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Going unconventional

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Planning a wedding, in Miami, for $10,000 is a tall order; especially for a fancy girl like myself. According to CostOfWedding.com, the average cost of a wedding in Miami is $24,478; that’s not too far off from the national average! So, you’re probably wondering how am I going to pull it off for $10,000! (EEK!).

Well, I plan to use a pinch of thrift, a dash of DIY and a whole lot of savvy to do so.

In my quest to maximize my budget, I accomplished 2 great things; finding an affordable wedding planner and booking a cost-effective but unconventional venue.

I got a wedding planner to help me plan the wedding. Kyle and I live in New Jersey, and I realized early on that it’d be more efficient for me to have a planner. In addition, I needed a resource that could leverage their network in order to help me meet our budget. However, like everything else in Miami, wedding planners can be pretty pricey. One woman wanted to charge me 20% of my budget (YIKES!). So, I had to do A LOT of research to find someone who wouldn’t break the bank.

Ladies and future brides, if you haven’t already, begin creeping local message boards on sites such as The Knot and Wedding Wire. These places are hidden gold mines offering a plethora of knowledge. Not only are you receiving personal recommendations, but first hand testimonials regarding a vendor’s service.

After surveying a few wedding planners mentioned on these boards, I did further research and learned that one was offering a very nice discount on their coordination services. After some screening and interviewing, Kyle and I booked them for full wedding coordination; which costs us less than 10% of our overall budget. SCORE!

Next up, the venue.

Six months ago, I just KNEW that Kyle and I would be married at a Lighthouse with our reception at a nearby café. But that idea was quickly deaded after a site visit by the wedding planners. There were things I didn’t take into consideration when dreaming up my wedding, such as per person entrance fees. And other details that I would not have thought to consider (like the lack of a rain/storm plan). So, we had to move on.

unconventional venue
Where Kyle and I initially wanted to get married.
Image by Chelsea Erwin Photography

The wedding planners recommended that Kyle and I find a venue for under $1,000, and where we could host the ceremony and reception. That way we could allot more money to things such as floral, catering and rentals. Great, no problem, right?

Uh, hmm…no. Not as easy as it sounded. In order to do so, this meant that we’d have to look into unconventional venues and expand our search to include areas outside of Miami. So this led us to look into restaurants and nature parks. Restaurants provide so much that all you have to do is show up. Where as nature parks, provide a beautiful backdrop, which require minimal decoration.

I looked into their recommendations, (which were many) and narrowed our list down to 3 possible places. 1 was a nature park, and 2 were restaurants.

The first was a beautiful nature-esque park called Fern Forest, whose rental fee was $800. The venue was very rustic, but I liked the natural setting it provided. However, it came with a lot of stipulations. Such as needing a set up crew that wouldn’t have a lot of time to set up, and having to leave the reception hall exactly as we found it; no exceptions!

I looked into another venue, a nice restaurant. It was very beautiful and their over all fee would have been $6k. Remember, this included everything I needed (food seating, venue). However, no one (me, my mother, FMIL, Wedding Planners) had great chemistry with the events director. This means a lot, because having a great rapport with the events director can make or break your event.  Though the venue was beautiful, I left the meeting in tears… Which is not a good sign. So, you know where this option went.


unconventional venue

The final venue I looked at was the 94th Aero Squadron. As a little girl, I would drive pass this restaurant every day on the way to school. Could this have been providence? I loved it the moment I stepped inside. The venue has a very old school charm to it, but I liked it. Additionally, the events manager and her associate were not only nice, but flexible and accommodating and just an overall pleasure to work with.  Also, it costs me $1,000 less than the previous restaurant. This, I credit to my savvy-ness. For instance, we’re hosting a daytime wedding as opposed to one in the evening. Additionally, I cut out some things from the menu that also saved $$$.


unconventional venue

I’m very happy that I was able to book a wonderful venue, and still have money in my budget to allocate to details such as flowers, photography, and décor.

What kind of unconventional venues are you looking into?

Until next time,




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is a bride blogger who got married in 2014. You can read her wedding planning posts here.