** UPDATE: Our wedding was featured on 2 Brides 2 Be, an amazing resource for engaged lesbian couples. Check it out! “Nicole & Christine’s Handmade Fairy Tale” **
Weddings are expensive. Like, really expensive. It varies by state, but according to Value Penguin, the average New Jersey wedding costs upwards of $40,000, and most are somewhere around $30-35,000. We were engaged for about two years before our wedding and had plenty of time to save up, but during that time we bought a house and a dog, and had sizable student loan payments to make. Spending that kind of money for a single day was absolutely out of the question.
We assumed we were paying for our entire wedding ourselves (which, thankfully, was not the case—our wonderful parents generously contributed about a combined third of our total costs), so we were shooting for $15-20,000 when we were making our budget. Although we did end up spending more than we intended, we were able to save a whole lot of money by DIY-ing most of our decor, stationery, bouquets and dress alterations.
Here’s what we did, our approximate costs/savings (national averages from LifeHacker), and the finished products. Beautiful pictures were all taken by Kara Battistoni and Nick Nittoli for Hurricane Productions.
Average: $1,357 (for one!)
Our cost: About $600 (for both)
Ladies, we’ll let you in on a little secret: If you’re pretty confident about your dress size and/or don’t mind having to get minor alterations done, David’s Bridal online clearance sales are the absolute best way to get beautiful formal dresses on the cheap. We’ve gotten a couple of very nice cocktail dresses that way for less than $50 each, and we knew that, since this wedding would include two bridal gowns, it would be far more cost-effective to get relatively plain white dresses and add details like beading ourselves. So…yeah. We bought our wedding dresses online.
We purchased two additional satin dresses in red and pink (which we cut short and wore to our afterparty) to use as fabric, as well as a yard of mesh beadwork from eBay. We also needed to turn Nicole’s zipper back into a corset back, because she has a weirdly wide ribcage. This grommet tutorial from SidneyEileen.com is incredibly helpful, if you’re looking to do it yourself.
We’re kicking ourselves for not taking “before” pictures (or at least saving screenshots of the David’s Bridal product page), but here’s what we wore on our wedding day:
NICOLE: Added hand-stitched beadwork along neckline; converted to corset back; sewed and added bustle a la Nicole Kidman’s “Smoldering Temptress” dress from Moulin Rouge.
CHRISTINE: Sewed in pink lining along entire top of dress; added hand-embroidered hanging sash to back to match existing embroidery.
Our cost: $120 plus printer ink cartridges
Wedding stationery is tricky. Your invitation can really set the tone for your event, and you don’t want it to look cheap or tacky. But at the same time, do you really need to spend an extra dollar or two per invitation for that high-end pearl shimmer paper? We came across Cards & Pockets, which sells DIY cardstock invitation kits designed for use with any standard inkjet printer. They had tons of color options and add-ons, so you can really get any look and feel you want. Christine designed our whole suite in Photoshop, and we went through maybe one and a half color cartidges for this project. Oh, we also saved money on RSVP cards and postage by having people respond through our wedding website.
Flowers & Decor
Our cost: About $1,000
We didn’t keep very good track of our decor/floral purchases (things were purchased over many, many trips to A.C. Moore and Hobby Lobby during the course of our engagement) so this figure is rounded up, because we probably spent more than we think we did. However, knowing the cost of everything we used—large silk flowers, greenery, mason jars, LED battery-operated candles, glass candle bases, satin ribbon, a ceremony arch, sand ceremony accessories, etc.—it didn’t come anywhere close to the $2,141 average. The best part is, unlike real flowers, our bouquets will always stay preserved in perfect condition, exactly as they were on our wedding day. They’re now part of our permanent living room decorations as a happy reminder of August 22.
-Christine & Nicole (Mrs. & Mrs. Taylor)