I’ve been putting off the budget post because it’s complicated.
We spent money in three different currencies during the 17 months we planned our wedding. There were huge differences in the currency exchange during the year until the Swiss National Bank pegged the CHF to the dollar and euro amidst an international financial crisis.
One example of how this skews my storytelling is my wedding dress: It costs 3,300 CHF new in Switzerland. I bought it used for $900 in the States. At one point that meant it would cost $5,600 if I bought it new in Switzerland…and a mere 531 CHF if I bought it used in the States. Deceiving, no?
Right now, the dollar is almost equal to one Swiss franc again, but this certainly wasn’t the case while we were sending money over to the States to pay for things. In fact a big reason why I was able to buy Mr. FC’s wedding present was because every 1 CHF I had was equal to around $1.30. (Score!)
The other complication is how do you distinguish between wedding, honeymoon, and “things purchased for later use”? You wouldn’t be going on a honeymoon if it weren’t for the wedding, and in our case we were flying from Europe to the wedding anyway, so the flight costs were all mixed together. And lots of hive members justify buying things for the wedding because they will “use it again later”, so where do you draw the line?
In the interest of being thorough, I’ve tried to list all the related expenses that I could remember in the currencies we used, except for the wedding gifts Mr. Funnel Cake and I gave to one another because we are keeping the cost of those secret from one another. (A gift is a gift, after all…) Some amounts are estimated here and there where things are hazy or when expenses were paid by Mr. Funnel Cake or Mama FC and I did not receive the final invoice. I do admit, things got a bit hectic at the end of planning and I stopped marking every single expense down.
I have gone through every item and converted the money from dollars or francs into the opposite currency using historical exchange rates available on X-Rates. By doing this, you can see in 2010 when the franc wasn’t worth as much as the dollar it made expenses in America seem more costly. However, as the engagement went on and the dollar tanked in Summer 2011, you’ll see that things purchased in America started looking a lot cheaper in francs, and anything purchased in Switzerland looked super expensive in dollars. I’m leaving euros out below, but I did translate the historical rate into the figures as well.
So here we go!
Guests: 110 (including 12 children)
Original Budget: Flying by the seat of our pants!
Venues: $2,600 / 2,596.78 CHF
Part of why we chose the morning 10 AM–3 PM slot at Franklin Park Conservatory was because it was $2,000 instead of $6,500 for the 6 PM–12 AM evening slot. The evening space included a hefty $2,500 beverage minimum on top of the $4,000 rental, so while we felt like we were splurging for Franklin Park, we also felt like we were saving by having a brunch reception.
As members of the parish, it was actually free to marry at St. Christopher, but Mama Funnel Cake wanted to make a donation to the parish just as she had when Sister Funnel Cake married there a few years earlier.
Food: $12,200 / 10,520.78 CHF
Mr. Funnel Cake was horrified by wedding catering prices, and we were both surprised when the catering bill jumped to $100 a head, but because we were abroad and Mama and Papa Funnel Cake were paying for it, we had little say in who the caterer was. Ultimately, I left the catering up to Mama FC, and she and Papa Funnel Cake chose a reputable caterer that they had experienced several times already. We did get to ask for our omelet station, though!
I had more say in who made the cake, but unfortunately looking back that seemed like a bit of a letdown that I feel kind of guilty about. We also were sort of stuck with using the Franklin Park services for drinks, so an expensive juice-bar fee was unavoidable in order for us to supply our guests orange juice and mimosas.
Flowers and Decor: $1,001.98 / 864.66 CHF
Mama Funnel Cake also took care of ordering and covering the florist, who did a great job. The only problem I had was with my leaky bouquet, but you can’t see the purple stain in any of the wedding photos and Mama Funnel Cake got it out right away when we were at home. I’m sure, with my luck, this would have happened if I DIY’ed my bouquet as well!
SIL Funnel Cake gifted us our bubbles for our first dance, while I brought along my DIY cake topper and thumbprint tree from Zürich. Mama Funnel Cake also DIY’ed the centerpieces by buying white cupcake stands for baked goods and watering cans and putting my table number signs in with flowers she purchased from the local grocery store. Mama FC also framed our Mickey and Minnie Mouse best wishes and our card from the Obamas and even made us an awesome “well wishes” card box from materials she had at home.
Favours and Gifts: $191.08 / 171.14 CHF
SIL Funnel Cake generously gifted us our amazing buckeye favours, and I ordered custom tattoos among my many online wedding purchases. We decided to limit how much we spent on our bridal party because I was also giving them skincare products that I could get through work. I spent many hours on Mama and Papa Funnel Cake’s Scherenschnitt, which was a small way of saying “Thank you!” for all the money and time they put into this wedding.
Paper Products: $1,268.55 / 1,099.05 CHF
Printing (and everything else) is very expensive in Switzerland, but if we were going to do proper invitations I wanted total control over how they turned out. We paid extra for our odd fold-able invites, but we both were extremely happy with how they turned out so I don’t regret this cost one bit! I think it would have killed the designer in me if we had done online printing that turned out sub-par. Plus, I’m sure we’ll be using that wax stamp loads in the future…
Our DIY programs also ended up being more expensive because we ran out of toner for our inkjet and I ended up buying a new very expensive black cartridge for our laser printer because I refused to spend hundreds on inkjet cartridges in Switzerland. We also paid a crap ton for the shiny string that held our programs together.
Stamps: $301.49 / 253.55 CHF
Well, there was no way around this one, really. If we had posted everything directly from Switzerland, it would have been around $300 more expensive. It was a hassle to mail things around the world only to mail them again, but we saved money where we could. Money-saving tip? Don’t have family all over the world…or don’t invite them.
Music: $800 / 689.88 CHF
Mama Funnel Cake used the same band that we had play at two of my other siblings’ weddings, and they did a great job. Not too shabby.
(Personal photo. Is it weird that several of my family members took photos of Tim at the wedding??)
Photography: $5,150 / 4,647.16 CHF
Originally we were going to spend $4,850 for eight hours of photography, Tim’s flight and hotel, plus an evening session at FPC, but at the last minute I added another hour of photography so that Tim could come to my mother’s house and capture some getting-ready images in the morning. I didn’t even tell Mr. Funnel Cake about the change while he was in the military before our wedding, but I don’t regret my decision one bit! Mama FC thought we were a bit loony to be paying for a photographer to fly into town, but of all the photographers I found, I liked Tim’s photos the best. We are also really happy that we dedicated so much time to portraits of the two of us, because those photos will probably be the most cherished as we get old and grey.
Attire: $4,768.07 / 4,201.63 CHF
I got a great deal on my wedding dress and then proceeded to go nuts over accessories to go with it. I spent $125 on a bolero in Zürich, only to turn around and order an even more expensive custom lace jacket from IheartBride on Etsy. I also didn’t end up wearing either of the necklaces or one pair of earrings that I ordered from Lulusplendor, but a girl needs her choices! And when else but your wedding day can you justify spending almost $500 on shoes?? OK, maybe I had a problem. But I definitely used the “I’ll use it after the wedding” excuse for most of my accessories. And you know what? I still have all my accessories and wear them from time to time, so there. I’m not selling that damn lace jacket ever.
Mr. Funnel Cake will at least wear his suit again, and I convinced him he could wear an old pair of shoes. (But that just wouldn’t do for me…?!)
The only thing I sort of regret with the attire is falling prey to the Zürich fabric stores for the bridal sashes. I wanted to get crafty and had sticker shock at the cash register when a yard of fabric, ribbon, and some lace cost me 100 CHF. But after I started, I felt like it would be even more of a waste not to use the materials I bought, so I bought enough to finish and then spent months making my amazing bridesmaids’ sashes. I could have totally bought three sashes on Etsy for like $50 and called it a day. But mine were made WITH LOVE.
Hair and Makeup: $552.04 / 451.08 CHF
This is another one of those tricky wedding expenses. I had a friend of my brother do my hair and technically didn’t need to pay her anything, but did anyway because she was super nice and got up at 6 AM to do my hair on a Saturday. The cost of nails covered a gel French manicure for me, French pedicure, and a man-icure for Mr. Funnel Cake.
Makeup—I’ll be totally honest. I used this wedding as a big excuse to buy myself TONS of makeup. To be fair, I am only listing the specific products I brought along with me and used on our wedding day. I mean, I didn’t even own or use makeup brushes before this, bees! That’s just ridiculous. I could totally put a big $0 for makeup since I have used all of this stuff every day for the past year. I’m including it so you ladies debating about buying all your own stuff can see how much it really costs! It’s dang expensive! But FWIW, buying and learning how to use the new makeup materials changed my look and I’m 1,000 times better at doing my own makeup now. I got tons of compliments when I stepped up my game!
Thank God something else in this wedding was free. Whew. And what a sexy transport van it was!
Rings: $5,739.47 / 5,620 CHF
This was another sticky subject that I already discussed to death. The long story short is that the cost of my wedding band and engagement ring are flip flopped because the wedding ring is more important to Mr. Funnel Cake. And all the rings are waaay overpriced because Mr. Funnel Cake insisted we see them in person and buy them in Switzerland. If we bought our rings from Blue Nile, it probably would have cost approximately $2,000 for all of our rings, but there was no way I was convincing Mr. Funnel Cake that that was a good idea.
Rehearsal Dinner: Gift from Mami and Papi Funnel Cake
Marriage Course: $108.24 / 100 CHF
This was also an unavoidable cost. You have to do your marriage course to get married in the Catholic Church, and we didn’t have many English options around in Switzerland.
Flights: $3,731.1 / 2,859.14 CHF
Our flight plan was crazy. If we had just gone to and from Columbus and Zürich it might have cost us only $1,800 or so with miles, but nooo…we had to fly into Columbus, then to the Big Island, to Kauai, and back home from there. We also bought our mainland flights with miles to save money, but it bit us in the ass with Hawaiian Airlines because we always had to pay for our baggage and they didn’t check our four suitcases through to Zürich and we had to pick them up in Los Angeles. Bleagh to flying!
Honeymoon: $6,174.62 / 5,272.6 CHF
I might not have dreamed of my wedding much as a kid, but I always thought a Hawaiian honeymoon would be great and it was. Eighteen days in paradise. We ate like kings, went scuba diving, hiked amazing trails, and enjoyed everything the islands have to offer. Mr. Funnel Cake is planning on moving there now. Totally worth it.
So, you’ve probably just scrolled past all that because you want to know what the total is:
Total All-Encompassing Wedding Budget: $44,767.56 / 39,510.87 CHF
If you add those up, you might notice that I left out the cost of my wedding ring in the wedding-only budget. Most wedding budgets don’t include the price of the engagement ring that the guy proposed with, and because my engagement ring is more around the price of normal wedding rings, I swapped them to make our budget more realistic in wedding world.
So what do I think?
Well, first off. Holy shit. $44k looks like a ton of money! That said, there is a two-and-a-half-week honeymoon included in there as well as crazy international flights. If we’d had a wedding in Switzerland, sure we could have avoided the flight costs and we could have honeymooned in Italy for a lot less money. We would have even had a cheaper wedding, probably, because almost none of my family would have been able to come!
If I look at just the wedding, am I surprised we spent $30k? No, not really. We planned for 17 months and split costs between Mama Funnel Cake and ourselves. We splurged on things that were important to us, and we shopped around for the best deals on things we wanted to save money on. It’s true, we probably spent more because we had more time to plan for it. (I’m betting if we had planned the wedding in six months that I wouldn’t have had all that time to go crazy thinking about wedding jackets.)
It’s also a little hard to judge the actual cost of our wedding because the currencies are so tangled up. Above, you see what the values were relating to each other at the time of purchase, but I didn’t track when I sent money over to the States, what that money was used for specifically, when I paid with which credit card, etc. It becomes terribly confusing, so all of this has to be taken as a rough estimate.
But the message is still clear: We spent a lot! Mama Funnel Cake commented that this was the most expensive wedding we’ve ever had in our family, and it’s true. But even my younger brothers commented that this was the “best wedding ever” and by and large it was regarded as a very successful wedding. Mama Funnel Cake was even happy with the family portrait, which makes me think our pricey photographer was even more worth it.
I did mention to you that after the wedding I was behind on my savings goals, but just seven months after the wedding I had topped up my savings to where it should be. We didn’t overspend on the wedding or go into any real debt, so there’s no reason to get upset about how much it cost at this point. It’s all paid off!
Lots of people like to throw out the “But that’s a down payment on a new home!” argument, but after parent contributions and gifts, Mr. Funnel Cake and I paid around 14,200 CHF toward the whole thing, which is nowhere near enough to buy a home in Switzerland. Just to give you an idea, in Zürich you need to put a 20% deposit on your one to two million CHF home, so you’d probably be looking at a 200,000–400,000 deposit. Fourteen thousand is more like a deposit on a nice rental flat here. With that in mind, I’m very happy we used the money for a wonderful wedding!
*All pictures by Timwill Photography unless noted*