Friday, November 4, 2011

Wedding: The Details

When Boy and I discussed wedding details, this was our genius plan:
Drive over to the court house and pay $2 for parking.  Get a PA marriage license for $75.  Pay whatever officiant fees associated.  The end!

That didn't go over so well with the in-laws. 

We fought the idea of spending our future-home savings on a party.  Paying for a venue, tables and linens, food, booze, decor and a photographer is not a small expense.  We were well-aware of the business of weddings and we didn't want to contribute to it. We also knew that 100% of the guests would be from out of town (and out of country), and we didn't want them to feel pressured to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to attend just a party.

After being forcefully persuaded by the in-laws into having a wedding, we set a date, set the guest limit to only immediate relatives, and set rules on what we were willing to contribute financially (invitations, photographer, decor, reception). Then, I was off to make the wedding invitations.

Once the RSVPs started coming in and my mom and future mother in law started receiving phone calls from our relatives planning their cross-country and cross-world travels to attend our wedding, we had a big realization. Our wedding wasn't just about going through a ritualistic ceremony and throwing a big expensive party...

Our wedding was about uniting two groups of people with two different cultures into one close family. 

We then embraced the wedding and all it would offer to the two of us and our families. It was the only reason these two groups of people would ever travel to the same destination at the same time to celebrate one event. The response to attend was overwhelming and we were really starting to realize how special our wedding was going to be.

I bet you're wondering what our budget was and how we spent it? Well, here's the breakdown...

$3,000 (Not including guests' gifts, which we totally splurged. :) I won't divulge.)

Printing + Envelopes: $75
Stamps: $22 (RSVPs online, no return postage)

My Outfits
Mehndi outfit + jewelry: gifted by MIL
Ceremony dress + jewelry: gifted by MIL
Reception dress + jewelry: gifted by MIL

Boy's Outfits
Ceremony outfit: gifted by his grandmother
Reception outfit: $210
(blazer from Banana Republic - $150 on promotional sale from $250,
pinstripe pants from Banana Republic [2 sizes too big, but I altered them to fit him] - $20 on clearance from $98,
button-down shirt from Express - $40 on sale from $60,
tie he already had from ALDO)

My manicure/pedicure: self-done
Decor: Used lanterns and fabric purchased for ceremony and reception
Mehndi artist: gifted by in-laws
Catered appetizers: gifted by in-laws
Dinner: lovingly cooked by in-law family (it was yummy Indian food!)

My hair, make-up: self-done 
Venue + Officiant: gifted by in-laws
Mandap: used my canopy from craft shows
Fabric: $120 + some borrowed from Aparna's wedding
Flowers for garlands: $120
Breakfast catering: gifted by in-laws
Lunch at Indian restaurant following ceremony: gifted by in-laws

$800 (promotional offer from $1,400 for 4 hours ceremony coverage + digital negatives)
Our photographer told us that in 4 hours, he took more pictures than he normally does for 8 hour weddings because there's so much to photograph in an Indian wedding. Yay! Photos to come in about 2-3 weeks!

Venue: In-law's home :)
Paper lanterns: $70
String lights + flameless candles: $50
Cocktail tables/linen rental: $180
Fancy disposable plates/utensils: $80
Appetizers/Dinner: $1200 (from Jimmy Wan's)
Desserts: $200 (Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, Tiramisu Cheesecake, Burnt Almond Torte)
Alcohol: $200
Servers (for serving appetizers, alcohol and clean-up): gifted by in-laws
Music: $0, mixed CDs made by Boy (lots of Bollywood music, lots of Bollywood dancing)

Total spending

Fine, we went over budget, but we had fun doing so. :) We had a ton of help from family to cook food, make the garlands, decorate all the venues and help clean-up. We are extremely grateful for all the help we received!

Now that it's all over, we're pretty lonely without the commotion of 50 of our closes friends and family in one house. We're yearning for the next family reunion!

{All photos courtesy of our friend Harry Chou. Thank you!}

See Mehndi/Sangeet photos
See Ceremony/Reception photos
Professional photos coming soon!


  1. Thanks for the insight! I am just beginning planning my wedding, which has also been decided upon through the art of parental persuasion. I and am so glad to be able to see how you made a little go a long way!!

  2. We made sure to put most of our money towards the items our guests would enjoy most: food and photos! Good luck with wedding planning, Clara. It's a fun experience, for sure! :)

  3. Jenny, you are awesome! You guys are my wedding heroes. :) As a wedding-goer, I'd say the ones I had the best time at were not necessarily the ones where the most money was spent. I love how you two celebrated yours!

  4. Jenny, you don't know how this means to me because I also am not dating someone of the same ethnic background. I don't think the bf & I want a huge o' wedding if ever we marry... but reading what you wrote... it does make it special because you bring families together and family means a lot to me.... But man... I have a HUGE family... 7 siblings.. not to mention their spouse & children... n both my parents come from a big fam too.... at least 6 siblings in each fam.... geez... I think the expense worries me more than anything, like you said, you just want to save for the future... and hoping going to the courthouse was good enough for you two.... you guys didn't even go much over your budget. Wedding woes and I'm not even engaged. LOL! Terrible, ain't it? So beautiful <3 It just shows every one else, you don't have to spend over $20,000 to have a beautiful & loving wedding <3 This makes me smile :) Can't wait to see more pics!!