Sunday, July 10, 2011

Our BIG Day: The Details

This post follows up to my advice in keeping your wedding simple and affordable--and most of all, true to who you are as a couple. Most articles I've read advise to hoard away at least $25,000 for an average wedding. Blasphemy, I say!

Our wedding was budgeted for $5,000. We only went over budget about $800 and there was not any feeling of regret, cheapness or wrong-doing. Simple logistics will cut thousands out of your budget. Vesting the power of your own creativity and utilizing talented friends will help out quite a bit too.

Believe it or not, after we booked our venues, we had three months to seriously plan our wedding. I believe this time crunch is how we were able save money. What? How? Well, when you are restricted on time, you don't buy frivolous items and change your mind a zillion times. You are forced to make a decision and be resourceful with what you have. You also realize what unimportant details you can waste money on and what is really vital to make a wedding come together. I religiously used one of the budgeting spreadsheets that was part of my Apple computer program. This kept me in check with what money I had left to play with.

I found my dress upon a serendipitous outing in a small town we stopped into last year. While browsing the boutique, my husband spotted this amazingly unique white tulle, handmade prom dress, circa 1940-50s. I tried it on and it fit. I purchased it for $190. It had several rips and tears, but I was able to devote time to give it a facelift and add a few ornate details to it. No need to spend $1,000+ for a new dress to wear only once. My husband found his vintage western-style suit at a thrift store for $7. (I know, not fair at all!) He had to drop about $100 to get it custom-tailored but again, still spent less than what a new suit or suit rental would cost.
Our ceremony was officiated by a friend for free, in the morning, at the city's botanical garden. The gardens were cheap because it is a public space. Not one stranger bothered us. (I don't think too many folks wanted to wake up to stroll the gardens in full force around 10:00 am anyway.) It was a standing ceremony, thus, no need  to rent chairs. We wrote our own vows and kept it short. We had a couple of talented friends play the ukulele and acoustic guitar. We did not have a wedding party. Every guest was part of our wedding. We asked that they bless the vintage lock and key that our rings were dangling on before we exchanged vows. Here we are unlocking the lock that belonged to my husband's great-grandfather.
The reception was at a popular barbeque restaurant that was located lakeside. We had a completely private area of the restaurant and the grounds outside, for an extremely small fee. Tables and chairs were provided by the restaurant at no extra cost. We were able to rent white tablecloths for $5 per table through the restaurant. We were able to provide food and alcoholic beverages for our guests for approximately $26 per head. We managed this low cost because we chose only beer and wine, purchased the wine by the case and chose the most economical menu item. Since it was a lunch reception, we did not feel the burden to serve a heavy three-course meal. I believe that psychologically, most folks do not drink as much during the mid-day hours as they would at night. Cost savings right there, my friend.
We had three amazing bands play--two of which are friends, and the third band was a terrific bluegrass band we have befriended at an annual festival we volunteer at. Given the circumstance, we saved thousands of dollars on music.
Decor & Floral:
The decorations were of a simple and minimalist natural style. We saved thousands here too. Through the help of our friends, it all came together. I had purchased a mix of wildflowers and sunflowers at the grocery store and at a wholesale flower shop, totaling only $60. Since flowers can add up, they were watered down (so to speak) with feathers and rosemary and I also made about 60 terrariums of old Mason Jars and reused pasta jars. The terrariums were completely free--I used plants from our back yard and out-of-control succulents that propagate like crazy. The best of the floral bunch were used for my bouquet and my husband's boutonniere. One of our good friends patiently assembled them both around 2 am the night before the wedding.
I can't get over how expensive tiered cake can be. I understand the art of cake-making and the cost is completely justified. We just couldn't afford it. We used a local cupcake shop and made our own cupcake towers and cake plates. Our cake topper only cost us $4--we purchased two little warbler birds at the craft store and dressed them up with scrap fabric. We wired them on a decorative twig and were topped on our little 6-inch cutting cake. Cupcakes bring out the nostalgia in most, so how can you go wrong? We saved around $1,000 by going the cupcake route.
Our photographer, Lynne Allan, was a gal I had befriended in my Photography 1 class a few years back. She was just starting out in the field, so she basically shot photos for our wedding at much lower percentage than a seasoned professional photographer. I am extremely pleased with her work! She documented our wedding better than any other work I've seen out there. She had a wonderful, personable angle, and documented our wedding perfectly. I recommend her to anyone looking for a photographer in the San Antonio and Austin area.

We did not need to rent a vehicle for our getaway. My husband is the king of vintage car collecting. We escaped in his 1961 VW Westfalia bus, all in its original glory. We have had several wonderful camping memories in this bus, so it was only natural to drive away in it. My husband also strapped on the vintage luggage for the added touch of the honeymooner look.
Love is the main reason behind a marriage. Let the wedding be simple. Let it be true. Let what will happen, happen. Don't fuss over the details. Most importantly, have a great time!!!
(all photos courtesy Lynne Allan Photography)