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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:24 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:03 am
Posts: 872
Location: Taishan, Guangdong, China
kmull wrote:
I still don't understand how you can spend $30,000 on a wedding. Hope I don't come across as rude or anything... can you give us a breakdown? What do you consider a "traditional" wedding? Like I said on the blog comments, I got married in January, "traditional", for ~$8,000.


From my foggy memory:

Photo/Video Dress/Tux Package - 5000
Food for Tea Ceremony guests - 200
Church rental - 500
Minister - 150
Musicians - 500
Flowers - 800
Lunch Reception for 125 people - 2000
Chair/Tables rental - 200
Dinner Reception for 250 people - 11000
DJ/Music for Dinner Reception - 500
Balloons - 300
Booze - 1000

This adds up to about 20K but I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch of stuff. Vague recollection of my bank balances say the number should be 24K. Then add in the 6K engagement ring and there you have 30K.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 1:48 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:19 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Portland, OR
Best I can tell the single biggest factors for wedding costs are number of guests and the photographer.

Get a friend to take the pictures (hopefully someone with at least *some* skills), and keep the invite list to immediate family and a few very close friends.

With those guidelines, our traditional wedding cost under $8K.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 4:36 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:03 am
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Location: Taishan, Guangdong, China
samerwriter wrote:
Best I can tell the single biggest factors for wedding costs are number of guests and the photographer.

Get a friend to take the pictures (hopefully someone with at least *some* skills), and keep the invite list to immediate family and a few very close friends.

With those guidelines, our traditional wedding cost under $8K.


Skill is far less important than dedication. We had friends all over the place taking photos and videos. Except they would slack off often -- maybe distracted by food, maybe distracted by chit-chat, maybe not even around when due to their own schedule. Especially irritating were the constant pauses in the video -- I guess people are worried they'll run out of battery/tape but that combined with unsteady hands give you motion sickness footage.

So I'd entrust photo or video to somebody only if they knew how important it was to capture every ephemeral moment. Unfortunately, the only person who has this attitude among my circle of friends -- is myself. Whenever others ask me to take photos of their events (birthdays, whatever), my camera is going nonstop. My wife has to tell me to stop taking photos in order to eat some food -- which I'll only do after handing the camera off to her to continue to take photos (although at a slower pace).


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 6:42 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:10 pm
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Location: pa
as for the comments about photgraphers... ill add my 2 cents since i am one and i work with them on a daily basis for my job.

posting on craigslist for a photographer to shoot your wedding for $500 and you just want the digital files is like walking into a restaurant with a grocery bag full of food and asking the photographer to just cook it for you. when you hire a photographer, you are hiring more then just the final output of images, you are paying for their talent, skill and professionalism. most real wedding photographers have been doing it long enough that they can keep up w/ the flow of a ceremony, transision to the posed photos in the church or on the grounds and then move to the reception. they do all of this knowing where to be, how to setup external flashes and how to blend in with their surroundings.

hire a friend or family member and you could end loosing a friend or family member.

im only going to say this once - you cannot go back and reshoot this event, its done and over with in a day, do it right

yes, everyone has a digital camera now and most have a dslr - most however can't use it to the best of the ability... i often see noobie shots of weddings w/ the bride and groom, vertical shot and the focus is on the pillars behind the couple because thats where the center auto-focus point goes to, leaving the 2 people out of focus. very common problem

the other problem with asking for the digital files is that 99.5% of your home users are not using a quality monitor, nor is it color calibrated. even if you do know how to edit, you could end up making great looking files on your computer but when you take them to a lab the actual prints will come out a much different color, all because yours isn't calibrated.

http://www.alisonconklin.com/ is a friend of mine and a very accomplished photographer, same goes with http://www.kateleigh.com/

as for keeping it on budget... many photographers are now offering an online ordering solution in addition to their prints. what this gives you is the ability to send friends and family to the shooters website to order photos, you are no longer stuck taking the orders from the proof books or proof cd's for uncle bom and aunt mary, they can order themselvs. a new trend w/ photographers is to offer a kick-back for all online sales. i've worked with a few where this has done really well. the scenario is played out like this:

the photographer offers to make the name holders (little table tents) for each of the guests - usually a photograph from the engagment shoot is used on this and the price is included in the cost of the wedding. on the table tent says something like, "visit http://www.website-goes-here.com/anna-wedding/ after monday to relive this glorious day and purchace your own prints"

anyone who orders prints within the first 30 days following the wedding, 10% of the retail price of the photo will be used as a credit towards the package that the bride and groom selected.

if its a $2000 package and there are 20 people who order $50 in prints (not uncommon) - thats a $100 savings. doesnt sound like a lot but ive hear of some brides pimping out this service to the point where they get the wedding for almost free.

if you do make a deal w/ the shooter to get a cd/ dvd after the fact of the images, let them do the color correcting and adjustements... trust me, its usually better off this way.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:44 pm 
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Location: Chicago
I'll throw my vote in the "Get a photographer to take your photographs" column. Another reason for this, is using someone you know is likely to get you lots of pictures of the people they know, and not many of the people they don't. Your college buddy is not likely to know how important it is to you to get pictures of Aunt Martha.

Use your friends for anything you can though. We were married in the Church my wife attended in High School. The organist of the church happened to be my piano teacher from childhood. She played for free as her gift to us. My aunt, a semi-proffessional cake decorator (semi because she doesnt enjoy it quite enough to do it as a profession) made our cake. One less gift, one less expense. My wife's family did all of the flowers. My dad's band played for free (they were a popular band in the area, so we actually got a discount on the reception venue because they agreed to stay after the reception was officially over, and play for the public as well.) We purchased no alcohol. The reception venue had a bar attached, we paid for the bartender to be there. My argument being I'm an alcohol snob, I can't afford to buy good stuff for everyone and I'm not buying the cheap stuff.

We also had an early afternoon wedding and only did snack-type food for the reception. Instead of favors, we made a donation to a favorite charity and table cards saying "In lieu of traditional favors..." (My company matched the donation too) To my knowledge everyone had a good time and even the grandparents thought everything was proper.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:58 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 3:58 pm
Posts: 104
Here's another vote in the camp for hiring a professional photographer. My uncle got married half a year ago, and decided to skimp on the photographer (he found a friend who'd taken some photography classes). The end result pictures were... not flattering. And few, and far in between. And, occasionally, lacking for key events (there were some elements of traditional Chinese wedding-ness and the photographer either didn't capture the moments, or captured them extremely poorly). All his family members were, to put it lightly, appalled. Fortunately, his brother-in-law had been taking pictures nonstop throughout the entire day, and although he is by no means a professional, at least he had quantity; the other guy lacked both quantity and quality.

I guarantee that even if the pictures don't matter to you now, they will matter later. Plus, personally, I always love looking at pictures of my parents taken back in the days of yore. =]

As to the rest, here are some general observations I made about my uncle's aforementioned wedding:
- utilize your relatives (if you have them) to the fullest extent possible. You know, nieces, nephews, younger siblings... there's loads of manpower (and womanpower) right there.
- keep an eye on the wine prices at your local Safeway (or some other supermarket store). My uncle bought his 30-odd bottles of wine over the course of a few months... so plan this in advance.
- if you plan on giving out wedding favors to guests, keep them simple. Make them yourself (wrapping up a Lindt chocolate with nice paper and a pretty bow actually looks pretty good) and buy the little pouches or whatever and stuff them yourself. Inexpensive wedding favors can be found online... or in Asia but that's only a valid option if you've got a relative/really good friend flying in from, say, Hong Kong, and is willing to pack 200 knick knacks and cart them over.
- make wedding cards yourself. This takes a lot of work, though, especially if you want super pretty cards, so it's understandable if you'd rather charge this expense.
- make the bouquets yourself. Or find someone who can make the bouquets morning of the wedding. This is kinda rushing it though, but it does save a surprising amount.

Congratulations! (and good luck! ;)


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 5:33 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:39 am
Posts: 39
Location: US
I just got married on the beach on Saturday, it was great and could have been a good way to keep the costs down. It was about 1000 miles away from home so only about 25 people came which could have really reduced the cost of the reception. I say 'could have' because I left the planning to my new wife and in-laws since they paid for the whole thing.

I had my cousin taking photos with our digital camera and they came out great. We had a professional there as well so when we see those pictures I will let you know how much better they were.


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 Post subject: Budget
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 5:06 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 8:11 am
Posts: 1083
Location: Sunny Florida
My husband and I were married in Oct. 2006 and the best advise I can give is to set a budget and to hire a wedding coordinator. A wedding coordinator certainly costs money but she saved us serious money, time and effort. All wedding vendors will give super good discounts to wedding coordinators b/c coordinators have lots of business to refer to the vendors and an individual just does not have that kind of bargaining power. So I would (1) hire a good wedding coordinator (they have diff. levels of service) and (2) set a budget with said coordinator. Sit down with your fiance and figure out what is most important to you, if others [mom, dad, etc.] are contributing significant monies they should be involved in the conversation, and then allocate the most money to those items. For us we wanted to have a party more than a wedding so we spent the bulk of our money on a super band, alcohol and food (no sit down dinner for us). Things like decorations (we got married at a beautiful spot that didn't need decoartions), invitations, flowers, cake [none at all], and any item that screamed wedding industry [napkins, matchbooks, gifts for guests] we stayed away from. We did hire a good photographer b/c photos were important to me. We set a budget, stuck to it, payed for 80% of the wedding ourselves and did not incur any debt from the event.

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 9:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:57 am
Posts: 19
Location: Canada
Don't be cheap on a photographer.
Budget at least $1000 for it.

You won't be dissapointed.


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 10:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 1:09 pm
Posts: 10
Location: San Diego, CA
The last couple of weddings I went to, I helped out somehow. Both brides, while trying to save money, did end up going over budget. I'll talk about what they did to save money and what tipped them over the edge.

June wedding:
Saved money by:
- having her mom do the photographer's taxes, and in return the photographer gave a discounted price
- keeping the wedding party small, three bridesmaids and two ushers
- keeping the guest list small: there was only immediate family and about 10 friends for both sides
- the bride helped out at the flower shop where she got her flowers from during Mother's Day and Prom, and only had to pay the wholesale price of the flowers
- it was an early wedding and reception, we were all out of there by around 5pm
Went over budget by:
- paying for the ushers and the groom's family to fly out for the ceremony (they paid for the entire ticket and hotel costs)
- going with the facility's recommended DJ

August wedding:
Saved money by:
- having all of us former Girl Scouts help with clean-up and serving cake and champagne (we were all in the same troop as the bride)
- having most of the table decorations from Big Lots and Michael's, and flowers from Vons (honestly, I couldn't tell until clean-up when I saw the bags)
- early ceremony with late lunch buffet
- alcohol free except champagne for toasts, with the option of sparkling cider for non-drinkers
Went over budget by:
- having a horse drawn carriage for the ceremony
- having a rather large wedding - 4 bridesmaids, 4 ushers, and at least 100 people total in attendance
- having the wedding in a church neither attended, and two priests
- personalized napkins

Another friend had her wedding about five years ago. It wasn't traditional in any sense, other than an exchanging of vows. She kept costs low by exchanging vows and having the reception in a conference room at her work. Most of us were in school at the time, so she threw a party a few weeks later for us all to show up.

I'm also in the "don't skimp on the photographer" group. One thing I'm going to really stress you don't skimp on is the dress alteration. If you buy a dress and you have to get it altered, don't go for the cheapest quote given. I admit I am biased because my fashion instructor alters wedding dresses for a living, and she brought in samples of what she has to do. It takes a lot of work to alter a wedding dress. If you go with the cheapest alteration quote you get, you run the risk of ruining the dress. Ask for samples of previous alterations and make sure the person you ultimately go with has previously worked on the material your dress is made of. You don't want to buy a dress, have it ruined, buy another one and have it altered, too. That easily runs into $10000, depending on the original cost of your dress. Ideally, you wouldn't need to get a dress altered - you'd find the magical dress that fits you perfectly.

A couple of other ways to save money:
- stick to one dress. Apparently, it's becoming a trend to have two dresses: one for the ceremony and one for the reception. Get one dress, with a removable train. If you or anyone you know is an experienced seamstress, see if that person will make your dress as a gift.
- make or decorate your own wedding favors. Adding a simple ribbon to a plain little bottle of bubbles from Michaels is really quite cute
- You don't have to buy a diamond. If you end up getting a divorce (really hope you don't!) and you try to sell the ring, you won't get as much as you paid for it. Diamond jewelery is hard to get rid of. A simple band is enough, or if you absolutely need stones, consider different stones. One lady I know has a sapphire wedding ring. There are a lot of places that also allow you to make each other's rings. One alternative (for those who really are ready for commitment) is to get matching "ring tattoos." Yes, I know a couple who got tattoos of intertwining roses on their ring fingers.
- Vegas is actually a pretty cheap place to get married. You can have a traditional wedding there, if you don't want one of those theme weddings they offer. :)
- Go to bridal fairs. They're chock full of offers for brides.


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 6:49 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:16 am
Posts: 36
I had written a long post about how what we spent on our wedding was colored by weddings we had recently attended that clearly made sure all the cost-cutting measures affected the guests' comfort and enjoyment, but I realized that if I gave examples that are too specific, I'm sure to offend someone. So I'll just say:

Don't treat your guests poorly, especially if many of them are paying hundreds of dollars to fly out and celebrate with you. It tends to undermine the whole idea of a wedding.

Before you skimp on the catering, or pick a venue 40 miles outside of the city that requires all your guests to rent cars, or schedule a four-hour break between the ceremony and reception, think: is the money this will save me really worth the inconvenience to my guests? Am I really just displacing the costs onto other people?

If you aren't serving a meal because you only have $1,000 for the entire wedding, cool. If you aren't serving a meal because you want to put the money toward your $2,000 gown -- not cool.


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 10:21 am 
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Location: Washington DC
As best as I can tell here's the cost breakdown for our wedding

License Fees - 30 bucks
Officiant - Free (Family Friend who is a retired Judge)
Photographer - Free (All our friends and family have digital cameras. One friend has professional equipment, and is very good. He'll take our wedding photos).
Disposable Cameras - 100 bucks (One at each Table)
Rehearsal Dinner - Paid for by my family (approximately 1500)
Reception
--Food 2000
--Cooks (Free, several friends of ours are accomplished chefs who volunteered their services in exchange for not buying us a gift).
--Staffing 200
Dress/Tux 400 (Virtually free, all 3 groomsman own tuxes or traditional wedding clothes, bridesmaid dresses cost 40 bucks, wedding dress is a family heirloom dress that all the girls wear)

The honeymoon costs more than the wedding (4K).
Both of our engagment rings combined cost 4K (Sapphires)

so.. yeah.
4K wedding
4K Rings
4K honeymoon

All paid for in cash.

I have a friend who's wedding is costing 40K. Just the wedding.

I dont understand.

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 2:56 pm 
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JerichoHill wrote:
Photographer - Free (All our friends and family have digital cameras. One friend has professional equipment, and is very good. He'll take our wedding photos).
Disposable Cameras - 100 bucks (One at each Table)


Don't forget to budget for developing/printing. We were very, very broke after we got married and it was a year an a half before we were able to afford to develop the film from our Honeymoon (that was our Christmas present our second Christmas) We never did get our wedding prints. We have a very nice album, but none of the enlargements.

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 5:20 pm 
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Stephen, when's your wedding date? How's the remodel coming? (Er, maybe I should go check the remodel thread, actually...)


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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 8:34 am 
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Location: Washington DC
morydd wrote:
JerichoHill wrote:
Photographer - Free (All our friends and family have digital cameras. One friend has professional equipment, and is very good. He'll take our wedding photos).
Disposable Cameras - 100 bucks (One at each Table)


Don't forget to budget for developing/printing. We were very, very broke after we got married and it was a year an a half before we were able to afford to develop the film from our Honeymoon (that was our Christmas present our second Christmas) We never did get our wedding prints. We have a very nice album, but none of the enlargements.


We're putting the album online and folks can download and print out photos themselves. Otherwise, we arent doing anything. We're fully embracing the digital age.

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