It's been just over a month since Kim and Kevin's wedding, and I was really starting to miss them! (When you plan a wedding together for over a year, that happens.) A few nights ago my husband and I caught up with them for tacos, margaritas, and Goodberry's. Along the way, I got their permission to try something new and use their wedding as the guinea pig.
So today, I'm putting up a blog post that I hope with be the first in a series. I'd like to show my couples what a wedding really costs. The internet is full of blog posts about about how host a fabulous wedding for $5K, but most of them include a line like, "My friend is a professional photographer with 8 years of experience, and she gave us her services as a gift!" Well, bully for you, I guess. Most people don't have that luxury.
Kim and Kevin were clear about what they wanted - lots of people, classic comfort foods, excellent entertainment, and a well-stocked bar. They were willing to cut back on decorative aspects, and they didn't care whether dinner was fancy as long as it tasted good. Their #1 priority, though, was their friends and family. Despite my urging them to trim the guest list, they insisted that having a large group of loved ones was the most important aspect of the wedding day. (In fact, their guest count of 165 already represented several rounds of cuts!)
So, how did Kim and Kevin spend their money? Check it out.
KIM & KEVIN • JULY 16, 2016
TOTAL SPENDING: $24,618 ($151 per guest)
GUEST COUNT: 165
SPLURGED: Guest count, photographer, bar
SAVED: Venue, flowers, dessert
Ole Time Barbecue (Catering) • $2,779
The Happiest Hostess (Waitstaff) • $1,750
For dinner, Kim and Kevin wanted a traditional Southern feast of barbecue, hush puppies, and scrumptious side dishes. After sampling several more expensive options, they declared Ole Time to be the hands-down tastiest barbecue in town. Because Ole Time could only provide a skeleton crew of two to keep the buffet stocked, Kim and Kevin needed to hire an independent waitstaff. Happiest Hostess provided the same services you'd expect from a full-service caterer such as laying the table settings, circulating to refill water glasses, clearing plates, and cutting the wedding cake.
POUR • $3,850
While they began their wedding planning with the intention of providing their own alcohol, Kim and Kevin eventually decided to hire a professional bartending service. POUR provided a beer and wine package, plus two signature cocktails available only during the cocktail hour. (They also, at my request, provided a single bottle of Maker's Mark exclusively for Kevin and his groomsmen!) Hiring POUR eliminated the need to calculate estimated quantities, purchase the alcohol, transport it from Raleigh to Pinehurst (and home again), and provide other bar essentials like napkins, ice, coolers, and garnishes. To save money, they chose to serve all alcohol in the disposable drinkware provided by POUR.
Party Reflections • $3,106
While their cool floor plan with its serpentine designs required renting an absurd number of tables, Kim and Kevin kept their linens and place settings minimal. Rather than shoot for the sequined or lace looks that were popular in 2016, they opted for polyester tablecloths, simple white dishes, basic flatware, and a single water goblet at each place setting. In addition, they rented a few extra items requested by their vendors such as drink dispensers for non-alcoholic beverages, a tiered dessert display, and cocktail tables to give the non-dancers a place to congregate. The delivery fee to Pinehurst was substantial, but the extra charge was essentially washed out by the special discount that RedBird Events always receives from Party Reflections.
DiPrima Photography • $2,530
Kim and Kevin were picky about photography, and they met with three different photographers before booking. The first's work wasn't quite good enough. The second had a personality that set Kim on edge. But Jenna DiPrima was just right! For the price above, she provided an engagement session, bridal session, a bridal canvas for display at the wedding, and 8 hours of wedding day coverage (with no second shooter).
The Fair Barn • $2,425
Kim and Kevin's ideal venue would be within one hour of Raleigh, host both the ceremony and reception, and be indoors to beat the heat. Also, any live animals on the premises would be a plus for veterinary student Kim. Their July wedding date worked strongly in their favor - because 100-plus degree weather makes July a less popular wedding month in North Carolina, they weren't competing with tons of other couples for prime venue space. The Fair Barn in Pinehurst was a 75-minute drive from Kim's apartment, but it boasted over 5,000 square feet of polished concrete floors, exposed wooden beams, lofty skylights, and a working horse track right outside. And at under $2000 for an all-day rental, the price really couldn't be beat. We rented the venue's metal chiavari chairs at the bargain price of $3.00 apiece.
RedBird Events • $2,065
Kim and Kevin hired us for partial planning, but they ended up getting something that resembled full-service. What can I say? When you're kind and sweet to your wedding vendors, they're often willing to go the extra mile for you! And I really liked Kevin and Kim. If you met them, you'd understand.
Various • $1,500
Kim went over budget for her $1,400 gown, but it made her father cry when she tried it on in the store. End of discussion. Her simple flats, minimal jewelry, and borrowed veil totaled only $100.
Ultra Mix Events • $1,200
For Kim and Kevin, it was important to make sure their guests were well entertained. They booked Matt Butterworth from Ultra Mix, although they could have had a DJ/Photo Booth combo from a local company for the same price. Ultimately, they decided to go with a DJ who has a proven track record of blowing the doors off rather than take a chance on a package deal.
The Bakehouse • $657
Despite wanting the tradition of a cutting cake, Kim and Kevin were much more interested in serving a variety of pies and pastries to their guests. They found the perfect solution at the Sandhills Wedding Expo in the form of The Bakehouse. Pastry chef Martin Brunner, Austrian-born and a fifth generation baker, created a dazzling array of mini tarts and petit fours to accompany four varieties of pie and a traditional (but small) three-tiered cake.
Teacup Floral • $1,012
Kim and Kevin's wedding party numbered 16, so they knew that bouquets would be the bulk of the floral budget. They opted to save money by letting the bouquets and altar pieces serve double duty as reception decoration. Kelley Kennedy of Teacup Floral did a superb job of creating versatile pieces, including fresh gardenias for Kim's hair and for the wedding cake. The scent was heavenly! After tax and delivery (and receiving a special discount for being a RedBird client) Kim and Kevin's flower bill skated in at just over $1,000.
Various • $644
Kim and Kevin ordered their Save-the-Date cards online using one of their engagement photos, and the price was minimal. When it came time for the invitations, Kevin's graphic design skill allowed him to create a beautiful invitation suite of his own design. He turned to CatPrint.com to print the suite on a heavy, felt-textured paper and ordered the peach envelopes from an outside supplier. He also created the "thumbprint" guestbook for guests to sign as they arrived.
Daybreak Ceremonies • $350
Kim and Kevin wanted a ceremony delivered by someone with a good sense of humor, but just enough gravitas to make the whole thing feel official. They went with Reverend Fenton Wilkinson, an attorney/reverend with a mustache like Mark Twain's. He performed a ceremony that was custom-written to make the most of their love story, and he left barely a dry eye in the house.
Fresh Market of Pinehurst • $300
Ole Time Barbecue doesn't provide appetizers or party nibbles, so Kim and Kevin took it upon themselves to keep their guests fed during cocktail hour. They ordered several trays of Southern finger foods like deviled eggs, chicken salad sandwiches, and fresh fruit with yogurt dip. Guests served themselves using disposable plates and napkins, and Happiest Hostess replenished the trays as needed.
Hair & Makeup by Mattie Jordan • $250
Mattie Jordan and her associate provided hair and makeup services for Kim, a few bridesmaids, and both moms. Mattie's prices are lower than most hair and makeup pros, but she did charge an industry-standard $.50/mile travel fee. Her work was outstanding, and Kim's hair and makeup stood up all day long to the mid-July heat. Kim also elected to have a hair and makeup trial before her bridal portraits, which proved to be invaluable when the style couldn't hold Kim's too-clean hair for more than an hour. Just imagine if it had all fallen apart on the wedding day!
Bernard's Formalwear • $200
Kevin and his groomsmen worked with the team at Bernard's in Durham to rent beautiful light grey tuxes with peach accessories. Bernard's provided a higher quality product, a better experience, and a lower price than Kevin had previously encountered using a national suit rental chain for his friends' weddings.
Friend-of-a-friend • $200
Videography was never in the budget. However, one of the bridesmaids had a friend looking to get into the wedding video business, and she offered to film the entire event for $200. To be clear, we had NO idea if this video is going to be any good! You usually get what you pay for, so this was an absolute gamble. But, as I told Kevin and Kim, even a bad wedding video will be worth $200 to you if you weren't planning to have one at all. And if the video turns out to be good? Yahtzee!
Kim and Kevin didn't have what I would call a "budget" wedding - they certainly made sacrifices in order to accommodate their larger guest count, but they were happy to pay industry standard prices for the things that mattered most. In the end, the wedding was beautiful and they had a blast. Check out the details below!
What part of your wedding budget would you be willing to cut? Where would you be willing to splurge? Let us know in the comments section!