If you can get this guy to perform your ceremony, that would be awesome. He’s probably really expensive though, those crazy fancy hats don’t grow on trees, you know. In my professional opinion, he would be worth taking out a loan and feeding your guests Ramen.

Ceremony – 2%: site fee, officiant fee or donation, misc.

This is going to be an expense that depends on where you want to have your ceremony, and who you’d like to officiate it. Having your ceremony and reception in the same place is an easy way to cut costs on decor and the extra space. If having your ceremony in a church is something important to you, you’ll have to pay for it, and figure out a reception space as well.

Churches and traditional officiants will charge you a fee. An easy way around this is to have a friend or family member ordained to perform your ceremony at your reception space. Having a friend or relative officiate can be a really touching gesture, as long as the officiant in question doesn’t think they’re soooo funny.

Wedding Rings – 2%: bride’s ring, groom’s ring.

I understand why this is included in the budget breakdown, but it almost feels like something separate. You’ll pay for each other’s rings, and you should start setting money aside for them as soon as you get engaged. Luckily, good men’s rings can be found for really great prices. Again, try Etsy. There are lots of gorgeous titanium and silver men’s rings from vendors on Etsy for less than $100. As for your ring, chances are a band came with the engagement ring. If not, to keep it in budget, you may have to settle for something simple until there’s more money for something else.

Transportation – 1%: limo for bride and groom, limo for bridal party, transportation for out-of-town guests, valet and misc.






Take your own car, carpool, caravan, whatever.

UGH! Budget breakdown is OVER!! Finally! I like money, but I hate talking about financial limitations.

Now, we can finally get into real, fun things!

Don’t worry, everyone! I’m back! We’ve been out-of-town for a wedding since Friday, and yesterday I was just feelin’ sort of uninspired. Not to fear though, I’ve rearranged the order of my last few posts in this budget series, and I’m back on track. It is just really hard to feel excited over officiant fees. I’ve decided to tackle that tomorrow, and move forward to something I always love: pretty, pretty paper goods!

Stationery – 2%: save the date cards, invitations and RSVPs, programs, seating and place cards, menu cards, thank you cards, postage and misc.

There are two important things to remember when searching for wedding stationery:

1. Your invitations will be the first impression of your wedding to your guests.

2. Your invitations are eventually going into the garbage. Just like everything else from your stupid wedding.

Ultimately, these two things can be at odds with each other. The first inclination is to buy something amazing, but it’s hard to spend all that money on something that people are just going to throw away.

Invitations can be EXPENSIVE! But, fortunately, it’s also easy to get really cute stationery suites for a budget friendly price. Target and Michael’s both sell complete invitation kits that include everything you’d need to get your invitations sent out. They range in price from about $25.00-$35.00 for packs of 30-50. You have to print them yourself, but your guests would never know the difference.

If you want something a little quirkier and more whimsical, Printable Press has GORGEOUS designs. They don’t actually sell you the physical invitations. They sell you the PDF of your design, and you print as many as you want yourself. The pricing depends on what you want to include, but you can get away with just invitations and response cards for $100.

Unless a significant amount of your guest list will be coming in from out-of-town, Save the Date cards aren’t really necessary. They’re fun, they’re cute, but they’re also just an extra expense if you don’t really need them.

You’re going to absolutely need invitations, response cards, thank you cards and postage. Everything else, you can do without.

Programs are totally unnecessary, and if you really feel the need to tell people what they’re having for dinner, a large board in your reception or dinner area would work just fine.

Seating and place cards can also be disregarded. Making a seating chart is fucking annoying anyways, and people are more than adept at finding a seat on their own. The only reason we did it, is because we really wanted our friends to get to know each other. I made place cards that turned out beautiful, but they took days to do, and made my lower back go out. Fabulous, but I’m not sure if they were worth it. However, if you want to have them, they can be easily made for about $20. If you feel like putting yourself through the same hand-cramping torture I did, I’ll be doing a how-to on my place cards in the next week or so. If you’re not going to make seating charts, to avoid any confusion, just be sure to clearly reserve your bridal party and family tables.

This could be an opportunity for you to get really creative. Realize this though; if you decide to hand make your invitations, and then give up halfway through, it isn’t saving you any money. You really have to know your limitations, and have a good idea as to how much time you truly have. I’m a major advocate of paying people to do things for me. There were many times I wished I could pay someone to finish my place cards, but we were on a seriously limited budget. If you think you can make your own invitation suite, more power to you. I think you’ll probably eventually be kicking yourself in the ass. But, hey. Prove me wrong! It’s not easy to do.

Next, we’ll tie up the loose ends on this budget series. Thank. GOD!

Photo: Hello Lucky!

The cheapest gift of all is probably not appropriate for your grandma.

Favors & Gifts – 3%: welcome gifts for out-of-town guests, bridal-party gifts and misc.

Welcome gifts for out-of-town guests. Welcome gifts for out-of-town guests?! You’re planning a wedding, not the gift suite backstage at some lame awards show.

Look, people will come to your wedding if they can. Everybody will want to make it, not everybody will make it, but you don’t have to award prizes to the people who can. And nobody wants your monogrammed tote bags, or whatever. Anyone that had to travel a long distance to your wedding, doesn’t need a bunch of extra crap to take back home with them. The entire concept of this is so ridiculous to me, I don’t even have anything else to say about it. I don’t have a budget friendly idea. If you’re on a very limited budget for your wedding, don’t do this. Nobody expects it, nobody really wants it, and you don’t need the extra stress.

Gifts for your bridal party are an entirely different matter. These are friend and family members who have spent time and money just for the honor of participating in your wedding. Dresses, suits, hair appointments, nails, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, bachelor parties, errands, evenings spent helping you stuff envelopes. It’s important to show your appreciation to them and send them home with something to remember your wedding day by besides an ugly dress and uncomfortable shoes. Again though, nobody wants your monogrammed key chains or picture frames with your wedding date on it. It’ll just go into a box, and your friends will eventually have to feel guilty about throwing it away.

A really good gift for your bridesmaids is jewelry to match their dresses. Interesting, beautiful, classic pieces that can (truly) be worn again are always welcome. For my bridesmaids, I scoured the Renegade Craft Fair here in Los Angeles looking for their gifts. I bought sexy, dangly earrings for two of my girls, and then found a booth that sold necklaces made out of vintage dress clips, shoe clips, and clip-on earrings. I stood there forever pawing through everything they had, trying to decide which piece best suited each remaining bridesmaid. The couple that ran the booth were more than willing to do everything the could to help me find gifts, and even gave me a discounted price since I was buying about 8 pieces from them. Dealing directly with the person who made the jewelry is a great way to get unique gifts at a good price. My friends loved their gifts, and hopefully, they’ll wear them over and over again. These friends have done more for you than anybody else has. Buy them something nice.

I’m not sure if this category counts favors for your wedding guests, but I’m going to talk about it here anyways. The same basic rules apply: nothing dated, nothing monogrammed. The only dated and monogrammed wedding favor I’ve ever received, that gets used regularly, was a pint glass. And that’s because cold beers, in cold pint glasses are awesome and deliciously refreshing. My friends that gave those away at their wedding, definitely knew their audience. Otherwise, these favors go home for a while, they float around various junk drawers for a while, and then they go into the garbage when I move. The best favors, if they’re not delivery methods for booze, will always be edible.

We stressed and stressed over our wedding favors. Nothing sounded good, and the things that did sound good, were way out of our price range. We finally decided on something edible, and started narrowing things down. No hard-ass Jordan almonds or pillow mints. Maybe M&M’s? We went around and around trying to figure something out. The sticking point for me was this: every wedding I’ve ever been to, I’ve seen tables full of left behind favors. People don’t want them, or they forget them, and they just end up in the trash faster. I kept imaging putting dollar bills directly into the garbage. Basically, that’s what it amount to. Your guests will eat edible favors. They’ll snack on them before dinner, they’ll eat them before cake, they’ll find them when they’re taking a break from dancing. Candy buffets are played, cupcakes are way over, but cookies are forever. Don’t get me wrong, candies and cupcakes will always be yummy. But, it’s like, I get it, you like cupcakes…you must be so different!! Not really. It just means you couldn’t think of anything better. ZING! The only ways I can condone candy buffets or cupcakes, is if you’re throwing an Alice in Wonderland or Marie Antoinette styled wedding. That’s it. If you’re going to have candy, make it something seriously yummy. Fancy caramels or truffles, something that you won’t mind eating if it gets left behind. That should really apply to anything you decided to go with. If they get left behind, you’re going to end up eating them.

We had our caterer make shortbread cookies with homemade jam thumbprints in the middle. They were sooooo good! And since she just tacked them onto our dinner quote, she made them for about 79 cents a person. They even bagged them and tied them up with ribbon. We had very few left over, and they were all gone the next day. I considered them to be a very successful favor, and our guests did too. Ask your caterer for ideas, you’ll probably end up with a better price than if you had bought from a bakery or boutique store.

Of course, the other option is to not have favors at all. I’ve been to several weddings where this was the case, and I didn’t notice until long after the fact. People probably won’t even realize there aren’t favors, and if they do, it’s not likely they’ll care.

The ultimate things to remember about wedding favors are that you don’t want to saddle your guests with junk, and you’re trying to save money, so it’s best not to buy things that are tantamount to throwing your cash directly into the garbage.

The favors for your wedding and the gifts for your bridal party should be gifts of appreciation. Buy appropriately, spend reasonably and try to think of your guests and friends when you do. You’ll end up with gifts they’ll love and favors that aren’t a huge waste.

Next up: I have no clever way to say “ceremony fees.”

Noted Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker thinks you need to Smize. Also, don’t stick out your chest so much, it makes you look porny. And, please, please, please try not to look like you’re sitting on the toilet.

Photography & Video – 10%: photography, videography, additional prints/albums and misc.

This is an area that’s definitely worth cutting that cheesy string quartet for. The drinks and food will be gone that night, your dress will go shoved into the closet, your flowers will be dead within a week, but your photos and video will be forever. The one thing, besides a new spouse, that you’ll take from this day are your images. Want to remember that day the way it was to you? Hire a good photographer. I was in such a haze the entire day of our wedding, I felt like my eyes wouldn’t focus. It’s been really great to get our photos back, and finally SEE everything. We got back nearly 1,000 pictures, and I’ve intently studied every one.

When looking for a photographer, you’ll want to find someone who has a style similar to yours. If you’re a couture bride with fashion sensibilities, you’re not going to want  a photographer that takes a hundred prom style pictures of your and your groom. You’ll get your pictures back, and hate them. And you know what? There are no reshoots on this day.

Check out portfolios and websites. See a bunch of matching sweater/white background photos? Pass. Lots of babies in assorted pumpkin patches? No, thank you. It might take a little work, especially if you live in a smaller town, but if you can find a photographer with a distinct creative style and a keen editorial eye, you’ll be set.

So, you found this amazing photographer. Are they a colossal asshole? DO NOT WORK WITH THEM. On your wedding day, there should only be room for one demanding starlet, and it should be you. Mothers, bridesmaids and vendors need not apply. Do your best to find someone who you can easily spend time with. This person will be following you around on one of the most stressful days of your life, they shouldn’t be an added, all day annoyance.

We were very lucky to find our photographer. I had been searching and searching for a photographer that fit our aesthetic, and had come up empty. I really just stumbled upon her card, and when we saw her photos, we were IN LUST. She was around our age and seemed to share a lot of common interests. Most important of those interests: good photography. We met up with her, she liked my Shins t-shirt, and the rest really was history. I am not a huggy person, but every time we met with her, I had to fight the urge to squeeze her. Our engagement and save the date photos came out absolutely gorgeous, and our wedding pictures are TO DIE. TO. DIE. Once the photos started being passed around, she quickly became a major celebrity among the members of my family. Her team was amazing, she was amazing, and our photos are amazing. These things are not a coincidence.

My mom wanted me to find someone cheaper. She thought we were overspending, and yes, we went over our alloted budget to work with the photographer we wanted. But, it has been more than worth it. She went above and beyond our expectations, and I plan to give lots of pictures of myself to family members for Christmas this year. It was worth the Veruca caliber whining I did to convince my mom to let it go. Why was I even arguing the point when we were the ones who wrote the check to her? I don’t know. I like it when my mom is on board with my ideas. So what? Spend the extra money here, on someone you want, and you’ll be happy. This is a subject where I really can’t, within reason, condone cutting corners.

A lot of cost cutting wedding blogs and articles will advise you to have a friend take your pictures. Unless your friend is a professional photographer, I really can’t think of a worse idea. You don’t want your friend trying out new effects on your wedding day. This isn’t like hitting play on an iPod, or making a cake. If your pictures don’t come out, it can be truly crushing. I’ve had friends that hated their pictures, and they will only serve as a constant reminder that you didn’t get what you wanted. I would freak out. Seriously. Then again, this would never happen to me. I went out of my way to make sure it wouldn’t.

I know this post is sounding like a review of my photographer, and not general advice. But, my general advice to you, is to find someone who will give you the same experience I had. Years from now, you’ll be glad you did.

Tomorrow, favors that aren’t sexual in nature.

Is this your wedding singer? No? Then you should probably have a deejay.

Music – 10%: ceremony musicians, cocktail-hour musicians, reception band/deejay or entertainment, sound/dance floor rental and misc.

Everyone is really so happy to see you get married. And, yeah, it’s nice to have dinner and cake. But really, your friends are there to get their party on. Probably you guys used to party every weekend, and a few days during the week. But now, everyone has kids and real jobs. The parties have been relegated to wedding receptions and the odd birthday or holiday. You love your friends, right? It’s up to you to make sure they get their freak on!

The entire time I was planning our wedding, when I’d freak out about paper lanterns or some bullshit, I’d remind myself of what our pastry chef told us on our first meeting with him, “Don’t let yourself get too stressed out about the little things. People aren’t going to remember what they had for dinner, or what your flowers looked like. They’re going to remember whether or not they had a good time.”

And that’s really true.

I’ve been to approximately 57639572638 weddings. I don’t remember the details of most of them. What I do remember is whether or not I danced the shit out of it. Was there a break dance fight? Did I do the Humpty Dance? These are the important questions, and the answer to both should be YES.

Luckily, it’s really easy to cut costs in this area without affecting whether or not your guests have a good time. I don’t recommend it, but you can cut out a deejay or band altogether. This rarely works out very well. Unfortunately, you sort of need someone to keep things moving. This is where a deejay comes in handy. If you have a friend you trust to man an iPod and a microphone, by all means, hand it over. You’ll have to make a mix, and that’ll be one more thing to do. But, if it’s worth it to you to cut this expense, better fire up that internet and get to downloading! When some friends of ours got married earlier this year, the groom deejayed their reception. It worked out fine, so it can be done. It just opens you up to a whole other list of things that could go wrong. If your venue doesn’t have a sound system, you’ll have to rent or borrow one. If your laptop takes a spill, you’re fucked. However, like I said, it can be done, and it’s a completely reasonable option. In my opinion, unless you’re experienced like our friend, the deejay groom, it’s best to leave these things to professionals.

Most deejays have a set price for so many hours, and then additional hourly rates after that. The set number of hours probably isn’t enough for you to have your ceremony and reception without going into extra hours. That’s kind of the point. You don’t really need anyone to narrate the ceremony, cocktail hour or dinner, so you can totally get away with using an iPod during this time. We couldn’t afford to pay our deejay to do the wedding and the reception, so we used a wiped iPod and a good friend to set up the music during the ceremony and cocktail hour. We could have used our iPod during dinner too, since our deejay just stood there most of the time, but once it came time for toasts and cake cutting, we needed him. We were able to get the most out of our time with him by cutting all the stupid shit we hate.

Garter toss? Not in my short dress.

Bouquet toss? Fuck you.

Introductions, toasts, cake cutting, first dance, dance with my dad, and BOOM! DANCE PARTY!! We had it clicking along as quickly as possible. Let’s face it, usually I’m outside having a smoke when cake cutting happens. Your guests aren’t really that interested in these things. Get them to the pay-off! Give everyone a chance to wipe that tear away from your daddy/daughter dance and kick it!

Unless you’re on the grass, you don’t really need to rent a dance floor. Those things can get EXPENSIVE! We were originally going to have to rent one, and even a smallish one was going to cost $700. $700! Just make sure the area is designated, and it won’t matter. String some ribbon around it, put up some cones, shit, I don’t care. Just make it known. Usually, dancing in the area you want to be the dance floor will get the point across.

Of course, the alternative to a deejay or an iPod is a wedding band. I’m sorry, I just can’t get on board with this. It reeks of like, a boring rich lady wedding, and that isn’t the vibe you want. Plus, you’re supposed to feed AND tip all members of a wedding band. If you have some friends that are musically inclined, and they want to do a couple of songs, that’s awesome. Use those friends during your ceremony too! But, an actual wedding band is probably a bad idea. They most likely won’t do justice to “Push It,” so it’s best to not even give them a chance to mess it up.

The bottom line here is that you want your guests to have the best time possible. You’re going to need drinks and dancing. Thoroughly cover these things, and you’ll have a wedding people will remember! Throw a gorgeous wedding AND an awesome party, and, well, that makes you me. Good luck with that! No, seriously, you can do it! I believe in you! Just make sure you heed my advice about “The Humpty Dance.” People really, really like that.

Next in my “No money, mo’ problems” series, you’re going to make love to the camera.

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