Once my fiancé, TJ, and I were engaged, to say I dove head first into wedding planning would probably make him roll his eyes. As a matter of fact, I already had a date planned before our engagement weekend was over. I believe he’s even told me, he thought I was going to be crazy about everything when I started talking about a date immediately. Luckily for him, I knew we had 2 years to plan (since May 16, 2015 was the date, no budging), he was in law school and his plate would be full, and I wanted to make this process fun, not exhausting. After all, I get to marry my best friend, and he chose to spend his life with me – how lucky am I?!?
When I first started researching weddings, everything I read told me how important it was to set a budget early and figure out what was most important to both of us. Being that TJ and I are pretty good with budgets (truth be told, TJ is good with budgets, I just follow along with that budget!), I wasn’t too concerned. However, once I started pricing venues, catering, flowers, etc. I realized how critical a well-planned budget would be to the planning process. Creating our budget has been immensely beneficial to our planning and to my sanity!
We are both from middle-class families who cannot pay for the entire wedding themselves, but both families agreed to help as much as they could. We are so thankful for both of them, as I know we could not have our ideal wedding without their support! After comparing prices and looking at different options for vendors, we decided we didn’t want to exceed $15,000. Our families plan to contribute where they can, but overall we felt as though spending over $15K would be too much.
From there, we needed to decide what was most important to us. We wanted to keep things logistically simple, along with having people get the southern feel, so finding a venue was at the top of our list. However, food and dessert/cake was at the top of our list of priorities, as well. We’ve been to numerous weddings, and what we both remember are the food and desserts at the memorable ones (not to mention our usual date nights include eating out or going for dessert)!
The least important item for us was having an open bar. We do not drink, but also respect people like to have beer and wine with dinner, and it helps in getting everyone to the dance floor. Thankfully, our venue allows us to bring our own alcohol that our caterers will then serve, so we are providing beer & wine, which we have found is saving us an abundance of money. We also didn’t want any “over the top” decorations, so we have decided on DIY table numbers, centerpieces, signage, and other decorations.
In later posts, I will elaborate in further detail about each of our vendors and how we chose them, but we are beyond excited to work with all of them to make our day special.
- Ceremony & Reception Venue: All Saints Chapel
- A beautiful, historic chapel built in 1875 that has been renovated for events.
- Catering: Empire Eats Catering – The Pit Authentic Barbeque
- The Pit has been featured on The Food Network, “Man vs. Food”, “The Today Show”, etc.
- Cake & Cupcakes: Edible Art Bakery
- Featuring scratch-made southern style pound-cake.
- Florist (bouquets & boutonnieres): North Raleigh Florist
- DJ: Frank Carbone from CWDJ Entertainment
- Frank Carbone is a mid-day on-air radio personality and wedding/event DJ for the past 10 years.
- Photographer: Annette Calud Staudinger
- A dear family friend who is quite talented behind a camera.
- Wedding Day-Of-Coordinator: Britt Kirkley
- A dear friend who planned her own wedding featured on the Southern Weddings blog & owner of CLT Boutique – I also purchased my bridesmaids gifts/jewelry from her etsy shop.
What did you and your fiancé deem as “most important”?
What do you remember most at the weddings you’ve attended?
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.