Thursday, April 10, 2014

planning our wedding: our itemized budget

i have a story in my head that there's an overarching issue in our society regarding the private nature of money. we tend to be very hush hush about it - me included! it's usually an "undiscussible." i wish we lived in a more disclosing manner, not hiding behind shame or guilt or pride or fear of judgement. i imagine we might be more open to disclosing what we have (or don't have) if we honestly believed money was an arbitrary gift, and therefore neither mine or yours, but rather, ours. it's a gift that comes and goes; money is simply part of a flow.

one thing i noticed when we were planning our wedding was that folks would be eager to share things like the minute-by-minute schedule, mile-long to do lists, budget categories and advice - lots of advice! (i do it now too. oh dear.) but no one ever voluntarily shared their itemized budget with us. i'm not sure i even asked because i didn't think it was okay to. "how much money they spent is their business. it would be too invasive to ask," i told myself. would it have been?

i think it would've been helpful to have a frame of reference to get a sense of how much things cost - for real, not just in my fantasy la-la head. 

anyway, in the spirit of greater transparency, i want to share ours. i hope it's of service to you. if you have any questions about it, i am more than happy to help in whatever way. you can email me at lizsong (at) or leave comments below.
  • thanks andrew for pointing out a glaring omission of our photographer! corrections made above! 
  • we had approximately 100 adults & 20 kids in attendance.
  • $5135 was the total we spent on gifts/thank you's and family care. this was much more than we expected to spend, but in the spirit of generosity, we wanted to make sure people knew we were extremely grateful for all the ways they supported us. 
  • samuel's shoes cost $130 because we got his granddad's old shoes restored. they were beautifully done by the european cobblery. and then of course, we had to find the perfect belt to match, which also happened to cost $125. i've never paid that much for an accessory, but i learned that men's apparel is extremely particular! it all needs to match! now we have a suit fo life. (samuel just can't gain any weight.)
  • i bought a shirt "i had to have" for the our saturday night family dinner. totally didn't need to have a new shirt for that evening. #emotionalconsumerism
  • i also bought a slip to wear under my dress. it was high quality and the only one i found that actually worked. i don't regret buying it, but now i have this $90 slip i've only used once. it's very unlikely i'll use it again. what do you do with these one off purchases from a wedding? 
  • a shift in perspective: when we were living in the bay area, we thought, "wow, we planned this wedding for a steal!" especially when we compared it to stories like, "we only spent $30k. that's pretty low." but now that we live in rural montana and see what some people live on, i feel like we spent quite a bit for our wedding. (and after reading this post from mr. money mustache, i'm like...whaaaht?) my perspective has definitely shifted!
anything strike you about our budget?


  1. You probably don't remember me but I'm a friend of Gene/Helen's and I had met you over the holidays at their house but both you and your husband were sick with food poisoning so it was very brief. I stumbled across your blog recently and I am loving your posts on planning your wedding and especially how you are so open with finances. I recently just got engaged (to Ameer if you remember him) and we are hoping to have our wedding this year and already I'm getting overwhelmed with the different options and especially with how to balance what we want in our wedding versus not spending an exorbitant amount either. 6 weeks is such a short time and it's very inspiring that you were able to plan so quickly and your wedding looked so lovely based on your pictures. Thanks for being so open and sharing!

    1. i do remember you (even though i was puking my guts out)!'s SO easy to get overwhelmed by the bajillion options out there. it's too much to process. i mentioned this in my celebration post, but it is hard to escape the spell that the wedding industry puts on us. if you need any help, i'm happy to help. you can email me at otherwise, i hope you have an amazing wedding without spending more than you hope. :-) and YAY for mr. money mustache fans!!

  2. one last thing - my fiance also loves mr money mustache!!

  3. i had to go back and look at ours ... planned it in 13 weeks (i think you and i both had a the benefit of quitting our jobs and focusing on wedding plans), same amount of people, cost on our spreadsheet 16,700 but I think we are missing some dollars in there. i went in the same and said we'd spend only 5k and then was hard on myself that we spent so much more. it would have been really helpful to have a few examples like this, with similar values at the time. the only person who shared with me was mr. spartan (g. bekaert) from a wedding 25yrs ago. there's was around 5k.

    1. let's see, if 5K + inflation over "25" years, i'm sure it was right around what we spent. hahaha. yeah, i wish we had more models of cheaper weddings while we were planning ours too. i felt like there wasn't really out there that supported minimizing wedding expenses; most wedding-related articles/blogs, etc point towards more more more or it's SO simple that we'd practically have to elope. which was ultimately not the experience we wanted to have. thx for your comment nat! :)

  4. Informative post!!! Proper budget planning is very important. You have shared a great way how to spend money or minimise our cost on every item. Thanks for posting this useful read.

    1. so glad it's helpful to you! best wishes with your wedding planning (if that's what you're doing). ;-)


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