Sunday, February 13, 2011

I Think I'm Going To Miss You Most of All

Oh, hive. For the first time since the day I was introduced as a new bee, I feel like I really don't quite know what to say.

Being a contributor to this site has been such a joy. 2010 was a very hard year for Mr. Octo and I, in some ways that made it onto this blog and in many that did not. Writing for Weddingbee, though, has never been anything but fun and happy moments and bright spots in my days. Thank you so much for that, and for everything.

Thank you for all the support, the encouragement, the suggestions, and the help. Thank you for the comments that made me laugh out loud; those are some of my favorites. Thank you for being so incredibly, overwhelmingly kind to me over and over and over. I truly love this community, and the friends I've made here. I can't imagine what planning my wedding would have been like without all of you.

Our wedding is well behind us now, though, and it's time to get down to the business of spending the rest of my life with my delightful husband. I didn't originally plan to keep writing after I wrapped up my time as Mrs. Octopus, but I have found that I just cannot stop blabbing about myself on the Internet. So, if you're interested in reading stories about my dog, deep reflections on television shows I watch, tales of times I have been tragic and/or awkward, or descriptions of things Mr. Octo cooked for me while I sat on the couch (ha! seriously though), please feel free to stop by my new blog, The Silver Lining.

I hope you all have fabulous weddings and beautiful, fun-filled marriages.

I'm really going to miss you.



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Crunching The Numbers

So. Budgeting your wedding is, for most of us, really hard and awful and stressful, yes? I mean, kudos to you if it wasn't, but I know that for us, the whole money thing was the very worst part of wedding planning. At first, I had absolutely no idea how much weddings can cost--my initial investigations into planning were utterly shocking!

I want to share a full, detailed, nitty-gritty budget recap with you in the hopes that it might give you a bit of a touchstone for your own planning. I know that when I'd look at wedding features in my early planning stages, my running internal monologue would often be, "but what does this COST? What am I looking at here? Is this a $5,000 wedding? A $15,000 wedding? A $50,000 wedding? Can I do something like this, or would it be utterly impossible for me?"

I think it would be really helpful for brides to see more impartial "here is how many dollars our wedding cost, and here is where those dollars went" types of posts. I've written before about my thoughts on how journalism about The Cost of Weddings These Days is often served up with a big scoop of scorn and judgment about the amount people spend (and I think there's a pretty common thread of "how about those crazy women with their wanton, greedy, frivolous spending on themselves just so they can play princess for a day!", as well). Of course, money is a loaded subject in most contexts, not just weddings. Still, I do think it's possible to have more transparent, emotionally neutral conversations about wedding budgets, and that's what I'm striving for with this post.

Some nuts and bolts: our budget included everything you might call a "day-of" or "day-before" expense, including the rehearsal dinner. It doesn't include our honeymoon, and it doesn't include peripheral expenses like our flight to Pittsburgh, our hotel stay, eating & drinking while we were there, and so on (partially because I didn't know how far to take things like that, like, do I count the new outfit I bought for my bridal shower? The postage on thank-you notes? The checked baggage fees? and partially because it would shoot our final number so much higher than it already is that I would need to lay in bed with a cold washcloth on my forehead). Paying for all of this was a collaboration between Mr. Octo & I, my parents, his parents, and his grandmother.

All that said, here it is, my attempt at an impartial "here is how many dollars our wedding cost, and where those dollars went"-style post!


Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Date/Time: Saturday evening

Guests: 126 (116 adults, 10 children)

Total Cost: $27,500

Cost Breakdown:

Venues: $3,637

Heinz Chapel: $850


  • Included on-site coordinator, Friday rehearsal, & live organ music
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh: $2,787


  • $2,000 base fee for 4 hours
  • $600 for added hour
  • $187 for mandatory security guard
  • Free parking for all guests
    Reception Costs: $14,384

    Catering: $11,912



    • $4,613 for food (Fruit, vegetables, cheese, and bread table for cocktail hour; carving, salad, & Pittsburgh stations for adult dinner; chicken fingers & french fries for kid dinner; boxed meals for vendors)
    • $2,738 for equipment rentals (plates, flatware, etc.)
    • $752.40 for linens
    • $1,919 for staffing
    • $700 for staff gratuity
    • $705 for sales tax
    • $485 for bar set-up (ice, bar fruit, cocktail napkins, sodas, and juices)
    Alcohol: $1,325


    • Limited open bar
    • Self-catered
    • 2 varieties of red wine
    • 2 varieties of white wine
    • 4 varieties of beer
    • 4 cocktails
    Cake: $315

    • 120 cupcakes & small two-layer cutting cake
    DJ: $625
    • 5 hours
    Misc. Decor: $209




    • Seating cards: $29
    • MyPublisher photo album guestbook: $42
    • Birdcage card holder: $25
    • Frames for table numbers: $85
    • Misc. paper for bar menus, dinner menus, etc.: $15
    Attire & Appearance: $2,099


    • Wedding gown: $730
    • Alterations: $190
    • Veil: $0 (wedding gift from family friend)
    • Jewelry: $121
    • Shoes: $0 (free using gift cards)
    • Hairstyling: $60
    • Makeup: $80
    • Wedding ring: $550 after use of gift certificate (this may change when I figure out a solution to my wedding band dilemma!) 
    • After-party dress: $29
    • Tie: $20
    • Suit fitting: $250
    • Wedding ring:  $69
    Stationery (including postage): $541

    • Save-the-dates: $95

    • Invitations: $436
      Flowers: $1,279


      • Bride bouquet
      • 6 bridesmaids' bouquets
      • 2 grandmother corsages
      • 10 boutonnieres (groom, 6 groomsmen, 2 fathers, 1 grandfather)
      • 3 cocktail table arrangements
      • 17 centerpieces
      Photographer: $2000
      • 7 hours of coverage; second shooter; disc of edited, high-resolution photos with unlimited re-print rights; $200 print credit
      Transportation: $175
      • One-way shuttle for fifteen-minute trip (and one of the only times I felt I was truly paying a wildly overinflated price).  
      Rehearsal Dinner: $930
      • Catering & clean-up for 40 people: $774
      • Dishes & flatware: $50
      • Cake: $106
      • Alcohol $0 (used some wine & beer from wedding stash)
      Gifts & Gratuities: $1,665

      Bridesmaids' gifts: $600

      • 6 Coach wristlets, $50/each
      • Professional makeup on wedding day, $50/each
      Groomsmens' gifts: $600
      • 6 ties, $20/each
      • Individualized gifts, approx. $80/each
      Thank-you gift for rehearsal dinner hosts: $200
      Rehearsal dinner server: $40
      Makeup artist: $70 (for all 7 of us)
      Hairstylist: $80 (for all 7 of us)
      Shuttle driver: $25
      DJ: $50 (a spontaneous tip for doing such a great job!)
        Miscellaneous: $786

        Officiant: $265 (including rehearsal)
        Marriage license: $35
        Out-of-Town Bags: $236
        • Ivory paper for welcome booklet (and used for other things): $30
        • Bags: $32
        • Snacks & water: $147
        • Decorations (tissue paper, etc.): $27
        Food for bridal party on wedding day (breakfast for bridesmaids in the morning, lunch for groomsmen as they got ready, snacks for their downtime during family portraits): $150
        Reserved parking for all guests at Heinz Chapel: $100


        There you have it! I hope you find it helpful!