Time for another installment of the Budget Savvy Wedding of the Week! This week's wedding comes to us from Illinois, from a couple who made some compromises to keep their wedding true to themselves! They have some great advice for planning, so be sure to check it out! Thanks Theresa and Jacob for sharing your big day with us!
Where did you get married?
Technically we were married at our apartment in Arlington Heights, IL, but had a formal ceremony (led by my younger brother) and reception at Garden Terrace Banquets in Elk Grove Village, IL
What was your budget?
Our budget was about $10,000-11,000, and I'm pretty sure we didn't exceed it. It was very important to us to keep outside costs down to be able to afford to have most of our friends and family come for the event.
Approx. $8,000 was spent on the banquet hall space/food/bar service/cake. The banquet package was pretty all-inclusive, and included the open bar, wedding cake, and most of the standard decorations. Part of why we chose the venue included their pricing for catering services-it was a great deal that we couldn't pass up for a seated meal!
The shuttle service we hired was approx. $450 for the whole evening.
We had a couple of things that either our parents helped us out with, or I won in online giveaways:
My parents purchased my dress (which was about $240 at a Brides Against Breast Cancer event) and made the hot chocolate-tube favors/placecards. Jake's parents covered the DJ's costs. I actually won 250 long-stemmed roses from an internet giveaway from Dana of The Broke Ass Bride fame, so our flower budget (which was pretty non-existent) was complementary. In that same giveaway, I also won a ceremony set (flower girl basket, guest book, pen, etc) that I exchanged for a birdcage gift card holder and a scrapbook. Our guest book was free through an offer I found online from Snapfish; I was able to personalize a photo book to include love-related quotes and spaces for people to leave well-wishes.
How many guests did you have?
We both have very large families and some close-knit friends, so we ended up with 173 RSVP'd yeses, but only about 150 people showed up for the reception.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
To reduce costs and to maximize the “Tree and Jake”-ness of our day, we DIT'd (Do-it-together) many of the decorations, from the mustaches-on-sticks (that Jake loved so much, it was the only thing he requested for the wedding!) for the photo backdrop, to the flower centerpieces, pinwheel bouquets, tissue poms, and favors. There were lots of pops of color everywhere, but the hall still had a very classy, intimate feeling to it.
Additionally, the best man (who is Jake's cousin) wrote a song for us to have our first dance to. He sent it to me ahead of time, so that I could have a copy. He performed it at the reception on his keyboard, and it was such a special moment. Just…amazing.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
Planning a wedding for February definitely has it's benefits in the “cheaper by the season” section. We found that many vendors had great discounts for us just because they were slower pre-wedding season. It was around the half-year mark for our dating anniversary, so it makes keeping anniversaries/how long we've been together a little easier as well.
DIT projects, and just prioritizing what was important also saved us some cash. Neither of us has been married before, so it was a lot of brainstorming on what guests remember about a wedding reception (food/bar service and music!). And from there we cut things that did not matter to us. We didn't care about a limo (it would have been awesome, but just wasn't necessary), or a hand-plated meal. We also compromised where possible to see where we could find a good deal (our DJ had discounts for time of year of the wedding and for booking online, and it saved us $300).
What's the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you're on the other side?
In the end, only argue over the stuff that matters (with your fiancee, or with family/friends). But when it does matter, and it'll matter in 5 days, 5 months, 5 years, put your foot down and keep it there. There's nothing wrong with a little compromise, but walk the line between being a pushover and being a jerk. We had some difficulty working around more traditional parents who were upset that we were “missing” aspects of the wedding/reception that they thought were important (but weren't for us), but overall were able to compromise to make sure that our ideas weren't thrown out the window, and that traditions that were important to our parents weren't completely ignored. I realize now that the marriage is what's special and what counts to the bride and groom, but the wedding is about family and community.
I had envisioned walking myself down the aisle, and having my fiancé meet me halfway to finish the walk with me. My dad knew that that was my plan, and told me he didn't mind. When he passed away 9 months before the wedding, my mother (who did not know of our plan) was extremely upset that I “had” to walk myself because my father couldn't. She wanted to walk me, and the decision that I made to have her walk me was stressful, but I know that in 5 months/5 years, I'll be glad that I didn't fight for that one moment.
What was your biggest splurge?
Our biggest splurge was probably the open bar. We know our families love a good party, and we wanted to make sure that every person had a great time and enjoyed themselves at the reception. It is a party, after all!
What was your favorite detail?
The banquet hall is part of a local park district building that included a working carousel. The carousel room had already been booked for a children's party for the day of our wedding, but we were able to sneak in afterward for about 15/20 minutes for photos. It was so much fun, and some of my favorite photos were from that small session. Also, it was a nice break to get out of the banquet hall and have a couple moments to re-group.
What was the most memorable moment of your day?
The most memorable moment would have to be our groomsman, Trent, marrying us at the apartment. He was so nervous, but wanted to pull through for us since our other plans had fallen through. There was a lot of nervous giggling, some jokes between the bridal party, and I just remember thinking, “Wow. This is it. After this, it's allllllllll gravy.” 🙂
Venue: Garden Terrace Banquets
Caterer: Two Chefs Catering
Photographer: Jolie Images Photography
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 resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.