Please give us a breakdown of how you spent your budget.
- Photography: $500
- Bride’s Attire: $1400
- Catering: $660
- Bar: $525
- Cake: $0 (gift, $150 estimated value)
- Venue: $1400
- Flowers: $410
- Decor: $250
- Groom’s attire: $0 (gift, $450 estimated value)
- Music: $0 (Spotify premium playlist)
- Rentals: $20
- Wedding Planner: $1500
- Stationary: $115
Total: $7,000 wedding budget
How many guests did you have?
We had about 54 total guests attend our wedding. Many of those we invited lived in far away states and were unlikely to attend, so we planned as though 60 people would attend even though we invited more than 60 total guests.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
The center stone of my engagement ring was originally in my mom’s 10th-anniversary ring that she and my dad picked out together. I remember going to the store with them to pick it out, so it holds a special place in my heart that I get to wear it now. We also were able to have the same officiant that my parents had for their wedding in 1992.
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
Our guestbook was comprised of a scrapbook, scrapbooking supplies, and two instant cameras. We had guests take pictures and decorate the pages as they chose with provided materials. It was a surprise hit of the night! I think it was especially popular because not everyone at the wedding are the dancing kind of people, so it gave some of them something else fun to do.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
We had a Friday wedding in the off-season, which ended up saving a lot of money on photography. Our photographer was able to do a 2-hour package, so we got first look photos, portraits, and family photos along with ceremony and detail photos. The original photographer I had in mind starts at $4000 for a half day wedding.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
The best thing I did was to hire a wedding planner. Sara is especially amazing at taking what’s available and making it beautiful. I could not have had such a beautiful, stress-free day without her! We were able to save on decorations by having the wedding in a place that was already beautiful and by having the wedding on a Friday.
The custom photography package was Sara’s idea and helped us capture the photos that were important to us without the expense of a full day of photography. Sara placed all the florals in the venue and her staff helped coordinate the timing of everything without me ever having to think about it. Calling in favors worked out well for us because our loved ones were experienced in the areas we asked them for help.
I really tried to make our day comfortable for both us and our guests. In thinking about all the weddings I had been to, and what I remembered from all of them, I can’t remember the food or centerpieces but I do remember being bored at a long ceremony or getting really hungry during a long break between ceremony and reception. Our ceremony started at 5, was about 10 minutes long, we had a 45 minute cocktail hour and then ate dinner. I can see how if we would have had our ceremony later in the evening, it would have been better for people who get off of work at 5.
What was your biggest splurge?
I splurged on hiring a wedding planner, but I absolutely think it was worth it. Wedding planners aren’t a commonly used service in my area, so quite a few people questioned it. In the end, it helped my wedding day feel much less stressful and the planning and execution were just wonderful. If I hadn’t hired my planner I would have felt like my ideas were all over the place and that I had to do everything myself, even if that wasn’t true. My wedding planner also helped my family and friends enjoy my day more because they didn’t have to worry about any roles they played on the big day, they just got to come and have fun!
What was your favorite detail?
I absolutely loved the wedding arch made of greenery! We were so surprised to see it when we walked in and I think it looked beautiful, especially with the exposed brick. We had originally planned to have the ceremony in the attached courtyard outside, but the weather wasn’t quite warm enough to be outside so we had it indoors. I think it turned out really well!
When planning my wedding it was really important for me to have some details that honored my mom, who passed away in 2004. I felt like an empty seat with her picture during the ceremony would just make me feel her absence more, so we had a small memorial table for people to see as they walked in. It was a nice touch and even though I missed her throughout the planning and wedding day, it helped me feel like she was there with me the whole time without making it too overwhelming. I think it helped Marcus’s family to understand why my mom wasn’t there without having to ask. We had some more subtle details to honor her, but the table was the most obvious.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
I really loved the first look that we did. I am normally an easy crier, so I actually expected to cry but I did not expect it from Marcus! I’m really glad that we have pictures of it, and that it happened in front of only a handful of people so he wasn’t crying in front of a crowd.
Also, Marcus had broken his ankle from slipping on ice in December before the wedding and his doctor had told us the week of the wedding that he still couldn’t bear weight on the leg. He had to use his scooter to get up and down the aisle! All of our wedding photos where he is standing are him balancing on one leg, but I would never be able to tell if I didn’t know any better.
Photography: Courtney Dueppengieser Photography • Ceremony/Reception Venue: The Rialto Banquet Hall • Flowers: Right Touch Floral, Mendon, IL • Wedding Planner: Sara Elizabeth Weddings • Stationery: Susan Moyal via minted.com • Catering: JJ’s Catering • Rentals: Celebrations Party and Event Rental • Hair Stylist: Allison Sanders at The Beauty Bar • Wedding Gown Designer: Willowby by Watters • Bridal Salon or Shop: Vera’s House of Bridals • Engagement Ring: Ginsberg Jewelers, Cedar Rapids, IA • Groom’s Suit/Tux: Schuecking’s Menswear, Quincy, IL