Budget Wedding Planning: Part 7 - Celebration Logistics

It's been a little over a month since everyone came to celebrate with us. We had a very belated "reception", which allowed everyone to come party in a low-key sort of way. We didn't have much structure to the day, no seating charts, minimal decorations... just a giant party. And while this day was definitely much more expensive than our intimate celebration, it still doesn't even compare to the national average cost of a wedding, which is over $25,000!

Now, while I've been detailing small projects as ways to save money, I thought I'd share a bit about the ACTUAL party, and show you where we cut costs, and what we splurged on.

Sanitas Brewing Company in Boulder, CO

So, here are the details of our July Wedding Celebration:

Our venue was Sanitas Brewing Company, here in Boulder. A lot of my family from across the country was able to come, along with Nathaniel's family, and countless friends who made this party even better than I ever could have imagined. We had close to 200 guests.

AH-MAZING beer

We had tacos for dinner provided by McDevitt Taco Supply, and for dessert we hired a cupcake truck called The Dessert Stand. I would highly recommend both for any events you may be planning! We had an open bar, which exclusively served the beer the brewery had on tap. Adding other types of alcohol would have made it so we needed to modify their liquor license for an extra $1,000, pre-buy all the beer, and purchase all the other alcohol. We decided for financial reasons and ease that we would just have unlimited beer.

Our wonderful DJ :)

Our wonderful friend Jason was our DJ. He set up playlists, spun some sweet sets for fun dancing, snuck in some Disney, reminded me when it was time for me to sing, and coordinated a very sweet first dance. We also had Dazzling Photo Booth come, and it seemed to be a hit! They even provided a scrapbook! Check out the pictures here.

Most of our photos were taken by our good friend Jesse. My uncle John, Nathaniel's dad Marc, my cousin Alexa, and my sister Maddie also took some that are peppered throughout this gallery.

Here is the cost break-down for our vendors:

  • Securing Sanitas for the whole day: $5,000
  • Beer: $1,000
  • Tacos: $2,400
  • Cupcakes: $700
  • Photo Booth & Guestbook: $800
  • Tips: $400

Other expenses included:

  • A white mailbox, painted like the mailbox in Up, and some balloons tied to the flag ($40)
  • Mason jars and baby's breath ($40)
  • Personalized sunglasses from LogoLenses, and a crate from Joann's to put them in ($300)
  • Soda, water and ice ($100)
  • Picture frames turned into Instagram hashtag signs ($20)

So in total, we spent under $11,000. We never ran out of anything, and everything went smoothly. The only times I got stressed out were when I was getting ready to sing, and for a bride, I think that's pretty good. Yes, this was very expensive, but we got through it alive, and for less than half the average cost. By having a friend DJ and a friend photograph, we saved a ton, as well. We tried to pay them, but they wouldn't let us! I'd still say this puts us in the category of "budget" wedding. I decided to not include the expenses from March that we re-used in July (for example, my dress), because I'm focusing on the party itself. If we had had one day where we did everything, (and if we had a bridal party who needed to carry flowers, among other traditional things we discluded), it would have been more expensive. I just wanted to give you all a breakdown, and show that it's possible to throw a kick-ass wedding celebration without touching that $25,000 price tag.

The most expensive part for us was securing the venue. We had thought about doing it at a local park, which would have been a fraction of the price, but had we done it that way, we would have needed to rent tables and chairs and a generator for the sound system, get approved for a liquor license, figure out lighting once it got dark (and worry about park hours), buy and transport multiple kegs, worry about cops busting us for being loud, and then clean it all up afterwards. This probably wouldn't have quite reached $5,000, but I do think it would have been a pretty decent chunk of change, and it would have stressed me out. I have zero regrets about how we did things, and it seems like everyone had a great time. Can't beat that :)