The best part about Liz is that she gets what's important about weddings. She had a $10K wedding herself but, more importantly, she had the wedding she wanted. In Los Angeles. She planned it in 5 months, went to the florist down the street, rented her dress (more on that later), had dinner at the Sunset Towers in 20's/30s art deco style, and even served a sit-down steak dinner. But best of all? She loved her wedding, because it was exactly what she wanted, and that's her approach to everyone else's wedding and joy too.
Now, as a caveat about today's post, I'm still not sure how $10,000 became the wedding budget dream goal for so many of us. Perhaps because it feels splurge-ish but still reasonable. Perhaps because, once we acknowledge that our real desires for DJs and catered food and a dress are likely to cost $20,000 (or more), it makes us hyperventilate to realize that, while $10,000 is possible, it's won't remotely buy us the sorts of wedding celebrated in magazines and blogs and that we really truly want. And that's okay. There are ways to cut corners and expenses but, in Los Angeles, you'll rarely be able to achieve the sort of weddings celebrated in magazines or blogs (not that this should be your aim when you're planning a marriage) for $10,000.
Whether you decide to stick with a $10,000 wedding or recognize that it's worth it to you to spend more for a different event, you won't find any judgment from my $20,000 corner. My only problem with throwing out numbers like $10,000 is the unrealistic expectations that the $10,000 goal creates, and I think it's important to acknowledge what a $10,000 big city budget is and what it isn't so we can start to make better-informed decisions about our true wedding and budget priorities.
And so, Liz took her $10,000 budget for 100 people in Los Angeles and wrote us a post on some options for actually making that happen. It's not a rundown of every inexpensive option in the city, but it's a starting point with numbers and suggestions that are realistic and manageable, if you're really careful and honest about your priorities. It's a reminder that this is possible, if you want it to be. And now, without further ado, Liz's tips for achieving a $10,000 wedding in Los Angeles (and elsewhere):
Venue ($1200 goal)
Lots of those will fit in the $1200 and less range for site rental, which is about the range you need for a $10K wedding
- L.A. Parks and Recreation has finally broken down their list of what's available for weddings. Some of these spaces are really pretty, some offer indoor-outdoor options, and all are affordable.
- The California State Parks site has a list, too, although it's not as informative.
- There's also the Eagle Rock Arts Center, which is a very nice space, which doesn't need a lot of decoration, whose rentals start at $1200.
Catering ($3800 goal)
- This breaks down to $38 per person, INCLUDING standard 9.75% tax and 20% service, $29.35 base without tax and service OR, if there is no site fee/only a charge per person for food, $38.50 per person.
- Start with your favorite restaurant, and see what they have available. Many restaurants are less expensive than catering companies, which can't rely on restaurant clientele to keep their doors open.
- Depending on where you're having the wedding and what your caterer can provide (chafing dishes? steno? Plates, etc.), you might have to bring in rentals. Provide the rental company with your menu, and work from there. As far as trying to find rental companies, google local ones. Use Yelp for referrals if you need to.
Photography ($1000 goal)
THIS one is tricky, because that's about 1/3 of what a photographer usually costs.
- Start by finding a photographer you REALLY like, and asking them if they have an assistant, or know anyone who is just breaking into the business, who would be willing to shoot your wedding for the pics, referral and experience. These days, every photographer has an assistant.
- Think about cutting down your photography time - nix the getting ready shots, get the group shots, shove the big reception stuff (toasts, cake cutting, first dance) to the front of the evening.
- My next-last recommendation is that old standby craigslist, but see if you can find a shooter that matches your style, and comes with referrals. There's the whole argument in wedding world that craigslist makes it harder for all of us, including craigslist vendors, to get paid what the work is worth, but a 10k wedding is a 10k wedding. Try an avoid the hacky shooters - you'll know them when you see them.
- My last recommendation? Set up a flickr account for your wedding and put disposable cameras on the tables. Between the two of them, you'll get a ton of great shots.
- If you REALLY want pro pics of you in your wedding dress, schedule a day-after or before shoot, which will cost you tons less.
- Between/in a combination of all those, you'll make your $1,000 photography budget.
Attire ($1000 goal)
Tuxes are about $100 to rent, or perhaps he has a suit already, so that leaves $900 for your dress and alterations.
- I'm a see-the-dress-in-person kind of girl, so if you don't mind pre-owned or samples, I'd go for Glamour Closet [LA Love note: Here's my review of Glamour Closet and Encore Bridal, which is similar and also local]. If seeing the dress in person is less important to you, there are a ton of resale sites online (like Recycled Bride, OnceWed, Preowned Wedding Dresses, Bravo Bride, etc)
- I was just in David's Bridal and they had some really beautiful couture-ish gowns in the $600-800 range. Alfred Angelo also has some dresses in that range. Again, you have $10k and these stores offer a lot of affordable wedding gowns for women on a strict budget (but be VERY specific about not looking at the more expensive dresses)
- When I got married, I rented my gown for about $800 at One Night Affair, so that's an option, too, AND they rent jewelry. Odds are, even though you could, you're NOT going to clean your kitchen in your wedding dress later. Renting a couture gown at an affordable price is a real option.
Flowers ($1000 goal)
Keep it simple, stick to one type of flower. It doesn't have to be the cheapest flower, but you need to stick to one. 100 people =10 tables. If you keep it to $50 per table, that leaves $500 for the wedding party flowers, which is doable even without DIY. If you keep it to $35 per table, you'll have even more. I walked down the street from my apartment to the nearest florist and ordered mine, but again, ask your friends or vendors you've already hired for referrals. Venues are good places for these referrals.
Music ($1000 goal)
There's the ipod route, but you're going to need someone to monitor the music. Plus, make sure that you don't need to bring in a sound system. DJs can run twice as much as your budget for this is. My recommendation, again, would just be to ask around, starting with your venue.
Cake ($500 goal)
Keep the cake design simple. High end bakeries like Hansen's DO have cakes in the $3.50 - 5.00 a slice range, and their cake is delicious, it just won't be the fanciest cakes in their portfolios. Los Angeles Baking, Co. starts their cakes at $2.75 a slice. Fantasy Frostings just launched their Broke-Ass Cake Line which starts at $4.25 per slice. If you DON'T want cake (because that's okay, too), then just make sure you stay in the $3 per piece range, because you're going to need 2-3 pieces per person.
Target has boxes of 50, complete with RSVPs, etc, for $24-35.00 per box. I just posted about a plantable invite company that has cards in the $2 - 6 range. If you do want to order online, get samples. At any rate, 50 invites, you'll probably have to spend $2 per invite if it's not from a Michaels or Target kit. And don't forget postage.
Big Picture Tips:
- Stick to your budget! You have $10k. You will be able to find what you need with a budget of $10k. You need to believe that, because it's true. Even when you get frustrated, you need to believe it, because it's still true. Knowing what you have to spend on everything will help you.
- You have more time than you think. If you're talking to a vendor and they can't work with you, move on. The last vendor you meet is not the last chance you have.
- ASK. If you don't know where to find what you need, post the question on your favorite wedding site/blog, etc, or ask whatever vendor you've already hired. Ask a vendor you really like, regardless of if you can hire them. The worst they can say is no, I can't help you, which means you're not behind, you're just where you started. Big girl panties are important here. If you're old enough to get married, you're old enough to ask direct questions so you can get what you need.
Thank you Liz for such great tips and, more importantly, the reminder that we can actually do this. We can actually plan a straightforward wedding with the white dress, pretty venue, flowers, and cake for $10,000, even in a city like Los Angeles. Go check out more of Liz' great information and inspiration at the Charmed Weddings Blog or at Silver Charm Events.