My budget is around $5000. I, too, believe that the wedding industry has some of us a bit brainwashed into frivolous spending–just like the greeting card/candy/flower folks have us brainwashed into buying lots of things for Valentines Day! However, I look at some of my big-ticket wedding expenditures as investments not only in my wedding and captured memories but in the arts and my community.
We bought my e-ring (and will buy my wedding band) from an artisan jeweler on Etsy. She does great work and has wonderful artistic vision, and I am happy to spend several hundred dollars on wearable art.
Our ceremony will be held at a chapel on our university campus, and the fee goes to a fund to preserve the chapel and its original mission.
Our reception will be held at a local venue (in a lovely historic building) that hosts art exhibitions, dance gatherings, and other community events, and our rental fee will help to ensure that this space does not shut down during these tough economic times.
Our musicians will be local musicians, likely friends. Because they provide professional-level musical performances, we will pay them a professional rate, even though they are friends and we could ask them to play for free, as a wedding gift to us. Many people balk at the high price of musicians, but think about this: a violin alone can easily cost $20,000 (or much more), and these people likely practiced hours a day for years to achieve their level of expertise.
Likewise, we are happy to support a local photographer who focuses on portrait art. His work shows off his subjects’ best features, and we believe that he brings happiness to his customers.
Also, since the majority of our guests will be coming from across the country (or even from out of the county), we feel that providing them with a meal that they couldn’t easily make at home is important. They have put a lot of time, energy, and money into coming to support us, and we want to provide them with the best possible experience.
That said, my dress cost $187, we’re incorporating as many DIY elements as possible, and we’re trying not to buy into the consumerism too much!