While planning my wedding I was bombarded with beautiful pictures, stylish details (oh, hello sequined flower girl basket), and stunning wedding dresses. But, how was I to achieve this look? And how was I to create a budget that would create both the look & feel of the dream wedding that existed in my head?
For me the solution was countless spreadsheets & hours of research. As I sifted through ideas, I created budgets and plans for rustic barn weddings, grand ballroom affairs, and classic garden soiree. What I soon realized was that the style of my wedding was not defined by my budget, but instead by understanding my options and being empowered with the knowledge to create the “feel” I wanted. Budget Breakdowns is a weekly post that will showcase a wedding or wedding budget feature broken down by budget, type, and feel. My hope is that it will prove helpful as you go about creating your own wedding. If there is a particular location or type-of wedding you would like me to feature, please let me know!
A Chapel Hill, Suburban Wedding for $3910.
This week’s wedding features a countryside affair set in the outskirts of Chapel Hill, North Carolina and includes a full dinner with beer & wine for 80 friends and family. One of my favorite budget tips for this wedding was using an established community clubhouse as your venue. Often a gorgeous setting and room can be rented for a reasonable cost from suburban subdivisions and the like. Second, using a national restaurant to cater your wedding is an affordable way to offer your guests a full dinner. Lastly, finding a venue that will allow you to bring in your own alcohol is a cost-effective way to host a bar for your guests.
Here’s the Budget Breakdown: $3910
1. Venue: Briar Chapel in Chapel Hill, NC. This classic style venue has 2 rooms. It’s ideal for small to mid-size weddings. I believe the maximum is around 120-130, but I probably would not host more than 100 inside. The verandah is large though so you may have some wiggle room. The entire venue rents for $75/hour, and for a 5 hour event the total is $375. 80 chairs rent for $1/each from the venue. Ceremony options in front of the chapel or the stone fire-place: Free. Total: $455.
2. Caterer: Complete with silver chafing dishes, buffet linens, food service and high quality disposable dinnerware, Boston Market is an excellent option for a large group of people. Your guests can dine on Rotisserie chicken, Mediterranean green beans, Garlic Dill new potatoes, Cinnamon apples, a fresh Caesar salad, and hot cornbread and butter. Because your ceremony and reception are in one place there’s no need for a separate (and more costly!) cocktail hour and your eighty guests can dine for $1680. Beer & wine from your local Trader Joe’s is an additional $250, for an average of 3-4 glasses of beer/wine per person (using 2-buck chuck, of course). Your catering package includes buffet service and set-up. I, however, would also recruit 2 waiters to assist in clean-up throughout the evening. Boston Market, a local restaurant, or Craigslist are great places to look for wait staff for about $100/each/night. All your clean-up, food and beverage costs come in at $2130.
8. Cake: Whole Foods offers both cupcakes or small cakes. Both are all natural and delicious, and whether you opt for sheet cakes, round cakes, or cupcakes, the total for 80 people is about $100. The picture features vanilla Whole Foods cupcakes to which buttercream flowers are piped on – you could do this yourself for a quasi-crafty, DIY project.
3. Rentals: Extra table linens can be purchased on Ebay for about $10-11 each (or rented for about $15.) If you buy you have the added bonus of being able to sell them after your done (that’s what we’re doing!). Additional tables will cost $24-32 to rent. Rentals: about $140.
4. Linens, Decor & Flowers: For flowers I would channel the Quasi-Crafty flower post from last week and opt for a simple, classy arrangement of 3 stems of hydrangea + 1 dollar tree vase for $9 an arrangement. If you have bridesmaids they can carry an arrangement as their bouquet – simply wrap with ribbon for the ceremony and then have them place them in the waiting vase for the reception. All 10 tables can easily be completed in less than an hour and will look lovely with inexpensive frosted glass votive candles clustered around them. $41 for 72 candles will allow 6 per table. For added elegance place the flowers on a lace doily; 12 are $1 each (including shipping!). Lastly, finish with a handmade hydrangea and garden rose bouquet for $40. By using only two types of flowers you will save money when purchasing from a local grocery store. A great diy-tutorial is found here. Total decor & Flower costs: $185.
5. Dress & Suit: Try to see if you can find a bridal shop that carries discontinued wedding gowns. Locally in Cary, North Carolina, Gorgeous Gowns and Dresses can be a great place to look for dress bargains. What you see is what you get – if you find a dress in one size, they cannot order it in another size. But, the deals are amazing. My friend purchased the dress below for $375. A summer weight suit from Jos. A. Bank’s can be purchased for as low as $105 – join their email list so that you know when they have their frequent sales. Total Costs: $475.
6. Photography & Music: DJ your own wedding with an iPod. If you want extra speakers you can rent them for around $125. For photography you have two options: hire a beginner for all day coverage – or – hire a more experienced photographer by the hour and have them do just one or two hours of coverage. Either option will be around $300.
7. Transportation: Whether you arrive by car or bike plan on using your own transportation. $0.
Total Cost: $3910.