My Wedding Budget: One Year and $16,000 Later

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s already been a year. I remember it all like it was yesterday, but apparently it just whipped by. I mean, it’s crazy to look back and remember that I literally spent a year of my life planning a one-day event. Sure, it was a wonderful, magical, and life-changing day.

But still…one full year of planning and a wedding budget of $16,000 to pull it off? That’s kind of insane!

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Since I posted all the nitty-gritty details of our wedding budget after we got hitched, I thought it would be fun to write a post about my perspective on everything one year later. $16,000 is still a fairly frugal wedding considering that the national average for wedding budgets is still $31,000. That being said, now that I’m no longer wearing my bridezilla goggles, there are definitely a few things I would probably change.

Do I regret having a big wedding instead of going really cheap and heading to the courthouse? Not in a million years. It may be the only day besides my funeral that all of my friends and family and those of my husband’s are in the same room together. There really can be no price for having everyone you love in one room, and for that, it was worth every penny.

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However, what I do really regret is ordering a limo for the end of the night to drive us to our hotel. We left past midnight when everyone was packing up so there was no huge goodbye from our guests anyway; our MC (god bless him) accidentally told the driver that we weren’t ready to leave yet when we were, then forgot to tell us the limo was waiting outside for an hour; and lastly the 30 minute drive to our hotel was the bumpiest drive I’ve ever experienced.

It felt as if he was trying to hit every pot hole, which of course was not ideal as I had to pee really badly and we had way too much to drink (another regret, we really should have switched to water near the end of the night). In the end, I really wish we would have saved the extra money and just called a cab.

Another regret was our wedding favours. Well, maybe not so much the favours themselves (they were delicious tarts by the way), but how we decided to display them. Since we had so much stuff on all the tables, we put all the favours on a separate table near the guest book for guests to take on their way out.

Even though I made a sign telling guests to take one, we were left with at least 75% of them. Maybe people don’t like tarts, or maybe no one knew they were supposed to take them. In any case, we basically paid $150 for tarts that we had to eat more than half of ourselves.

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Lastly, my big regret (and it still makes me angry just thinking about it) was my wedding heels. Sure, they were beautiful, sparkly, and my take on a Cinderella shoe, but in the end they were the most excruciatingly painful things to wear! No one looks at your feet anyway so I wish I just put on a pair of sandal wedges that I already owned and called it a day.

What ended up happening was after the ceremony I took them off and put on a pair of flats instead. My feet didn’t hurt during our hour photo session, but what I didn’t take into account was how short I would look minus those few crucial inches. Oh well, it is what it is. At least I didn’t break and ankle or something right?

Besides those three regrets, that $16,000 was still the best $16,000 I’ve ever spent. No wedding day is perfect, but I got to marry the man of my dreams in front of everyone I loved, and I’d pay for that again, and again, and again.

Did you have any regrets when it came to your wedding budget after a year or more passed by? What do you think the biggest waste of money for a wedding is?

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Showing 41 comments
  • save. spend. splurge.
    Reply

    You look so beautiful in the photos Jessica! Not that you don’t in real life as well but those photos are really nice 🙂

    $16,000 is very cheap. My goodness.. I’m going to a wedding where the bride is lamenting at how $20,000 is a struggle as a budget because the costs keep wanting to inflate.

    I’d agree with the heels. Wear them for the photos and then put on flats the whole day. I’ve heard that complaint a lot.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Costs can really creep up, but I was pretty obsessed with trying to stick to a $15,000 budget, and I was just over by a bit. Weddings be crazy!

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
    Reply

    Every wedding I go to I feel like the over half the favors get left behind. I’m wondering if it’s even worth it. 16k is A LOT but nothing compared to the weddings I’m accustomed to. I think my friends prob spend an average of 30-40k. It makes my head spin. I’d love to keep mine under 10k but I think it will involve reimagining what a wedding is at this point.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Ya, I think if you need to cut something, definitely cut the favours. No one will miss them.

  • Kendal @HassleFreeSaver
    Reply

    Your wedding looks fab! I often think about what I may have done differently for my wedding day, and ultimately I wish I’d set a more firm, frugal budget. I also wish I would have styled my hair differently and had one of those birdcage veils (I went veil-less). I was 20 when I planned my wedding and I’m almost 30 now, so time and perspective always makes you question things. Oh well — it was a wonderful day and I would relive it again, happily!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Nothing’s perfect, and I’m sure in ten years I’ll probably wonder why I chose that big ball gown of a dress instead of something sleaker. It was fun for a bit but man was it heavy!

  • Morgaine
    Reply

    We’re coming up on 1.5 years married and we spent about the same amount as you guys and I don’t regret too much. T rented an Esclade and Hummer to take us to our pictures but we ended up just taking them around the hotel and venue as it was raining in the morning (cleared up in the afternoon but by then it would have made us late to go anywhere). I thought that was a waste of money to begin with, T only realized it after the fact. I have trouble with heels on good days so I stuck with well worn in wedge heels and I was pretty good until the dancing went full on and then I switched to flip-flops. But I don’t regret going the bigger wedding route either, it was an amazing night!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Same, I don’t regret going bigger than what it was. It just wouldn’t have been me and my HB, we’re pretty simple people.

  • Michelle
    Reply

    Love this post! Our wedding is in a few weeks, and there is so much more that we still need to do. I am debating the show thing. I want to be comfortable, but I also don’t want to be 5 inches shorter than everyone else!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      I just suggest wearing pretty heels for a few photos then switch to more comfortable heels or wedges. And that’s so exciting you’re getting married so soon!!!

  • Debt Busting Chick
    Reply

    You had an amazing photographer and you look great. Looks as though you were having the best time. I think you did well to have a wedding for $16,000. I’m not sure I could be so frugal with my wedding, it would be very hard. The main thing is that you had a great time and you still remember it!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      At the end of the day, as long as you get married the wedding is a successful. There were a few little things that didn’t go perfectly and I wish I’d done differently, but they don’t really matter at the end of the day.

  • Emily @ evolvingPF
    Reply

    We played the shoe game, too! It was really wonderful and entertaining for our guests. And frugal. 🙂

    I was actually so afraid of uncomfortable shoes that I sacrificed style and bought some comfy low wedges. I still wear those shoes frequently!

    We have regrets from our wedding as well, but I don’t like to dwell on them. The important part is that we started our marriage that day. And I’m planning to throw a huge 25th wedding anniversary/50th birthday party that fulfills all the “we should haves” from our wedding.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Great idea. I definitely want to do a vow renewal at 5 or 10 years someplace intimate on a beach. We didn’t get to write our own vows so I’d definitely like to do that.

  • Laura
    Reply

    $16,000 is a super reasonable budget! We spent a lot of money on our wedding, and some people told me I would regret it once we had been married for awhile (about 3.5 years so far). I still don’t regret it—it was such an awesome experience, and I’m glad we spent money where we did (mostly). We had a live band and I had some issues with them personally and I kind of wish I hadn’t spent the money on them, but the guests loved them and they really did do a great job (they just didn’t listen to what I wanted them to play…haha). Beautiful photos and happy anniversary!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Thanks! Ya, we were considering doing a live band but the logistics seem really tricky. We went with a DJ and overall he was ok.

  • Rob
    Reply

    Lovely wedding pics there, Jessica. I’m sure that, what with all the planning and stress in preparing for your “big day”, that all in all it went off pretty well without a hitch. And, other than those “torture shoes” of yours, do you really give a fig about your other 2 items – which, adding up the cost, probably represented about 2% of the total wedding cost. As I like to say, don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s the overall memories that you and your hubby will cherish forever of that day that really count – right?

    Most weddings involve significant expense which you try to frugally plan for. I guess the biggest wedding waste of money usually is inviting a few too many guests, some of whom you hardly will ever know and who are often cheap in what they spend on your wedding gift – all done to keep others (like yours and/or your hubby’s parents) happy.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      We were lucky that we didn’t have anyone interfering in our wedding business. No one told us who we should invite or how we should do things, so everyone we had at our wedding was exactly who we wanted. I’m that would have been different if we both came from huge families though. Thanks for the comment Rob!

  • Jen @Sprout Wealth
    Reply

    Well I’d say that despite some of the regrets you mentioned, you deserve a big congratulations for a remarkable wedding budget! After attending quite a number of weddings of friends and relatives myself, I think not one really made it absolutely without some minor mishaps no matter how well it was planned. What’s important, at the end of the day, is that each of the couple found their perfect partner.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Totally! And I’m still pretty happy with our budget. It was a beautiful day 🙂

  • Amanda
    Reply

    My fiance and I are hoping to have our wedding for $5,000. Fortunately, we live in a sort of cheap city, and have already found a few different venues that could work for under $1,000 so we *should* be able to pull it off. But I’m always looking for advice as to what to keep vs. what to cut, so this was very helpful!

    Congrats on your anniversary!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Wow, can’t wait to read your wedding recap! $5,000 would be awesome. Plus, then you’ll have plenty of savings left over for a nice honeymoon.

  • Canadian Budget Binder
    Reply

    Happy Anniversary… my wife read your post and said definitely the heels needed to go. We don’t regret anything because we didn’t have a big fancy wedding. My family being in the UK was just too costly to have them all fly over. It’s amazing how we can look back without those goggles on to see what we really didn’t need. Now if only we could do this before we spend the money. Hoping you have many more years filled with happiness and love together!

  • Libby
    Reply

    Thanks so much for posting this!! My wedding is in August and dealing with some of this right now and we were going to put our favors on a seperate table… But now I’m thinking I’ll have my adorable little niece pass them out or something.. Hmmm I have some thinking to do!! Thanks again! 🙂

  • Charlotte
    Reply

    You look beautiful in those photos, Jessica! $16k sounds pretty darn reasonable for a wedding now a days, especially if you didn’t cut down too much on guests. I’ve noticed that party favours seem to be a bit of a waste so if I ever get married, I’d also consider skipping those.

    Congrats on one year 🙂

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Ya, party favours aren’t really worth it now I that I’m looking back. And ya, I think the only real way we could have cut our budget down even more would be to either cut down the guestlist or not do dinner or a subsidized bar. Those are the really expensive things.

  • Kassandra
    Reply

    Congratulations on your first wedding anniversary! The DH and I are coming up on our second later this year. Our wedding was really intimate (us, the officiant and our mothers) yet so public in the middle of Central Park. I don’t regret anything or how much we spent which was $8K. We spent a significant portion of the budget on our photographer but he was worth every single dollar!

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter
    Reply

    I think I would have had a super-strict photo plan. I lost the battle with my inlaws (not an actual battle) when it came to NOT taking family photos in between the ceremony and the wedding and herding that many people was a disaster.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      I was worried about that too, but luckily we got all our family photos done at the church, then just took our wedding parties to another location for other photos. It was the photographer’s idea and it was a good plan.

  • Daisy @ Add Vodka
    Reply

    Since I’m getting married in less than two months (!!!) I love reading posts like this. I think I’ll just wear some shoes I already have. I didn’t think about the favours. We were planning on putting ours on a separate table but maybe we should put them on the tables. I don’t want a bajillion little jars of lavender jelly.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Definitely put them on the tables! And congrats, that’s sooo exciting!!!

  • Julie @ Millennial Cents
    Reply

    The pics look great and the wedding looks beautiful! I could obsess about some of the little things I didn’t like about my wedding- but I agree overall it was money well spent. I spent months comparing prices and I still came in just over $18k. Even frugal finance bloggers have to splurge every once in awhile 🙂

  • TSML
    Reply

    We had our first wedding anniversary back a few weeks ago as well. I don’t know the exact amount we spent, but I think it was right around $10,000.

    In hindsight, I would have been just as happy with a backyard wedding without any of the wedding-industrial-complex stuff!

  • Mike McHenry
    Reply

    $16,000 sounds like a lot of money to me, but I’m glad you had a great time. I think that good music is underrated, and really adds to the atmosphere of a reception, but I think that it’s hard to know going into things just how good your DJ is going to be unless you’ve seen them perform before. A lot of couples are doing the music themselves to mitigate this risk as well as save a thousand dollars.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      I’m so glad we had a DJ, and we gave him a playlist of stuff beforehand, plus he also had premade playlists on his site so we could see what type of songs he usually played which helped a lot. Thanks for the comment!

  • iou
    Reply

    Glad I read this, albeit two months late. We’re getting married next July and one of the things I’m wavering on is on what kind of transportation. We are getting married very close to where we live and it just seems silly to get a limo for what would be a $15 cab ride max. The bridezilla in me says “it’s your wedding day! you’re gonna ride home in a taxi?”. And…I think I am. Thank you for sharing this!

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