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helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank

So today I'm going to be featuring the real budget of the super sweet Nole + Andrew who you all probably saw featured on Style Me Pretty a few weeks back. I was amazed by all the lovely details of her wedding that she was able to accomplish on a budget that is considered to be pretty small for her area. So, I did what many people might consider rude and asked the big question- how did you do it? Especially with a fabulous photographer and letterpress invites?! Well, Nole graciously answered my questions and is allowing me to share the information with all of you! It definitely has helped me to see where she saved and what a piece-by-piece breakdown looks like. So without further ado, I give you Nole's very thorough and helpful budget! (Which I have broken up into a few posts so check back later for more!)

Reception – approx $6,000

Nole + Andrew reception

Photos by Punam Bean Photography

Food and Service – $3900

We kept costs down in our catering budget by choosing not to have a seated/served dinner reception and also by having a smaller wedding overall. Our caterer offered a 10% discount for signing a contract with them by a certain date, which helped keep costs down. Because we chose to go with tapas-style food (essentially heavy hors d' oeuvres), the food itself wasn't very expensive, I think around $39 per person. Service included a bartender, three waiters, one “chef” (although I don't think they prepared any food on site), two kitchen staff, and the catering event manager.

We chose to set our food up at “food stations” – which is sort of similar to a buffet but not quite the same. Our stations were divided up between a “Middle Eastern Station” and a “Mediterranean Station” – guests went up to each station, grabbed a small-sized (not full dinner-size plate) and were served by the wait staff at the station. Having food stations rather than a seated service helped keep costs down by reducing the number of wait staff needed — if we'd done a seated meal with served entrees we probably would have needed twice the number of staff to get the food out in a timely fashion.

Wine – $180

Although our caterer offered a reasonably-priced wine package, we knew that not all of our guests were drinkers (perhaps only 60%) and so chose to purchase our own wine rather than pay an additional $X per person for wine service. Our caterer was happy to serve our wine at no additional service charge. We purchased our own wine at Trader Joe's for between $3-5 per bottle, and purchased around 40 bottles, which actually ended up being more than we needed, so we gave a few bottles to our guests and the catering staff to take home.

Nole + Andrew cake

Photos by Punam Bean Photography

Cakes – $270

I love the look of some traditional wedding cakes, but they're SO expensive and sometimes the look of the cake is better than its taste. Our priority was on finding a great-tasting cake, so we went to the best bakery in town – CakeLove. CakeLove does do actual tiered wedding cakes, but not in the flavors that we wanted and they don't do traditional “wedding style” decorations, so we decided to just use individual cakes. While CakeLove's prices are a bit on the high side for a routine birthday cake, we were able to get three 9″ cakes (which feed a total of 60 people) for less than what a traditional wedding cake probably would have cost us.

Nole + Andrew table

Photos by Punam Bean Photography

Equipment and rentals – $1500

This fee included both food equipment (all the stuff they use to store, prepare, and display the food on site), plates, cloth napkins, silverware (we only needed forks – no knives or spoons), glass ware, tables, chairs, and linens. For the guest tables, we used a series of 8′ and 6′ tables lined up end-to-end for a total length of 26′ (two 8′ tables and two 6′ tables). Each table was a standard 30″ wide. We also used one 6′ table for the cake/coffee table, and two 6′ tables each for the bar and food stations, so I think we had a total of 15 tables. Our venue had one 6′ table that we were able to use for free (well as part of our venue fee) for the guest book table. Guests found their seats by looking for their place cards at the individual place settings and so we did not need a separate table for escort cards. We rented light blue linens to fit each of the tables, but those were standard cotton/twill and did not require an additional surcharge. Because we DIY-ed our own table runners, we did not need any overlays for the linens. We used the same chairs for both the ceremony and reception (so we only needed 50 total), and we just used the standard white garden chairs offered by our caterer, which we actually prefer to the all-mighty, but kind of uncomfortable, Chivari chair. And our caterer actually moved the chairs from the ceremony to the reception. They moved them all over during the cocktail hour, which we held in the front of the house so that our guests wouldn't be able to see all the catering staff carrying the chairs back and forth.

Nole + Andrew favors

Photos by Punam Bean Photography

Favors – $150

This was an item that we probably could have done without, but I thought would be a nice touch. You can find favor boxes online at a relatively inexpensive price if you do a bit of research, but the challenge is finding something to give your guests that costs less than $5. On a routine food shopping trip, we discovered that Whole Foods sells chocolate truffles with interesting flavor combinations – we ended up going with a rosewater-flavored white chocolate truffle and an orange-cardamom dark chocolate truffle, which also fit in with our international cuisine choices. Yet again, buying a normal item from a non-wedding store helped us save money, and we were able to provide wonderful favors for less than $3 per guest.

Next up, the matters of the heart- Photography, The Dress, Flowers etc!

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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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  • Thank you for this! It is so great to see how other brides budgeted their money!

  • Guilty Secret

    This is great, really interesting. Our budget is quite similar and I think I might post our final run-down of costs after the event too…

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