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My friend Erica, of Photography by Arika Reed, the photographer at our wedding, is having a wedding contest. It’s a pretty sweet deal, so if you’re looking for someone great for an upcoming wedding, you should check it out. She did an amazing job at our wedding, and I’m in love with the photos we have from that day. Mike and I both highly recommend her, so get your entry in before the deadline! Also, if you don’t have an upcoming wedding, but know someone who does, spread the word. She’s willing to travel.

Photography by Arika Reed

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When we first got engaged, Mike and I determined our budget to be $2,000. My dad and stepmom provided all of the beverages and most of the food, and a few others contributed food as well. We borrowed as much as we could, and bought cheap on everything else. We also decided to include our Family Meet and Greet Slash Shower in that budget, so we had to get creative about how to keep our estimated budget at $2,000. In the end, our total estimated budget was $1,985 but our total expenditures were only $1,488.63. Pretty damn good I’d say!

Throughout the last year we’ve detailed how we saved money on everything from my dress to decorations to invitations. But here’s how the budget actually broke down:

Item                          Proposed      Actual
MISC
White Knot donation       10                   10
Gifts                               40                  41

PRE-WEDDING
Save-the-date                  0                    0              (electronic)
Invitations (+postage)   75                  56.3         (design & printing by friend)
Marriage license             20                  23

BRIDE
Dress                             50                   50             (vintage from Etsy)
Alterations                     0                      0             (fixed a small tear myself)
Shoes                           40                    40             (vintage from Etsy)
Hair piece                      25                      0              (gift from friend)
Jewelry                          0                      0              (borrowed from mom)
Makeup                         0                      0              (did it myself)
Hair                               0                      0              (done by my sister)
Mani/pedi                     0                     0               (did it myself)
Bra/underwear              0                     25             (bought slip)

Something to carry      30                     0              (decided against it)

GROOM
Pants                              0                     0              (wore pre-owned pants)
Shirt                             50                   25              (JCPenney)
Shoes                             0                     0               (wore pre-owned shoes)
Jacket                         100                 100             (JCPenney)

CEREMONY
Chairs                            0                     0             (borrowed folding chairs)
Location                        0                     0             (at my dad’s)
Officiant                        0                     0             (my sister officiated)
Photographer               375                 375             (hired a friend)
Wedding bands            350                355             (Rogers & Hollands)
Love Letter Box               0                    0             (hand made by my dad)
Unity Quilt                    30                  34.53        (for back fabric and tie string)

RECEPTION
Decorations                 150                133.11
Food                            100                 20              (we had a lot donated)
Beverages                     20                   0               (for water we didn’t buy)
Tables                          150                   0               (borrowed instead of rented)
Chairs                             0                   0
Plates/cups/cutlery        75                 41.25          (all plastic and paper)
Music                              0                   0               (used an iPod and iHome)
Favors                          75                  91
Photo booth                 50                   0

SHOWER
Room rental                 50                  0                (used Mike’s mom’s work)
Food                           50                36.35           (had a lot donated)
Decorations                 20                20.85
Invitations (+postage) 30               25.84            (Snapfish)
Thank you cards            0                 0                  (used some I had on hand)
Postage                        10                 7.84

POST-WEDDING
Thank you cards            0                 0                   (used some I had on hand)
Postage                       20               15.4

TOTAL                    1,985       1,488.63

(Sorry if that’s a big effing mess – I’m too lazy to figure out how to make a table.)

We kept track of all of this in a Google Doc. On one sheet, everytime we bought something we wrote it in and categorized it (decorations, food, favors, etc). Then when everything was purchased in a category, we added up the total and put it in the second sheet that had our master budget. Using some Excel-like magic, Google added everything up for us as we went.

A wedding for under $2,000? Actually, under $1,500! I can live with that. Especially because it was an incredibly awesome wedding!

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Asking my friend Erica to photograph our wedding was one of the best decisions we made. She did a spectacular job and we love all the photos she captured. As I’ve said before, we bought her a ticket to Michigan from California (where she moved several months before the wedding), and that was it! $375 and done. Erica had just started Photography by Arika Reed, and we were excited to be her first official wedding. And let me tell you, she worked her ass off! Even when we needed to sit down and take a break, she was darting around with her camera. She caught so many moments that I didn’t even know she was catching! Truly, Erica, you were awesome.

You should head over to her website, and check out the blog post dedicated to our wedding. And if you want to see the whole online gallery, let me know and I’ll get you the password.

I’ve shown off her photos all throughout the recapping of the wedding, but I also wanted to share some of my favorites. The first are from the time she spent with just me and Mike doing the “couple” photos.

First of all, this one is going on the wall (yes I know I showed it already):

Please look at how much this man loves me:

Man we’re cute!

This is from when Mike and I were taking a moment to soak it all in. She caught us:

And come on, just aww!

LOVE this one, too:

And now, here are some of my favorite “detail” shots:

And now a few other photos I’m crazy about…

This is my little Scarlet before she was born:

My little brother Cam is a chatty one!

My Brady Boy:

Me with mom and the sisters:

And here are some of Mike, one with his bro, and one of him being so cute!

Ok really, you should just go check them all out over here.

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Immediately after the ceremony, we went into reception mode. The wedding was at 4, and the “reception-only” guests were invited to arrive at 5, so we had to hustle. Luckily we had a team of amazing people on our side. While Mike and I mingled, our families moved chairs and tables, set out a few decorations, got the buffet ready.

After talking to a few guests, Mike and I wanted to do photos so we could spend the rest of the evening having fun with our friends and family. We started with family portraits, all sorts of combinations – Mike’s dad’s side, his mom’s side, my dad’s side, my mom’s side, siblings, parents, grandparents, etc. My family is HUGE and it was hard to wrangle everyone when we needed them. I asked people to hang out nearby until we were done, but with so many people, that’s impossible. I will admit, it was frustrating, but really, not a huge deal.

Erica also took a bunch of pictures of Mike and I together, but I’ll save those for another post. She also did a great job of capturing other people. I didn’t even notice her taking most of them!

(Photos by Photography by Arika Reed.)

I LOVE all the photos we got from the day, but one regret I have is what we missed while we were occupied getting them. Before we were done capturing everything we wanted, before I even thought the reception had really gotten started, people were approaching us to say goodbye. It was really disappointing! But I’m going to blame it on them – talk about eat and run! – so I don’t feel bad.

At some point in the middle of photo-taking, we stopped to eat from the UH-MAZE-ING taco bar. I was a little distracted and didn’t eat as much as I normally would, but damn those tacos were good. And there was plenty of it. Later we laughed at how much extra we had. We threw a party for 60 and had for about three times that many.

I can’t remember the exact sequence, but at some point later we also had ice cream. Instead of cutting the cake, Mike and I made a sundae together. God I love tacos and ice cream. I think we had the best wedding menu EVER!

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Our photos are done! Erica (Photography by Arika Reed), posted a great blog post full of photos a few days ago. Then soon after she got them all up on her online viewing gallery. If you want to check them out, and I hope you do, let me know and I’ll get you the password.

I love love love them all. This was Erica’s first wedding, and she totally nailed it. It was a great deal for all of us – she got to practice wedding photography in a “safe” situation (we’ve been friends for 17 years, if my math is right, and she’s known my family just as long), and we got a great deal on spectacular wedding photos.

Thank you Rico! It was so much fun to have you there. Thanks for working your ass off to make us some spectacular pictures!

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One of my favorite things we did at our reception was the Photo Booth (aka the guest book). We set up my camera in front of a log pile with some props, and people had a blast. My sisters were superstars and made sure every single guest took a turn, so we’ve got photos of every one in attendance.

(Above photos by Photography by Arika Reed. Erica, let me know if I’m not allowed to use these this way.)

We got some really fun pictures, too. Give people a few props and it’s a party!

Friends

Family

Even my grandparents got in on the fun!

The kids took more than anyone.

Mike and I also took a turn.

One of the first things we did on our honeymoon was flip through all these photos. I love how they all turned out. In all, we got 68 Photo Booth photos (not bad for a guest list of 60)! Eventually we’ll match them up with the messages people wrote on the back of the photo paper, print them, and put them in an album.

Thank you Emily and Andrea for making sure this idea came to fruition! And thanks to everyone who took part.

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My photographer – Erica from Photography by Arika Reed – published a blog post yesterday full of LOTS of photos from our wedding. If you’ve been dying to see pictures as much as I have (come on, isn’t everyone?), go check it out.

And leave her positive feedback! We all know the power of comments on a blog. Erica worked really damn hard all day on the day of the wedding and hasn’t really stopped since to get everything edited and perfect. We can’t thank her enough!

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