We were unable to load Disqus. If you are a moderator please see our troubleshooting guide.

Jules • 9 years ago

Still geeking out about wedding data, so here is my pie chart. This doesn't include our rings (about $1000 for two) and our honeymoon. The band and reception are broken into two slices because it was easier to process that way.

Our wedding costs could have been cut by....oh....almost 30% fairly easily (for a different looking/feeling wedding), but one of those things would have been switching from an 8-piece band to a DJ. One interesting thing I wanted to do in a submission post-wedding is show how our wedding would have looked at different price points. We could have easily had a wedding that was 30% more expensive too by having pro flowers, a full bar, catered apps, and letterpress invitations. Sometimes I would look at wedding budgets of real weddings and think "$30K, there's no way I could afford that!" but it would turn out (with more digging) that I could afford some of the key elements and drop the price a TON.

We get married in FOUR DAYS, so we'll see what's worth it!

laurasmash • 9 years ago

Pie chart! I'm gonna have to do one too. My mom kept a spreadsheet with every wedding expense down to the penny.

Edited: maybe if enough of us do pie charts, APW could do a post with those! Could be really cool to have a visual representation of different ways people prioritized wedding spending.

rhubarbrhubarbrhubarb • 9 years ago

so impressed by the chart!

Jules • 9 years ago

Oh, and not worth it: save the dates. We did them through Vistaprint. I wasn't sure, but he insisted and I caved because we only had a 5 month engagement and lots of out of town relatives. I wish we had just sent Paperless Post save the dates or something instead. It caused me a lot of headache (our STD's have to match the THEME!! I haven't picked the invitations yet, how can I pick a STD?? How are we going to get them to France in a timely manner? Doesn't everyone important already know?). Then I spent a stupid amount of time addressing, stamping, assembling, and mailing them and ultimately it didn't truly make a difference in who showed up. The overseas relatives got emailed anyway, the ones who were stateside had the expected turnout (I was surprisingly accurate with my predictions) .

It did let us test out the addresses of our VIPs....some of them gave us an address with no apartment number, or an old address (wtf?). But it sure as hell wasn't worth the $75-$100 and more importantly, the time and stress.

Kate M • 9 years ago

We did a stop motion video save the date. Cost free, it took about a day to do and I still love it and would do it again. Bonus, we emailed it to our guests so I now have updated email address as well as physical addresses for everyone on my guest list. STD's are nice to have for out of town guests who aren't sure they are invited to the wedding and gives more time for them to plan. https://www.youtube.com/wat...

Mim • 9 years ago

We did a picture text for our STDs and we loved them and got a fantastic response. We are having a small weddind (40 guests) that over half will have to travel for. We really just wanted to let people know the place, date and that they were invited so they could book transport. It ended up being a huge excitement builder for us and our guests and we had a lot of fun putting it together. Don't think I would have had the patience or budget for addressing and posting them. It was also really fun getting instant responses!

VKD_Vee • 9 years ago

On the OTHER hand...

I loved our "STDs"! We *also* used Vistaprint so they cost barely any monies - like, $20 for 100? I just used a picture of a local beach and with the limited basics ("save the date for the wedding of '[our names, a date, a city'']). I thought sending a scenic shot of Vancouver might entice some out of towners, I think.

Forever on the fridge and so worth $20 plus postage.

We also used Vistaprint and used a photo of us from our engagement shoot standing in the old port of Montreal with the Jacques-Cartier bridge in the background. $100 for the engagement and $40 for the STD (we sprung for the jumbo sized ones)!

Lauren • 9 years ago

...was scanning this thread and totally thought you meant the other kind of STDs for a moment...hehe

Alexandra • 9 years ago

TOTALLY!! STDS ARE DUMB! We had a five month engagement and paperless post would have been a WAY better idea. But everybody I knew had STDs so I wanted one, too. I spent a lot of time gazing at people's STDs on my fridge. Seemed like a must-have. Totally was not.

Lauren from NH • 9 years ago

On your submission idea, it sounds awesome, I have totally thought about that as we have gone along. There are SO many choices, which is sometimes painful, but it means there are lots of price points at which to pursue your ideal wedding. I believe our wedding (meaning everything going to the wedding day) is going to come to 16K but if we made a few different choices it could have been done for 13K and if we made other choices it could have been done for 20K and still looked pretty similar.

Sarah E • 9 years ago

I'm with you on what things will look like a different price points. As I sifted through the "How We Did Its" on APW, I definitely looked for things that had our "look" as well as things that had our budget. Most people with our budget chose to have a much smaller guest list, then pay a premium for fantastic food or venues. So when I found people who had the same look/feel, I could easily subtract money when I saw things we weren't spending on (flowers, attire, dinner, etc)

Happy next four days-- four weeks to go here :-)

Jules • 9 years ago


I just think it would be suuuper interesting to see one wedding and see how some tweaks can put it in a totally different budget category (higher or lower)!

Kate • 9 years ago

I LOVE those sections about what couples thought was and wasn't worth it. That's where APW totally saved me during wedding planning. Unlike a lot of people, I thought getting a photographer was totally worth it. Also worth it was having caterers. It felt like such an over the top expense at the time, but everything was served, cleaned and coordinated (and it did help that there was a lovely waiter who seemed to ask me if I wanted another drink every 30 minutes while I was busy 'working the crowd!').

Having no centerpieces made no difference at all - so glad we saved money there! Instead we had bowls of marshmallows that people could roast in the fire. I kind of regret spending so much on food. It was amazing, but no-one remembers the food. Having online RSVPs also saved us heaps. Thank goodness for glosite :-)

I think the other bit that people don't talk so much about is time saving. I am not a DIY person, and in the end, not a single person noticed that there were very few 'details'. People barely remember the ones that were there. I just wish I hadn't spent so much time stressing about things like marshmallow bowls, blankets and shoes. None of that stuff actually mattered in the end.

Erin B. • 9 years ago

I LOVE the marshmallow idea. I hope I have occasion to do this at a future dinner party!

Kate • 9 years ago

It was awesome! We had a big bonfire, and we had skewers out next to the marshmallows so people could toast them at the end of the night.

Michelle • 9 years ago

Not hiring a professional photographer was was the greatest money saver, AND totally worth it. We did a lot of non-traditional things, which most people seemed ok with....until I told them we weren't having professional photography. People lost it there. I was warned over and over that we'd regret it, but it wasn't something that was super important to us. If it had been in the budget, or had been highly important to us, we probably would have hired someone and gotten totally gorgeous photos. Instead, we got a big group of family and friends (who had varying skill and all had moderately good cameras) together and divvy'd up the day. Did we get gorgeous, artistic prints? Some, but mostly just good ol' fashioned pictures of the day. But what we did get was an uncle stealthily rounding up old college friends during cocktail hour, two of my best friends from totally different parts of my life getting to know each other as they planned shooting our ceremony, my new mother-in-law gritting her teeth and telling my new father-in-law to "get on with it, we're going to miss all the whiskey" during his meticulous shoot of our families, and my mom's hilarious partner jumping up on (kind of rickety) chairs to get photos of us during the hora.

At first we thought it would be too much to ask of people, but in the end we found that "your wedding is not an imposition" to be true a million times over and people were so honored to help us with such an important task. Recently I started a new job with one of those friends that photographed our ceremony, and I brought a bunch of pictures to put on my desk. As I set them all up she ventured into my office and picked up the photo of me and my husband right before the ceremony, and with a huge grin she exclaimed, "I took this photo!" I would most definitely do it again.

Christina A. • 9 years ago

I'm not sure yet where we'll end up on the pro/not pro photography fence. We went with the semi-professional option, as in the photographers who you could book along with the DJ from a one-stop-shopping location. The DJ(s, as we ended up with a trainee too) were miles better than we could have hoped for, but the photographers felt awkward all day long and missed a number of shots we specifically asked for--to the degree that we're hiring another photographer after the fact (a friend this time)! There are many, many excellent shots of my brother, though...they thought he was the groom for about twenty minutes.

So...I guess where I wish we had spent the money was on a photographer we felt listened to us and was comfortable with us, pro or not? That's our big "not worth it/didn't get what we paid for."

Also! Printing our own simpler invites, thank yous, etc. via an online printer (CatPrint) was incredibly worth it. We didn't get programs and menus printed until the day before the wedding (whoops) and realized what an amazing deal we had on printing once we paid way more for printing, part 2.

Also, also worth the money: a local venue with good food that took care of 100% of everything else. Didn't have to worry about napkins, tablecloths, decor, anything--all we had to do was show up and party.

Angelur • 9 years ago

We also did not have a professional photographer. A friend with no events experience but who knew photography volunteered to do it for the cost of a plane ticket (less than $500). We went for it and I'm overall glad we did! Here's a breakdown of my thoughts on the whole thing:

-The cost, obviously! We saved anywhere from $1,500-$2,500, based on what we had been looking at.
-She was a friend, so we were extra comfortable around her.
-She was there for the whole weekend and got shots of the rehearsal dinner, drinking with friends the night before, etc.
-It was just a really cool thing to share with someone we love. She photographed our wedding, and we'll always have that connection.

-She was (understandably) a little nervous/unsure and there was a lot of back and forth on things like whether we should rent a certain lens so that she could take pictures from the balcony of the church during the ceremony (we did and I'm really glad that we have shots during the ceremony)
-Because we de-emphasized photography in general and didn't have a professional working for us, we don't have a single picture of--for example--me and my parents.
-Some of the low-light pictures aren't great. They're kind of grainy and orange. Since she basically did it for free, I felt weird asking her if she could fix them.
-I felt a little guilty, since she was a friend, that she had to work during our whole wedding. She volunteered to do it--but I'm not sure she knew exactly how much work it would be.

Sosuli • 9 years ago

Our wedding is over a year away and we're just looking into photography now so I really appreciate seeing these comments! We're looking at booking a student from my university - we haven't met him before, but he's the president of the university photography society and runs a freelance photography business alongside his completely unrelated university studies. Essentially, he has all the equipment, plenty of photography experience from various university related events, and he's less than half the price of a professional wedding photographer (so a £500-£1000 saving for us). Reading these comments on semi-professional or DIY photography make me feel a bit better about going this route, if he seems to be on the same page as us once we meet him.

Alice • 9 years ago

We went the amateur photography route as well. A pro just wasn't in the budget for us (our whole wedding was about 2k). While I love photos and would have appreciated professional ones, I look back on the shots we have, taken by my brother and best friend, and think what a great day it was, and not how I desperately regret not having pro photos. As a side note, my dad is a 'serious amateur' photographer, if that's not too much of a contradiction, so we did have access to pro equipment. Someday, when he gets around to it, he'll be editing a few of our favorites with good composition, so we have some swankier-looking shots to frame.

Guest • 9 years ago
Kate M • 9 years ago

For those going this route, I would definitely make sure to do a wedding hashtag or app for photos so that you can corral them after the fact. Even with a professional photographer, there were a few pictures I know people took and I never got a copy of that I would have liked.

rhubarbrhubarbrhubarb • 9 years ago

We're renting out an airbnb for our intimate destination wedding. That means accommodations for 12 for the weekend, also doubling as our reception venue (dinner but no dancing, just a chill house party ;) ), for $700.

Also, making my dress mostly out of tulle, which will come to around $60. Folks, tulle is cheap! Llike $2/yard in stores, or $25 for an entire bolt online. If you're into the tulle look, and can sew a straight line/know someone who can sew a straight line, you can make a simple tulle skirt for around $30 that works as a bridal separate.

April • 9 years ago

Tulle skirts are so cute. i totally want to make one.

Anna • 9 years ago

I've had that tulle skirt idea for ages, but I'm not sure if I can pull it off. Do you have a pattern to share? Are you doing the top out of tulle somehow too? Exciting!

rwm • 9 years ago

Most: Renting out an entire restaurant for our reception. We had to spend a bit more than we would have otherwise to get the whole space but that meant we could/had to spend more per guest. (Prime rib! All the side dishes!) We came in about $50 under the minimum on the day-of so the restaurant sent a $50 bottle of wine home with a bridesmaid to give to us.
Least (at least in terms of the standard): For about $450 we did a bridal bouquet, boutonnieres for Eric and his men, and baby's breath for the bridesmaids, plus the delivery fee. We didn't do any flowers as decor and it was fine. Also my dress, but not everyone can have their grandma make their dress.
Worth it: Everything! But definitely the DJ! I didn't think we needed one but Eric pushed for it and he was right. It wasn't THAT expensive and our DJ was awesome. Glad he did.
Not worth it: I'm sure there is something but I can't think of anything off the top of my had. Lots of littl things we did (splurged on the favors, had custom crossword puzzles made, made custom cake slice boxes for everyone to take cake home) were totally optional, but I wouldn't change a single thing because it was all part of our magical day and our guests liked it all!

Kate • 9 years ago

We made our own crossword too! I wish I had been able to see people actually working on them, but we put it on the back of our program for when they were waiting around pre-ceremony and I don't even have any pics of that time. We had a lot of fun making it though. #nerds

PracticalPlanner • 9 years ago

Did you do the crosswords by hand or use software? We want to do this for our brunch wedding too!

Kate • 9 years ago

We did it by hand...and by we, I mostly mean my husband. We first started with our theme and longer clues that we wanted to include and blocked off a rough grid in Excel. Then kind of fit in everything else around that. It took some work, definitely, but it was really fun. We also used http://www.onelook.com/ quite a bit. You can search for words that start/end with the letter(s) you're looking for. Good luck!

PracticalPlanner • 9 years ago


Ella • 9 years ago

My bridesmaids made a crossword for my bridal shower! It was an excellent ice breaker as different friends/family knew different parts of my life. It was very cute to watch them work together to figure out things I did in college or when I was in elementary school. :)

Lisa • 9 years ago

I didn't know your grandmother made your dress! (Which was absolutely stunning, btw.) Wedding dress was on the lower end of our money spent, too, because my mother made mine as well. Family tailors/seamstresses are the best!

rwm • 9 years ago

Yesss!! It really is a great skill to have in the family.

PS Thank you!!

PracticalPlanner • 9 years ago

Where did you get your custom crosswords made? That's on our list too!

rwm • 9 years ago

We got them from this Etsy shop! https://www.etsy.com/shop/r...

Dal • 9 years ago

Do you mind me asking about how much per person it was to rent out a restaurant? Was it on a weekend? I'm thinking a restaurant would be an easier way to organize everything, and there's quite a few places around here that are beautiful and would need little to no extra decoration.

Matthew • 9 years ago

We're also using a restaurant, and we have a $4000 minimum spend (altho it's going to cost us significantly more than that because we are doing open bar and some fancy cocktail food) for a Saturday night in July in Vancouver, BC. We don't have the entire thing booked, though -- just a huge (110 person) private set of rooms with a private bar and washrooms. For us, it ends up being about $150/person, including alcohol and all food and staff and plates/tables/linens/etc.

meganfm • 9 years ago

That's VERY reasonable. We're getting married in Vancouver in July as well and our min spend is $11,000, and I was told by our wedding planner that was pretty reasonable. It's a painful chunk (considering we'll have around 90 ppl) but I ADORE our venue and wouldn't change anything.
Oh, and that doesn't include tax and 18% gratuity :( But it will also be our ceremony space, so that helps make the cost a bit more palatable.

RNL • 9 years ago

Would you mind sharing what restaurant it is! Omg.

I'm in Vancouver, just starting planning, and want a restaurant wedding.

meganfm • 9 years ago

Depending on the size, have you checked out Chamber? They can fit 60ppl /w a dance floor and 80 ppl without in their downstairs private dining space. And I remember their min. spend being pretty reasonable considering the class of restaurant they are. Only challenge is there's no on-site ceremony space (which is why we passed).

RNL • 9 years ago

That's a great idea! If we can get our wedding numbers that low I'd be into it. I have a friend who supplies produce to them and knows the chef, so I might have an in. As it stands we have way too many people...

Where did you decide on as your venue? And good luck with planning!

Matthew • 9 years ago

Oh and congrats! :)

RNL • 9 years ago

Thank you! And thanks for the great advice.

Matthew • 9 years ago

Steamworks in Gastown. Uber Lounge + Atrium combo. It's pretty gorgeous, with an incredible view. And their catering packages are totally reasonable!


RNL • 9 years ago

You're a genius! They are very reasonable! Thanks for the hot tip. We're totally looking into it. My fiancé and I have fond memories of getting drunk there on XMAS eve... It's kind of a tradition.

Congratulations and happy wedding to you!

Dal • 9 years ago

Thanks for the note! I guess it really depends on the restaurant, and finding the right 'size' for your party

CII • 9 years ago

To give an idea of different ends of the spectrum, we had a daytime wedding + reception at a newish wine bar for about $1800+ nice tips. We had a flat fee per guest (which included snacks and unlimited wine from a selection of five wines, setup of food and cake, service, cutlery, takeodown) and no rental fee. We provided ipod (they provided hookups), cake, and flowers (minimal because the restaurant space was beautiful). We did have a small wedding (50 guests) and the time we had was limited (3 hours total -- we had a seperate party at our home later that evening). I would very much recommend the restaurant route -- you get to deal with professionals in hospitality and it makes it more of a one-stop shop.

Nickie I • 9 years ago

I'm getting married in San Diego, CA at a restaurant. We decided on a Sunday brunch/lunch option. It's a $3,000 minimum. Depending on the menu we chose it works out to about $45-51 per person.

Lisa • 9 years ago

It really depends on what type of restaurant, how much space you're using (event room vs. shutdown), and time/day (a Wednesday afternoon is going to be significantly less than a Saturday evening). Our restaurant had a $10k food and beverage minimum that we needed to hit for downtown Chicago on a Saturday evening, but that included EVERYTHING (see other restaurant comment). It worked out to be $164/head, but that's again including everything. And of course your mileage may vary depending on any of the factors mentioned before.