My $65k Wedding

My $65k Wedding

For ONE day?!

Okay, you caught me.  We wouldn’t spend that much on one day.  The cost was far under $65k, although the value of spending the weekend with all our family and closest friends all in one place was priceless.

Wedding Cost Breakdown

My unofficial bridesmaids… these amazing four women have been rocks, sounding boards, iron sharpening iron, for a combined total of 44 years.

Rehearsal Dinner: $2,039.96 (including 7% taxes and 23% gratuity). We were originally supposed to be outside on the beach with a pasta buffet meant to be a throwback to Rome, but rain moved us inside to the ballroom where we were originally supposed to have our reception. We were not charged anything additional, or expected to meet the $7k room minimum. The rehearsal dinner included a wonderful pasta buffet for 25 (three kinds of pasta and a wine bar). They had centerpieces free to use, and did all the set up and break down for us. It was really important for us to be able to stay together and enjoy private time as a family for the first night, rather than try to coordinate at a restaurant or off-site. Most of our guests stayed directly at the resort.  Approximate value: $9,213.

The ceremony was supposed to be here, but ended up being moved indoors…

Ceremony: $2,368.98 (including 7% taxes and 23% gratuity). This included all the white chairs and set up, as well as the outdoor space and indoor back-up space. We were originally supposed to be on the lawn outside, but tropical storm Alberto brought us inside. We were able to use the small ballroom for the ceremony, where we were originally going to have the reception. It would have been free to hold the ceremony on the beach, but there would have been no back-up space and people could walk right through the middle of the ceremony with it being a public beach.  My stepdad officiated, so this meant savings for us and a potential side-hustle down the road for him.  It also meant a much more personal ceremony.  Approximate value: $2,469.

We got an upgrade to a $40k venue thanks to Tropical Storm Alberto… making the best of the storm!

Cocktail hour and Reception: $9,223.23 (including 7% taxes and 23% gratuity). This included use of the space plus set up and break down, a wooden dance floor, all white-washed linens with ballroom chairs, five different appetizers for cocktail hour plus a brie bar and a sushi bar, a plated dinner with chicken and fish for all 41 guests, an open bar for 4 hours, a champagne toast, and a two-tiered wedding cake from a local baker (we really enjoyed the tasting). With the tropical storm coming, we had to move inside. Since there were no other weddings during our weekend, we actually moved the ceremony to the room we were supposed to have the reception in (it had the best view of the gulf), and then we moved the reception to the largest ballroom with beautiful windows. It took a bit of extra coordination on our part to shift the plans, but the resort did the heavy lifting. We weren’t charged a penny extra.  Approximate value: $39,483.

Remaining resort costs: $1,783.10 (including 7% taxes and 23% gratuity). This included three nights in the gulf bridal suite (we paid $970 since one night was free), two nights with two queen beds for my brides-mates ($810), two robes from the resort (worth $180), and a couple resort fees and taxes.  Approximate value: $2,453.

We got rained out and couldn’t do a first look by the waterfall, but our photographer found a good spot for us anyway.

Photographer: $4,274.65 (all in, including taxes). This included 3 hours of rehearsal day coverage instead of an engagement session, 8 hours of wedding day coverage (but she stayed late for free), a USB flash drive with all images in high resolution so that we have 100% control over printing costs (this is where many photographers get you), and reprinting copyright release. This spending is right in line with our priorities of capturing the day. Our photographer does weddings full time, has an amazing portfolio and is extremely dedicated to her craft. Unfortunately our wedding day was rained out, but she found us some amazing spaces to shoot and really captured the day. On top of all that, she offered to go out with us for a free beach session later so that we could capture the epic beach sunset photos that tropical storm Alberto tried to steal from us. I can’t wait to put on the dress again! We are so grateful we hired a true professional dedicated to her craft, and can’t wait to see the beautiful images she captured.  Approximate value: $5,475.

Videographer: $1,995.00 (all in, including taxes). He arrived early so we could try to beat the rain and get some outside shots. Unfortunately, the rain started right as we finished getting ready. However, he stayed late for free to help capture some of the extra things he would have missed. We also had the ceremony live-streamed for free, a special we got for booking and putting down the deposit early. Approximate value: $2,995.

Our wedding singer: $1,600 (all in, including taxes and tip).  He was the most talked-about part of the entire event. He is very talented, and we enjoy listening to him at the bar. He played the guitar for the ceremony, and played and sang throughout cocktail hour and the entire reception.  Approximate value: $2,000.

Two arrangements surrounding the “altar.”

Flowers: $604.55 (including the vases, columns, delivery and taxes). The number itself might seem low compared to other weddings, but we only got two arrangements for either side of the “altar,” a bouquet for me, and a corsage for my mother. They also threw in a boutonniere for free. Flowers weren’t particularly important to us, so we got specific arrangements for the places that would make the biggest impact. We saved money since we didn’t need flowers for a bridal party.  We definitely could have done better, especially if we caught the DIY bug, but we also weren’t worried about it.  Approximate value: $630.

Hair and Make-up: $125 (including tip and travel fee).  She was brilliant, and actually did airbrushed make-up and fake eyelashes for free.  Having her come straight to the room made a huge difference in lowering everyone’s stress levels.  I don’t own much make-up, so it was nice to have a professional’s assistance.  I painted my nails (and my friends’ nails) after the rehearsal dinner, so we saved on manicures and pedicures.  Approximate value: $175.

Total Cost: $24,014.47

Total approximate value: $64,893

What about the rest of it?

The resort did most of the heavy lifting, and therefore made up most of the cost.

Loving my new shoes…

Michael already owned his linen suit, although he paid about $20 to have it cleaned and pressed.  He bought new shoes that he’s worn to work almost daily since.  I bought him a watch he wanted as a wedding gift.  My dress was a gift from my mom, and I ended up getting a clearance veil at half price.  I can’t wait to wear my new shoes again.  I wore my grandmother’s pearls as my something old.

We picked up some snacks and wine to enjoy for the weekend from Target, before we left for the resort.  We picked up packs of thank you cards at the dollar store, which we wrote as we opened our gifts to help save time.  Our “invitations” were part of our Save-the-date magnets (only one thing to mail!) with RSVPs through the Knot website.  That was basically the rest of it.

Any regrets?

We didn’t buy a guestbook, but I wish we had.  The cards and gifts were thoughtful, but a guestbook would have been a sweet touch to enjoy after the wedding.  Even just a small inexpensive guestbook would have been nice.  I could have found a simple sketchbook, or even brought my Airbnb guestbook along.  Other than that, no regrets.

Love notes before the first look…. writing those were free!

It was really nice to not have to worry or stress about the little things, and to enjoy the time with family.  There is no way we could have enjoyed the weekend the same way had we not done a hotel or resort wedding.  Having the resort take care of all the rain arrangements made the weekend easy, and having a local place for all our family to come together from all over the world made things stress-free for everyone.  At the end of the day, there’s more to life than just money.  It was “just one day,” but it was really an entire weekend full of the people who matter the most, just enjoying each others’ company.

We’re looking forward to our second reception in a couple months, to celebrate our new marriage with our local friends.  After all, it’s a second opportunity to earn a “frugal wedding badge of honor.”

More wedding math…

2 Replies to “My $65k Wedding”

  1. Congratulations on turning over a new leaf in your adventure! Sounds like a luxurious wedding for the price. And good for you for keeping such close track of the expenses in the whirlwind of planning! I think 11 yrs ago our wedding cost around $10k, half covered by family, but who knows . . . that was well before my days of knowing what to do with money:)

    1. I actually used Mint to track everything! I set a “wedding” tag and made sure to mark all expenses as they occurred. 🙂

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