Maddie, arts admin at the theatre & eamon, maths teacher
SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: An epic weekend garden party, filled with love and family.
PLANNED BUDGET: Original—$10,000 | Revised—$20,000
Our budget was $10,000 for a different wedding entirely (60–70 people, in a community hall). Then both sets of parents announced that they wanted to help out. Eamon’s parents gave us $5,000 to do with as we willed; my parents gave us up to $20,000, which was incredibly generous, but came with the proviso of a large list of family that needed to be invited. Our new budget was $20,000.
ACTUAL BUDGET: $24,700
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 137 invited, 103 attended
LOCATION: Brisbane, Australia
Where we allocated the most funds:
The Bar. $5,500 on alcohol + $800 for extra costs for mixers, staff, glassware, etc. We had two of our catering staff pouring until about 11:30 p.m. (they were enthusiastic and lovely, but not so experienced, so the servings were generous to say the least), and then it was serve yourself. A few friends, notably my best maid’s fiancé, generously decided to serve a few mixed things and shots for a while, but it was rather haphazard—exactly as we planned. Part of the reason we had the wedding we did (on private property, us organizing and supplying everything) was that we wanted to a DIY bar, with full quality control of liquor and the ability to party until everyone passed out. We chose top shelf spirits, as well as wine, beer, and bubbles that had emotional significance (the bubbles we had used to toast when we bought our first house, the red I once gave Eamon after a fight, and the white was chosen with friends at a pre-wedding dinner). This meant some very, very nice whiskies got mixed with cola towards the end of the night (to Eamon’s dismay), but it also meant the party danced until 4 a.m., and everyone had an excellent, and debaucherous, time.
Tent and Rentals. Equal top expense was the marquee hire, which included chairs, tables, the sound system, and lighting.
Where we allocated the least funds:
Wedding website and paper goods. Approximately $350 for both. I love getting mail that isn’t bills, so I was keen to do posted save the dates and invites. While I investigated letterpress, and for two seconds considered the APW DIY letterpress tutorial, I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money or time on it. Instead we did our own save the dates using a printable from Etsy, which cost about $20, on some fancy paper from an office supply store that fit though the work printer (sneaky!). We tried to do a similar thing for the invite, but the Etsy lady fell through pretty spectacularly, so we went with Minted instead. It was about $250, which was a bit more than I had imagined we would spend, but I loved them, and I was at the point where paying more was worth it not to have any added stress. I built our website myself on the Wix platform, which was easy to use and had maps, RSVP, and wedding registry apps you could add to the site. It cost about $45 for a year of it being live, and meant that we only had the wedding invite to send, without any of the usual enclosures (and my people are pretty flaky, so an online RSVP system was a big stress saver). We printed all of our own table numbers and place names, and overall the postage was the biggest cost (single letters are 70 cents each in Australia).
What was totally worth it:
Sam, our stylist. $1,500 for her and her team to come the day before the wedding to style the ceremony garden and reception marquee, and then to come back the day after and bump it all out again. This included her supplying all the decor, like silver candelabras and signage, and everything required for dinner service such as glassware, cutlery, flatware, etc. She even styled the “bathroom” and made port-a-loos look halfway glamorous. Her style is mismatched vintage, and she has so much stock that we were easily able to find what worked for us (though I basically took one look at her website and said, Yep, I will have picture number three).
What was totally not worth it:
Flowers. $400, which in retrospect we didn’t need, as my mother-in-law raided her garden to give us more than enough greenery and flowers for the roof centerpiece. Much to my mum’s disapproval, we didn’t have bouquets or lapel pins. My favorite quote of this discussion was her asking what I would do with my hands on the day. I suggested they would be on the ends of my arms like always.
Also? Stressing about chairs.
A few things that helped us along the way:
Friends chipping in to DJ and make playlists, and family helping organize a dinner the night before and a hungover breakfast the day after.
My incredible squad making my wedding dress dream a reality.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Doing my own hair and makeup was a good choice, as it made me feel in control and shortened the prep time considerably.
Plastic chairs are totally fine. I spent a rather silly amount of time on the Internet trying to image search for pretty weddings with white plastic garden chairs. All the ones I saw had Tiffany chairs or Americana ones, which were $10 a seat, rather than the $1.80 ones I wanted to use. Despite the lack of support on Pinterest, I went with it. It was fine. They were chairs and people sat in them successfully. (Part of the reason I wanted to write this post was to get photos of my normal chairs up and searchable on the Internet for anyone else as neurotic as me.)
Similarly, port-a-loos, totally fine. It might be that they are more common in Australia, but despite some wedding websites suggesting we pre-warn guests about this (What!? Where does that even go on the invite?), nobody had an issue with them. In fact, some guests took pictures of how we had styled them for Instagram hilarity.
Have an alternate shorter skirt to wear, once you get to the falling over silly stage!