The true cost of a home wedding

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This post covers the costs of our DIY at home wedding which we had in 2014. Daniel mentioned in our last post that he has lost motivation for doing a post on the cost of our wedding because he felt it turned out to be more expensive than we’d initially thought. To be honest, it did cost more than our original goal, however, a lot of the things he included in the tally (such as landscaping) and what pushed the total cost higher are not things that the average person would include in their wedding budget. To me, those are things that we were going to need to do for our home regardless of the wedding, so it should be a separate cost.

One thing I should be very clear on though is that an at home/backyard wedding is not the cheap way out. People may assume you are having your wedding at home to save money. I am sure this is a possibility, but for most people, this would not be the case. The majority of the major costs were things that were still required even for a home wedding. If you want the clothes, the food, the drinks, the photographer and so on, you are still going to have a lot of costs that any other wedding has. What it does give you is the ability to feel comfortable in your own home, to have control over a lot of thing you wouldn’t usually, and to have the memories of marrying the one you love in your own home.

Our original goal was for a $9000 wedding in our own home. The motivation for having it at home came from looking into venues and finding that they all had a very high minimum spend, which was likely to be unachievable with the small guest list we were wanting. We were only wanting a 30-40 person wedding, and the minimum spend for most venues was over $4000, and there very few venues suited to such a small group.

The goal of $9000 was based on how much we could save in a period of only 10 months. We knew that if we went over on our budget we had enough existing savings to take the hit, so we weren’t too concerned by that issue.

Here’s a break down of costs starting with the things you can’t really go without first.

Officiant
These are the costs of what it takes to officially be married, the celebrant, the marriage licence etc. This is the bare guts of what it costs to be married.

Marriage licence: $48
Celebrant: $595
Officiant total: $643

Food and Drinks
Keeping our guests well fed and liquored was very important to us. Especially as we chose a midday time slot which meant our guests would be hungry for lunch time. We met with a chef from a local restaurant, he recommended that with our small oven it would be best to serve large amounts of finger foods rather than go for a sit down lunch which we originally wanted. The food included about 8 different types of food which a waitress brought around, and then a dessert (which was supposed to be served alongside a piece of our wedding cake, but the caterer refused because he said it ‘didn’t go’ with his desserts…). All reports were that our guests loved the food and had plenty to eat. Daniel and I were running on so much adrenaline we could barely eat, but from what we did have it was okay, not the greatest but okay. The food cost was $35 per head, so not too bad really. We actually bought a lot more drinks than is mentioned here, but this is all that was used, which was more than enough to keep our guests feeling happy and merry, some more than others haha.

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Catering: $1152
Waitress (4 hours): $151.25
Cake: $267 (Paid for by my colleagues as a gift, so this won’t be included in the overall total)
Cake deposit: $20
Cake toppers: $26.20
Lolly buffet: $249.22 (which includes a large selection of lollies, a 3 tiered stand of Mrs Fields cookies, jars and customised lolly bags which we printed ourselves)
Nuts and pretzels served in bowls: $18 including 3 glass bowls
Misc. serviettes and cutlery: $80.76
Food total: $1697

Softdrinks and water: $137.60
Wine: $162.86
Beer: $192.65
Teacups and saucers for coffee: 23.60 and 9.95 postage
6 Drink tins to hold drinks and ice:  $80.94
Ice: $30
Shot glasses: $19.99
Misc: $29.94
Glasses: $19.99
Drinks total: $825.75

Attire and beauty
How we looked was very important to both of us. Just because we were having an at home wedding didn’t mean we wanted to go casual or go without the hair and makeup etc. I still wanted to have a proper wedding dress. A lot of people assumed I would wear a more casual dress. My Mum and Dad were also married at home, my Mum wore a beautiful simple knee length blue dress. She really encouraged me to get a ‘real dress’ as it’s something she didn’t want me to regret. I am so glad she encouraged this.

I got my dress from Sugar and Spice and then had some alterations to add more boning, bring in the sides and hem it. Daniel got me my jewellery as a birthday present, I got my shoes at Zu, garter at Spotlight and I borrowed a bag from a friend. I got my veil on etsy very cheaply and it was perfect. I had my hair and makeup done by a lovely woman who came to the house and was very affordable. In the days before I also had my brows tinted at Brow Bar (they are expensive but they know what they’re doing) and my nails done in shellac.

Daniel got his suit from Ben Sherman. We had already looked at them and he was really into the light blue suits, but on the day we went they didn’t have a complete set in the blue. This turned out really nicely as it encouraged him to mismatch the colours, he ended up with the blue trouser and waistcoat and paired it with a grey coat. He looked amazing and the outfit suited the overall look of our rustic wedding perfectly. He got his shoes from Zu, and belt from Connor. His tie was from Myer, he was totally channeling Andy from The Office with the candy stripe colours. He got his tie pin on Asos. His socks were purchased online, he really wanted ‘fun socks’, they’re perfect and he still wears them.

Wedding Dress: $695
Alterations: $290
Hair and makeup: $160
Hair and makeup trial: $100
Hair broach: $110
Garter: $15.99
Veil: $35
Shoes: $130
Nails: $59
Eyebrows: $70
Total for Bridal outfit: $1294.99

Suit from Ben Sherman: $416 on sale including shirt, waistcoat, jacket, trouser
Belt: $34.99
Shoes from Zu: $65
Socks: $37.99
Tie: $49 on clearance
Total for Groom’s outfit: $602.72

Rings and jewellery
For our wedding rings we just wanted something simple. All I wanted was a plain 18k white gold flat edged ring, this was apparently very difficult for most local jewellers who wanted to charge massive amounts for a ‘custom ring’ because I was wanting something quite narrow. I ended up finding a jeweller on Etsy who handmakes rings in her garage. It was perfect, and the quality was amazing, and about a third of the price of going to a local jeweller. Daniel’s ring was much the same situation, all of the stores we went to wanted to charge insane amounts for something very simple. He ended up with a 10k white gold ring off Etsy from a different seller to mine. The strength of his ring has been a bit of an issue, but for such a cheap price we would not be phased by having to buy a replacement if necessary.

Metal mock bridal ring: $35
Bridal ring: $167
Second bridal ring (I wear both and switch them): $264
Grooms ring: $133.90
Earrings: $23.12
Bracelet: $14.99
Double ring box: $24.40
Jewellery total: $662.72

Invitations and Stationary
We’re so lucky that between Daniel’s design skills and my DIYing abilities we were able to DIY all of our wedding invitations, save the dates, programs etc.
We made our own invitations which turned out to be adorable, I got the inspiration from Pinterest. Our save the dates were printed on photo paper and we added a magnet to the back. Our programs were also super easy to do. With thank you cards we were so over DIY at that point that we just grabbed some off the shelf. It’s hard to get a true cost of all of this, I feel it is a lot lower than the total shows, as we used some of the paper for several projects and continue to use the items that are left even now. The ink for example lasted us well beyond the wedding prep.

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Love heart cutouts for invitations $11.00
Stamps $54.50
Half size HB Pencils $2.42
Paper $3.44
Invitation Paper $6.64
Kraft Envelopes $6.85
Linen Ivory Paper $8.45
Quill A4 white paper $9.98
Photo Paper $10.28
20 Small white envelopes $11.40
White card stock $17.51
Kraft Envelopes $19.85
Thank you cards $19.96
Invitation Stationery $23.84
Printer Ink $91.96
Stationary total: $298.08

Decorations
Decorations, oh boy, this is where we went well over our intended spending. So many incidentals that you would never realise add up to so much. Daniel has always had this fantasy of getting married in front of a sheet of tulle with fairy lights. Naturally, since we were doing things our own way we decided to make this happen. Who would have known that tulle/voile would be so damn expensive! We got most of it in a half price sale and it was still ridiculous. I’ve managed to re-sell some of that, but people just do not understand the true value of this fabric. The lights were no issue, you can pick them up cheap on ebay. Hot tip though, if you’re going to put lights behind transparent fabric make sure you get the clear or white wires, not the green Christmas leftovers. Hanging voile is not the most fun job, but it was made easier by sewing them into curtains and threading them that way, and then swagging some spare material over the top. We also made window coverings, decorations for the tables, Daniel made us a lot of beautiful pieces such as a large window frame style picture and some Mary Poppins themed paintings. The DIY absolutely came at a cost more than just financial. Daniel managed to injure his finger quite badly on a drop saw and his fingernail has never quite been the same. We were also trying to DIY our own painting and Daniel was about halfway finished when the paint bled and ruined the entire thing……needless to say we went to a professional printer and got them to do it. There were definitely times where it felt like we were going crazy with all of the craft.

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I’m just going to put the full total, because it’s so hard to decipher what was used for what. But pretty much, anything at our wedding other than simple tablecloths, was DIYed by us. You need to take this with a grain of salt though. We absolutely got carried away, but we also underestimated the cost of DIYing with quality materials, and this is even with cheapskating our way through by getting a lot of items off ebay! The fabric alone for the fairy lights was about a thousand. Several of our projects we have kept and now decorate our house too, so I consider a lot of this an investment.

Decorations total $2752.17 

Furniture hire
We hired chairs, tables and bar tables from our local hire place. The price was about average for that sort of thing. The biggest let down was how filthy all of the chairs were on arrival. Daniel and I spent a total of 6 hours cleaning these chairs with Jif about 3 nights before the wedding. It was a nightmare, but they were so dirty that we were worried our guests were actually going to get dirty from sitting on them. They came up nicely, but it was the last thing you want to be doing a few days before your wedding. We also hired a signing table and some small decorations from another place on the South side which was another let down. The signing table was filthy again and the cover had biro marks all over it. The little topiary balls were also mostly broken. We ended up going on an expedition to find something else to use as a signing table and ended up with a little table from Big W and a tablecloth. That turned out fine, but we were so upset about having to race around looking for something at the last minute (this was 2 days before the wedding). I think it’s the closest I came to breaking point on that day.

Local hire chairs and tables: $700
Specialty wedding store hire of singing table and topiary balls: $67
Hire total: $767

Furniture
We ended up buying a few bits and pieces of furniture for the wedding. This included a hall table to hold gifts and cards and to serve as a welcoming area, as well as a bench seat from Ikea which was used on the patio. Both of these items we have kept and use regularly. We also bought two tall lack tables which were used in the ceremony area to hold the cameras, lights and laptop for the music.

Furniture total: $449.31

Photography
We were very fortunate to have a a recommendation from a friend whose brother in law does photography on the side. He gave us an amazing deal of only $900!!! Honestly, he was amazing, he was the most professional vendor we dealt with throughout the entirety of the wedding. He was also the nicest guy and we got along so well with him which helped us to feel comfortable for the photos. The photos turned out just wonderfully! We then did our own photo albums through an online vendor, Daniel photoshopped each page together so that it was flawless. We can highly recommend going with someone who may not be employed solely as a photographer.

Videography
Daniel always used to joke that he would not trust anyone else to film his own wedding. Having been to film school and having a keen interest in film and editing, we (he) decided the best option for us was to film our own wedding. Having a videographer just didn’t make sense in such a small space, especially when we wanted our photographer to have room to move as well. Daniel purchased various video cameras off ebay and strategically mounted and set them up to capture the ceremony and reception. This didn’t necessarily turn out that cheap, but he was able to re-sell the cameras for a very good price so we made some of the money back, but ultimately this was the only option anyway in terms of space. It also gave us full control over the final edit. On the day, it meant Daniel had a few extra tasks on his to do list, but it all went fairly well.

Videography total $3,523.92

Flowers
For flowers we had a combination of options. For my bouquet and Daniel’s boutonniere we went to our local florist at Giraween Flowers in Samford. They were beautiful and very reasonably priced. We got boutonnieres for the parents from Etsy. Honestly this was something I think we could have skipped, it’s just not very necessary, but hopefully the parents have at least kept them since they were not disposable. For table decoration we went to the flower market in Stafford the day before and just grabbed a few bunches of flowers and we arranged them ourselves into little milk bottle vases.

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milk bottle vases (12): $30
Bunches from the flower market: $51.50
Parents boutonnieres: $36.80
Bouquet and boutonniere: $178
Flowers total: $296.30

Entertainment for the kids
We made some little fun bags for the children attending our wedding. It was only for 4 kids, but each bag just included a little toy, a colouring book and a disposable camera. Other than that they kept themselves entertained by running around the yard and playing with the games we provided for our guests on the lawn.

Entertainment total: $54.21

Miscellaneous
There a few little incidentals along the way which don’t really fit with anything else. This included extra toilet paper (you don’t really wanna run out with so many people around) and also some bins to put around.

Miscellaneous total: $29.94

Honeymoon
Our honeymoon is something that I will mention here but is not included in the budget. From most budgets I have seen, people do not include this in their budgets as a wedding cost. However, it was still something we had to save for. We went to Hamilton Island for 5 nights and it was wonderful. It’s a very expensive island, but we knew to expect this. A lot of people thought we were crazy for not just going to Bali or somewhere like that, but we had always wanted to go to Hamilton Island so it was a good option for us. Please note below the airport parking price, for us as we live so far from the airport a taxi would cost us close to $300 there and back, so airport parking is a really good option for a set price. We also didn’t keep track of spending money as we took some of the cash we were given as gifts.

Airport parking: $90
Honeymoon activities (parasailing etc): $370
Flights: $470.40
Accommodation: $1450
Honeymoon total: $2380

Landscaping
When we decided to have our wedding at home, we seriously had a house surrounded by red dirt. We had not made any headway on landscaping at that point. We were in our house for a year with dirt being tracked through the place constantly. I am so glad we didn’t let this scare us, because this wedding gave us the most motivation we could ever have hoped for. We worked hard on a daily basis to do a lot of our landscaping by hand, apart from getting an excavator in at the beginning to shape the land. It was a serious undertaking, but we did it. I also don’t include these costs in the wedding budget, but for us it was also a necessary cost enabling us to even have the wedding at all.

Landscaping total: $6779

Items we were able to sell

We were able to make some money back by selling cameras, one half of the wedding fabric and lights, the lack tables from Ikea and a lot of other wedding paraphernalia.
Sold total: $1872

The full total
So the full total for our wedding came to $13422. This does not include the cost of our honeymoon or landscaping. Definitely over our original budget of $9000 but with no regrets. We look back on our wedding day with such fond memories, and it’s pretty amazing to sit on your couch at night knowing that you got married just metres away. With an at home wedding it’s a little different, there are so many things that we have kept and have become part of our usual household that I no longer even consider them to have been wedding costs. The biggest thing I underestimated was the cost involved for videography. When we made the original budget Daniel had not yet told me he even intended for us to film our own wedding, so it wasn’t part of the budget. Decorations were the other major blowout. We just severely underestimated how many incidentals there would be like tools and paint and little bits and pieces that all add up.

There it is, no regrets.

2 thoughts on “The true cost of a home wedding”

  1. $13k is an amazing price for a wedding with all the trimmings. Plus you have the wonderful memories at home with you. How beautiful. I can’t believe how hard you worked too. That is also something to be very proud of. Mick and I just wanted to have a sausage sizzle in a park. It quickly turned into a very fancy ‘sausage sizzle’ that cost us about $35k! Worth the amazing memories though. It was a beautiful and relaxed day but those trimmings do add up. Anyway, congratulations on your special day and great achievement both on the house and wedding <3

    1. Thanks Ash! I think on the day we got engaged we wished that was all it took to be married. Took us a while, but glad we finally did the tally on the actual cost. It sure does add up, but I agree,so worth it!

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