Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Wedding Budget

When we first began planning the wedding, we didn't really know what to expect in the way of expenses.

The first shock was when Meredith and I (Joy) toured some potential venues for the wedding and reception. We saw churches that cost $2000 for a few hours of use and reception venues that were $7000 or $8000 - not including any food!

How can a family who is committed to no new debt provide a decent wedding and reception for a daughter in today's economy?

The endeavor would prove to be one of our greatest challenges yet.

Meredith had always dreamed of a traditional ceremony in an ornate church. For the reception, she hoped for a relaxed, fun setting in which the guests could do something more than just sit around.

As Meredith and I researched and visited various reception venues that we thought would be suitable, we realized that the ones able to accommodate our anticipated group of approximately 400 weren't any nicer than our farm.

We wondered if it were possible to transform our farm, which had been abandoned for years only nine months earlier, into a wedding reception venue.

Extensive lists containing pages of projects soon were discussed and distributed and the family took on the huge project with great enthusiasm. (Well, we weren't enthusiastic all the time. We were mostly exhausted and overwhelmed!)

As we appear to have been among the first of our friends with daughters approaching marrying age, we hope that our expense list will be an encouragement to them. God surely provided for us in miraculous ways and we're confident He will do the same for any family who relies on Him for help.

Wedding Attire for the Alexander Family


Meredith Gown $ 30 Meredith purchased her dress second-hand. No cost to the budget!
$100 Dry Clean dress
Veil $ 0 Bartered


Elliott Tuxedo $ 35 Purchased second-hand
$ 4 Dry Clean ($2 each piece)
$ 20 Shirt, Cumberbund, Bow Tie (On sale at JCPenney's)

Oliver Tuxedo $ 35 Purchased second-hand
$ 4 Dry Clean ($2 each piece)
$ 20 Shirt, Cumberbund, Bow Tie (On sale at JCPenney's)

Sullivan Tuxedo $ 30 Complete outfit, New on Ebay (Price includes shipping)

Ring Bearer:

Harrison Tuxedo $ 30 Complete outfit, New on Ebay (Price includes shipping)

Flower Girl:

Sheridan $ 35 Purchased second-hand (Machine washable/no dry cleaning cost)

Father of the Bride:

Tim Tuxedo $ 0 Already owned
$ 4 Dry Clean ($2 each piece)

Mother of the Bride:

Joy Blouse $ 15 Holiday Blouse from Ross/TJ Maxx
Skirt $ 3 Floor Length satin skirt purchased second-hand

Total Wedding Attire Cost: $335


Save the Dates $170
Invitations $950 (Meredith paid - No expense to budget *See note)
Postage $310
Wedding Programs $120

Total Stationery Cost: $600

*Note: Because Meredith wanted really nice invitations but always had her family's limited resources in mind, she baked and sold cheesecakes to the farm's customers to offset the cost of the invitations.


Church $250
Soloist $150
Organist $200
Coordinator $225 (Church staff required at events)
Janitors $225
Parking Garage $180 (Parking for guests)

Total Ceremony Cost: $1230

Photography, Videography, and Simulcasting

$1500 Many services bartered

Total Photography, Videography, and Simulcasting Cost: $1500


Bride's Bouquet, Bridesmaid Bouquets, Groomsmen Boutonnieres, Corsages and Boutonnieres for family of bride and groom, Church Arrangements, and Reception Decorations

$500 Supply cost (All labor either bartered or generously donated by friends)

Total Flower Cost: $500


Dance Caller $ 375 Dance in barn loft

Live Band $ 0 Music in event tent (Bartered and/or generously provided by friends)

Rental Tents,
Tables, Chairs $1600 Main Event Tent (40x80), Outdoor kitchen tent (10x20), Tables and
Chairs for 100 guests

Rental Coffee Maker and (5) Insulated Beverage
Servers $ 100

Plates, Cups,
Forks, etc. $ 200 (Disposable)

Serving Utensils, Platters, Bowls, and Wedding Cake
Display Plates $ 125

Servers' Aprons $ 40 (Meredith monogrammed)

Wedding Cake $ 200 (Meredith made the wedding cake from her delicious cheesecakes)

Food & Beverage for
400+ Guests $1000 (Includes cost of raising pork, and menu consisting of Barbeque,
Pulled Pork, Green Beans, Fried Apples, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw,
Rolls, Appetizer of Cheese - made on the farm - and Crackers,
Hot Apple Cider, Tea, Coffee, and Cherries for the
Wedding Cheesecake)

Total Reception Cost: $3640

Miscellaneous Expenses

Snack $ 100 (The wedding pictures were all taken at 10:30am prior to the wedding
at 1pm. A light snack was served at noon for approximately 70
people in the wedding party.)

Dessert Buffet $ 330 (A "Meet and Greet" was held at the Marriott Friday night prior
to the wedding day for the out-of-town guests. Desserts and coffee
were catered by the Marriott or generously prepared by friends for
approximately 75 guests.)

Gift Baskets $ 425 (Meredith prepared gift baskets for approximately 30 out-of-town
hotel guests.)

Signs $ 50 (Directing guests from church to farm for the reception)

Flower Girl Basket, Ring Bearer Pillow, Wedding Cake Knife and
Server $ 8 (Included shipping on Ebay)

Guestbook $ 25

Reception Chafing Dish Fuel, Tent Heater Propane, Pig Cooker/Smoker
Propane $177

Bell Ringers'
Bells $ 27 (Found pretty porcelain bells at the Dollar Tree for each of the 27
Bell Ringers)

Processing $400 (Cost to process cow for bartered help)

Total Miscellaneous Cost: $1542


One of the greatest resources that God gave us in planning an affordable wedding was a tremendous network of friends that sacrificially helped us in every way imaginable. We will never be able to thank them enough. Although a wedding threatens certain financial poverty, we've never felt so rich as we have when considering the great treasure in the friends God has given us.

From the wonderful crew of over a dozen who arrived several days before the wedding, to the great folks who helped on the wedding day, what an indescribable blessing they were to us!

One last thought regarding expenses... we tried to keep track of costs that were prioritized because of the wedding but were really in the category of farm infrastructure. These costs are related to projects or inventory that will help us with future events so we did not include them with the wedding budget.

Bathrooms built $2000
Heaters purchased $400
Upgraded lighting in or around barn $280
Trash Cans $178
Chairs $100
Chafing Dishes $160
Tablecloths $60
Misc. Decorative Items $200

With Sheridan, our only other daughter, being just 3 years old, we figure we have about 20 years before we need to worry about wedding expenses again!


Davene said...

Thank you so much for sharing so openly about this. It is encouraging to think of you all creating such a spectacular wedding lovingly and creatively--but without spending an exorbitant amount. Good for you!!

I'm sure other parents with daughters will be inspired by this!

Nancy W. said...

Dear Mrs. Alexander,

Thank you so much for sharing the wedding expense details. i think you did fantastically--400 guests for less than 10,000 dollars! That is amazing.

It is also such an encouragement. I have two daughters, who are too young right now to think of marriage, but it is so helpful to know that their future weddings can be done on a reasonable budget!

Again, congratulation! You certainly have a knack for making things look pretty!

Connie Leis said...

AWESOME! You and your family(& friends) did a really good job on a great budget! I wasn't suprised though! Everything was beautiful and thanks for sharing that you don't have to spend a fortune to have something so nice! It really blows my mind the money that people spend on weddings. I remember how proud I was at my on wedding w/how 'little' money we spent. My dress, flowers, food, pictures (my wedding cake was a gift from my aunt) everything was only $1,000.00. I know at the time people were spending that much for a dress! My dress was $125.00, it was a dress from the previous year. I have always told Sara that she couldn't spend more than that for any of her dresses for school dances. And we have done well there, she hasn't spent over $50 on any of her dresses. I just love to get a bargain and why spend money that you do not have? Thanks again for sharing! I know this information is very informative and will come in handy for a lot of mother's with daughters!
Connie Leis

Homeschool on the Croft said...

This is so interesting, and thank you for posting. With two daughters (14 and 16) we will have to bear all this in mind. We're in Scotland, and here there are some things that would be much more expensive and other things we'd be able to spend less on. (I haven't begun researching here - yet! - and with only my own wedding costs to go by, I'm bound to be hopelessly out of date!)
Thank you all for allowing us to be part of your day, across here on the Isle of Lewis. Your whole 'story' is such an encouragement to us. x