- Venue - I lovelovelove our venue. We found a beautiful, indoor/outdoor flexible non-profit venue and we couldn't be happier about it. Cost - $1000 (plus everything we'll need to bring in, but oh well. I'm cheering every budget victory I can here.)
- Photography - We're both aesthetic snobs with very particular points of view. I'm probably slightly edgier than he is, but we're honing in on a shared wedding photography aesthetic. We're willing to compromise on the full package to hire amazing artists, but we're not willing to go for the highest end photographers out there. We just can't. We also can't go for standard wedding blah (even if it's pretty wedding blah.) It would make me cry. I need art and I need a photographer who gets us, even if it's a 5 hour package instead of all day. We also have tons of extremely talented friends and family whose photos will fill in the blanks around a more limited photography budget.
- Catering - we're still working through this one, but I'm pushing for local, sustainable, high-quality fare. We try to eat farmer's market non-chemical laden food at home and I'd like the same for our wedding.
- Eco-friendly decor - Our ceremony location is pretty enough to need nothing. Our reception site is a bit of a rustic open book, so we're decorating with succulents, thrifted glass, collected jars, feathers, fabric & paper flowers, strings of lights, candles, paper lanterns, sparkles, and jewel tones. I like color, I like eclecticism, I refuse to spend money on things that will die/are ecologically wasteful, I have a vision, and I'm already collecting and thrifting. I'll leave the succulent planting up to J and his green thumb.
- Jewish Wedding - we're having a progressive Rabbi marry us. We're spending money on a work-of-art ketubah. We want to take a pre-marital planning class through the American Jewish University. I want to make a chuppah quilt (with help from our community). These things cost a lot of money and time, but they are huge marriage priorities for us and we think the value is immeasurable.
- Alcohol - I like to party. I like to drink when we party. Our venue only allows beer and wine and we're planning to bring kegs of good beer and bottles of reasonable wine. It won't be Bud Light and Two Buck Chuck but it won't be imported micro brews or $30 bottles of wine either. I may splurge on sangria, if the budget allows, instead of a champagne toast. I couldn't care less about champagne but I have an absurd love of sangria and memories of living in Spain.
- Music - J is a musician so it's a priority for him that we have good music. To him, this means a DJ. This is a battleground topic for us because I already love his mad playlist skills and I would be just as happy with a friend MC/borrowing sound equipment. We're both treading carefully here and we'll see how it works out. At some point, I'll probably say eff it, the $1500 battle isn't worth fighting and he'll get his DJ. (even if I'm right, ahem.)
- Attire - more on this later, but I scored on my dress. It was a splurge-for-me, but barely registers in the wedding world cost scheme and met my comfort/style/cost criteria. I am happy.
- Accessories - I have an obscene love for jewelery-as-art. I'm planning on special earrings for the dress, since I don't have anything that works in my current collection. I'm also planning on a colored shrug (it will be coooold at night) and ballroom dance shoes or broken-in pretty shoes (I'm going to dancedancedance). I am excited about all of these things. In fact, I am excited enough to buy them and use them now, and so I may not include them in the wedding budget. So there.
- Ceremony musicians - We have tons of talented friends. In fact, J's former a capella group (yeah, that's right, he sang in an all-male a capella group) may make an appearance here. Yay!
- Invitation and paper design - we have several incredibly talented graphic designer friends too. We already have a tentative offer for paper goods design help as our wedding present and we are over-the-moon excited.
- Dessert - We have amazing friends. No, really, we have A-Ma-Zing friends. Several of these friends are incredible bakers. We are tentatively thinking of making a dessert buffet registry and seeing what the world brings us in joy and sugar and not giving a d*mn about traditional wedding cake.
- Rentals - Our site has tables and reception chairs but, besides that, we're on our own for plates, silverware, linens, ceremony chairs etc. I may have found a way to borrow silverware, I may seriously consider bamboo compostable dishes, and I'm more than okay with basic white linens, but this is still going to be a hefty sum. Blerg.
- Guest Shuttle - if we were getting married in the city, it wouldn't be an issue. But we're getting married at the top of a winding narrow canyon. We don't want either the older folks or the drunken younger folks to drive. Also, WE don't want to drive. So we'll take the shuttle with everyone else. I'm hoping for some late night singing. Hear that, guests? You would totally make my wedding (and justify the shuttle cost 1000 times over) if you joined in for a tipsy late night bus ride hootenany.
- Day-of-Coordinator - I might be able to hire an acquaintance from my event planning days at a discount, I might try and work out a bridal DOC trade (let me know if you're interested!) and I might cave and hire someone. I know exactly how important it is to have a point person for events. I will be this person until about noon the day of our wedding, and then I am handing off the reins. I will be dunzo and I will (try to) wash my hands of caring. Therefore, for my own sanity, I need a point person. I'm not sure I'm willing to put this responsibility on a friend at the wedding, so I may need to suck it up and hire someone.
- Engagement photos - I'm going to preface this by saying I hate most engagement shoots. I find it odd that weddings have become a narcissistic photo shoot opportunity and I don't feel the need to participate in that. People get some stunning photos, but I'm not sure what they have to do with weddings. In my case, however, I am not photogenic. Like, maybe 1 in a 100 photos of me are reasonable (not even good, just reasonable.) I need help feeling comfortable in front of a camera (I had actual panic attacks in front of cameras as a child) so I'm strongly considering an engagement shoot with our photographer out of almost-practical considerations.
- Hair and makeup - My hair is fine and sometimes straight/sometimes wavy and, whenever I try to style it, it generally wins. I can do decent makeup, except when my skin freaks out (as it may, based on past history with stress). I am lucky enough to have a long-time stylist who does wedding hair and makeup who I adore and I can book her at a discount compared to the going wedding rates (of $500 or so, for perspective.) It's still not inexpensive, but it's a possibility. It's either that, or DIY, since I don't have friends with hidden hairstyling talents. (Do I? If you're reading and I'm wrong, please let me know!) Since I don't have anyone to trust with my difficult hair, I may suck it up and splurge. Yes, I am vain.
- There's really only two things that aren't on our list - the honeymoon and the rehearsal barbecue party. The honeymoon, because we save up for a big annual trip each year anyhow and the rehearsal barbecue party because it's my parents gift to us. Everything else is on our plate and is being counted.