This post was hard to write, for several reasons. First, looking back at how much I spent on my wedding now that I have a child, I sometimes think “I could have put a down payment on a house with that money.” Second, I don’t like to talk about money spent on something, like it is bragging. I worked very hard as a lawyer to pay for my wedding, and my mother and stepfather were very generous and had saved to help us as well, but it was a choice that we made together on what we were comfortable spending. And if we had our wedding in a different location, I would have happily spent less money, and I think that you can have a fantastic wedding for under $10,000, or even $5,000 (I featured one that had was a gorgeous DIY wedding with a $4,000 budget!) But despite these misgivings, I still wanted to share why I happily spent well over $30,000 on my wedding, because to me it is what made our wedding so special, because of what we spent that money on.
My husband and I got married in the Los Angeles area, where we live. We knew that for most of our guests, it would be a destination wedding since most came from Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and various other parts of the country. They would have to spend a lot of money and effort to come to our wedding, and many of them made it a vacation. So we wanted them to be as comfortable as possible, as close to the beach as possible, and to get a real Southern California experience. That meant getting married on the coast somewhere close by and making sure there were hotels close by so they could stay close to the wedding venue and the beach, which significantly increased the cost of our wedding venue (and by significantly, I mean 2/3 of our budget).
We also provided transportation to and from the wedding from the hotel so our guests could enjoy some cocktails and not worry about driving, and so they could avoid renting a car or taking a cab. We also wanted them to feel like we thought of each of them when planning our wedding. We made nice out-of-town bags for each guest staying at the hotel, complete with snacks, TWO bottles of water (a must in my humble opinion), a map of the area, suggested things to do, and the weekend’s scheduled activities, plus a homemade hangover helper kit.
We had two guests whose birthdays fell on our wedding day. We had Vanilla Bake Shop (who did our cupcake tower) make them special birthday cupcakes, and we DIY’d cupcake flags for them and sang to them during our reception. We also had fun drink stirs with fun quotes about enjoying a cocktail, which were a fun conversation piece. And my maid of honor made really nice bathroom baskets with all of the essentials for our guests, along with all of the flags, stirs, and cute signs, making everything seem really thought out and personal. I also DIY’d our programs and included a CD inside each one with music that we loved as a couple and that was included in our wedding day. Guests still tell me they listen to that CD in their car and think of our wedding.
We wanted our wedding to be a fun party and we love to dance and wanted to encourage everyone to participate and literally kick off their shoes, so we had flip flops for all of our guests, which I bought at Old Navy’s yearly $1 sale. Almost everyone, including the men, wore them at our reception! And because we were getting married in sunny Southern California at 5pm and there was no shade, I bought some parasols in case guests needed a little. Mostly they just used them as photo props!
(see everyone wearing their yellow flip flops favors!?)
And the reason why I happily spent well over $30,000 on my wedding is that every dollar spent, every splurge and every small detail, made our guests feel special and loved and made our day the best day ever. I didn’t spend a ton on flowers. I got my dress for a steal. But we spent a lot on our venue and details for our guests. We still hear from guests how much they loved our wedding, how they feel like they were taken care of, and how they had the best time. To me, that makes the expense totally worth it! It may not be for everyone but if you can do it, spending money to make sure your guests feel loved, comfortable, and taken care of is never a waste.