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The Under-$25,000 Wedding

In a city chock-full of temptations to spend more, how does a couple stick to their budget? Here’s the balance sheet of one that actually did.

The Couple: Camas and Matthias Knerr
Ceremony: Central Park
Reception: Prince Street Penthouse
Number of guests: 65
Budget: $25,000

The Breakdown:

Save-the-dates: $235
Invitations + postage: $725
“Ordering online invitations is a cost saver. Ours were from Minted.”

J.Crew Dress: $1,214
Alterations: $680
“J.Crew recommended Sew Elegant. The alterations were more expensive than I anticipated, but it was important to have the perfect fit.”
Sash: $86
“I bought a handmade crystal sash from Kirsten Kuehn (, which was much less expensive than buying it from a bridal store.”
J.Crew hair clip: $73
Shoes: $40
Veil + earrings rental: $62
“I rented my veil and earrings from Happily Ever Borrowed. Renting was a fraction of the cost of buying these items, which I wouldn’t have used after the wedding, anyway.”
Makeup (for bride, bride’s mother, and two bridesmaids, including makeup trial): $1,125
Hair (for bride, bride’s mother, groom’s mother, flower girl, and two bridesmaids): $400
“My friend Becky Haughey is a hairstylist in Utah. She came for the wedding and also did hair for the wedding party. I love her work, and she was less expensive than New York hairstylists.”

Groom’s suit, shirt, tie: $1,930
Flower girl’s dress, shoes, hair bow: $200
Ring bearer’s suit: $312
Marriage license: $35
Central Park license: $400
“The Conservatory Gardens are the perfect backdrop for an intimate ceremony. There are lots of other locations around Central Park that are beautiful for ceremonies but not secluded or good for groups.”

Central Park photography permit: $100
Officiant: $1,000
Violinist for ceremony: $160
Wedding programs: $108

Car service: $96
Guest book: $54
Reception venue + insurance: $3,155
“I spent a lot of time searching for a venue in my price range that also had the just-right modern aesthetic. Prince Street Penthouse in Soho was a surprise find. And it has a roof deck.”

Catering + rentals: $5,647
“We had a cocktail-party reception, which was less expensive than a sit-down, and it also made it easier for us to mingle with our guests. We had a heavy rotation of passed hors d’oeuvre from Dish Catering, and I selected menu items that would be filling, like pulled-pork empanadas.”

Photographer: $4,137
“Spending on photography was a priority for us. We were blown away by how beautiful Jen Huang’s photos were and selected our wedding date around her availability.”

Florist: $995
“We used the high-end Michael George Florists, but were able to save on costs by not doing flowers on the tables outside. Instead, we decorated with lots of candles.”

Cake: $294
“We bought cheesecake and chocolate cake from the Cheesecake Factory and left them as they were. I wanted the cake to actually taste good! Plus, it was much cheaper than a formal wedding cake.”

Drinks: $512
“To avoid the markup, we purchased the booze and mixers ourselves. The venue was fine with it, and their staff still served the drinks.”

Wedding favors: $160
Gift for groom: $45
Gifts for flower girl and ring bearer: $84
Gifts for family: $127

TOTAL: $24,191