Date: August 23, 2008
City, State: Arroyo Grande, CA
Initial Budget: $20,000
# of Guests: 200
Wedding Day Costs
Ceremony/Reception/Catering Fees: $11,000 at the Cypress Ridge Pavilion in Arroyo Grande, CA
Our wedding venue was located in San Luis Obispo County and was absolutely beautiful. The ceremony and reception facility rental, along with a food buffet of tri-tip and chicken for 200 guests, apple cider for toasting, and unlimited refills on sodas, lemonade, and iced tea, were included in this cost. Our ceremony took place outside next to a lake, and our reception was also outside, on the other side of the pavilion. We also received a 1-hour rehearsal time slot the day before the wedding, and the set-up and clean-up was taken care of by the staff of Cypress Ridge. The wedding party had a private changing room in the pavilion. We were allowed to start setting up in the morning, which helped a lot. Our wedding festivities started at 2:30pm and ended around 10pm.
Bridal Gown & Alterations: $300 for the dress, $300 for alterations at Bella Mia Bridal in Saratoga, CA
I stumbled upon my dress when I was going through the floor sample sale rack at Bella Mia Bridal. I knew I wanted something simple with no beading or lace, and the dress I came across was perfect. It was a floor sample that was hardly worn, and had no stains or tears. I bought the dress after I tried it on for only $300. The alterations were more expensive than I had anticipated though. I had to take in the chest area, shorten the length of the dress, and also add a french bustle to the the train. In total, I spent as much as the dress on alterations.
My Chinese Qi-Pao dress was only $40 from Chinatown in Oakland, which my dad bought for me.
Bridal Party Accessories: $256
I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics and bought a hair comb, a couple yards of fine bridal tulle, and made my own veil for $3. I also purchased white orchids and green orchids from Michael’s Crafts for the bridal party to wear for only $6. I wore rainbow flip flop sandals during the ceremony to match my bridesmaids, which I bought wholesale at the Rainbow store in San Clemente for $33 each. I later changed into gold ballet flats during the reception that I got on sale for $16 at Dillard’s when I visited Colorado. The pearl necklace that I wore was borrowed from my mom, and the pearl earrings were given to me as a present a few years ago. The garter I wore was the same one that my mom made for me for junior prom!
Bridesmaids Dresses: $330
I went to local bridal shops and found a beautiful bridesmaid dress by B2 Jasmine for $189. I went online and ordered them directly through rkbridal.net, and including shipping, each dress was only $110! Our bridesmaids paid for half of their dresses and their alteration costs.
Groom & Groomsmen Attire: $70 for groom’s tux, $58 for tuxedo t-shirts, $113 for shoes
We didn’t have many options when it came to tux rentals because our groomsmen lived in different areas of California. We decided to choose MW Tux because they offered a free tux for the groom, and also another free one for one of our dads. They used the two free tux rentals and divided the costs evenly for all 6 groomsmen, groom, and 2 dads. Each person ended up paying around $70 for their rental. The nice thing about MW Tux is that they are conveniently located in many cities, and once our wedding party was entered in their computer system, the groomsmen just had to go to any MW Tux near their location and get fitted. They also received the option to return their tux at any location as well.
Joe had made a vow to himself to be able to wear a tuxedo tshirt when he got married, so we purchased tuxedo t-shirts for all the groomsmen to wear. I bought all 7 shirts for only $58 from Steve & Barry’s. Joe and the groomsmen also wore brown sneakers from American Eagle Outfitters, which I purchased on sale for only $16 each online when they were on sale.
Flower Girl & Ringbearer Outfits: $100
I used a Friends & Family coupon at Macy’s to purchase our flower girl’s dress for $60. The ringbearer’s suit and tie outfit, along with brown sneakers to match the groomsmen were all purchased for $40 from Burlington Coat Factory and Baby Gap.
Stationery/Postage (STD’s, invitations, place cards, dinner menus, program fans): $364
For our save-the-date cards, my fiance and I took polaroid pictures of us holding different signs to deliver the news to our friends and family. I then used my digital camera to take a photo of all the polaroids sitting on my coffee table. We printed out the pictures at costco.com for 16 cents each and received them the next day. For a personal touch, I bought a stamp with our wedding theme that said, “All you need is love” and stamped green strips of velum paper that I already had at home. All together, I spent less than $20 for our STDs!
With the help of friends, we were able to put together our wedding invitations for a total cost of $264. I made my own pocket envelopes using orange 11×17 cardstock paper, that I ordered online, by using thin double-sided tape, which I purchased from Papersource. The invitation paper was purchased from Xpedx paper in San Jose. My friend helped us design the components to our invitation, and we printed them out at my fiance’s old workplace. I used a corner puncher to round the corners of all the sheets, which was probably the longest task out of the entire assembly process. Our RSVP cards were postcards to help us save on postage. We hand-delivered a lot of our invitations to our friends and family around the area, and mailed out a quite few to our out-of-town guests. The cost of postage made up most of the total cost of our stationery.
We used leftover invitation paper to make ceremony program fans, individual dinner menus, and place cards for no additional cost.
Photography: $3,300 for Junshien Lau Photography
We received a really good deal from Junshien when he had just done a few weddings last year in ’07, but his prices have increased significantly since the signing of our contract because he is very talented and popular! He was awesome, and we really enjoyed working with him. Junshien did both our engagement and wedding shoots, and we are very pleased the results. He has a great personality and is very artistic. We were very lucky to have him as our wedding photographer.
Videography: $300 honorarium
My sister recommended her friend to us when we were asking around for wedding videographers. Mike was graduating from college when we had initially talked to him about shooting our wedding, and is now working full-time as an engineer. He does wedding videos for fun on the side, and is great! He had offered to shoot our wedding for free, but we gave him a love check of $300 for doing us such a big favor.
Flowers: $2000 by Flowers by Denise in Templeton, CA
Floral decorations for our wedding was the one area that we underestimated our budget on. We gave Denise a couple ideas of what we wanted for our ceremony and reception decor, and she exceeded our expectations ten-fold! Even though we had to cut down the costs of our bridal bouquets, the size of the bouquets were a lot bigger than I had anticipated, and the colors of the flowers were bright and beautiful. Denise went above and beyond with decorating, and all our guests were amazed by her talent. Even though $2000 was not the original budget that we had in mind, we were very happy with our results.
Ceremony/Reception Decor: $308
We purchased paper lanterns from asianideas.com for $116, which included free shipping. We bought 120 candles, candle holders, and 21 table number holders from Ikea for $100. As a personal touch, we added photo coasters with images that symbolized our relationship around each reception table centerpiece. The total cost of these coasters was $67 from favorfavor.com. We purchased sand and 3 vases for a total of $15. We also put together a wish tree for our guests to write us words of wisdom or doodle drawings for us. We used leftover ribbon and paper to make the tags, so this project was FREE!
I spent $25 at Jo-Ann’s to buy two giant cardboard letters, “J” and “K”, and also flowers to make floral letters to hang at our wedding. I waited until these items were 40% off before purchasing them.
Hospitality is very important to the both of us, so we put together some bathroom baskets for both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. We gathered random samples that we received from the mail, store, etc. and put them in baskets we already had. Another project done for FREE!
Photo Booth: $30
I really wanted to a photo booth at our wedding but decided to make my own to save on costs. I bought large sheets of fabric that matched perfectly with our wedding theme for $30 from Hancock Fabrics and my brother helped me gather random, silly props that were around the house. My MOH’s boyfriend helped take pictures with his digital camera, and we loaded all the pictures on flickr.com for everyone to share!
My fiance and I had an inside joke between us that involved heart-shaped cookie cutters, so we decided to purchase 150 individually-wrapped heart-shaped cookie cutters for $80.95. With the leftover paper that we had from our STD’s and invitations, we rewrapped each box to make them match the theme of our wedding. We also bought 144 bubble wands from Michael’s Crafts for $17 and labeled them with stickers to let our guests know to use them after our pronouncement. I saved up to 40% off with Michael’s coupons when I purchased them, which saved me a few bucks!
We went through a friend to have cupcakes made instead of a traditional wedding cake. Each cupcake was $1.50, and we also ordered a large cupcake to place on top of the $50 cupcake stand we purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I found a silver polaroid picture cupcake topper from Potterybarn.com for $10, which matched perfectly with our STD’s.
Officiant: $500 honorarium
Before we even got engaged, we knew that we were going to ask our college pastor to officiate our wedding. Pastor Steve did an amazing job that day, adding humor and words of wisdom during his message to our guests at the ceremony. It was an honor having him at our wedding.
Coordinator: $400 – $600 honorarium
We had initially written out a love check for $400 to our coordinator but near the end of our wedding planning phase, she really stepped in to help us out. We wrote her a thank-you card and added another $200 after we came back from our honeymoon, but we’re not sure if she cashed that check in because she had refused to when we gave it to her… 🙂
Our friend recommended our DJ to us and paid for half of the cost as a wedding present to us.
I made personalized gift boxes with different goodies in each one of them for my two girlfriends who helped with hair and make-up that day. They were extremely sweet the morning of the wedding, and arrived even earlier than the original time of 7am than I had told them. My friend Audrey did a fantastic job with all our hairstyles and Charlene was absolutely amazing with doing our make-up. I’m really thankful for them.
Helper’s Gifts: $200
I found some great deals on adorable neck ties from Steve & Barry’s for our guy friends who helped out at the wedding, and also fabulous deals on cute nail kits from Bath & Body Works. It averaged out to be about $8-$10 a person.
TOTAL COSTS: $21,077
Hotel Rooms: $1000 for family, wedding party, and officiant and his family.
Wedding Site Insurance: $195
Wedding Bands: $2500
Marriage License: $60
Wedding Photos, Parent Albums, & tip: $1,370
WEDDING DAY TOTAL: $26,202
TOTAL COST PER PERSON: $131.01
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