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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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« What My Money Bought, Part I | Main | New Gear! »

You Are A Baby Gazelle. 

So I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning (I’m sure one of yours too), A Los Angeles Love. The poor girl is in the middle of a Budget Breakdown. I got a good laugh out of the post, not because I think her stress is funny, but because it’s just part of living in Bride Land. I went through it. I think every  budget-conscious bride does.  The cost of getting married generally far exceeds anything you ever could image or budget for.  And the rub is that it sneaks up on you. It’s kinda like a cheetah stalking its prey.

Image a baby gazelle out on the open plains of Africa, munching away on some grass.  She’s completely oblivious to the cheetah crouching in the solitary shrub of this vast African vista. Slowly a breeze crosses over the plains and the baby gazelle is all WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SMELL?  She looks around, sees nothing and continues to enjoy her lunch of dead grass. Then another breeze comes and this time all the gazelles get a whiff and start prancing around, little white tails twitching. But eventually everyone calms down and continues to graze on their peaceful African plain. Then out of fucking nowhere this cheetah leaps out of the shrub, everyone freaks and the little baby gazelle is all WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? I CAN’T SEE SHIT IN ALL THIS DUST AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL? Then it’s just too late. She finally sees the cheetah and succumbs to the reality. The cheetah then munches on her own lunch.  (I have this image in my mind’s eye of a baby gazelle in a veil and it’s weird.) Right now it appears that Becca is in the WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? I CAN’T SEE SHIT IN ALL THIS DUST AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL? stage of budget planning.

So I was reading and sympathizing when I realized something. I never finished my budget recaps! Holy cow. But I now think this is a good thing. I was really stressing whether or not to post the final numbers, or just percentages, etc. Now, I don’t give a shit. So, here are the cold hard numbers, and the cold hard facts.


We lucked out on this one. Our church was way cheap.  We saved $60 on our marriage license by spending way more than that on pre-marital counseling. However, the payoff balance is way worth it.

This was 3% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A


Way over on the gown. No surprise there. Also WAY off on the gown preservation. I had no idea it was so expensive.

This was 12% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: D-


I totally effed up my Excel spreadsheet when I was budgeting for the reception.  Like, totally. I incorrectly linked a formula and when one spreadsheet was correct, another was not and it got all jacked up and I didn’t know it. We could have had sea bass instead of tilapia. We could have planned for that open bar.

This was 40% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: C- (A for money, F for intelligence)


The $1500 was not knowing one thing about photographers or how much they cost. We got a 25% discount on ours because we booked them with a bridal expo coupon. Their prices are more now because they rock.

This was 12% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: B+ (A+ for photographer, C- for initial intelligence)


DJ sucked. Guitarist was awesome.

This was 5% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: B- (Value of goods vs. money spent)


DIY, baby. And it was fun. And time consuming.

This was 2% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A 


We did not have a rehearsal dinner for all. The Candyman and I had a private dinner together and then met friends and family at a cash bar reception. In retrospect, I should have paid some more attention and money on this. The venue was a FAIL in terms of service and I really should have fed the people something.

This was 1% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: B+



Loved our cakes. Loved our cheap-ass toppers. Got a knife for free, passed on the groom’s cake. A traditional wedding cake was not something that was crazy important to me.

This was 1% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A+


Again, not something I wanted to spend a ton of money on. In fact, spent more than I even really wanted to but everything turned out pretty well. Loved the table setting flowers.

This was 9% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A-



We paid for groomsmen tuxedos.

This was 2% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A



The handicap van was definitely needed and well worth it. The overage on the limo (which was actually a 1939 bad-ass Packard) was because The Candyman’s truck got stolen 2 weeks before the wedding and the shit hit the fan. Plan on shit hitting your fan too.

This was 7% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: B


Total fail. Total vanity.  Totally worth every damn penny.

This was 7% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: F


Eh. What ya gonna do? You gotta thank the folks who helped you.

This was 3% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: C+


Unplanned shit I should have planned for.  Love to hate Michael’s. This includes my OOT bags.  Note the red $0.00? That was originally $150. I paid it to a friend/vendor of mine for cake plates he made for me. I wrote him a check for the amount and he never cashed it.  I called him on it and he was all DUDE. NO.

This was 2% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: C+


So, the total TOTAL of all this stuff was $18,139.42.

The total budgeted amount was $20,340.91.

I originally thought (when I was a blissfully munching baby gazelle) that we could get away with $16,000.

Now, we did NOT include rings and the honeymoon.  But here’s the breakdown on those: 

We got lucky and my mother gave The Candyman her family heirloom engagement ring to give to me. We had the diamond reset so the cost here is for my setting/band and his band.


I am super lucky that I had a bazillion frequent flier miles and was able to use them for the honeymoon. Without those miles, we would have been honeymooning locally. For sure.  We also got more back on our deposit for the rental place because she was supposed to stock the place with food for us. They did buy some, but it definitely wasn’t as much as we had thought. The owner was super cool and VERY honest. She checked with the lady who did the shopping and found there was a miscommunication and error.  We did spend more than we thought, but we also came home with lots of Christmas presents! Score! We went to Zihuatanejo, Mexico and is freakin’ rocked.  Worth every penny.

So there you have it. We were under the national average, but we had less than the average number of guests.  We were under budget, but over from the very first number.  I think we did pretty good. I loved my wedding. Still do.  You will too.  So buck up, baby gazelle.  The cheetah is there. Sniff him out and confront him with a wad of cash.  

P.S. If you want The Thirty-Something Bride’s Master Budget Spreadsheet (now void of lined errors)  to play around with, just send me an email at thethirtysomethingbride@gmail.com.

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Reader Comments (11)

I think you did well with your budget, I can't believe how inexpensive some of your stuff was but I also live in the DC area where EVERYTHING is overpriced! Our budget was in the same neighborhood as yours though I don't have a final total down to the penny b/c I got lazy towards the end of keeping track of all the small shit.

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Thanks for posting your budget. I feel like flowers are the one thing I have no clue how to budget for. I basically picked a number out of the air for that one.

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

I just bookmarked this so that I can do the same thing when all's said & done. I like the real numbers & the breakdown. Thanks for being honest. ;)

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDancy

Pre-marital counseling saves on the marriage license? Really?

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTran

You crack me up. We came in around $20k including our wedding bands. There were so many things I had no clue about (hello, rentals) and other things that I had initially set my heart on that had to go (letterpress). In the end it worked out. Only $10k over our original "budget". Ha ha ha.

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkc

@KC - I love how everyone's "budget" changes so drastically!
@Tran - Yes, in TN. You just need to get the form from you minister or counselor - both should be well versed in the practise.
@Elaine - Make sure you check out what flowers are in season and there per stem prices and what that means. A stem of roses is a single rose. A stem of lilies is a head and 2 buds (generally). I'm working on a floral budget post with alocal florist that should all of us better estimate our flowers. Hope to have it once wedding season takes a bit of a breather! My go-to florist is swamped with weddings!
@Shannon - I hear DC is hideously over-priced!

August 18, 2010 | Registered CommenterLouise

This is awesome sauce. I am tracking to spend about 10K for 150 people in Houston. But we are doing the ceremony/reception all in the same place. We also will have contributions from family and friends on several big ticket items. Without them, I would have been going to the courthouse.

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany In Houston

Thanks for scaring the shit out of me... I am constantly shocked about my completely unrealistic vision of cost. Before beginning my venue hunt in earnet (as in last week) I was under the delusion that I could have a hip downtown Nashville wedding for 75 for UNDER 10K. Like 5-8K tops. (commence hysterical laughter now). And now I find out just how much an empty room costs. Seriously, you can't float a girl a few chairs? I just want to throw a party, not move in for a month! But seriously, thanks for giving me a peek into your budget.

August 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim

@Kim - Don't fret! You can have a a really nice wedding for $10, but just maybe not downtown! I mean, Mere Bulles has $5000 minimum for a whole house buy out on Sundays. For 75 people, you can totally do that. All the other stuff you can do totally cheap though, if you need to.

The great thing about a restaurant is that everything is already there - linens, settings, etc. And at MB, I got to choose my linens, they included all the candle lighting for free as well as the holders for the table numbers and such. They set everything up the way we wanted and broke everything down for us too. We thought it was a slammin' deal. We even considered getting married there as they have a pretty back patio!

Other places might have similar - check them out!

August 19, 2010 | Registered CommenterLouise

Who did your flowers? I don't care much about flowers and am looking to get them as cheap as possible.

August 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

@Becky Angela Sadler did my flowers!

August 19, 2010 | Registered CommenterLouise

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