"real weddings"

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HappyGirl13 Posts : 1,298 Registered: 4/21/08
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Sep 30, 2009 4:50 PM Go to message in response to: Bride2008

The vast majority of my budget was spent on food, too. Also, we live in the L.A. area and had 160 guests. Those factors alone put me in the average-priced wedding category.

We could've done it for less--and at the same venue, no less. We originally planned to do it for much less, actually, when we were planning on paying for it ourselves. But the guest list would've been less than half of the 160, and we would only have served hors d'oeuvres, and we only would have budgeted for 2 glasses of champagne or mimosas per person and that would've been it in terms of alchohol...etc.

That said, even after Mom & Dad jumped in and wanted to help pay so we could invite more people, DH & I still planned to contribute the $$ toward the wedding that we had originally planned. So we wanted to get as much bang for our buck as we could. I shopped around and got printed invites at a great price, got a $500 dress that I loved, made table assignment cards from card stock purchased at Target, and so forth.

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Toast Posts : 480 Registered: 9/10/08
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Sep 30, 2009 5:09 PM Go to message in response to: NJ4Life

i agree with the other ladies...you spend what you can spend. A $2000 wedding can be just as nice as a $20,000 wedding!!

the whole point of the "real weddings" section is to show you pictures of real couples and what they did. they are "real" because they were not staged simply to be photographed and put into the magazine. Also, as far as them trying to advertise top end and pricey vendors, I dont think that is entirely true because i actually found a "real wedding" on here that my photographer did! and, she definately wasnt the pricest I interviewed, she was just average cost.

I also have to say that the average wedding, for about 100 guests (which is considered small) is about $25k. i think as of right now that is what we are planning on spending, not including the honeymoon. and, we are doing things on a budget. but, that is what things cost. We found that in our area the price per person is about $90-120. so...that means $12k JUST for the reception. and, that IS budgeting! Also, $3k for a photographer is basically the going rate! $500 is average for invites, etc. things are pricey these days, but there are TONS of ways to economize things.

But, you also have to consider EVERYTHING that goes into the wedding including, your hotel room, cleaning the dress, shoes, alterations, tips, gifts, postage...all that stuff seems to go overlooked sometimes, and it adds up! Even though we are spending only $12k on our reception, we are basically spending that same amount on everything else...the vendors, gifts, dress, etc.

and...i actually find the real wedding section super inspirational! i have gotten TONS of ideas from there and have found ways to modify it to be "mine" and also to be on budget! I found really cute aisle flower ideas that i am going to mimic, just with fake flowers. i found a program that they paid $4 for, and i plan on recreating it for less than $0.50 per program. so...you just need ti find inspiration, then create a budget friendly option.


jellybean91908 Posts : 216 Registered: 2/9/09
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Sep 30, 2009 5:16 PM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

I get what you're saying. There is not inspiration out there for us all, at least not without looking really hard. I agree with several of the previous posters; the average wedding budget in my area is probably equal to a new car (from someone who just spent over $20,000 on a one of those...), and the websites that feature the "real weddings" you're talking about want you to spend money on a lot of things you don't need to have a great wedding and reception.

I don't even know how I came across this blog, but it has been a major source of inspiration for me. There are also links to a lot of other blogs showing people who have planned cheaper weddings.

Cat, sounds like you had a great wedding! I agree, all those custom goodies would have cost a great deal of money if you'd ordered them somewhere.

Future Mrs. Millington

 wedding planning guide

My planning blog: 




CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Sep 30, 2009 6:30 PM Go to message in response to: NJ4Life

That is SO true NJ.... most of what we hear are "are we willing to spend $125/head for a person" and when people add folks willy nilly to the guest list, that's the thing that sets couples off. My adding issues were purely space.

But if I had had to spend $125/head for the 85 guests who RSVPd yes. OUCH!!!! it would have been over $10000 for food alone. I managed to spend $650 on food (not including cake/table nibbles...total food including deserts/nibbles was approximately $1200) That's why I said I would have LOVED to have had the sit down, and why I also knew I couldn't afford it. Heck, I'd have loved to have had things other than walmart trays. But...with my budget, I also managed to put down a menu that catered to diabetics, vegans, vegetarians, celiacs, and heart patients -- without having to have special trays made for any individual person.

Food is the big ticket item... and depending on the area, and the size of your guest list, it is a huge item. Great point NJ!

I suspect that to have truly had the absolute wedding I would have loved (200 people because I had that many I wanted to invite), sit down plated dinner with DJ... It would have cost $30K AT LEAST in this area. And that was not feasible.



FmF Posts : 106 Registered: 8/19/09
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Sep 30, 2009 8:55 PM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

i wish i had 10k to spend on a wedding...but i have 3k budget, and im working wonders with it! i consider myself a crafty person and i have a talented family to help. im making the save the dates myself, and i bought a couple invitation kits from Michael's. i am also lucky to have an aunt and cousin who do beautiful cakes. we also have a family friend who is a professional photographer, so well only be paying 1k for our picture package. im quite pleased and proud of myself.

Future Mrs. Fransen

 "From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being."


nicolefab Posts : 2 Registered: 5/26/09
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Sep 30, 2009 11:32 PM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

I think that my use of the word "real" has offended people. Every wedding is real and every brides dream is real. By "real" I meant those of us that fall below the average $25,000 budget. Many of us are around $5000. And in this economic struggle how can people assume that $25,000 is real...especially when most of us make barely that a year!
Cat, your post was the most inspirational I have found. I, myself, have found a beautiful and feasible venue under my budget. Paid $17 dollars a person for a sit down dinner, got my invites for under $100, my favors and centerpieces for less than $300 and my photographer for $400. That's the the kind of thing I want to see under "Real Weddings". I don't doubt that a $25,000+ wedding is "real" but I would like to see a wedding under $7500 documented.
After research I've come to see that Vons does better quaility work than my local professional bakery does at half the price. My roses from Costco are the same roses from a high end florist at half the price. I can find my centerpieces for half the price. I just want to see a wedding that is beautiful for a real debt-free budget. For those of us that don't have the credit card or the family providing Americas average. Show us the $5000 wedding that is both elegant and all inclusive! Show us that a bride can have champagne taste on a beer budget!

(For those of you talking about DIY and smaller weddings...I have 125 people and I did not use DIY invites.)


FrancieElaine Posts : 654 Registered: 6/26/09
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 1, 2009 8:35 AM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

Take a look at my $5,000 wedding pictures.


You have to make sure the whole link is typed in. Our wedding was beautiful. We were married on the rooftop terrace of the oldest, most historical church in uptown Charlotte. You can see the skyscrapers in the background. The reception was at my sister's house. The flower girls dresses were Laura Ashley but I only paid $12 for them on a sale rack at TJ Maxx. My dress was $100 at Belk. My husband made all the food... he is a wonderful cook. My son's best friend is a photographer and did this slideshow. I hope these pics gives you hope.

Keep in mind that the wedding is about the ceremony. It is about your friends and family celebrating your marriage with you and your FH! It's all about LOVE!

Francie Elaine, The Bride Whisperer






NJ4Life Posts : 3,358 Registered: 8/10/07
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 1, 2009 10:12 AM Go to message in response to: nicolefab


I totally agree with you that websites need to show more weddings that are a lower budget. Heck for my area, $20K is pretty "low" budget. However, there was no way I was going to have a seated or buffet dinner at anything less than that.

What I am bothered by is that you assume that anyone who has a $25K budget or higher has some sort of help, or put it all on credit cards. Really, it's called SAVING. Other than the honeymoon & wedding bands (which we got during our jewelers sale) DH and I did not put anything on our credit cards. Ok, I will be honest, we did get help from our parents, but in no way, shape or form did they foot the whole bill. We chipped in more than they did combined. Anyway, I know A LOT of couples with even higher budgets who did pay for the ENTIRE thing themselves.

Look like Artbride says, it has a lot to do with how much you make and the area you live in. Of course if you don't even make $25K/yr, then you would not spend that kind of money on a wedding. That would be ridiculous. But there are plenty of us who make more than that, and budgeted according what we could afford.

I really do not like your generalizations. Maybe it's b/c you are new around here but we are all from across the country, so maybe you are used to things being one way according tio where you grew up, which is fine. But there are so many different situations across the board here.

New Jersey: We have dumps, bays and cement boots and we know how to use 'em


MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 1, 2009 10:52 AM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

I suggest you put out a call to the women of this board who have gotten married on budgets under 10K and ask them if they are willing to send you their pictures. They can do so threw a PM if they want to protect their privacy. Plenty of people have such photos, and many of them, I'm sure, would be willing to help you out with some inspiration.

As I'm sure you're aware just by reading these posts, money is a touchy subject, especially when it comes to brides with big budgets. My budget started at around 18,000 (when it was based on my own personal savings) then grew to between 35K and 40K when my family chipped in. Ironically, my family is from Detroit, Michigan, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country. They were able to contribute because they are older and were fabulous savers their entire lives and thus were able to give us generous gifts. Plus, franky, they wanted my wedding to be an opportunity for them to "show off" to their friends. In southeastern MI, despite being a crappy economy for many, many years, the average wedding cost is around 26,000. In DC, where I live, (and where the average salary is 40,000) the average wedding is closer to $40,000. I've been to beautiful weddings where the budget was $115,000 and beautiful weddings where the budget was $10,000 and the only time -- the only time -- when I didn't enjoy myself was when it was obvious that the bride and groom weren't enjoying themselves.

Anyways, that was clearly just a tangent. I guess I'm just saying is don't worry too much about those pictures in the magazines. They will drive you crazy. They drove me crazy, and made me feel that I needed even more money to achieve my dream wedding, which is why I stopped looking at them, and started chatting with the ladies on this board.


"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson


EWF Posts : 158 Registered: 7/16/09
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 1, 2009 11:09 AM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

nicole, it is not really your use of the word 'real' that offends me. what offends me about your posts is that it comes off that those of us with a budget of $25,000+ don't need wedding help as well.
i get a feeling from what you are saying that you think this website should cater only to people who need help finding great deals or as you say, making a champagne taste wedding with a beer budget.



Proud Member of P.O.O.P - People Offended by Offended People


ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 1, 2009 2:06 PM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

And in this economic struggle how can people assume that $25,000 is real...especially when most of us make barely that a year!

This is exactly what I was referring to in my previous post. Everything is relative. I make much more than 25K/year. So does my husband. Yes, we spent much more on our wedding than you are spending on yours. If we made 25K/year, we would have spent far less. You and I are simply in different tax brackets.

I agree with you that couples should spend responsibly; however, 'responsible spending' is relative. To someone in your shoes, 25K on a wedding would be irresponsible spending - but others have more wiggle room in their budgets to put money away for their weddings. Or long engagements, so that they have more time to save.

I also think it's unfair of you to assume that everyone with larger budgets than you is in debt from their wedding or has help from others. No, most people do not have 25K sitting around, either. Most people save until they have the money they need for the wedding they want. Yes, some people get help from their families, but quite a few pay for the whole thing themselves. Understand that many people simply make more money than you do, so saving amounts that seem impossible to you is quite reasonable to others, over time at least.

It would be nice if there was a budget-wedding magazine where you could go to get ideas you could afford. I also remember being frustrated with wedding magazines - even on a much higher budget than yours, many things shown in wedding magazines were ridiculously out of my budget - but remember that wedding magazines exist to make money. They're not non-biased helpers to brides - they are there to bring in money for their advertisers, who then continue to support the magazine by advertising with them. If you don't find them useful, don't buy them. These forums are a great resource to exchange ideas with other brides - just start a thread for brides with similar budgets. Also, if you have not read it, I would recommend a book called 'Bridal Bargains' by Denise and Alan Fields. It has great ideas for saving money, as well as advice on avoiding scams or pitfalls that some fall into when trying to save money on wedding stuff. You should be able to get a used copy on Amazon for a couple bucks. I think there's also a website and forums, though I've never visited them so I don't know how active they are. Anyway, I learned a lot from it, and while the book couldn't change the fact that sit-down dinners cost over $100pp in my area, I used some of the pointers in the book.

Anyway, good luck and try to remember that everyone's costs are relative. Nobody will say that you are wrong or bad for not being able to afford something - so please don't judge others for being able to afford it.

DaisypathWedding Ticker

Vice President and Guardian of the Toilet Brush of POOP: People Offended by Offended People


MarissaRowland Posts : 33 Registered: 10/2/09
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 2, 2009 3:56 PM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

I know somebody who had a 6 figure wedding that is now divorced and miserable. So much for the "real" wedding! It was nice though, but that is not the point. I'm sure there are people who had weddings under $1000 who are more happy than that. To each is own. Remember the important thing is the love for each other, not the money spent on the ceremony.


EWF Posts : 158 Registered: 7/16/09
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 2, 2009 5:12 PM Go to message in response to: MarissaRowland

ok, this comment isn't towards marissa so much as the sentiment behind marissa's post, and i get the same feeling when i read a lot of posts. i constantly read people saying, well, i know such and such and they had a really expensive wedding but they aren't happy, or they are getting a divorce.
i would like to make clear that a suplus of funds does not equal a lack of love. i am not having a six figure wedding to make up for what is missing in my relationship, i am having a six figure wedding in order to celebrate the enormous amount of love that we have for each other.
I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there who had $1,000 who
are miserable, being happy has nothing to do with your budget. you are absolutely right, a pretty dress can't make a happy marriage... but it wouldn't make a difference whether that pretty dress cost $100 or $10,000.

Proud Member of P.O.O.P - People Offended by Offended People


Stephorse Posts : 138 Registered: 1/31/08
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 2, 2009 6:13 PM Go to message in response to: nicolefab

It just depends on where you live and what it is you are exactly looking for. My wedding was in the chicagoland area and we spent about $15,000 for our wedding. We spent most of it on the reception hall which was about 6,000, and about 1700 for the photographer. My dress with the veil, shoes, and dress came to about 1,000 and the rest of the money was spent on invitations, transportation, flowers, church, tips, and DJ, which really is not bad for our area. I know the larger cities like New York and Chicago weddings can be very very expensive! Other areas though, may have lower costs for things like cake and photography. It just depends on where you live and what you want.


HappyGirl13 Posts : 1,298 Registered: 4/21/08
Re: "real weddings"
Posted: Oct 2, 2009 6:48 PM Go to message in response to: EWF

Point well made, EWF.

However, I do get the OP's frustration. As somebody who had one of the average-priced weddings, I would look at the "real weddings" in mags or online and, like others on this thread, wondered (often admiringly) how they found the money to spend on those beautiful centerpieces or those invitations.
It would be nice, but maybe not realistic considering the wedding industry, to have some weddings featured that illustrated how somebody managed to find gorgeous centerpieces at rock-bottom prices, or instructions on how they DIY'ed it if it was DIY. It would probably prove to be a source of inspiration for many brides, whether they're spending a lot or a little.

(Brides Magazine, are you listening?)

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