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Archive for the ‘Wedding On a Budget’ Category

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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By about 8ish, about a third of our guests had left already. The only survivor from Mike’s family was his mom, all of my grandparents and all but one of my aunts/uncles had left, as well as a few friends. But it was about that point that Mike and I got to sit down and enjoy. Sort of. Seemed like every few minutes we were called away for something, but we did get to sit and relax a little.

I gathered up some friends and we had a little pow wow in the yard, talking and laughing. But by a little after 9, most of those people had left, too, and it was down to the precious few, the real troopers. This included my dad, stepmom and their young kids, all but one of my siblings and their kids and spouses, Mike’s mom, my (always true) friend Jessica and her boyfriend, and my dear Aunt Mary.

Our photographer was gone by then, too, so I don’t have any really awesome pictures from this part of the night. Just amateur ones from others’ cameras, like the ones above. This time on the deck was the first time we really chilled. Everyone was drinking and chatting, and we ended up playing some silly games, like “name the movie” and whatnot. It was nice to look around and see the people who were really there for us. These were our peeps.

After it got dark, several other people took off, and the stragglers encouraged us to open our gifts. We were hesitant, because um, awkward. I hate having an audience for such things. But they thought it would be fun, so we played along.

The kids were very eager to deliver the gifts to us from the gift table, so we arranged a little system. They each brought us a gift, one at a time, and then they took the previously opened gift back to the table with them. You’d think they might get bored with this, but gift after shiny gift, they waited their turn.

Only Kyron needed a little extra entertaining at one point, and he took care of that all by himself.

My sister Emily entertained herself, as well, by taking pictures like this one on my camera.

After gifts, we had a feeding frenzy in the kitchen. All of a sudden there were 8 people crowded in there making tacos and sundaes and eating cupcakes. I scarfed down a few tacos myself, and I swear to god those were best tacos I ever had. After a long, tiring and exhilarating day, I could have eaten 15.

Then someone started a bonfire outside. By then it was after 11, and Mike and I were beat. The hardcores in my family were ready to party some more, but we had to peace out around midnight. Even the kids were still awake when we left!

We packed up most of our gifts, but left a big mess at my dad’s house. Thank god my parents were cool about cleaning up after us even after everything they had already done. It was a long drive from the middle of nowhere (dad’s house) to our hotel downtown, but it was worth it. We got a killer deal on a suite at one of the nice hotels in the city, and as soon as we got there, we crashed on the plush king-sized bed.

And that was it. Our wedding day. Pretty fucking awesome if you ask me.

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One thing I will always remember about our wedding was how EFFING HOT it was! I couldn’t be more grateful though because there was a threat of rain, and hot thick sticky air is better than rain any wedding day. I tried to encourage people to dress comfortably, but several men had long pants or shirts on, and I just wanted to hand them a pair of scissors to remedy the situation. I was pretty steamy in my slip and long dress myself, and Mike kept his pants and long-sleeved shirt on the whole time. But, again, thankful for the heat given the alternative!

Anyway, while we were busy with photos, the rest of the crew was enjoying themselves. Everyone was eating and drinking and chatting. They were entertaining themselves with our homemade cootie catchers and pinwheels…

…and enjoying our candy-licious favors and decor.

(Although, we had a hard time getting rid of the candy favors. What the! Those things were awesome. Eventually someone walked around and handed the damn things out. Same thing happened recently at my sister’s wedding. My advice to future brides: favors are a waste of time and money.)

They were also busy at the photo booth, which I already talked about. And then! Then! We busted out the pinata. Aw yeah. Mike’s brother Brian helped the dads hang it up.

While we waited for the photographer to stop screwing around (kidding!), we screwed around a little bit.

Then we took a few swings together. In place of a first dance, we did a first pinata whack.

Then we turned it over to the kids who were, oh my gosh, SO excited they could hardly wait their turn.

Once all the little ones had a few swings, I looked to the adults. Brian was the first to volunteer, and turns out, the last.

With one whack, he sent that thing flying off the tree. And the kids, of course, went crazy. I have to admit, it was kind of crappy candy, cheap stuff from the bulk section, but they didn’t care. It’s CANDY and it’s FLYING EVERYWHERE!

Speaking of kids, I’m so glad we kept the kid quota small. It wasn’t a vicious thing, but kids tend to dominate a party. All the kids at the wedding were “my” kids, my family. So instead of being overwhelming, it was family. It was fun. And it was just the right amount of people in general. I am so so so glad we didn’t let the guest list get out of control. I hear all the time that peoples’ guest lists get away from them, but we managed to always keep it reined in, and all I can say is PHEW!

On that same note, I pointed out to someone recently that Mike and I managed to have exactly the wedding we said we were going to have. We always stayed true to our vision, and we weren’t influenced by any internal or external forces. The wedding we pictured a year ago is the wedding we had on June 12. I’m really proud that we weren’t sucked into the wedding industry—we didn’t go over our budget, we didn’t enlarge our guest list, we didn’t get caught up in unnecessary details. I don’t think that’s always easy to do, so kudos to us babe!

(I love this picture and don’t know where else to put it, so here is as good as any place.)

Like they all say, the whole thing went pretty fast, but honestly, not too fast. From start to finish, it was only about 8 hours of our lives. A work day. That’s it. So of course it’s going to go fast, especially given all the work you put into it. But we made a point to pause and soak it all in several times, and that helped us to slow down and enjoy it. We watched it all happen, but we also participated fully. That’s the way to do it.

Luckily my sister, the officiant, was on top of things, otherwise we may never have made it official. She called us into the house at one point to sign the marriage license.

I had my sister Andrea sign as my witness (Emily signed hers, and I signed Emily’s. Kelli had a friend sign for her.), and Mike asked his mom.

As soon as we had gotten all the shots we wanted, I ran off to change. I was actually in my dress for many hours when all was said and done, but I was ready to get out of it. It was HOT! And I really had no problem with this. I got my fifty bucks worth, and then I changed into a short green sundress and flip flops.

Actually the flip flops replaced my gorgeous boudoir slippers almost right away.

I’m in the green, and the rest of the feet belong to my mom and sisters. Can you guess who’s who?

Next I’m going to tell you about the after party!

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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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I’ve told the story of how I found and purchased my dress already.

And I even mentioned that I was worried I wouldn’t actually fit into it the day of the wedding—I hadn’t tried it on in months, and I didn’t want to bother getting it altered. If I managed to maintain my weight, it would be fine, but I wasn’t sure I did that (as I made zero effort to do so). I figured if it didn’t fit, I’d just improvise and wear a sundress, but of course I was hoping it would.

Fortunately, when I tried it on the Friday before, it zipped up just fine.

So on Saturday I wasn’t worried at all. After hair and makeup were done, I hung out in my pajamas for awhile. I mingled with the guests that had shown up early, and took care of some last minute details. But mostly I just waited and relaxed. At one point I was sitting on the couch in a tank top and capris with immaculate hair and makeup, thinking, “I’m about to get married. Cool.”

My sisters kept telling me I should get in my dress, but I wanted to wait. It was a hot and humid day, and I wanted to be as fresh as possible for the ceremony, so waiting to don a slip and long dress was key. Finally around 3pm, they pulled me into a bedroom to get dressed.

(Yes that’s me in my slip and bra. Hey, Erica posted it on her blog, so I figured I could, too.)

I really could not be more happy with how my dress looked. Everything came together perfectly – the hair, the makeup, the shoes, the dress. I loved it all, which I think is important on your wedding day when, inevitably, you’re the center of attention. You want to feel good. And I did.

My favorite thing about the dress is that it is so very me. Even my grandpa, a man in his 70s whom I’ve never heard comment on anything to do with fashion, said that he loved my dress and thought it fit my personality perfectly. Standard wedding gowns are gorgeous, no doubt, but the strapless-white-poofy thing is just not me. This dress? So me.

And the shoes! Oh the shoes. I thought I’d go with something bright and funky, but when I saw these 1950s boudoir slippers on Etsy, I know they were meant for this dress.

Like I mentioned, Mike’s get-ready routine was much simpler, and he got dressed even before I did. He wore dark brown pants with an orange and white gingham-print shirt. During the ceremony he wore a sand-colored jacket, which he removed for the reception. He also wore sandals. We had decided he’d wear brown Skechers, but on the way to Dad’s Saturday morning, we realized we forgot them. Rather than turn around, we decided his Birkenstock sandals were just fine.

(Ceremony look.)

(Reception look.)

After we were both fully ensembled (word?), we walked around the house and yard greeting guests. We meant for this whole thing to be very casual and comfortable, so I didn’t hide out pre-ceremony. Both Mike and I chatted with people and fielded compliments (people are so sweet when you’re getting married). Once it appeared everyone had arrived, we decided to get started.

And that is where I’ll start my next post about the ceremony itself.

(All photos, except the first one and last two, by Photography by Arika Reed.)

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Getting myself ready for this wedding was so much fun. As I’ve mentioned, my sister Andrea did my hair. She and I set up in the big bathroom – me on a stool, her poised behind me. And Photographer Erica in and on top of the tub getting the perfect shot. While Ann worked on my fro, my mom and sisters were in and out of the bathroom, alternating between helping Dad with the To Do list and gushing over how amazing my hair was turning out.

Have I mentioned that I LOVED my hair? Yes, I think I have. I don’t remember exactly, but I’d guess it took about an hour to get my hair perfect. It was such a peaceful, relaxing time though. I got to be away from the scramble of setting up, and I felt like I was in a little sanctuary. It was just about me for that time. Other than the few times someone popped in to run something by me, I didn’t know what was going on outside the bathroom, nor did I care. Turns out, a bunch of people showed up while I was in there, and I had no idea until I emerged!

In all honesty, the whole day was very chill. I never felt stressed or nervous or overwhelmed. But that time I spent getting myself ready was really nice.

After Andrea finished my hair (gorgeous!), I did my own makeup. I have one way I do my makeup, and I do it that way every single day (except on weekends when I avoid wearing makeup as much as possible). I don’t think others know how to work with my face, so I was totally comfortable doing it myself.

I did it the same way I do on an average day, only slightly amped up. I added a little more shading to my eyelids, a little mascara, some lip stain and Erica insisted on a little color on my cheeks (I don’t normally where blush because my cheeks turn quite rosy all on their own if I’m hot, warm, cold, nervous, sick, happy, etc).

(That photo on the bottom right is one of me looking at my camera. The photo on the screen is me posing burlesque-style in my slip. Sex-ay!)

I thought I looked quite lovely, and I’d like to thank Erica for using her editing magic to make me look nearly flawless. Even before I put on makeup, when I usually look like I could use two-weeks of sleep, she made me look pretty.

I really can’t speak to how or when Mike got ready, but I know his process was much simpler than mine. I’m imagining him slipping into his clothes and checking himself in the mirror 15 minutes before showtime. I know that’s not quite true because he was dressed and ready to go before I even got into my dress.

Speaking of getting into my dress, I’ll save that for next time.

(All photos, except the first, by Photography by Arika Reed.)

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