How we pulled off our $25k Morrisville, PA Wedding

A couple from Morrisville, PA share how they pulled off their $25k wedding.

By Emily Forrest

How we pulled off our $25k Morrisville, PA Wedding
Photo by Zola

__Welcome to Zola’s Wedding Budget Diaries, where we break down one of the industry’s greatest mysteries: how much weddings actually cost. __

But no two couples are the same, and neither are their weddings. Each wedding budget, big or small, has its backstory of unexpected surprises and compromises.

This week, a couple from Trenton, NJ share how they pulled off their $25k Morrisville, PA wedding.

Need to figure out your own wedding budget breakdown? Discover our free wedding budget tracker – also available on the Zola app – and start keeping track of your budget today.

Quick Hits

A bird’s eye view of this couple and their wedding budget.

About the Couple

Fields of Work: Coaching & Retail
Ages: 39 & 47
Location: Trenton, NJ

About the Wedding

Wedding Date: 8/26/2022
Wedding Location: The Falls Banquet in Morrisville, PA
Venue Type: All-Inclusive - both ceremony and reception on-site
Wedding Party Members: 10
Wedding Style: White and Cream attire for guests / Caribbean (monstera leaf) decor.

Budget Overview

Original Wedding Budget: $15,000
Actual Wedding Budget: $25,000
Payment Breakdown: Groom $15k and Bride $10k
How did you keep track?: Spreadsheet downloaded from the internet for ideas then personal spreadsheet after.
How did you pay for your wedding?: As a couple

Wedding Budget Breakdown

Time for the budget breakdown - their original budget vs. actual spend on each wedding item or service.

1. Venue

Original budget: $10,000
Actual spend: $16,000
What we got: Venue, food for cocktail and reception, open bar, dj, basic florals, basic photography, photo booth, day of coordinator).

2. Catering

Original budget: Included in venue price.

3. Alcohol

Original budget: Included in venue price.

4. Couple’s Attire

Original budget: $3,000
Actual spend: $5,000
What we got: Tux , Wedding Dress, shoes - approx pricing.

5. Florals

Original budget: $120 on top of what was included in the venue
Actual spend: $800
What we got: Bride and bridesmaids bouquets, additional centerpiece florals, corsages, boutonnières, florals on the wedding arch.

6. Music and Entertainment

Original budget: Included in venue price

7. Photography & Videography

Original budget: None
Actual spend: $1,750 on top of what was included in the venue.
What we got: Included + 4 hours of photography and 10 hours total of videography and photography.

8. Paper

Original budget: $1,300
Actual spend: $1,450

9. Wedding Bands

Original budget: $1,300
Actual spend: $1,450

10. Other Expenses

Original budget: $50
Actual spend: $200

Note: Individual figures may not total the overall budget due to approximations + omitted items.

WBD 4 -$25k Morrisville, PA Wedding

Wedding Budget Questions

A deeper look into all the decisions – what’s important, what’s tossed, and more.

How did you decide on your original wedding budget?

What we thought was reasonable and what we could afford without taking on debt.

Once you decided on a set budget, did you actively attempt to stick to it?

We tried to stick to the budget but we both wanted more than the original budget could cover - it was the little ancillary spending here and there that added up (ex bridal party gifts, little ways to make guests feel special like a toiletry bar in the bathrooms, cultural elements).

Top Three Priorities:

  1. The venue
  2. The photography/videography
  3. The wedding gown and the groom's tux

Bottom Three Priorities:

I was not going to spend a ton on florals - we spent more than originally expected but I was not going to spend thousands of dollars on flowers that would die in a few days.

Did you hire a wedding planner?

We did not hire a planner because most of the basics were taken care of in the venue package. However, I watched a lot of youtube videos and I learned about what I wasn't aware of to cover my bases and ask questions. Using the vendors included in my package was helpful and made the day of timeline/coordination much simpler.

What, if any, were the main budgeting challenges you faced?

We had to limit our guest list - I would have invited way more people if the budget could accommodate it. I tried going a few over but couldn't do more than 7 or 8 people.

Did you need to cut anything to stick to your budget?

We wanted our last name in big letters to take pictures in front of and had to cut that but thankfully that was extra - and we added so many other things - we were blessed not to have to cut much.

What did you add that resulted in you going over your budget?

  1. A violin player and singer
  2. A sweets table
  3. Extra florals
  4. Jamaican wedding cake for guests to take home
  5. Wedding favors
  6. An extra skirt for the wedding gown that I didn't even wear but couldn't return
  7. Pajamas, slippers, and robes for gorgeous bridal party pictures
  8. A limo
  9. A hotel suite for the night before the wedding and wedding night
  10. And hair stylist on site for the day a steel drummer for cocktail hour

All of this elevated the day.

What, if any, fun extras did you throw in while planning that you didn’t originally budget for?

A personal trainer for a few months, the overskirt mentioned above, the violinist.

What did you find to be the most effective way to save money for/on your wedding?

  1. Cut the guest list and say no to plus ones.
  2. Choosing an all-inclusive venue and starting with a relatively low budget, to begin with.
  3. Having an anchor of $100-150 per person in mind already.
  4. Using Zola and buying paper products when sales were running.
  5. Using Canva or Etsy to find designs and create/edit my day of programs, small posters for his and her signature drinks, and seating chart - and staples for printing.
  6. Etsy sales for custom bridal party robes and wedding favors.
  7. Family member officiant.
  8. Saying yes to family members who offered to pay for things like the rehearsal dinner.

Did you think at all about or prepare for your newlywed financial future while you budgeted for your wedding?

Yes, thankfully we have the house already and could have used the funds to invest differently but we are older so we made the joint decision to go in on the wedding.

As a bride, I did succumb to societal pressures and Pinterest images, delaying gratification by just going to the justice of the peace for example, and using the funds to start a business. I thought we could manage. I kinda let the debt get higher than I anticipated - we ended up way over the original budget.

We did open a joint savings account for wedding expenses. We did not make firm financial goals (ex retirement) and have not yet created a will and are unsure of how to merge our finances just and haven't done so just yet.

What is something you didn’t buy that you wish you did for the wedding?

No, we overspent.

All of it added details were extra thoughtful touches - there are things I probably shouldn’t have spent on - like 2nd robes for bridesmaids - things I waited too long to return to amazon, or the overskirt for my dress that I couldn't return/stop once ordered - I will try to sell it but have yet to post it.

What wedding expenses surprised you the most?

I was surprised to hear about a day of coordinator fee of $5-10k. We did not end up going that route. I heard about florals for $8k from a friend who was also getting married - honestly, we overspent in general but I think almost everything we spent on was reasonably priced. Everyone was fair or worked with us to give us a deal. We were blessed and our wedding looked like double what we spent on it.

What is the weirdest or most out-of-the-box thing you bought for your wedding?

I just had to have a steel drummer to add a Caribbean vibe because we couldn't do a destination wedding - thankfully friends offered to pay for it so we didn't have to come out of pocket for it I was sooo grateful for this and returned the favor by covering an hour of the 360 photo booth at their wedding. It was worth every penny and he was the highlight of the evening! Everyone remembers that and it set the tone for the evening.

Any other details you want to share?

Even though we spent the money on 1 day vs paying down the mortgage or starting a business, actually planning the wedding helped because it prompted things like premarital counseling. It was worth bringing our family together in a way that they may never come together especially due to the pandemic, it was worth that great feeling of accomplishment and seeing my vision come to life, it was worth celebrating ourselves in that way now vs years down the line - we didn't want to be frivolous but life is short - who knows what would happen if we put the "big wedding" off for some later time.

I am glad we didn't blow the entire bank and even though we did overspend on a lot of little extras - we were still thoughtful in the process to find a cheaper price for things - we tried to ball on a budget. We are rebuilding our financial position with more intensity now.

Zola, The Best Place to Track Your Wedding Budget

At Zola, we want your wedding to be everything you’ve dreamed of. We’re here to make it happen from start to finish, from helping couples curate wedding registry ideas and create a unique wedding website with matching invites and paper, to offering free wedding planning tools like guest lists, seating charts, and our new wedding budget tracker!

If you’re having—or anticipate having—trouble keeping track of your expenses, try using our wedding budget tracker, also available on our app. This will take you to a fully customizable budget sheet you can update throughout wedding planning. No stress, no mysterious expenses.

Zola’s helping couples share those diverse stories with those eager to learn more about what it really takes to plan a wedding. If you’re interested, in share your Wedding Budget Diary with us today.

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