I founded this website after I discovered that weddings are a heck of a lot more expensive than I ever imagined. You can read all about my dream-shattering realization about wedding expenses (and probably relate to it a little bit) here.
Long story short, I planned my wedding budget-first. Popular wedding media asks you to dream big and then reverse-engineer your way into paying for those dreams. ("How can I afford this amazing idea?") I turned this concept on its head and it saved soooo much stress! ("I have this much money, what can I do with it?")
The budget goal was $6,000 for our 70-guest June wedding. We actually spent $5,800. This is an actual list of everything, mistakes and all.
Could we have had a cheaper wedding? Certainly. This is not a case study of the absolute most affordable wedding possible in Kansas City. (You can find sample budgets for smaller weddings here.) We made mistakes with over-purchasing and we certainly splurged on luxuries that you don't need for a lovely wedding day. So please don't feel like our budget signals "you must be this tall to ride"!
Read on for a down-and-dirty 100% honest budget breakdown for our affordable wedding!
The Gist Of It
Most wedding budgets tell you to break down ceremony expenses versus reception expenses. We had our event all in one building, so here's one big event breakdown.
By using coupons and sales, we saved $998 over sticker prices on our purchases.
We saved $9,175 by using this site to locate great-quality affordable vendors rather than using average-priced traditional options.
If you look at the sticker price of vendor quotes/Pinterest inspiration versus what we accomplished, we saved a whopping $10,394 by doing DIY projects!
TOTAL SAVINGS: $20,567
License & Rings - $241
Vendors - $3,990
Vendors are your big-ticket, budget-blowing items... and you have to choose them super early in your process. That's why it's smart to go in with your budget in mind so you don't have to skimp on decor or other choices.
For our vendors, we chose a combination of established businesses (such as Hyvee and L. Louise Hair & Makeup), new businesses (such as Katy Avila Photos), and hobbyists/friends (such as our officiant). Every vendor selection comes with some amount of risk, no matter how established the business is, which is why we relied on contracts and service agreements - as well as gut feelings about working styles - to produce the least stressful wedding day possible.
Truthfully, we could have made budgetary choices to decrease the cost of the day further. We could have chosen an even cheaper venue, elected to DIY our styling, served BBQ instead of Italian, or any number of other choices.
Paper Products - $97
Save The Dates
Bride & Groom Attire - $394
This is where I found the biggest savings over my inspiration. My Pinterest dream cost nearly as much as my entire wedding budget!
Saved: $129 // Wasted: $50
Pinterest Inspiration Sticker Price: $5,200 (savings: $4,858)
Saved: $386 // Wasted: $0
Linens - $240
I chose a civic venue, and they supplied tables and chairs but no coverings. I purchased all of my linens from LinenTablecloth.com.
Saved: $375 // Wasted: $22
Venue Decor - $546
Saved: $0 // Wasted: $0
Saved: $0 // Wasted: $16
Pinterest Inspiration Sticker Price: $280 (savings: $231)
Food & Dessert Bar Decor
Saved: $0 // Wasted: $6
Saved: $8 // Wasted: $0
Pinterest Inspiration Sticker Price: $400 (savings: $349)
Flowers - $78
We had a big savings here -- my mom has experience with flowers and an artistic eye, and graciously volunteered to arrange the flowers. We were able to have a gorgeous floral design for literally one-tenth the cost quoted by local florists.
I purchased five total bouquets from Costco, which became the bridal bouquet, four bridesmaid bouquets, and cake topper decor. A few flowers were left over for miscellaneous bud vases. All of our flowers were purchased from the case at Costco the day before the wedding.
Saved: $9 // Wasted: $0
Pinterest Inspiration Sticker Price: $800 (savings: $772)
DIY Food & Drinks - $207
Besides the outlined vendor cost above ($755 to Hyvee for a pasta buffet and cupcakes), we had additional food costs for the drinks and mocktail hour appetizers.
(We had a dry wedding, so instead of booze, we offered gourmet sodas and an Italian soda bar. Both were big hits!)
DIY Mocktail Hour Catering:
Saved: $31 // Wasted: $0
Quoted Vendor Price: $900 (savings: $693)
I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the DIY catering provided by my friends. Three of my dear friends banded together to contribute lots of goodies to the dessert buffet, which had a retail/catering value of hundreds of dollars.
WEDDING GRAND TOTAL: $5,793
So we came in slightly under our budget of $6,000 for a 70-guest wedding!
It took a lot of planning, a flexible vision and help from friends to pull this wedding off.
What was your wedding budget? Please comment below!