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The Wedding-Spending Diaries


Illustrations by Omnivore  

LOW–MEDIUM BUDGET: SUNDAY SOIRÉE FOR 125
The couple, both 26, “wanted a Saturday-night wedding in the fall, but all of the outdoor locations we liked were already booked,” the bride says. “But then we saw that Sunday over Columbus Day weekend was available, and we knew everyone had Monday off, so it’d effectively be like having a Saturday-night wedding.” Because they booked the Sunday of a holiday weekend, they got a cheaper rate.

Venue: $400
Snuff Mill at the New York Botanical Garden.

Wedding correspondence: $1,005
Couture invitations from Serimony, “a stationer in Carroll Gardens”; a family member did the calligraphy for free. The cost included postage and DIY save-the-dates and programs made with Microsoft Publisher and printed at Kinko’s. “I wanted blue hydrangeas on the invitation because they were on the tables at the reception. The stationer glued dry-pressed flowers onto the invitations, by hand, one by one.”

Favors: $530
A donation to DonorsChoose.org and personalized ivory-rose seed packets, bought online from the Tender Seed Company, that doubled as place cards, reading, “Please plant yourself at table number ...”

Hair: $800
The Bridal Lounge. For the bride and seven bridesmaids.

Makeup: $400
“One of my bridesmaids has a friend who is good at makeup, and she did it. She did mine for free for the engagement party as the trial run.”

Officiant:$800
Kim Kirkley. “She was more expensive than some other people that we looked at, but it was worth it—we’re an interfaith couple (Jewish and Catholic), so we customized our ceremony with her help.”

Ceremony and cocktail music: $1,200
Uptown Vocal. Two hours of a jazz-based a cappella group from Columbia University. “I talked them down to $1,000 and covered their travel costs.”

Wedding bands: $1,500
From Fortunoff.

Bride’s attire: $1,510
Dress by Maggie Sottero/RK Bridal, alterations included; veil from eBay ($10); shoes from Stuart Weitzman from Saks Fifth Avenue ($90; “on sale!”).

Groom’s attire: $30
Cuff links, tie, and vest from After Hours tuxedo rental. “He only had to pay for the accessories that came with the tux package. The tux rental for the groom was free, which seems to be a common promotion.”

Transportation: $1,050
From Romantique Limos. Included two limos for immediate family, one Rolls-Royce for bride and groom.

Photographer: $1,500
Marianela Vera. “Not as creative as a more expensive photographer might have been, but a great deal.” Included the proofs and negatives.

Videographer: $800
Halo Video. “Jose was wonderful. No one felt they had a camera shoved in their face.”

Caterer: $19,500
Abigail Kirsch, the exclusive caterer for the New York Botanical Garden. Included top-shelf open bar and Champagne, cake, décor setup, and a day-of wedding coordinator.

Flowers: $4,000
Forever in Bloom. “The New York Botanical Garden has four florists they accept, which cost anywhere from $4,000 to $16,000.” Included blue hydrangeas, a modified chuppa made of flowers and branches, petal cones with petals for tossing, and ivory-rose and cascading-ivy bouquets and boutonnieres.

Reception music: $1,200
A Starry Night D.J. for four hours. “You can’t have a full band at the Snuff Mill.”

Wedding-party gifts: $600
Necklaces for the women; watches for the men.

Polaroid guest book and guest-book handler: $220
Guest book from Kate’s Paperie. Cost included a $200 tip to one of the makeup artists, who stayed to oversee it.

Gift bags for out-of-town guests: $100
Included a subway map and mini black-and-white cookies from Glaser’s Bakery.

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