Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cutting down the costs of our Travel Themed Wedding

The Mo and I couldn't have asked for a better wedding.  We were so happy and thrilled with how everything turned out.  To make the budget work, we cut a lot of corners to make it all happen. Now everyone has a different definition of the word "budget."

I think it's safe to say that the average wedding for the Boston area is anywhere between $40K-60K.

 As much as we would love to have a grand wedding, the Mo and I would be saving for many years to come. It's sad to say but the most important thing on our priority list was to have an open free flowing bar (that's just in our personalities... we love to drink!) I actually did a poll on FB and everyone seemed to vote for music and drinks in lieu of food and dessert for a memorable wedding.

 We did our wedding in just about half the average for 210 people.. actually slightly less than that.. we had a couple of "no shows".. but I'll do another vent post about wedding etiquette later.

The Invitation
I couldn't fathom spending lots of money on invitation.  We were inviting over two hundred people and I wanted to keep it at a minimum.  I know people say that its the first impression but I wanted to spend as LEAST as possible.  That being said, I went to target and picked up a pack of DIY invitations that was on clearance for $7.00.  I didn't like how thin the paper was and I just so happened to get a Groupon deal that day for Vistaprint.  We ended up ordering our invitations on Vistaprint with one insert and no special envelope.  Hey, I was going to have to shell out another 90 cents for stamps!

All our stationary from Save the Dates, invitations and response cards cost less than $250.00 (including stamps)

Save the Date passport
Wedding Dress and Veil
I got the Maggie Sottero at a sample dress sale at Chantily's Place in Chelmsford, MA for under $500.00.  Of course I spent additional money getting it tailored but Amy at Fine, Fit Fashion in Burlington was very negotiable.  I brought the dress to her a month too late and she still made it work.  She had to take in the bust, do a bustle, fix some of the beads and take off about a foot of the bottom of the dress.  Amy did it for less than $200.00.  I was quoted $500.00 from someone else because of the different layers.

Amy was also the hero in my bridesmaid dress disaster and she made my dress 2 sizes larger at the bust from what I ordered for Alice's wedding. * Wishful thinking*

Funny story, this was actually my 2nd dress. The first one I bought on a whim a David's Bridal when I was hungover.  I went as a supporter with  my friends Lisa and Angel to go with them on their wedding dress shopping and happen to fall in love with this one at Chantily's. I sold the other one on Ebay.

The beautiful veil was actually "something borrowed" and was made for my friend Alice for her May wedding.  Her mother, Marylou (Mrs. Hubbell to me) handcrafted this masterpiece and was kind to let me use if for my big day.  If I did purchase a veil, anything close to the above would cost in excess of hundreds of dollars.
Homemade wedding veil
A Mrs. Marylou Hubbell original
I really didn't want to go nuts and splurge on shoes and accessories.  Got the shoes online at David's Bridal for $10.00 on clearance and the tiara and necklace at at small shop in Chelmsford for $3.00 each.

Hair and Makeup
May Chin and her wonderful assistant did the bridal party's hair and makeup.  They were on time and sweet as can be.  She is extremely talented.  We were given the option of "Natural classic look" or "dramatic", we went with the later.  All of the girls loved their hair and makeup and some of the guests even said they looked like models (short models) LOL

She was recommended through a friend and that is also how I found our photographer. May's pricing was extremely reasonable and we were given a friend referral discount.  I am glad we made the decision to have her "on location."

It made it less stressful to get ready, get married and get drunk and pass out in one place.

Nicole of Nicole Sakr Photographer was the nicest most patient person ever.  She is talented and her work captures the special moments artistically. She was willing to work with my budget and was able to accommodate my request and crazy ideas.  Her husband Mazen teamed up with her the day of our wedding and I couldn't have asked for better people to work with.  We can't wait to display our wedding photos on our wall for years to come.  Thank you Nicole and Mazen!

Nicole has captured the below special occasions. (Click to be directed to her blog site)

Here are the photobooks we made using her work

We are thankful to the DJ and our other friends that help us capture our special day.  We have over 5,000 pictures that we are still sorting through.

Bridesmaids Dresses
We got them for a steal! $99.00 at David's Bridal (from $179.00) style F15342 (there are some colors available for $49.99) .  The girls looked amazing in the strapless fit and flare organza dress.  The color popped out in the photos.  My sister (MOH) accessorized her dress with a homemade flower white sash.

The Groom's attire
We looked into going the tuxedo rental route but they quoted us $200.00 + for a decent gray suit, we bought a Calvin Klein one at Macy's instead for under $100.00 for a 3 piece suit on clearance and using a bunch of combined coupons.  We also got the best man's suit from Macy's as well.

Wedding Programs
I recruited my friends to help me make DIY wedding programs in the shape of luggage tags the weekend the guys were on bachelor party.  I found a template online and printed it on cardstock paper.  It was quite painful as my cutting wasn't straight even WITH a paper cutter. They did such a great job and I'm forever thankful and in their debt!

not pictured above: Alice & Lemar

This was the inside of the program before we had to cut it and hole punch it and tie them together

 I picked up a hundred paddle fans on clearance from the knot shop for less than $1.00 each thinking it was going to be a hot and humid day but mother nature cooperated and the weather couldn't have been more perfect!

Ceremony and Reception Location
The ceremony was held in the beautiful gardens of the Andover Country Club. I think that saves us lots of cash that we didn't have to decorate a church or "donate" to the church.  Also, keeping the location OUT of Boston itself saved us money too.  I'm sure our guests were pleased that they didn't have to shell out for parking.

Since it was a travel theme wedding, our menu was created as an in-flight menu.  After a cocktail hour featuring oysters on the half shell (the only spluge), my mother's Cambodian eggroll recipe and other passed hor d'oeurves, dinner was served in a traditional family style fashion.  It was the best decision I made because I knew we wouldn't be able to get all the Asians to RSVP never mind pick out beef or chicken.. so we had both!

I know the filet mignon is the popular option but we had to cut costs by offering delicious (just as satisfying) roasted sirloin.  Some of the guests raved how delicious the food was were happy they got to try both. (Maybe they were just trying to be nice to me and will probably talk shit that I didn't have surf and turf but oh well!)

The Vistaprint made postcards were beautifully folded in each napkin and placed on each bread plate.

Wedding cake
Keyk's bakery in Chelmsford, Ma made us a cool travel theme cake.  The cake was actually fake and we served 3 different types of sheet cake from the kitchen.  This saved us a few hundred bucks. I loved the cake toppers with us in our wedding attire and internal frame backpacks with Chewie and Odie by our side.  The cake was detailed with a 3D Canon DSLR camera and passport.

Groom's Cake
I wanted to surprise the Mo with a Groom's cake.  I found a Groupon for Sugar Coated Bakery in Dracut and ordered a small Game of thrones cake.  It was the highlight of the wedding.  The cake was a celebrity itself with so many people taking photos of it and uploading it to FB or sending it to a friend.  Including the price of the Groupon, the cake came out to about $60.00.

Our good friend Mera and Angel from Complete by Mera did all the beautiful bouquets, arrangements and boutonnieres.  Of course we got the "friend" discount but despite being friends, her prices are unbelievable as a new start up venture. (Actually not so new, she's been doing this for years now and has been very successful)  Her client base is through connections and "word of mouth."  I was in awe after seeing all the gorgeous floral artwork at the wedding.

Mera made this arrange at the request of the Mo to be sent to my bridal suite before the wedding
She made the 2 columns with the flower arrangements inside the columns using plastic popcorn containers, how creative!

Table Numbers and Centerpieces and Decor
 Mera did an amazing job with all the centerpieces. I was on a really tight budget and she made it work.  We got the LED branches from the Christmas tree shop and I was worried about the water from the fresh flowers ruining the battery pack.  Being the talented person that she is, she figured out a way to separate the battery pack and the water.  I loved the centerpieces.  Some of the guests took them home and raved they still have them and they tell me the lights still work.

Each table number was a destination or favorite place that the Mo and I traveled to with a picture of us in a frame.  We included tables as far away as Thailand and Greece to local attractions like Fenway Park and North Conway.

We made the table numbers in Microsoft Word and printed them out and placed them in frames.

To find match the table numbers, the Mo came up with a great idea of doing a flight seating chart, like what you would see at an airport.

The Mo created the seating chart in spreadsheet in excel then transferred into Powerpoint where it was converted into an .MOV file. The seating chart was displayed on the LCD screen during cocktail hour and guests found their way to their corresponding destination table.

Tying in the travel theme, Mera and Angel did a great job setting up gifts table, cake table and bride and groom table using travel books, souvenirs, textured fabric, candles and whatever we can gather from our personal stash combined.  Mrs. Hubbell let us borrow an antique suitcase that was an original from someone who went to Alice's undergrad college Leheigh decades ago.

Kudos to Fifi who made the hanging Cards banner.

We didn't want to splurge too much for favors since most people forgot them anyways or they collect dust in someone's house.  We got these photo coasters at the Knotweddingshop and used a bunch of sales and coupon codes.  We figured people can use their photos from the photobooth in the coasters but that probably never happened.  We got the coasts for less than $1.00

Photobooth & DJ Services
It seems like a photobooth was the trend and I've never been to a wedding that had one but I've seen many people have them on wedding websites and Facebook.  Our DJ company Ramu and the crew actually had a package for a good price so we did the ceremony and reception music, Photobooth,Uplighting, LCD TV's and they even threw in personalized GOBO's with our names.  All that was less than $ 1,000.00.  (Keep in mind that we booked almost a year prior to our wedding)

DJ Imho was outstanding and he kept everyone on the dance floor from dinner to closing time.  Live display texting was available for guests to display their warm wedding wishes on the displayed LCD screen.

I thought it was awesome that there was someone in his team taking photographs throughout the event also.  Soon after the wedding, the wedding photos and the photobooth photos were posted on his FB account.
I made this sign on Vistaprint

DJ Imho was a great MC

 The DJ area set up was clean and tidy and the LCD screens were mounted securely on trusses.

The kids and adults had so much fun in the photobooth. It was hysterically looking through the photo album seeing our aunts and coworkers in crazy wigs and leopard jackets.

I love having a signed guestbook with pictures as a keepsake from the wedding.


I've been to many weddings where I've had to take off my heels to dance.  I wanted my guests to be comfortable so we bought dozens of silver and pink flip flops in different sizes or the ladies.  I got most of the flip flops on clearance at Michael's for 50 cents at the end of the summer sale the year prior.

For the guests who had time to peel themselves off the dance floor, we had them fill out mad lips card that we made on.... you guessed it... Vistaprint.

The answers were hilarious to read on our mini moon as they were vulgar as expected.

After all the wedding festivities, we invited everyone back to our suite and ordered 15 boxes of pizza to go with a tub full of beer and a bar full of booze.  Safe to say.. I was a little bit "under the weather" the next day.