I was previously concerned about the cost of our venue: location, food and alcohol are big ticket items when you’re looking at set prices and a big guest list. After quite a search, we finally found a place that’s pretty flexible about the packages they offer, so with a lot of fat trimming and decisions to DIY where it’s manageable, we’ll be much closer to an acceptable budget.
The last “final” choice, a really pretty outdoor venue, surprised us at the end of the selection process with a quote that had an additional fee for the ceremony, and required that we hire a licensed DJ. We didn’t want no stinkin’ DJ! We weren’t planning on having a big music-oriented thing, and I don’t particularly want to have a stranger presiding over the music and talking up a storm. Yes yes, trust issues, sue me. But more than that, I didn’t want to have to shell out another thousand or so dollars before we pinned down a photographer taking our total to a blasphemous near-$30K. We didn’t just back away from that venue, we RAN.
Our final-final choice has been much better: flexible services and responsive vendor contacts. They call when they say they will, they don’t drop out of contact then make excuses about being busy during the wedding season, they’re upfront about scheduling around their ongoing commitments and accommodating my schedule.
We’re choosing to pay a premium for a hosted bar throughout the entire event as neither PiC or I are comfortable with the notion of a cash bar. Not only is that unheard of in my culture’s traditions, neither he or I are ok with asking my guests to pull their wallets out when we’ve invited them to an event that we’re hosting. If this was a DIY potluck, maybe. But it’s not, it’s a celebration that we’re inviting them to. So, hosted bar. End of.
In trade, we’re opting out of:
1. A fancy wedding cake. Their custom wedding cakes, while potentially gorgeous, will cost something like $300-400. Far too much. We wanted to choose our own cake and budgeted about $200-250 to have plenty. Unfortunately… we underestimated how many servings sizes we could get out of our original plan, so I contacted the shops to ask for high volume discounts. We wanted delicious cakes and our savings too, but instead of savings, we’ll take having multiple options for the cake instead.
2. Fancy centerpieces. We could have a florist managing the centerpieces for $600 or we could do it ourselves for about $150. That’s my budget for it anyway.
3. Invitations. They would have cost $200 from the package. I did them myself for under $100, even with my cardstock goof. The postage costs are about the same as they would have been w/the venue, of course.
4. Champagne toast, house wine, cider. I’m not a wine snob but what’s the point of also paying for house champagne and wine (read: average tasting) for the tables and toast (that I don’t really feel the need for)? Save $550, against the premium cost we’re paying for the hosted bar.
5. Discounts for the asking, off season. Scheduling this in the winter months gave us the opportunity to ask for some discounts. We got the ceremony site and the day of organizer gratis, and were offered free decorations as well, but I asked to have their value to be applied against the alcohol fee as well. Can’t have it if you don’t ask!
6. Discounts we didn’t ask for. Booking within a week of our initial query snagged us a fat discount as well.
In total, we’re taking $4141 off the bill for the venue which offsets the added premium bar, and the money we’ll lay out for the DIY stuff. After the offsets, we’re actually saving $841. This makes a difference when it comes to tax and service fees as well.
Another chunk of discount will come out of the total once we figure how many of these heads are children. Kids under the age of 11 are discounted, kids 3 and under are free; I’m guessing we’ll have a fair lot of tykes but won’t count on anything until we get closer to the time.
As I listen to the PF community comment on and chat about the topic of wedding planning and budgeting, I have new thoughts. I never wanted to spend a boatload of money on a single day; it was never that important.
In the past 2 years, I’ve come around. It’s not all about me and what I want or don’t want. It was important to my parents, to my husband and to my friends to celebrate this, and with us. And while peer pressure plays little role in my daily life, neither do I live in a void. And in that context, and in memory of my mother who really wanted to be there for this day, I can justify spending what would otherwise be categorized as an obscene amount of money for a single day. We’ll do it our way, catering only to my health, a respect for some cultural traditions, and the comfort of our guests.
That’s not to say that there won’t be moments of plannerly insanity, there already have been, but I suspect it’ll be minimal compared to what it could be.