Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The RealityCHECK Series: How Much Wedding You Can Get For...$1000

I decided to start off the series with the very round figure of $1000.  And yes - you can get married for 1k..more or less.  Seriously.  Here's how:

You'll go to the courthouse, Justice Of The Peace or the pastor's study and say "I DO"

The cost: Depends on what the current rate is in your region for a civil wedding ceremony or the "love offering" your pastor may ask for.  This will be a short, simple ceremony.  Approximate time from "Dearly Beloved" to "I now pronounce you husband and wife"? 12 minutes (15 if the officiant is a bit "long-winded").  $50 to $150

Bouquet for the bride, boutionierre for the groom

The cost: $75 - $200 (lower if you get the blooms from a supermarket, higher if you go to a florist)

None.  This is a "tell everyone" kind of situation.  So you will inform those persons who need to know via conversations, phone call, text message (I'm serious about that one...know of a couple who did it!).  Here's the rub:  A ceremony of this nature is NOT going to have a guest list of 100.  Generally, it's the bride & groom..maybe their parents and maybe a couple of other "special" folks.  No one else makes the cut...

The Cost: $0

You can go fancy or simple.  I've seen full length gowns & tuxedos and I've seen street-length dresses and suits.  I've also seen sundresses and shorts (but that's another story..).  It is still your wedding day, so getting a new dress for the occasion isn't such a bad idea.

The Cost: $0 (if you're wearing someting already present in your wardrobe) to $500.....let's say that while men are easy-peasy with this, women aren't.  Wanna shoot your budget?  Clothing will do it!!

It's 12-15 minutes tops.  Think about that.

The Cost:  Time spent downloading the playlist on your IPod {if you must have something playing in the background}

Even if your budget is miniscule, you should still have images of your day.  A professional photographer can come in to shoot your ceremony..then hand over the memory card to you.  No editing, just raw footage.  It's a great way to get decent shots....and not Cousin Pookie's "shaking hand" version of your "I Do's". 

The Cost: $200 - $375 {depending on photographer's hourly rate}*
*Note:  You can always go in the other direction and just have a family friend snap a few photos.  They won't be professional in quality, but you'll have documentation of your day.  Cost? $0.

The Cost: $0.  You'll use your own................

MAKING IT OFFICIAL: {i.e. the marriage license}
Next to transportation, it's probably the least expensive thing on the list - but totally necessary in order to become Mr. & Mrs. :)

The Cost: $35 - $75 (depending on jurisdiction and domicile)

On a budget of $1000, a nice lunch or dinner at your favorite restaurant is definitely the way to go.  If it's just the two of can't be any easier (or less expensive!).  Should you want to invite a few close friends, then you need to PAY for them.  DO NOT, under any circumstances,  ask them to pick up their own tab.   Actually - that goes for any wedding event.  No matter what your spending looks like, guests are just that - GUESTS!  They should not have to come out of pocket for their food, beverages or parking.  You're the host - the expense is in your ballpark.

The Cost: This is the largest variable - $50 {lunch for two} or $300 {lunch for six}.  And I mention lunch, simply because it's the most cost effective and most civil ceremonies occur during the day..when court offices are open.

Nothing like a little something sweet to celebrate your new union!  You can get "romantic" and purchase one single, delicious slice from your favorite bakery - and later on that evening, feed each other while sipping on a bit of bubbly!  Or...if you've opted for lunch with friends, consider getting a 6" cake from a bakery to share with everyone present.

The Cost: $1.25 to $5.00 {per slice} or $15 to $50 {per 6" cake} - depending on bakery

The outward symbol of saying "I'm married now!"  I have found that no matter what the budget is, most people choose to leave the cost of their rings OUT of the mix.  Why?  I think it's because this is one area where the dollars don't matter.  For many, the ring is the ONE tangible display of their marriage, so they'll purchase what they like.

The Cost:  not included in the overall spending

Even if it's just for one night....most couples WANT to get away and have some "alone" time.  Consider booking an evening at a wonderful hotel or bed and breakfast in your area so you can bask in the "Mr. & Mrs." of it all :)  And, shop around...many hotels offer weeknight specials that include room amenities and breakfast the next day....

The Cost: $150 to $300 {based on area hotel rates}

So, when we do the overall math - here's what it looks like:

Ceremony: $50 - $150
Flowers: $75 - $200
Invitations: $0
Attire: $0 - $500
Music: $0
Photography: $0 - $375
Transportation: $0
License: $35 - $75
Reception: $50 - $300
Wedding Cake: $1.25 - $5.00 {per slice} or $15 - $50 {per 6" cake} 
Honeymoon: $150 - $300 {overnight stay at a local hotel or inn}

To sum it all up - on the low end, you'll spend approximately $375.  On the higher end....count on $1900.  Yes...I know $1900 is more than $1000.  There's the reality check of it all for you :)  Please know that depending on where you're getting hitched, these "numbers" can be higher or lower.

So...what do you think?  This is how I see it, based on my experience in the industry and simple, raw numbers as I know them to be true in my area.  Comments, insight, criticisms and witticisms are welcomed.....

The RealityCHECK Series: How Much Wedding Can You Get For $$$$?

This blog topic has been a LONG time coming. And the following dialogue is why: 

Me: "So....what have you and your fiance' discussed as far as wedding budgets/parameters/spending is concerned?"

Prospective Client:  "Um...we're looking at $10,000"

Me:  "And that's for how many guests and it will include?"

Prospective Client: "oh, 300 guests.  And we'd like to have sit-down dinner, open bar with specialty drinks, lighting, over-the-top florals, rental linen, custom cake, live band & D.J., engraved invitations and 3 limos."

Me:  **Blank Stare**

I'm not joking.  Not in the least.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've had couples sit in my studio and pretty much have that EXACT conversation with me..word for word.  And yes - I have given them the "blank stare".   Once I compose myself (trust me, it only takes a couple of seconds), the harsh reality of it all sets in and I take on a new role as EDUCATOR.  There's a real bottom line here:  Most people have no idea what a wedding really COSTS simply because they've never had to put one together nor do they have any concept of what market pricing looks like.  It really is that simple.

So.....I'm going to spend the next few blog posts giving you the "skinny" on costs.  I'll keep it really straightforward, no sugar coating or "lip glossing" - because that's not going to help things at all.  In order to have a wedding, well - at least one that's not at the courthouse or JOP's office, you have to shell out some dollars.  The amount of $$$$$ you cough up are highly dependent on a few factors such as:
Location (geographics)
Time of year (yes....January is less expensive than June)
Number of guests (75 guests can be easier on your wallet than 400!)
Time of day (I know - not everyone is an "early bird..but it can help you save $$$!)
Your level of "realism" (what you want vs. what you can AFFORD)

The media and the Internet have truly contributed to this phenomenon.  And I mean that honestly.  You see all of the lovely gorgeousness splashed over the pages of magazines, on websites, in blogs, on television and of course, you WANT it for your big day.  But um...there's this little thing called money which has to come into play.  With the exception of a couple of "outlets"'re not told how MUCH that eye candy costs.  So you "assume" that your dollars can cover it.  That's your first mistake

Wedding planning professionals such as myself, can and SHOULD school you really quick on what's doable and more importantly, what isn't.  Because we work so closely with other service providers in the industry, we can give you the "run down" on approximate dollar amounts because we see them every day.  And you need to listen.  Carefully.  Please.  Trust me.

What ever dollar amount is sitting in your bank account or checkbook for this occasion - well, it's what you have.  You can do a great wedding on any amount, as long as you are CLEAR about what said money is going to get you.  That goes back to the realism factor I mentioned is what it is.  If all you have is $10k..well, that means all you have is ten thousand dollars.  And it's only going to go so far.  Remember the "conversation" I had with the client?  Yeah....$10k was NOT a reasonable thought process.  And I told them so.....

Stay tuned for the rest of the series.  I welcome your comments and thoughts....this is a ripe area for discussion, not only from industry professionals, but consumers also.  The best clients (for me) are educated ones........