13. May 29, 2009 9:21 am

    My seamstress was the sewing instructor at the local hobby shop. She was INSANELY cheap. I had two dresses made for little girls, and two little boys’ vests, plus hemming my traditional dress (from eBay) and a cultural dress made from scratch for about $500.

    You can find women with sewing skills who need some extra cash if you poke around a little.

  14. May 29, 2009 9:21 am

    OMG, $350??? Eeeek! Ok, now I’m really hoping it will just fit. My last 2 bridesmaid dresses fit with no alterations… But one was tea length and the other had some crazy cincher on the side.

    Thanks for the invite site!

    Also, until someone mentioned it, I forgot that each person didn’t need their own invite. So I was estimating <$1 invite, which probably was an underestimate,

  15. May 29, 2009 9:27 am

    I use a seamstress in the Orange County area who is insanely cheap. She altered my formal dress, taking it in ALL over, for $35. For my newest, ugliest dress, she’s charging $20 for deal with the bust problems. I’m sure that she’d be much more reasonable than shop seamstresses, they’ve always tried to charge me more than 2x as much as my lady.

  16. May 29, 2009 9:52 am

    @revanche – i might have to get her name from you later on! I am not sure if I’ll get it altered here or back home, or exactly how the dress is going to be traveling cross country.

  17. June 2, 2009 4:46 am

    Ok I am a little late in commenting and have no personal wedding planning experience, but it all looks great and I think that $5K each is the perfect amount for both parents and you guys to pitch in. Congrats on getting a budget! I know that’s half the battle. 😉

  18. May 7, 2013 1:47 am

    Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy
    reading through your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the
    same topics? Thanks for your time!

  19. January 14, 2016 5:38 pm

    I know I’m waaaaaaaay behind on this but I just love finding wedding bugets. I’m married but I find it all still fascinating. I had no idea a destination wedding could cost so much. Did it end up being $15,000?


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