Lindsay, social media specialist & Paul, packing engineer
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Laid-back, easygoing joy (with a party bus!).
Planned budget: $10,000
Actual budget: $15,000
Number of guests: 25
Where we allocated the most funds:
We allocated the most funds to travel and accommodations for my bridal party. Since they are my longtime friends, my parents wanted to cover their travel and lodging for the entire duration of our stay in New York City. Thankfully, we were able to negotiate a great group rate at Gild Hall and plane ticket prices weren’t sky-high at the time they were purchased. Plus, the hotel was amazing and treated us to a suite upgrade, which was much appreciated!
Hiring an amazing photographer to capture unique, special memories was very important to us, so that was our second-biggest expense. I don’t regret it one bit, since we received our photos insanely early and they looked gorgeous!
Next, my wedding dress was a heftier expense than expected. I wanted to stay under $1,000 for my dress, but after falling in love with The One, I was willing to flex. After a price quote snafu and learning that I had been underquoted by $1,000 on the dream dress, we were able to negotiate a bit and meet in the middle. Needless to say, I spent more than I would have liked, but absolutely loved wearing the dress that felt perfect for me.
Last, our fourth-largest expense went toward our loft reception venue, Lucky Guy. It was an amazing space and we couldn’t believe how affordable it was! Our package included unlimited open bar for all guests, four hours of celebrating in the space, and the ability to bring in our own cake and food all for under $2,000, which is pretty much unheard of in New York. I can’t recommend them enough!
Where we allocated the least funds:
We allocated the least funds for our ceremony venue, since a wedding ceremony at New York City Hall costs $35! The ceremony was quick and efficient, and we were married about an hour after first stepping in the door and taking our number.
We also didn’t allocate many funds for our reception snacks and cake, since we had a wedding dinner prior to the reception. My mom and I hiked it over to Whole Foods two days before the wedding to order a custom two-tier naked vegan cake and assorted snack trays for our guests to munch on. Once the wedding cake was picked up, we adorned it with a few loose flowers from my bouquet and it looked wonderful! In total, our reception wedding cake and snacks were less than $200 for the entire party to enjoy.
What was totally worth it:
When planning our wedding, getting a party bus for our small group of guests was a must—getting around New York City in separate taxis and Ubers sounded like a total headache! The entire experience ended up being a game changer and kept the party going from the point when we left the hotel for our reception dinner and beyond. Not going to lie: we were a little surprised when we walked in and saw that the bus had a full-on stripper pole in the back, but our quirky gang of guests made the most of it and gave Paul and me the performance of a lifetime before dinner. It was definitely one of the high points of the evening! After dinner, we hopped back onto the bus for a quick trip our reception revenue, Lucky Guy Club, and kept the sing-alongs and dancing going. Our driver even surprised us with a bottle of champagne after dinner, which was such a kind gesture.
What was totally not worth it:
One small thing was not worth it to me was my veil! I had gotten one from my bridal boutique, but it didn’t mesh well with my wedding ceremony look. I ended up wearing it at my reception with a more casual dress for fun, but overall, don’t feel pressured into buying or wearing a veil just because you’re getting married. It’s not for everyone!
A few things that helped us along the way:
When you’re planning a destination wedding remotely (we’re from St. Louis!) it can feel incredibly daunting when it comes to finding reliable vendors. Thankfully our wonderful photographer was St. Louis–based and agreed to travel with us to New York to photograph the wedding, which was an immediate sigh of relief. However, we still needed to nail down a florist, our party bus, and reception venue.
Enter Thumbtack, which is every wedding self-planner’s blessing. This site allowed us to find both our florist and party bus by entering the date of our celebration, our budget, and when and where we would need them. From there, we received several personalized quotes from numerous vendors and were able to contract the best fit for us from there. A seamless, stress-free experience through and through.
For our reception, we initially found Lucky Guy as a listing on Airbnb, and then communicated with their event staff to sign contracts, put down deposits, and make any requests for how we wanted the space to look prior to our group’s arrival.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
My best practical advice would be to feel the stress—because it’s inevitable—but think of the end goal. The start of your marriage is something to be celebrated, not stressed over, so cut out anything that doesn’t feel a hundred percent okay in your gut or is keeping you up at night. In retrospect, you probably didn’t need that vintage rental getaway car anyway!
Favorite thing about the wedding:
My favorite thing about our wedding was the fact that every single person who has witnessed the growth of my and Paul’s relationship—from our first weekend together to our engagement—was there to witness our marriage. Our parents and friends meshed extremely well, and it was amazing to have everyone that we love in the city that we love most.