In the era of student loans, I decided I would like to get married without maxing out my credit cards (like I even have those, lol). Below I will list the details of my wedding planning. Many wanted me to have a traditional elaborate wedding but traditionally families usually save for years to marry off their kids (at least in the U.S. South), and that wasn’t the scenario here. Plus we didn’t want to put that on our families.
Disclaimer: If you are looking for an elaborate wedding and need everything in your wedding plans that you have fantasized about for years. This is not the place. I was a very detached bride. I just needed the basics going, and if you need more than that….just stop reading and apply for a credit card I guess. Also, keep in mind the context. I live NYC. One of the most expensive & packed urban centers in the U.S. Maybe even the world, who knows.
Where: David’s Bridal
I first decided to go with a champagne dress, but those were far and few in between and I wanted to get a dress quickly. I decided to get this white one. It was plain-ish with a bit of embroidery. I’m pretty sure many would like to have a more unique less bought dress. But just picture yourself with everything the day of. The accessories, hair, and shoes. Just picture everything before you reject a dress based on how accessible it is. Get a dress that really flatters you. It will all come together in the end better than you thought.
*Note on my husbands attire. He used a lightly worn suit he already possessed and bought a bow-tie. No rentals needed.
What: Shoes, Bracelet, Earrings, Purse
Total Cost: $135
My shoes and purse were from DSW. I opted for metallic sandals for my goddess theme. My knee can’t handle heels really and it turned out great. My Jewelry came from Macy’s and they have a plethora of nice pieces and here in NYC’s 34th street Macy’s, they had really nice jewelry sales people who guided me through picking something really nice for a low cost. I also recommend getting one thing at a time with each paycheck in the coming months leading to the big day.
My under garments were also from Macy’s. The Calvin Klein strapless bra was amazing. It was definitely worth investing a well structured (and pretty!) bra ($46) & CK panties ($36).
Also, Etsy has some nice things too. I didn’t get anything from there but some pieces I saw did have that more custom feel. The site in general has many wedding items you could get.
Hair + Nails + Makeup
I decided to support a black-owned business on 125th St. in Harlem @ Carol’s Daughter Salon: Mirrors. I am a repeat customer and love their process (first time customers have to pay more for the mandatory consultation, wash, treatment, and style, around $125). I got one goddess braid across the length of my crown. For my nails and make-up I utilized my multi-talented friends for free. 🙂
Let me say this again: USE YOUR FRIENDS. If they have a knack for something you know they are good at that can help you, now is the time to utilize them. Especially if they are offering you help. I have friends who are good at organizing so I sat down with them and talked out my wedding plans. They really came through for me and I really appreciated it. My wedding photographer was also free (for me and the groom) because my husband’s best man paid for his photographer friend to come through for 2 hours.
Venue + Food
This obviously took up most of the cost. I was saving some money and trying to convince myself of something I could not do. Which was pay for all this. So how was I gonna do this? I got real & started a GoFundMe account. The restaurant we used let us book from 1:30-4pm on Saturday, May 31st for $25 a head (Appetizer, Entree, Tea or Coffee). I asked for contributions as a wedding gift & asked that everyone pay for their plate in advance. That way people can split among paychecks the cost to come. I started mine late in the game and wish I thought of it earlier. This was because my previous venue dropped and financial situations had abruptly changed. Regardless, we still raised $1035. I was elated. Many people who gave weren’t even invited, which was even more shocking. We also only could have 30 people in the restaurant, which cut the cost down immensely.
However, once again. If people want everyone and their mother to come through, that’s something you will have to keep in mind. Also, if they don’t like the fact they have to pay a fee to eat & attend, well…..once again…unless you’re rich…yea. If they can’t pay an extra less than $50 fee for cost above travel, they probably shouldn’t spend money to travel.
For my “wedding cake”, I actually decided everyone get wedding cupcakes instead. Wedding cakes at base are around $300. I noticed throughout my planning anything with the word “wedding” in front of it had a price rate that was much higher. So I peeped game and once again utilized my friends. One of my former classmates I grew fond of owns a bakery (Sweet Generation) in NYC. It not only has amazing flavors, but every purchase goes to Arts Education. So I got to give back while getting. Co-operative economics are always a good deal. I ordered 32 cupcakes and even could afford to put a little extra decoration on the cupcake for each guest ($185).
*Also, if a wedding cake is cheaper considering the volume of guests. Go with that. For my small amount cupcakes were much cheaper.
Once again, everything with “wedding” on the cover seems to be overly expensive. I opted to collect emails through a wedding decorated online Google Form and send out info via email. I also set up a wedding website in 20 minutes (I’m a web developer, so not much effort) and went off of my domain to just put the details of the day plain and simple for everyone. For non-coders or folks who don’t feel like doing that, theknot.com has free wedding templates to make whole websites.
If someone is really complaining about getting a physical invite (which personally I didn’t care about), and it really gets to you. Just send some to your parents or whatever for their scrap book. In my opinion everyone didn’t need one unless they wanted to pay for the ridiculously inflated cost.
Another alternative, if you have designer friends, maybe they can hook you up and you can just go to a print press in the area that can do production jobs pristine and cute for you.
Cost: $60 (Marriage License + Ceremony)
We went to city hall the day before the reception and just did the legal ceremony with two witnesses (some friends who were available). We got semi fancy, said our I Do’s, and decided that the custom vows will be done the next day in front of the friends and family. We had a snack at one of my favorite food trucks, Waffles & Dinges, and ate at our favorite restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Just us two enjoying our recent nuptials.
Sooooo, my friend went to a cooking demo and randomly received a coupon for an online jewelry shop, JVL Jewelry, for two free wedding bands. Strange as hell, but it checked out. *I had to pay $50 shipping fee but our titanium bands cost originally $752. I chose titanium because of it’s resiliency and it’s weightless feel.
Cost: $165 for the day
I have a ZipCar membership and decided to rent out a black Volkswagen Jetta for the day. I didn’t want to be on the Subway with my dress and wanted to be able to transport my bridesmaids to the reception, me, and from the reception. I didn’t have cans, a limo, a “just married” sign. But I did have a nice ride in a cool little German engineered car.
Where: the many wonderful Florists around NYC. And once again….don’t say “wedding”. Just get some nice flowers that match. And also, Bati Kitchen even transformed my bouquet into a decoration for my wedding party table. Two for one :).
There you have it. The whole thing cost us in total: $1,894. A great time just under $2,000.
SN: My bridesmaid’s dresses were also from David’s Bridal: $120. They got it under my name so there is a discount. Brides who get their dresses from here can earn a discount for their bridesmaid’s dresses and shoes.