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When your wedding budget limits your options

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The type of cake we’d get if we had a lot of dollars: image found here

My first choice venue was $4,298 plus the cost of food; a beautiful 25 acre retreat center that only allows you to rent the space for 2 days minimum. And when my favorite gentleman and I were cake tasting, our favorite cake ended up costing $9 a slice plus $85 delivery; for the record, we were told that cakes start at $4.00 a slice, but that was for something extremely basic and with limited flavor choices. Despite how I originally felt about a wedding dress, I did find one that I was in love with that ended up being close to $400. Unfortunately, the truth is that our wedding budget is limiting our options.

So what do you do when your first choices don’t match up with what you can afford? We decided to be super systematic about it; we listed down all the aspects required for a wedding, and then individually ranked them by what we felt was most important to least important. The bottom 3 aspects, we decided to either nix them completely or do them for very cheap. The top 3 aspects, we decided that as long as we were being reasonable, we will go with a choice that may be pricier, but would be worth it.

For the record

Top 3

1) Ceremony – In the beginning, we knew that we wanted this to be special; the ceremony is what separates a wedding from just a party. We decided on having this done by a Justice of the Peace; we did a search, and interviewed 3 people, and surprisingly, the least expensive one ended up being the one that we felt the most connected with! Total Cost = $200 including rehearsal, initial meeting, and custom ceremony.

2) Food – We wanted to make sure that our guests would have something to eat. We’re having 2 food trucks, one with carnival food

*Freshly spun cotton candy
*Italian Sausages with Onions & Peppers
*Fried Dough with fruit, Boston Cream, or Cinnamon sugar toppings.

and a second one with home-made ice cream sandwiches with 3 ice cream choices and 3 cookie choices!

We also decided to have a double sided buffet set up where on one side we’re having Indian food (because we couldn’t find a Bangladeshi caterer) and on the other side, corresponding Filipino food; a sort of nod to both our cultures, as well as the fact that my fiancé and I are more similar than folks think.

Indian side
*Curry Chicken
*Spinach Paneer

Filipino Side
*Chicken Adobo
*Pandesal (a Filipino bread)

The total cost of all this food, for 80-90 guests?

$1700 (carnival food) + $400 (Ice Cream Sandwich truck) + $350 (Indian food side) + $300 (Filipino food side) = $2,750
We were told that venue & food should take up a solid 50% of your budget, and it looks like we ended up being a little bit more than we anticipated; our venue was $400.

Photography – not ONCE have I heard someone say that they regret investing in photography, yet a friend of mine who spent $350 on a photographer ended up being really sad about how her wedding pictures ended up. A girl I went to high school with became a photographer, and when I went to visit her site, I knew that I wanted her to be our wedding photographer. When I originally contacted her, she gave me her rates; starting at $1,000. It seemed like a lot, so I told her I needed to think about it; this was in January 2012, really early in the planning process. So I searched around, and saw that everyone of her caliber was PRICEY. Twice as much or more, so when I got back to her (6 months later), I was happy to see that May 25th was still open. Photography cost – $1,200 (for 6 hours of coverage)

And what we had to cut or reduce, since we couldn’t have it all?

Videographer (cut)
Centerpieces (see this post)
Hair & make-up (Doing it myself, will post about it closer to the wedding date)

Oh, and in the 20 minutes it took me to carefully rank the aspects of a wedding? My favorite gentleman was writing this.

1)      I just want to marry you.

2)      We can get married in our Sunday best at a courthouse on a Wednesday afternoon.

3)      But I know you want a wedding; so I’m making it look like I’m writing something.

4)      PS – I love you

So what about you? What are your priorities, and what have you decided to cut?

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is a bride blogger who got married in May of 2013. Read more of her wedding planning posts here.