Budget Breakdowns: Affordable, Professional Wedding Photography

Please note – my recommended photographers have NOT paid me in any way.  I am simply sharing awesome budget options that I found when planning my wedding!

This week instead of a budget breakdown for an individual wedding, I am going to breakdown options for two wedding photography budgets – the first at $550 and the second at $1200.  Like many practical brides I wanted to find great photography at a reasonable price.   However, I quickly realized how challenging this would be – the average cost of wedding photography is estimated at between $2300 and $3500!  At this point I realized that I would either need to (a) forego professional wedding photography, or (b) find photography options that were significantly below the purported average.   After months of searching, I not only found my own photographer, but I found a ton that were equally affordable and professional.

Today I want to introduce to you two awesome wedding photographers based here in North Carolina (and yes, they travel!).   Without further ado:

1.  If your budget is $550, you should take a look at EmilieCarol Photography.  Emilie is an incredibly friendly person that will put you at ease the moment you talk.  Her commitment to her clients won me over – she guarantees to personally answer each email within 24 hours.  And because she is relatively new to the business – she founded her business in January of 2011 after getting her start in college – you will reap the benefits of a professional photographer at insanely affordable pricing.  How affordable?  Emilie’s starter package includes 4 hours of coverage, a disk of all your photos, and 1 wedding photo-book all for $550.

In Emilie’s own words:   “Our daddy-daughter team has been in love with photography for as long as we can remember. Being the ones to make sure the twinkling in someone’s eyes lasts forever is the most exhilarating feeling in the world, and EmilieCarol Photography is proud to have been able to have so many opportunities to do so in such a short amount of time. With weddings as our specialty, we promise to capture all of the moments that make your hearts beat fast. We believe that if you take care of the people, the pictures will take care of themselves.”

Emilie Carol Photography

EmilieCarol Photography

Emilie Carol Wedding Photography

EmilieCarol Wedding Photography

Emilie Carol Engagement Photography

EmilieCarol Engagement Photography

2. If your budget is $1200, then place  Beatrice Yaxley Photography at the top of your list of photographers to contact.   Beatrice offers years of experience (including 5 years shooting weddings), an awesome personality, and exceptional professionalism for a fantastic price.   With 94 weddings successfully photographed, Bea has been published in Our State magazine, Endurance magazine, and Inov8.  Her packages start at $1200 for four hours and include a disc of all edited images (each additional hour is $200).  For those interested in maximizing their budget, Bea works with couples to split their photography time between an engagement session (typically 1 hour) and wedding coverage (3 hours) for her $1200 package.

Bea’s happy couples put it well:  “Beatrice provided excellent and attentive service when hired to photograph my wedding. Everyone who has seen the work she produced that night has been amazed at the unerring quality of her work and the impressive level of her skill, especially with such challenging lighting conditions. She has what makes any artist great: relentless dedication to her craft.”

Beatrice Yaxley Wedding Photography

Beatrice Yaxley Wedding Photography

Beatrice Yaxley Wedding Photography

Beatrice Yaxley Wedding Photography

Beatrice Yaxley Wedding Photography

Beatrice Yaxley Wedding Photography

Budget Breakdowns: A Chapel Hill, Suburban Wedding for $3910

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.

Briar Chapel Clubhouse North Carolina

Briar Chapel Clubhouse North Carolina

Briar Chapel Outside Stone Fireplace

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. 

Boston Market Catering

Boston Market Catering

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.

Whole foods cupccakes

Whole foods cupcakes with Buttercream flowers added

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.  

Garden rose and Hydrangea bouquet, DIY $40

Garden rose and Hydrangea bouquet, DIY $35

Easy 3 stem Hydrangea Centerpiece, $9

Easy DIY 3 stem Hydrangea Centerpiece, $9

 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.

Lace Wedding Dress $375 

Lace Wedding Dress $375

 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. 

Budget Breakdowns: A Southern, Vintage Wedding for $10,000

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 Southern Vintage Affair for $10,000.

A similar wedding on Ruffled inspired me to create this wedding.  Ruffled’s wedding featured an $18,000 budget and is located here.

In this wedding you balance your desire to feed your guests a full dinner with the practicalities of a $10,000 budget.  However, because you realize that the natural ambiance lends itself to a causal southern buffet your catering costs are a reasonable $2500.   Likewise, by relying on the beautiful grounds and natural ambiance, you are able to limit your linens, decor & flowers to a reasonable $960.  Another bonus: instead of privately owned estate, you opt for a well-maintained state park complete with its own historic house.  

These smart options allows for plenty of wiggle room for the rest of your expenses – including a beer & wine bar and a splurge for music!  (Note: by cutting back on music – a less expensive DJ or an ipod – you would free up more room for stationary, transportation, etc.)  

Here’s the Budget Breakdown:

1. Venue:  Mordecai House & Gardens in Raleigh, NC.  $740 covers 8 hours, a deposit, application fee, and alcohol permit.  The grounds include a small chapel for a ceremony location.  By having your ceremony & reception in the same place, you will save on transportation & additional rental fees – win! 

Southern Estate Venue for $740

Historic Southern Estate Venue for $740

Ceremony options in front of the chapel:

St. Mark's Chapel Raleigh

Includes a lovely, blog-perfect Chapel!

2. Caterer: For this outdoor, southern wedding, opt for a BBQ buffet complete with pulled pork, macaroni & cheese, organic collard greens, and mashed sweet potato yams.  Local BBQ joints include The Q-shack in Raleigh as well as The Pit.  Depending on your exact choices, food complete with beer & wine for a 100 will run you about $2500.  

8. Cake: For a treat that is sure to please offer your guest a display of mini cupcakes.  Best of all you will save money on rentals – no need for forks or dessert plates!  100 mini cupcakes from Gigi’s in Raleigh will run you about $150.  

Gigi's Cinnamon Role Hero for about $1

Gigi's (mini) Cinnamon Role Hero for about $1.50

3. Rentals:  To protect from possible bad weather a tent rental is an excellent idea.   A tent, chairs, & tables for 100 will run you about $2000.   But look how darling the outcome will be:

Outdoor Tent Wedding

Outdoor Tent & Rentals for $2000

4. Linens, Decor & Flowers:   To continue the rustic vintage theme the tables would be covered in lace & burlap.  12 burlap tablecloths from CE Rentals will run you about $300.  Lace is added either by vintage doilies from thrift shops, cut fabric to make a runner, or winning some from Ebay.  

I suggest rustic centerpieces: an eclectic mix of vintage jars & milk glass with classic roses & hydrangea.  A florist will charge around $40-60/centerpiece.  Add $60 for a small bouquet of wildflowers for yourself, and let each bridesmaid carry a single bloom.  Budget tip: save money by supplying your own vases to the florist!  All together the Linen, Flowers & Decor total will be $925.  Here’s an idea of the final outcome: (smaller centerpieces only)

Burlap Lace Wedding Centerpieces

Southern Vintage Centerpieces & Linens for $90/table!

5.  Dress & Suit: For this vintage affair think long lace gowns & gray suits.  This Justin Alexander will cost about $1000 and you will want to budget another $300 for a gray suit. 

Romantic Lace Dress

The perfect romantic lace dress, $1000.

6.  Photography & Music: You may need to search your area (or negotiate with your favorite photographer for fewer hours) but aim to find great photography for around $1500. (In North Carolina, Krystal Kast is great option!)  For music in this outdoors affair I suggest splurging on Joe Bunn’s DJ company – highly qualified and will run you just at $1000.  This area of your budget can be thought of as a whole – if photography is the most important aspect to you, then spend all $2500 on your photography and DJ your wedding with an Ipod!

7. Transportation:  Unless your family or friends owns a collection of vintage cars use your own sweet ride to provide all the transportation you need for this budget-friendly affair.  $0. 

Total Cost: $10,115.  With a budget this good, you’re soon-to-be husband will be as happy as this guy‘s.