Of course, if I could do it again, I would spend half as much as our $3,000 budget. (I still feel guilty that my wedding cost as much as a used car. Almost $1000 of that was booking a June photographer when my freelance journalist cancelled the week earlier.)
The budget breaker was that I have a huge family, and I had never even met his.
There were certain standards I felt I had to uphold, in order to avoid embarassing people I didn't even know:
- ordering engraved invitations, not thermographed
- using a caterer who could provide real silverware and dishes, not plastic
- having live music and an abundance of real flowers, not fake.
We were able to work within these limits for an afternoon wedding with 150 guests.
What helped our wedding budget:
In our small Southern town, lavish weddings with dancing and alcohol are not the norm. Punch and cake in the church hall are perfectly acceptable. Our church did not have a pretty place, so an aunt offered her home and garden for the reception.
We hired a local caterer who provided women to serve and clean, coffee and punch with real cups, a giant bowl of strawberries with whipped cream, ham biscuits, finger sandwiches, vegetables, cheeses, nuts and mints.
Her total package was $900, which included a delicious cake. I instructed her to ice it as naturally as possible, so that we could decorate it with fresh flowers and a tiny sterling basket as a topper.
Instead of copying a hotel wedding, I wanted everything to look homemade. We used a collection of family silver, serving pieces, and lace tablecloths for the buffet--all of which cut down on rental fees.