The Wedding Diaries
Dear Wedding Diary,
There’s a big part of me that thinks it’d be so much fun to plan every single detail of a wedding. Sure enough, with online tutorials, I have plenty of information about what’s needed… photographer, videographer, florist, DJ/band, caterer, baker, officiant, venue, linen rentals, etc… There are a lot of pieces, but I know I could pull it off if I really wanted to.
BUT, I also needed to admit to myself that I have a full-time job, want to maintain the amount of time/energy I put into my relationships with my friends and families, and want to continue being able to sleep and have time for the gym. So, I realized that I actually probably didn’t want to plan the whole wedding for myself… I wanted a turnkey solution that had the basics of the wedding all covered for me. So, I started doing research into different types of wedding packages. And I was blown away by both how many options there were, but also how few options there were.
There are options for those that want to do a whole sit-down dinner, and the general number count of guests is around 100. I was seeing the price estimates of those to be around $20k, tweaked here or there by taking off $50/person with a minimum of 60 guests, or by adding $60/person for a maximum of 150 guests, etc. They all included either a full buffet or sit-down dinner with food/beverage minimums. In addition, they oftentimes had required caterers whose menus didn’t always have the types of options we’d prefer. These packages seemed a little too big and extravagant for me… my fiance and I knew that we wanted a headcount of about 50 people or less.
There are other options for what is referred to online as a mini-wedding or a micro-wedding. Those are typically for around 30 guests, for maybe $6-7k. While that’s a more affordable price range, those options, it seems didn’t include a dinner, or really any food at all besides cake and champagne. They’re also more limited in the number of hours you have at the venue… we saw options for anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours at the venue… much less time than the other packages that offered 12 hours.
And then… there just wasn’t anything in the middle. In an ideal world, we’d be able to invite maybe up to 70 guests (to account for all family friends), and then have maybe 6 hours at the venue. If the venue was accommodating, maybe they’d even let us bring in our own catered food or a food truck or something. Basically the same as the big package, but… smaller. But unfortunately, we just couldn’t find any pre-packaged options that were right in the middle of the two.
Now, if we really want something that specific, this is where I’d tell myself… how about hiring an external wedding planner to coordinate all of that? They could find venues that could suit a small-medium size guest list, and one that doesn’t have a super expensive food/beverage minimum. But I know how much external wedding planners cost… and my fiance and I didn’t want to spend that much on a wedding planner.
So, we did what we’re getting prepared to do for the rest of our life… compromise. We selected a beautiful venue, and went with a packaged mini-wedding that was closer in the range of $7k. The package we selected allows for up to 50 guests. We thought that amount would be sufficient, but it turns out that after we added in our family friends, we’re having to significantly cut down our list (which includes taking away +1s and not inviting children 🥺). But 50 guests is still generous, considering we’re trying to turn what’s supposed to be a mini-wedding into a more traditional wedding.
We added on a videographer to our package as well, so we’ll have a videographer and photographer present for the full 3 hours we’ll have at the venue. 3 hours isn’t that long, and I’ve already started drafting our timeline of the day so that we can try to pack in as much as possible within that window.
I’ve purchased a beautiful dress that is more elaborate than required for the mini-wedding, and I intend to make sure I still look and feel like a princess by getting my makeup and hair professionally done before I arrive (but I’ll drive to the salon instead of having them come to me). I’m putting together my own list of music for the DJ as well.
The other thing we had to compromise was the food situation. Because of our mini-wedding style, the venue won’t really serve any food besides basic liquids, champagne, cake, and maybe some chex-mix. So, we wanted to make sure we could still offer some sort of real food for people. But since we can’t do this at the venue, we opted to instead end the wedding at the venue, go home, and then do the rest of the celebration at home. We’ll bring in catered food from a nice restaurant, get some dishware from Costco or Target, set up a personal PA system for background music, and do the rest of the mingling at home! In an ideal world, the dinner portion would be fancier than ours is going to be. But the plus side is that we now get to choose all the food! Instead of choosing our favorite options from the caterer, we have the ultimate choice. AND, we can probably get all the food for $1.5k, which is significantly less than the $2k minimums in the other packages.
As a bonus, we no longer need to set elaborate place settings, arrange seating charts, and even choose wedding colors for our wedding.
I’m really hoping this combination will be the best of both worlds for us. The wedding itself will hopefully have a formal feel to it, but just be condensed—cut out the extra and just cover the highlights. And the dinner portion will hopefully be yummy but without the formalities. AND, we didn’t have to pay $20k for it.
I do want to mention that the costs mentioned here are just for what I consider “day-of”. Meaning these costs aren’t covering attire, marriage license, rings, paper invitations, even personal signage and decor, and more. Those add up too!