Thanks for all the replies–just an update. We did decide on a small wedding at FI’s parents’ house, and most of my immediate family is able to come so we decided to go ahead and do everything in 1 shot with maybe a small dinner later on with my stepsisters who can’t make it and aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents who live halfway across the country. We also had a little scare where I really probably needed to go into the hospital and we didn’t because I was afraid of how much it would cost. So we decided to do what we can afford and we’re having a small wedding with about 40 of our closest family/friends right away (the best price for airfare was on cinco de mayo so we figured that made for a fun date/anniversary).
I have to say we really are blessed and for others who may be out there in a similar situation–there really are a lot of friends and family (not to mention fellow bees) who are there to help you create the wedding of our dreams–in a month none the less. We decided to up our budget a litle bit and took advantage of the extra week/paycheck from last month (5 weeks instead of 4) to add to our wedding budget without restricting our finances too much. In case anyone else is interested in trying to do the same, here’s an idea of where we spent/saved:
Invitations–we made from scatch with some cardstock and envelopes we already had. We basically bought 2 rolls of ribbon for embellishment and a book of stamps and got creative. We did 2 different designs since we didn’t have enough of 2 color of paper. But they look absolutely beautiful, and even I can’t pick a favorite.
Officiant: We could have found someone for less, but since we decided not to do a vow renewal later on, we really wanted to create a more personalized ceremony now so we found a great officiant for $400 who is letting us customize the ceremony exactly how we want.
Ceremony Music: I’m a dance therapist so one of my former colleagues is a music therapist and is singing and playing acoustic guitar for the ceremony as a wedding gift to us. She is amazing, and having her there is very meaningful to us as a couple since one of our first dates was to go listen to her sing after she released her first CD. She insisted that we not pick something from her repertoire, but choose the songs we really wanted. Keeping her personal musical style as well as our own preference, we picked music that we felt would work well together. She modified the arrangement a little on 1 song, and I’m excited to hear what she comes up with.
Reception Music: We are having an ipod hooked up to speakers–we have a friend who could have DJ’ed for us, but honestly we don’t have the space for it anyway so we are doing all pre-mixed cd’s with the help of a friend.
Attire: I found a great dress in stock at a local bridal store that was a sample size for over 50% off. I’m borrowing jewelry and a headpiece from family and friends. Unless I can find it for a really great deal, I am having one of my best friends who is an amazing seamstress help me alter my dress (it doesn’t need much). I found my shoes today for a grand total of $12 although I may pick up some platform flip flops because I’m not sure how long I’ll last in heels.
Since most of our wedding party is already paying to travel, we are trying to cut costs by using what they already have–the girls are wearing a dress of the same length in shades of blues and the guys are wearing their own black dress pants, shades of blue dress shirts and black shoes. For about $30, the guys are renting matching tie/vests in ivory. We’re going for a coordinated no-jacket look since it will be more casual and not everyone has a suit.
Rings: Fi didn’t have to spend anything on engagement ring since he gave me his mother’s ring. We wanted to save this for our kids so we had my wedding ring custom made with a rainbow moonstone and diamond accent (moonstone is special to me because I have a white moonstone that’s been passed down in my family). I found the stone on ebay and the setting on Amazon, and we took it to a family friend who is a jeweler who set it for free. I found almost the exact ring that Fiance had originally picked out clearanced on Amazon for 85% off its retail price . And I’m borrowing a bracelet from a friend as a nod to my engagment ring because it has detail on the side which Fi pointed out mimics my engagement ring–just a small way of combining both looks. Total cost for all rings (engagement and wedding for both) was $300.
Photography: My maid of honor is a fantastic photographer. My stepdad is apparently becoming quite the amateur. But since not all of my family is going to be there and since both are IN the wedding, we decided to hire a photographer just for the ceremony. Since we are booking last minute and she was available, I managed to get a great photographer for about 1/3 her normal rate for just a couple of hours and no videographer. Final cost is $350 for 4 hours including editing and rights to all of the pics (on a cd so we can do our own reprints/albums).
Food: Here’s the really amazing deal. Future Father-In-Law managed to get about $1200 of meat donated free of charge from the supply guys at work (he’s a butcher for a local grocery store) so we have steaks, ham, chicken, and shrimp at no charge. All we did was buy some gas on the grill and Fi’s father and a family friend have offered to man the grills all night. We may have to pull Fi’s father away for a little bit since he is the best man, but ultimately I know he’s going to be happier at the grill anyway. And Fi’s parents are both thrilled that we are having the wedding at their place. All we have to provide is some side dishes and appetizers. We have some bottles of wine/champagne/hard liquor that family have offered and will just fill in the rest plus some non-alcoholic drinks for the kids.
Cake: We are considering 3 options and will make the final decision this weekend. I have found a couple of Italian bakeries that can make a small 2 tiered cake for just over $100. We are also thinking about checking the cost of doing just a small single tier cake and picking up a sheet cake from Costco for the rest–or just getting 2 single cakes and getting our own cake stand to create a 2 tier-cake ourselves for less (we have friends of the family who have made tiered cakes before and live 3 doors down so they would be happy to supervise this). We are pricing out each option and will decide what’s best for our budget.
Decoration: We are pulling together Christmas lights for overhead lighting. We have lights surrounding the pool already (just need a couple of light bulbs) and picked up floating lanterns for $10 on ebay. We have a family member who has another set of lanterns that she is bringing for us as well. We will likely do (I know…gasp) plastic linens with clear Chinette plates/cups and the plastic silverware that looks real. We are hitting Goodwill and Salvation Army this weekend for centerpieces and will pick up a couple of extra flowers to use with these. I have literally a drawer full of tealights already so we don’t need to spend more money on these. I may try out a DIY project I found online to dye bottles/vases/candle holders in different shades for a little extra something.
We put a little bit of money into a fresh coat of paint on the deck and the side of the house and recruited some family friends to help us paint and prep the house. And in all honesty, I figured paying for some of that stuff was the least we could do to repay Fi’s family for hosting the wedding. I found a great idea from a fellow bee on a crepe paper backdrop and am creating this to add dimension using the extra fabric from our $6 aisle runner (we got a great deal by being flexible with the color).
Flowers: We are DIY’ing flowers. I’m checking out the Chelsea flower market tomorrow morning to see prices. But otherwise, I’ve been keeping my eye on a new bodega that just opened up by our house and has a pretty good selection of flowers for about $3/bunch. They are beautiful and right in our wedding colors. We picked up floral tape and ribbons at Michaels. We also picked up some mulch and flowers from Lowe’s and planted the garden last weekend. Fi’s parents also have 3 rose bushes so we trimmed these up and are hoping they will bloom so we can use them as ceremony decorations.
Rental: We are spending a bit of money here as well–it will probably come out to about $250 for tables and chairs. It was a bit more than I expected, but we are trying to use existing tables for food/gifts/cake to cut costs as much as possible here. We’re also cutting back by not using real linens–it just wasn’t in our budget. But I may try to do a fabric run and see if I can find some clearanced fabric for an overlay.