Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Nowizard »

One item of importance is to carefully determine what type of photography or videos you want and shop around. Prices vary tremendously, and you can locate a photographer who will do an excellent job for much less than others.

Flower arrangements are also variable in cost. Ideally, you have a friend who is knowledgeable who will arrange flowers purchased in bulk from Costco, Kroger's or a similar place. In an ideal world, you would heavily consider a venue that also had in-house catering. You pay for the caterer to package everything and keep it warm or warm it after transporting it.

Many venues have chairs for the invitees, many do not offer this option. Wooden chairs are more elegant but about twice the price of plastic ones. With a typical wedding being short, plastic is fine. Of course this is not an issue if it is a church wedding. Another large expense is alcohol if you choose to serve it. If you offer mixed drinks, your costs will sky rocket. A very acceptable approach is to offer non-alcoholic options and wine. With wine you have many choices and can choose to spend at a very high level or much more modestly if you use wine that is more mundane. Country Club receptions will suggest the higher level. Surprisingly, outlet stores suggested an inexpensive white and red wine, even beer, after asking the ages of the bride and groom and the average age of attendees. Younger folks are fine with beer as an option, older want more wine, and if the couple is older or more established, then more expensive wine is going to be suggested.

Obviously, catering varies from rubber chicken with green beans to beef Wellington with quail appetizers. Typical options if serving a meal after the wedding would include beef, chicken and fish. Just the last two choices are common and less expensive.

It goes without saying that the wedding dress can be almost any price, as can the rings. A recent idea for bridesmaids is for the bride to name the basic color and length (If she wants everyone in a long or shorter dress), along with whether it is low-cut or more modest, but for the bridesmaids to choose the dress with concurrence of the bride. This enhances the probability of choosing dresses that can be worn again by bridesmaids and does offer more originality to weddings which are sometimes quite formulaic.

Another option that we followed with our son (We were paying for the wedding) was to set an amount we would contribute with the statement they were on their own for anything else. We had a wonderful friend who did the flowers at the rehearsal dinner, wedding and wedding dinner, and we did the invitations ourselves (another significant expense). Venue costs vary widely depending on the place and services offered. Schedule way ahead of the wedding. We rented a small museum for the rehearsal dinner, another, larger museum with catering option and party space for the wedding and had 150 at the rehearsal dinner, approximately the same number for the wedding dinner. We used a deejay rather than a band (Another cost saving) and had a breakfast at a local café before guests left the next morning. We used a relatively novice photographer who was great, served beer and wine and had very nice gift baskets waiting at the hotel for each out-of-town guest. Total cost in October, 2015 in Memphis was right at $30,000 which included an Elvis tribute artist at the rehearsal dinner as a surprise. A similar wedding in many areas could easily be considerably higher.

It would be inappropriate to not mention the key point of the ceremony. Vows were written by the couple, and the minister was a family member from another state whose travel expenses were covered in the total cost. It was a high-value wedding at a comparatively modest cost, or, if not, no one said so! :happy

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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Xpe »

Hm... trying to think if I have any advice. Spent 30k last year on my wedding. Would have been nice to have spent less, but I wouldn't necessarily say we 'regret' it.

I think the important thing is that most people aren't going to care how much you spent or what your wedding looked like, they're there to see you get married (and for the free(?) booze!).
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by letsgobobby »

I suggest you marry someone Vietnamese. That way all the guests will bring you cash.

It's possible other cultures do the same thing. I can't speak from experience, however.

On a serious note, our reception was at an authentic Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant. Ten course seafood meal, about $400 per table (10 guests). Awesome food. Tons of it. No fee beyond the food. It is an excellent way to really put on a good meal for guests at a comparatively reasonable price.
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by JFKtoSFO »

I had a very expensive wedding, but most of the cost was the food and venue. I cut many many "wedding-y" things out of the big day and no one noticed or cared. People still call me and tell me it was the best wedding they had ever attended. These are some of the things we did.

* Had a friend officiate.
* Hired a string quartet to play rock songs, but only hired them for ceremony + cocktail hour then switched out to an iPod. No one noticed they left. (It was a daytime outdoor wedding so we cut dancing altogether)
* Didn't have seating arrangements. (You can do this by having food stations like we did, or buffets) Saves SO much mental energy AND eliminated the need for place settings, table cards and a million other things.
* Didn't have a wedding party. 1 maid of honor + 1 best man, they wore whatever they wanted because there was no one else to match.
* Bought a white evening dress from Saks. The same company makes a near identical wedding dress that is $2000 more just because it was in the wedding section. Wore non-white shoes so they could be worn again.
* Estate jewelry for the bride's wedding band, fun nerdy band found on internet for the groom. Both $100 and get endless compliments.
* Made our own "rustic" save the dates. Most people will be throwing these out anyway, no reason to spend cash on them. I also skipped the calligrapher on the wedding invites since that envelope gets trashed in less than a minute.
* Ordered the invitations off Etsy. MUCH cheaper than any store, and excellent quality.
* Had ceremony + reception at the same place, which cut the need for the limo
* Ditched the rehearsal dinner, this was family didn't have to travel twice in two days.
* Dessert bar instead of a wedding cake. We had a tiny little $20 white cake on top of a cupcake tower that we cut. An entire dessert bar for 100 people was $500 less than the most basic fondant wedding cake.
* Didn't have wedding favors - no one missed them. I had a photobooth so the guests could keep a memento they liked instead of a bag of colored almonds or a heart-shaped frame. Bonus: I had photos of everyone who attended the wedding, in case my photographer missed a group.

Other things you could do is only have Beer + Wine + Signature Cocktail instead of a full bar. I got vetoed on this one because my family likes to drink.

The things I'm glad I spent money on was my photographer, and my wedding planner. I now have wonderful pictures of family members I rarely get to see, and the wedding planner was worth her weight in gold because she kept things running smoothly and allowed us to focus on our jobs and life instead of wedding planning tedium.
Last edited by JFKtoSFO on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by letsgobobby »

wanted to add, we also did things pretty simple on many levels. It was a large wedding (250 guests) by American standards, but not by Vietnamese American standards. We kept the guest list to real friends, family, and friends of family, etc, including extended family and church members of course but not random strangers who said hi to the parents once twenty years earlier. A family member arranged the flowers. We paid for photography but not videography (I think wife is still ok with that, every now and then she makes a comment that has me wondering if she'd like to have the non-existent video). As far as alcohol, we provided some wine and a bottle of cognac at every table (of ten) but otherwise alcohol was up to the guests. A family member's wedding band did the music for half their usual fee (as a wedding gift).

Ten years later, all people really remember is they had a lot of fun - the feel was not too formal, the music was great, the cognac lubricated the night, and the food was outstanding (cracked lobster with ginger, scallion, salt and pepper as one of ten courses, for instance). I think we spent about $25,000 all in, which seemed pretty reasonable for 250 guests.
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by czeckers »

We got married when we were young and poor on a $3000 budget. Ring was a nice ring but with a CZ instead of a diamond (the stone ended up falling out of the setting a few years later so no worries there). Rehearsal dinner at grandma's (great food), nice ceremony at Church, reception at an inexpensive place with reasonably priced food (buffet). Only friends and family. Did our own floral arrangements, center pieces, gifts, etc. Honeymoon at a timeshare donated by my in-laws. We splurged a bit on the photographer and that was money well spent.

The goal was to get friends and family together and to get married. Mission accomplished, absolutely no regrets. That was 17 years ago and I'm happy to say we're still going strong.

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