Sounds exactly like what happened to us!
I -absolutely- hear ya on the no DIY projects — so jealous of all the crafty Bees but I don’t have the talent or time!
We were originally aiming for an budget but stylish wedding for 250 people (‘small’ by both our families’ standards) in SoCal — initial target budget was $30k, but wasn’t set in stone. Wanted to be frugal but not have the wedding look cheap/tacky since our parents would have killed us even if they weren’t paying.
Actual money spent by us, excluding rings and honeymoon, will be probably around $45k; actual total budget will be around $55k (his/my parents are contributing a bit). What does this money get you? A long wedding day with two ceremonies, an informal ‘lunch’ (really just light refreshments between the two ceremonies) and cocktail hour followed by a multi-course dinner.
– Food and alcohol – probably around $13-15k. Quality/quantity of food was the highest priority item!
– Venue + Decor – OMG, we went with a ‘budget’ venue but basically have to bring everything in ourselves (venue $5k; decor including rentals, lighting, floral, dinnerware, etc $13k; grand total of $18k). HOWEVER, our alternate venues were $27-30k just for venue fees, excluding floral decorations, so I think overall we still ‘saved’ around $9-13k.
– Photographer – $5k+
Things we scrapped due to budget:
– Idea of a beachfront/ocean view venue (hard to find an affordable one for 250 people, especially because we had specific catering requirements)
– Videographer, because I can’t imagine EVER watching the video again and would rather have beautiful photos
– Ultra-fancy photographer — you know, the ones who are splashed around all the wedding blogs. Shocked to find out most of them START at $8k, which was almost a third of our original budget.
– Live band/dancers/animals/other entertainers for the reception
Big breaks we got: (I hate when you are amazed by weddings that cost ‘only $xxxx’ but then you figure out that they got amazing free photography and had their reception at the family winery, etc.)
– Most of my wedding clothes were gifted by my female relatives and Future Mother-In-Law, so I didn’t end up spending the $1-5k that could have cost
– No bridal party, so no costs there
– Groom’s clothing budget not included in the total since he considers those investment pieces that he will re-wear
I didn’t have a ‘vision’ or ‘dream wedding’ to begin with. What was most important to us was that our guests were comfortable and had a good time; plenty of delicious food, alcohol, music, and dancing; and our parents were not embarassed by the whole shebang.