$13,000 Well Spent

This is a little humbling, because I never thought I would be the type of person to write this: My most memorable purchase in 2012 was definitely my wedding. It was dirt cheap by wedding industrial complex standards (around $13,000 all in), but still a large sum of money as far as my now-husband and I were concerned.

I kept track of actual and anticipated expenses throughout the planning process, but we actually never set a firm budget. A lot of people would say this is a bad idea, and they’re probably right, but it worked for us.

Basically, we just approached wedding planning with as much sanity and commitment to our honest preferences as we could. Luckily, we also have sane families, both of whom helped us a lot throughout the process. We paid for the wedding ourselves, which I’m really proud of. This also meant we had a strong incentive to only spend money on things that mattered the most to us. The wedding and the week leading up to it were even more fun than I had imagined. The sun shone, there was a big tent, everyone danced. The dearest people in the world to us were all there.

It’s easy to get worried, amidst the muck and mess of wedding planning, that the event you’re creating may not end up being, say, thirteen thousand total dollars worth of fun. I know I had that concern. What does that amount of fun even look or feel like? Might you regret spending all that money? I don’t feel any closer to quantifying it for anyone else, but for me it was completely worth it.

Courthouse affairs aside, I think it’s impossible to have a wedding without accidentally spending some money on a few things you ultimately don’t need or use and, being a worrier, that stressed me out a little at the time. Despite our best planning, some things did go wrong. Ultimately, none of it mattered.

 

Leda Marritz is the Creative Director at DeepRoot Green Infrastructure. She lives in San Francisco.

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7 Comments / Post A Comment

Joella (#2,917)

Well you have to tell us what those things were! Did you decide to have an indoor or outdoor wedding? Did you do a cost-benefit analysis on having an open bar? WHAT HAPPENED

loren smith (#2,300)

@Joella I want to know too! I was married in August for about this much money, and I would be happy to share if you’re interested.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Joella I had a wedding this year also for roughly this amount of money! I think that 10-13 grand has become the “as little as you can spend to have catered food and an open bar for 100 people at a paid venue” because, really, I don’t see how you can spend much less without a)having it in a home or some free venue b)nixing having a meal or an open bar c)cutting the guest list WAY down. My SIL had a wedding in her backyard with 30 people and her dad cooked the food. So that was alot cheaper and more intimate and super fun, sure, but it also required ALOT more work on everyone’s part (as in, the guests had to set up the tables after the ceremony because the reception was being held in the same tent.)

ledamarritz (#3,069)

@Joella @shannowhamo @eemusings@twitter Sorry for the slow reply! We were able to get married on a family property, so our big costs were catering, which was a buffet (approx. $4,000), tent and party rentals (approx. $4500), booze (approx $1400?), a boat (we were on an island), and other various costs and rentals. We didn’t have a wedding party, or a planner, or a seating chart, or a DJ (we created an iPod mix and it was totally great). Instead of a big fancy cake we had cupcakes. A family friend kindly agreed to do the photography for a modest fee, which saved us a huge chunk of money. Since we were getting married outside we didn’t need decorations or many flowers. My dress was a $350 cocktail shift by Lauren Moffatt. So that pretty much sums up how we kept costs low! It was the happiest day.

Yay! I’ll be getting hitched next year for about half that amount – we’re not setting a super strict budget either but I’m pretty clear about what’s important to me and what I have to have vs what I don’t.

shannowhamo (#845)

I didn’t have a strict budget either but I did not want to come away from that awesome day feeling like I got got by the wedding industrial complex. I wanted to feel proud that I didn’t just spend money on things just because it’s what you’re supposed to do. You CAN spend $90 a plate on a seated dinner (which, real talk, never tastes much better than “that wasn’t bad”) or you can pay $20 a head for a BBQ buffet (obviously, that’s what we did and it was a huge hit.) Basically, like you said, figure out the cost of the things that really matter and then adjust everything from there. We had no cake (just desserts provided by the caterer)used my Ipod as the DJ, open bar (but well only, which my mom still says was cheap) BUT I also didn’t mind paying for things to make it easier on me because I’m too impatient/lazy to craft day in and day out but I still wanted some unique touches…to etsy! My friend who got married recently crafted every little thing and it just seemed so stressful- I do think that craft-labor and craft anxiety “cost” something, too. OH and we got a very affordable “day-of” planner to set things up, take things down, and keep things running smoothly the day-of and she was priceless (well, $450 was her price, but she was priceless.)

loren smith (#2,300)

@shannowhamo Yes, this is exactly what we did, expect taco truck instead of bbq and a wine/beer/cider open bar instead of well. I’m so happy with the way everything went.

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