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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Nelson

Wedding Planning 101

Updated: Jun 3, 2019

More like wedding planning SOS 😂

So I have been engaged since February, all of 3 months, and I am already half way to saying, "Nope, let's elope."

I feel like I always knew it was hard to plan a wedding. I've heard it a lot from friends who have been married before me and even from the couples I photograph on their wedding days. It takes a lot. However, I thought because I am a detail oriented person who likes to plan things, planning my wedding would be a breeze. I. Was. Wrong.

In some ways, the wedding I am planning is a little more unique than others. The majority of my fiancé's family lives in France and some can not travel very far. To make travel a little easier we have decided to host our wedding in Michigan. We currently live in Arizona so this means we are planning an out of state wedding. For those of his family who can not make it at all, we are going to have a second smaller wedding in France several months after our states wedding. So it's kind of like planning two weddings at the same time. Having two weddings sounds like a lot of fun, but let me tell you this, planning two is not.

So this is where I am at so far. I've said yes! That's it...

Joking! After a lot of chatting and back and forth debate, we have settled, "settled", on a date for August of next year. We are hoping that venues have the 22nd available because it will be 7 and a half years, on the dot, that we have been together. We think its cute and makes for a memorable date. Having said that, we also are not sure we want to host our wedding at a venue. We both want to get married at a place where we can go back to and reminisce without having to go to a wedding in order to do so. Also, venues are so expensive. Which, again, I knew that! So how is it that I am totally surprised each time I get an email from a venue with their wedding package breakdowns and the price is break the bank worthy.

We are trying to have a small budget wedding and so far I have learned two things.

  1. DIY weddings are not always the cheaper option

  2. The difference between "inexpensive, affordable, moderate and expensive" mean different things to everyone.

DIY doesn't mean cheaper

We had this grand idea, right after getting engaged, that we would have our wedding at my family's lakeside cabin on Walloon Lake. It was going to be small, intimate and surrounded by the lush forrest and calm blue waters. Perfect right? Unfortunately, after tallying up our guest list, it was decided that our tiny cabin was just too small for the amount of guests we were looking at inviting. But what really sealed the deal was once we started adding up all the numbers for a DIY wedding. We started putting it all in a spreadsheet and boy did the number sky rocket quickly. Even after taking away some of the higher ticket items that weren't totally needed. Once we realized that we were looking at pretty much the same price as a venue, we turned back to the venue drawing board.

This brings me to the second thing I learned. Again, as a budget friendly bride, I am looking for venues on the cheaper end but that are still inclusive to some degree. Let me tell you this right away, these hardly exist and it is infuriating. What I have noticed is that there are certain terms that are thrown around regarding the price of wedding venues. There is inexpensive, affordable, moderate and expensive. Let's break em down, shall we?

I'm sorry, how much is the rental fee?!

Inexpensive venues are the venues with one dollar sign in their description and let me tell you, there are not a lot of these kind of venues where I am looking. So yes, location does matter when you are searching for the perfect place to have your wedding. But so far, I have noticed that one dollar sign really is just that. There are hardly any $ that get you more than just the bare basics. Usually it is just the space with some tables and chairs, the linens and maybe some day of assistance. That leaves you to find catering, entertainment and decoration.

Moving on to the "affordable" venues. Again, location is a huge factor here, but so far what I have found is there is a significant jump from inexpensive to affordable. We start leaving the low thousands and jump into the high thousands if not into the 5 digit territory. To some, when weddings are now costing an average of $33,000, a low 5 digit number seems totally doable with a small budget. However, that's not me. It is totally frustrating to begin a venue search with the expectation that either a single $ or $$ will be within your budget, only to find that it's not. I feel like it is because there are so many ways of perceiving what is considered inexpensive and affordable. With affordable, you are pretty much guaranteed the basics, with sometimes the addition of catering, and entertainment.

I don't even really want to get into the next two of moderate and expensive because I feel like there really is no difference between them. Sure, with this price you move into the more inclusive, if not all inclusive, venues. The ones that cover literally everything from helping with planning, the basics, entertainment, catering and even photography. But it comes at quite the cost. This price range is where we move into the tens of thousands of dollars, which is all the way out of my budget. I'm talking way past the price of breaking the bank.

So this is where I currently tread water. Upon speaking with my dad about my venue dilemmas, he suggested I find a great big plot of land, sprinkle some wildflower seeds, plant a few trees, create a beautiful arch and wham bam, there you have it. Oh and I could charge $10,000 for people to have their ceremony their for all of 30 minutes. 🤪

Who knows, at this point, maybe it's a good idea?!

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