Ceremony: Me=0, them=1. I loved our venue and our officiant. However, between needing a rabbi who were perform an interfaith wedding, and having to get married in MA (so we couldn’t use a synagogue where we were members) because we are a same-sex couple, we ended up with over $3,000 just for rabbi and synagogue.
Ketubah: Me=0, them=1. No, there is no way to make the standard ketubah language–even that of an “egalitarian” text–work for two women. There are something like 17 places in which the Hebrew refers to the couple in the masculine gender. Thus, we had to pay extra for a custom text. It was lovely in the end, though!
Chuppah: Me=1, them=0. Just to rent a chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) from a florist or chuppah rental place would have cost about $500. Plus, since the ceremony was in MA and the reception was in DC, we would have had to either rent twice or not have our DC friends able to see it. I decided that notwithstanding last having sewn anything 40 years ago, I could make one. Partway through, I nearly gave up. However, I finally made one–using the frame from a portable popup gazebo, so it was very transportable–for under $200. I sold it for $200 after the ceremony.
Reception Venue: Me=1, them=0. Rental price for the venue was $750, plus $250 for an open bar for 60 people for five hours. And we got to come in two days early to decorate, and bring our own food/decor instead of dealing with a preferred venue. As a bonus, the club owner borrowed our musician’s guitar and sang us a song traditional in his family for weddings, as a tribute.
Food: Me=1, them=0. We paid a couple of friends $500 to buy, serve, and clean up the food, and paid $200 for the food itself (from BJ’s Wholesale). We had enough food for 60 people, plus enough leftovers that we were eating them for the next month.
Dresses: Me=1, Them=0. They make matching bridesmaids’ dresses, but we needed matching dresses for the two brides. And since I’m 5’10” and she’s 5’1″, and we’re entirely different shapes, we couldn’t get exactly the same style. However, we found a bridal store at which the owner had a really good idea for what would look good on each of us, and still coordinate. And it was a consignment store, so we got each dress for $450 and were able to walk out with the dresses the same day. On a different day, we went back and got two coordinating veils at half off.
Invitations: Me=1, professional invitation designers=0. My wife designed the invitations based on the design of our ketubah (formal Jewish wedding contract), with the permission of the ketubah artist. They were gorgeous and unique, and didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Photography: Me=1, photographers=0. After looking at prices for wedding photographers, we were close to deciding we couldn’t afford one. However, we finally managed to find one with packages as low as $650. Because we were a same-sex couple (and he wanted to be able to showcase more of those on his site to attract business), were having our wedding midweek, and didn’t need an engagement session, he lowered his price to $400. At the reception three days later, we didn’t have a professional, but friends uploaded several hundred photos to our photo sharing site.
Decor at Reception: Me=1, event planners=0. We had 127 lit paper lanterns, 8 spotlights for uplighting, 34 tablecloths, 220 napkins, 80 chair covers and satin sashes, 300 plates, 432 forks, 60 spoons, 252 drinking glasses, 100 champagne glasses. 24 centerpieces, a bird cage cardbox, and a “dancing shoes” basket with 20 pairs of flip flops and 23 pairs of Chinese cotton mary janes. We bought every bit of this before the wedding, set it up ourselves, and sold it again after the wedding, losing very little money in the process.
Budget: Me=1, them=0. In spite of all the unexpected expenses, I still managed to be within a few hundred dollars of my original budget.
My score=80%. I was way behind in the first lap, but still managed to win in the end!