Now, I know $15,000 isn't a lot in the Los Angeles wedding world (though it's certainly a lot to me!), and I know that $15,000 necessitates some hard choices. I'm learning to put aside my "wouldn't it be nice" desires that don't add to our core purpose for the wedding and keep myself focused on what's important: we're getting married. (Lalalalala I don't need floral centerpieces - I'm getting married.) I made explicit choices about the look-and-feel of the day that were supposed to help with the budget: we want a casual vibe, DIY decor, laid-back Sunday morning set up, and ceremony+party focus instead an aesthetically-focused event. We're trying to keep our guests' comfort in mind for every step of the planning, which has required a few splurges like providing shuttles to the Malibu canyon hilltop locale, catering the event, and possibly hiring a DOC. We're trying to put money on the lasting memories/expenses like pre-marital counseling, our ketubah, photos, and good food/drink/music instead of throwaway favors. In other words, I figured that because we're chasing an overall casual vibe without a lot of "stuff", $15,000ish felt attainable and reasonable.
And yet, somehow it's not nearly enough. My pared down budget spreadsheet is looking a lot more like $25,000 right now, and it makes me want to bang my head against the wall and scream. $25,000 is more than my eight-month emergency fund. $25,000 is enough to pay for my entire dreamed-about grad school tuition. $25,000 is more than my annual take home pay from my first out-of-college job. And most importantly, $25,000 is about $20,000 more than we currently have saved for our wedding fund.
I just spent a week at home with H1N1 which gave me enough time to obsess and freak the heck out about the budget, trying to shave $100 here and $100 there and still not making a dent. I feel like I've compromised a ton already and like I'm saying NO all the time: no - it costs too much. no - we can DIY and save $1000. no - I know you think x is important but x would cost $500 we don't have.We already have an overwhelming list of nos:
- No ceremony decor
- No large wedding party (or outfits/accessories)
- No ring bearer/flower girl
- No fancy or convenient wedding location
- No blow-out bachelorette or bachelor parties
- No sit down plated meal
- No wedding cake
- No salon dress
- No fancy shoes
- No hard liquor
- No floral centerpieces or floral bouquets
- No boutonnieres
- No new suit or tux
- No band
- No ceremony musicians
- No high-end photography package
- No limo
- No letterpress or invitation suite
- No guestbook
- No out of town bags
- No favors
- No diamond or platinum rings
- no no no no no NO.
I'm tired of no. I have nearly a year and a half left and I don't know how strong I can be with the Nos between now and then. I've been trying to focus on the yeses, on all the beautiful amazing YES moments and items and memories that I'm looking forward to, but it's hard. And just when I thought I had some elusive perspective on this madness, the $25,000 figure popped up and made me want to hurl, both because it's huge and because it necessitates a whole new round of No. And unfortunately, we're done with the easy cuts. This next round of No starts to get emotionally messy. He wants a DJ, but I'd be okay with an ipod. I want hair and makeup help, but he'd say why bother. He has an amazing Theory suit already, so my attire/accessory options are weighing a lot more heavily on the budget than his, which is a strange power dynamic. He wants nicer chairs than our site provides but my aesthetic priorities lean towards paper lanterns, candles, and a pretty dessert table. Neither of us are wrong in our priorities, but I am not looking forward to our next round of budget negotiations as we both make some hard decisions and tiptoe around the emotions regarding our individual wedding priorities. I know other people navigate these issues with weddings every day, so how did you address the budget issues? What were your biggest cost-cutting measures? How did you balance everyone's priorities? What were your most challenging compromises and where did you put your foot down?