helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank

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Photos by Punam Bean Photography

Photography – $2000

This was our photographer’s 2007 fee, which has since gone up — she was just starting out when we booked her, so we got her at a great rate! We were actually willing to spend more on photography since it was our #1 priority, but really lucked out in finding Punam Bean for such a great rate. This fee included full-day coverage and unlimited photographs (all digital), as well as a $1,300 album credit (her albums run between $1,300 – $2,600), a DVD with hi-res images printable up to 8×10 size, and free engagement session. Punam is based in New York but will travel pretty much anywhere (with an appropriate fee) to shoot a wedding. In our case, Punam and her lovely husband Andrew drove down to DC the night before and Andrew worked as Punam’s assistant at our wedding.

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Photos by Punam Bean Photography

Dress, Shoes, and Accessories – $1,500

I bought my dress second hand, but splurged a bit on accessories, but which I was comfortable doing since I know they are pieces that I will wear again in the future. I did not wear a veil, but found an Etsy seller who was willing to make a custom hair-vine based for $35. I’ve found that places that specialize in “bridal” accessories, like shoes, hair accessories, veils, etc., are often more expensive simply because it’s bridal — so I saved money by simply shopping at non-bridal stores (my shoes were purchased online from Piperlime, for example). We don’t count my husband’s attire in the budget since he wore his own suit, shoes, and tie that were not purchased specifically for the wedding (another good way to keep costs down).

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Photos by Punam Bean Photography

Floral arrangements – $1,000

This is probably the only area where I think I actually overpaid for a wedding-related service. Although I love, love flowers, we knew that we didn’t have the budget for complicated floral arrangements. We wanted to use two flowers as the main elements for our wedding – lilacs and peonies – both of which can be expensive, but we compensated for that by going with simple arrangements displayed in mason jars and filled out by in-season (and relatively inexpensive) spring and garden flowers — ranunculus, sweet peas, etc. Most of it I could have probably found at the Farmer’s Market on the morning of our wedding. Should have been easy.

For our wedding, our floral budget broke down as follows: personal flowers (bouquets and boutonnieres) cost approximately $460 and our reception floral arrangement were $540 — six vases of milk glass vases with cream roses were $90 alone! I figured for that price we’d get some nice, full arrangements, but I was unpleasantly surprised on the day of the wedding. I considered doing the floral arrangements on my own, but a) I didn’t know where I could find lilacs for my bouquet and b) was convinced by my friends and family that it would just be easier to have a florist take care of it. I won’t go into boring detail on everything that my florist did wrong, but I had a horrible experience with our florist and think I could have done a better job on my own.

If I could do it over again, I probably would have used a florist only for our personal flowers and gone with my original idea of just swinging by the Farmer’s Market on the morning of or day before the wedding. I probably could have even gone to Whole Foods and picked up nine bunches of peonies and called it a day. Since the two biggest ways to save money in your floral arrangements are to use in-season flowers and to go with non-labor intensive arrangements, you could easily enlist a couple of bridesmaids/friends to help arrange flowers and transport them to the venue on the day of the wedding. Yes, it’s another item on the “to do” list and a potential headache in terms of transport to the wedding, but you’ll save a ton on labor and mark-up costs and you’ll have more control over the end result.

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Photos by Punam Bean Photography

Music – Free!

Our friend Mark played the music for the ceremony, and we used our own iPod and speaker unit for the reception music. We actually had a very hard time trying to decide what to do for ceremony music since we did not have a lot of money available for hiring musicians and yet have very specific taste in music — until I remembered that I one of my best and oldest friends is a very talented guitar player! I spoke to Mark and he was happy to learn our songs and play them for the ceremony — it turned out to be the perfect decision. It sounded great and perfectly suited our personality and wedding style.

For the reception music, it was a similar situation. My husband is not a big dancer, and so we planned our wedding from the very beginning as a big, informal, fun dinner party rather than a traditional wedding with dinner and dancing. We didn’t have the budget for a live band, but didn’t think we could justify spending money on a DJ either, so we decided to go the iPod route. We put together a playlist (which you can find on our married bio on the knot), plugged our iPod into a Bose speaker unit, and just let it run through the reception.

Next up, Paper Products, DIY projects, and other misc.

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About Jessica

Jessica is the creator of The Budget Savvy Bride; she launched the site in May of 2008, shortly after becoming engaged. Jessica has been recognized as a budget wedding expert by various media outlets and continues to share realistic inspiration and actionable tips to help brides save money on their weddings. Google

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  • Guilty Secret

    I just love the back of her dress! And I’m really glad to read this just after I posted about dumping our florist… it has confirmed for me that I made the right decision :)

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