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UPDATE: Bianca’s Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget


In my very first BSB post I told you about my tendency towards champagne priced goods when I’m working with a budget more fit for beer in the wedding market. BSB readers took one look at how I'd parceled out my $15K budget and chimed in with suggestions on how I could trim down the budget with line item cuts—THANK YOU! With several big decisions under our belts, I am happy to say progress has been made.

My champagne taste-beer budget approach to wedding planning (and life) is more of a value centered one. I believe in having nice things, but I want them for prices that will allow me to have the life I yearn for—a debt free and happy one. When making purchases, I typically follow these three precepts:

  1. It must be something I REALLY want, won’t tire of easily, and won’t have to replace. I don’t buy trendy or cheap items. For me, it’s all about quality.
  2. The price must be really, REALLY good. I won’t see the item at a cheaper price tomorrow or next week and I won’t spend more than I want to; sometimes that means negotiating and sometimes it means walking away. If what I want isn’t available to me at the price I want to pay and it’s within my capability to do it myself, I allow my creativity the space to make it happen.
  3. Absolutely NO TCHOTCHKE! (Pronounced CHACH-KEH) Unless I’m absolutely sure the item is purposeful, I won’t buy it.

A $15K budget is not a lot in the wedding world, especially for 150 people. I’ve been made very aware of this as I’ve marked through items on my checklist, and there have been many to tell me what I “can’t do” without spending more money. Tisk, tisk, tisk…


I can only laugh when I hear this. Why?…because I’m doing it.


Without further ado, here’s a look at our most recent figures.

Created using Picasa 3
Created using Picasa 3

The bulk of our budget is being spent on food and the reason for that lies with all the conveniences offered by our venue:  no venue rental fees, no need for a ton of miscellaneous rentals (china, linens, etc.), complimentary valet, plated meals with no extra charges for staff, and a prime location.  We chose The Olmsted because it comes with so much that the reception will just about run itself. (Editor's note: the Olmsted has closed its doors and is no longer in business.) It also helped us eliminate a good bit of money that would have been needed for rentals (and the logistical nightmares associated with multiple vendors).

Sherrod and I just completed a food tasting at the Olmsted, and it was spectacular! From the moment we walked in, we were greeted by heavenly aromas of fresh baked goods. It smelled so sweet that it was hard to complete the walk-through (which was first on the agenda). We tried two entrees—salmon with couscous and broccoli rabe, as well as, chicken with mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. Sherrod isn’t a fan of salmon, but he thought it was good enough to not add steak to the menu (which we weren’t able to try at the time). I think the jury is still out on that decision, but we’ll see.

It was my first visit to The Olmsted, and I still can’t believe how lucky we were to snag such a great place. It’s HUGE with lots of areas for entertaining, either in spaces off of the garden or in nooks on the upstairs level. The service was great and The Olmsted has lots of relationships with vendors that would make coordinating rentals (if needed) a snap. This tidbit makes coordination for a DIY Bride like me much more attainable. We will need to rent chairs for the garden ceremony, but the cost for chair rentals will be nominal.

It is true that photography is an investment. However, good photography doesn’t always cost an arm and a leg. We shot our engagement session in DC with Beverli Alford Photography, and our Atlanta wedding will be filmed by Barbara B. Covington Photography with a second photographer for 4 hours. Let me tell you, these women are nothing short of PHENOMENAL. Beverli has been featured in several mainstream publications for her fashion photography, and Barbara recently won WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice Awards for 2014 (putting her in the top 5% of wedding professionals nationwide). For all of their talent, it’s hard to believe the sum total for all of our wedding related photography falls under $1500.

No decision made here yet. I’ve had a hard time with this one. We want a DJ to bring the energy but also won't cost us an arm and a leg. If we’re able to trim more in other areas, we may go with our favorite who currently isn’t a consideration because of cost.

Upon the advice of BSB readers, I trimmed down the flower budget a bit to $900. This will be the most challenging area by far.  I’m hoping that our use of candles will offset the amount of flowers needed. With the help of my family and friends, my flowers and décor will be put together with love and lots of laughter.

Who ever said you couldn’t have a fabulous, award-winning, and widely raved about cake maven make a wedding cake for an affordable price? Not I! Early on, I set out to have one of our local grocery stores, Publix, make our wedding cake. I'd heard many times over that grocery store wedding cakes could mean great savings.  Beside, what’s not to love about a Publix’s cakes? If you live in a state with Publix, you know exactly what I mean. However, that all changed when I came across Confection Perfection. Not only were the prices BETTER than Publix, the cake was divine and the overall pricing isn’t affected by flavors, fillings or decorations—just size. I was sold at wedding cake for under $400.

I cosign my fellow BSB blogger, Sarah, on getting a steal of a dress by shopping online. I am very happy with the dress I bought from Light in the Box (LITB) and when it’s all said and done I will have purchased my entire wardrobe for under $400. In fact, LITB has the dime on everything including, veils, undergarments and bridesmaid dresses.  My bridesmaids are also buying their dress from LITB.  Sherrod’s tux rental from Saavi will be free because our wedding party has quite a few rentals.

Paper Goods
I am getting a lot out of my paper budget by designing and printing my own save-the-dates, invitations, and programs. I had to make some changes to my overall design scheme based on the printing trouble I told you about when I posted about how I created our save-the-dates. Ultimately, I may have to increase this budget by a small amount but I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Wedding Bands
In the same vein that we nixed traditional jewelers for my engagement ring, we will be doing the same for our wedding bands. I found some great advice on BSB to help slash our original ring budget some more. I had never considered buying rings from Amazon before, but Jennifer’s post has me all but sure it's the way to go.

This area was a tough one for us. The minister at our church is counseling us with only the expectation that we build a Christ-centered marriage. He is also marrying us with the same expectation, nothing more. The value of what he’s giving us is immeasurable and we’d like to give him a hefty payment for the time he’s investing in us—it feels shameful not to. BSB readers suggested we cut back from our original amount and it seems that we don’t have a choice but to, so we came down about half of our original amount. However, this is one area we will definitely pay forward and find additional ways to support our church and minister.


So there you have it. I've slashed our original (low) estimated budget by almost $1500 and still believe there’s money to save in there. I’ve got a lot more work to do to pull everything together, but I’m feeling pretty good about our decisions. I have a lot more to share about key areas we’re saving huge sums of money on like wardrobe, rings, flowers and décor.  Stay tuned for those.

In the meantime, if you’re like me and you want nice things on a budget, you’re going to have quite a bit to contend with. When faced with doubters, hit one of these:


…and carry on. One monkey won’t stop no show! You CAN do it!

**Note:  Previously, I mentioned that the Olmsted has permitted us to use their garden space at no additional charge for sharing my opinions with you.  However, all opinions shared are my own and have not been influenced by any special offers.  I did not choose any of my vendors because they offered me special perks.  I contracted with them or made purchases in the same vein as many of you will, and I talk openly about them because I love their work and have found a value in them that's not easily found for wedding planning on a budget.  This isn't about gimmicks or kickbacks, just tips to save a dollar or two.**

***Update:  When LITB heard that a BSB blogger bought one of their dresses last week, they were elated and offered me some accessories for my gown that I'd already had in my shopping cart (pending final decisions on bridesmaid dresses).  I didn't need to be sold on LITB anymore, especially after my wedding dress was everything I wanted.  Plus, I'd already started writing a review on my purchase. I am deeply appreciative of their generosity, but you can be sure that my opinions are just that–my own.  I'll put all the details in an upcoming post***

Bianca Jovan

is a Washingtonian transplant from Chicago’s Southside. During the day, I work for the people; after hours, I moonlight as an artist and avid DIYer. On May 10, 2014, I wed my love in Atlanta, GA and added a few letters to my list of achievements… M–R–S!