Lucy, architectural conservator & trey, Press Secretary for an Environmental Group
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A wildly raucous blend of Southern charm and Norwegian tradition, with a killer dance party.
Planned budget: $25,000
Actual budget: $30,000
Number of guests: 195
LOCATION: Gordonsville, Virginia
Where we allocated the most funds:
We really splurged on our tremendous photographer, Kate Thompson of Betty Clicker Photography. The moment we saw her journalistic style that really prioritizes capturing the emotion of the day, we decided that she was going to be worth the money!
We also spent a fair amount of the budget on the venue. We wanted the venue to really feel like a hub for the weekend, with the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception all happening in the same place. Wolftrap Farm was perfect for us because it not only accommodated all these events (in different areas on the farm!), but it also had enough beds to accommodate the whole wedding party, which allowed the party to go on late into the night, even after the last bus had to leave. PLUS, we pretty much had free reign over the venue the whole weekend, with staff only showing up if we asked for help.
One of the big reasons we went over budget was because we included nearly everyone for a food truck rehearsal dinner the night before, which was a bit like throwing another low-key wedding! I wouldn’t change a thing about how everything turned out, but we would have been much closer to our initial budget had we kept the rehearsal dinner to just the wedding party and close family.
Where we allocated the least funds:
We saved a lot by getting our flowers locally and arranging everything but the bridal bouquet ourselves. Blue Heron Farm provided us with the most gorgeous blooms in buckets, and a fantastic team of family and friends arranged boutonnières, bridesmaid bouquets, and table flowers on Friday morning, the day before the wedding.
Another great thing about our venue was that we could decide on all our vendors, which meant we could supply booze on our own. We bought everything for our open bar wholesale at Costco, and amazingly we were able to return nearly $1,400 worth of unopened beer, wine, and liquor the day after the wedding, which felt like a super welcome honeymoon gift!
Serving barbecue and fried chicken at our reception allowed us to save money, too, although it took some digging to find the right caterer. The first place we got a quote from said it’d be $15,000, which we totally balked at—$15,000 for fried chicken??? Luckily our chosen caterer was able to do it for half as much.
We also made programs, escort cards, and centerpieces ourselves. A friend passed around a GoPro and cut the footage into a short video for us, so we didn’t even think of hiring a videographer. We borrowed glass bottles and strings of globe lights from friends who had used them at their weddings, and we cut table runners from vintage fabric we bought from a tiny shop on Fabric Row in Philadelphia (where we live now). My dad also made us twenty bottles of a Norwegian drink called akkevit for toasting, so we didn’t spend a ton on champagne. We felt so lucky to be able to reduce the impact of our wedding in small ways by supporting small businesses and reusing things where possible!
What was totally worth it:
We are so happy to have included all the new kids in our lives at the wedding. A lot of our friends and family got married before us and now have little ones who we were determined to welcome with loving arms into our celebration. The end result was a much more laid-back affair full of joyous whooping from kids, lots of amazing little dancers, and fun for everyone around a fire pit.
We also chose to include elements of both of our backgrounds, and the result was a perfect mix of Southern charm and Norwegian tradition. Trey’s from Georgia, so including our hound dog (Shelby) at the ceremony and serving barbecue and sweet tea was a must. And even though I’m from Virginia, my dad’s Midwestern family is strongly connected to our Norwegian roots, so we incorporated a traditional Norwegian drink (akkevit, homemade by my father) for toasting instead of champagne and a special tiered almond wedding cake called kransekake, lovingly prepared by my aunts and topped with Norwegian flags.
Lastly, splurging on a terrific photographer was totally worth it. We’ll have those photos forever, and they perfectly capture the delighted mood of the day.
What was totally not worth it:
Stressing over hotels and transportation! Since shuttles can be so expensive, we ended up spending hours trying to sort out how we could make it work to have one shuttle pick up and drop off guests from two hotels in two different directions from the venue. If I could do it again, I would have just told everyone that the shuttle will service just one of the hotels, which would have made things far easier.
We also made the mistake of ordering favors for everyone (beer koozies) and forgetting to distribute them. Anyone want a koozie with our names on it??