Jenna, pharmacist & Christina, pharmacist
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: First same-sex wedding in our church, followed by an intimate celebration.
Planned budget: $10,000
Actual budget: $13,000
Number of guests: 45
LOCATION: Columbia, South Carolina
Where we allocated the most funds:
The most expensive costs were for two brides apparel—dresses, alterations, and shoes for two dresses ran around $2,870. Catering, photography, and flowers were each close in cost, accounting for around 40 percent of our actual expenditures. We got recommendations on photographers from Christina’s hairstylist, and we fell in love with the pics we saw on one site in particular. We arranged coffee to meet her that week, and we were able to have candid discussions surrounding budget the first time we met. She was fabulous and worked with us to create a package within our means and still captured all of our special moments!
One of our friends works with a caterer and we were able to work with him to create a special menu that matched our taste, while also less expensive than other catering companies in our area. The first florist we met with was super open to planning an LGBT wedding (which was a concern in the South), and also was extremely familiar with our church. This was one of our last planning pieces, and we were on a time crunch! Thankfully we loved the pictures of his work and how comfortable we were meeting. We decided to work with him for bouquets and floral arrangements at the church that, while slightly above our original budget, we decided were worth it. For flowers at the reception venue, our honorary bridesmaid arranged fresh flowers bought in bulk into vases we purchased, and it turned out beautifully for much less.
Church/pastoral fees and alcohol were around $1,000 each. Instead of working with a bartending company, we asked our caterer if he knew someone we could hire to serve still and sparkling wines and beer, and we purchased the libations ourselves.
Where we allocated the least funds:
Venue: While this would normally account for a much larger portion of the budget, we were especially lucky this was gifted from our friends (Christina’s bridesmaid) who own a super chic local salon.
DJ: A friend and colleague who has played multiple weddings for other colleagues offered to DJ as our wedding gift. We did pay him as a “thank you” for the time and effort of creating the playlist that created the ambiance for a spectacular evening, but this was a much cheaper alternative to a local DJ or live music.
Decor: The venue itself is super chic and gorgeous in its own right. We tried our best to incorporate the general vibe of the salon into the decor plans so that additional items—candles, vases, flowers, etc.—were relatively inexpensive while adding to the already beautiful atmosphere.
What was totally worth it:
Intimate wedding party and guest list: The fire code limits on the reception venue required we set our guest list to under fifty (allowing a buffer of around five people for the photographer, bartender, and caterer). With such a small guest list, we quickly decided that one attendant each would be the most appropriate. These two great friends, along with one honorary bridesmaid, helped each step of the way—with both emotional and detailed planning support! I’ve never attended a smaller wedding, but I think that it created an amazingly intimate, relaxed environment where we were truly able to mingle and celebrate with each of our guests.
What was totally not worth it:
I realize we just said the limited guest list is what was “totally worth it,” but arriving at that list was a difficult task. With an abundance of meaningful people throughout our lives, there were undoubtedly those who had been integral figures that are fully supportive but weren’t able to attend. The majority of these list-narrowing decisions centered around people who had been most integrally involved in our lives as a couple.