I came up with a budget quite a while ago right before we were officially engaged. Once I had the official proposal and after we visited many venues and narrowed it down to our few choices, I showed my budget to Mr. Fix It. He flipped out. He said that I needed to stick to a budget of $25,000 for 200 guests and that was it. Well, I reluctantly said I agreed...though I really didn't. Afterall, I was the one paying for pretty much the entire wedding! And as I mentioned before, I didn't have to go into debt to do so.
A few weeks later I began showing him some things for invitations and other ideas. He didn't like most of them and said some of them even looked 'cheap.' To which I responded "Well, if you want me to stick to $25,000 then some stuff is going to have to be cheap!" To that he agreed to bump our budget up to $27,000. (Wow, that extra $2,000 was going to do a lot for what I was going for - sort of.)
As of today, I know almost exactly how much I am spending on this wedding. And let's just say, that while I am not at the figure the honey asked me to stay at, I am in fact at the figure of the budget I originally showed him. :) So here's the final breakdown:
I don't personally mind talking about money but I know some people are put off by this or are easily offended and form many a personal opinion regarding such issues. So rather than giving a breakdown by specific dollar amounts, I will simply say that my budget is pretty firm at $36,000 for 200 guests. I will give you the breakdown by percentages and would love to hear how you fellow brides compare with your own expenses as far as what you put the most money towards or what your priorities were for spending. That way, a $5,000 bride can share that she spent 20% of her budget on the photography because that was like the end all be all of her big day for her. :)
Venue: 18% (Rancho Las Lomas - post coming very soon) This was like the one thing I absolutely had to have on wedding day. Mr. Fix It caved a bit on this one for me as he thought it was too much money even though he loved it, too. Unfortunately, the 18% is strictly the rental fee of the venue and does not include anything else...with just the venue, the guests would be standing around with no place to sit, no decor (other than it's gorgeous natural surroundings) and no food!
Catering: 34% I threw in the cost of all the rental items in this figure. They include tables, chivari chairs, dinner/serving wear and glasses, satin linens in aqua/turquoise and cranberry, amalfi benches for the cocktail area, ceremony chairs, cocktail tables, space heaters, etc. Because we booked on a Friday (off peak day) we were able to bring in an outside caterer. This was the only way we could afford the venue because their exclusive caterer on Saturdays quoted us $24,000 for only 180 guests with way less included than what our caterer is offering. Our final figure works out to about $60.00 per person for a buffet meal (each guests gets tri-tip AND chicken entree w/salad, rolls, and 3 additional sides). Also included in our catering was the cake, fruit and cheese/cracker display, two hot appetizers for cocktail hour, a chocolate fountain, unlimited soda and punch/lemonade, coffee service after the cake cutting, champagne and cider toast, 20 kids meals, 5 vendor meals and two bartenders for 8 hours for the cash bar. While we were amazed at the deal we got compared to the five or six other catering companies we'd contacted, we are a little concerned about this caterer being familiar with our venue. The venue truly is a blank slate as the kitchen has counters and a sink with unfiltered water, but no fridges, no ovens, no stoves, no microwaves...nothing! The caterer will need to handle all of this.
Photographer: 4.5% Love my photographer...he gave me a phenomenal deal. No prints or albums...I just wanted the high resolution images to be able to do with as I please. I'm getting him and a 2nd photographer for 8 hours.
Videographer: 5% Love my videographer as well...a key important vendor in my opinion. He knows what he's talking about and will send me ridiculously long e-mail responses to my fears and requests to let me know that he plans on doing a great job on our big day! He is offering 10 hours of service and not promising but hoping to bring along a 2nd shooter and some 'extras.'
DJ: 4% He was the DJ at a friend's wedding. He and his business partner were perfect for me. He is super duper detail oriented and professional and his side kick is super funny and energetic and knows how to get people dancing and entertain them. So I was thrilled to meet with them. They have an insane web site that allows us to log in and create our online playlists from their vast music library filling in things like what songs we want for the processional, recessional, first dance, bouquet toss, etc. Included in our contract is the ceremony songs and audio setup of speakers and mics for the officiant, groom, vocalist, etc, cocktail hour music, reception music and emcee services. I am also getting about 18 perimeter uplights for the reception room, pinspot lighting on the cake table, and a custom GOBO light of our names and date (that I will be designing soon) to display on the fireplace above our sweetheart table.
Stationery: 5.4% I found a company that creates custom designed invitations and wedding related stationery who is amazing. The designer, Stacia, has worked with me and my many revisions to come up with our personal invitations. We will use the design on the invites to create ceremony seating cards (10), menu cards (5), place cards (200), table markers (20), programs (200) etc. Also included in this budget item are my DIY STD's, stamps, thank you cards, escort card/favor boxes, guestbook, favor tags (200), etc. My sister helped me out with the DIY items so this was a mix of both professional and DIY projects.
Attire: 5% This includes my gown, shoes, jewelry, alterations, the groom's ring, my daughter's dress/shoes, and garters. Mom helped offset the cost of my gown by paying 2/3 of it for me (not included) and my honey offered to pay for my professional hair and makeup artist for me and my daughter as a wedding day gift.
Photobooth: 3% This was a must for me and part of the reason Mr. Fix It doesn't know that our budget has gone over a bit...it's a surprise for him (and the guests) and also is incorporated into my guest book which I will be posting about soon.
Wedding Day Coordinator: 2.8% Another must for me and also another thing Mr. Fix It didn't know I snuck into the budget. She brings two assistants and runs the rehearsal the day before and the entire wedding the day of. She deals with the vendors, runs the ceremony, sets up all my favors and extras
Valet: 1.8% Required by our venue and actually kind of needed. Turns out Mr. Fix It knows the owner of the required valet company (a former customer of Mr. Fix It's). They bartered for half the service so I paid half and Mr. Fix It paid the other half in services.
Cocktail hour entertainment: 1% We hired a magician to stroll around the guests at our cocktail hour and entertain them with card tricks, slight of hand tricks, etc. See my previous post about how we found Jeff Ezell and how cool he is!
If you are still reading this, you may notice there is about 9 % of my budget missing. This amount was spent on various miscellaneous things including but not limited to: marriage license, dance lessons, flat screen tv rental for slideshow, gifts for wedding party, memorial candles/vases, votive candles and decor, favors, officiant's fee, OOT boxes/items, cake topper, kids favors, flip flops (see future post), and web site.
Not included in *my* budget is the rehearsal dinner (being paid by groom's parents), honeymoon (being paid by groom), my engagement ring (obviously), and groom's tux (will be free).
There you have it - please don't slam me for basically spending a down payment on a house on our one day event. The truth is, I never in a million years would have thought that I would be able to afford something like this on my own without maxing out credit cards but by the grace of God I am able to bring all of our family and friends together to celebrate the main purpose of all this craziness: the love and union of me and Mr. Fix It and our families as we take the step into amazing phase of our lives...that's really what it's all about - not percentages or gowns or how nice your centerpiece is.