A Do It Yourself Wedding in New York City For $15,000 Or Less, Is It Possible? Part I

  • Posted on March 1, 2011 at 8:39 pm

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A do-it-yourself (DIY) wedding in New York City sounds like an oxymoron, but it can be done. There are various ways of complying with that statement above and all for under $15,000. Even well under $10,000. You can still have quite an extravagant wedding, even an over the top wedding for under $15,000 AND in New York. Let me show you how it can be done, including your honeymoon. Now I know you’re thinking that is impossibility, but it is not. My husband and I did it and so can you, even in 2011.

Our wedding was almost six years ago, and I know you are thinking “Com‘on inflation has set in, things have probably almost doubled.”  It can’t be done, but I will show you in my new book just exactly how it can be done and save you well over $35,000.  When we got married the New York City average cost of a wedding was $35,000, but now in 2011 it is up to $50,000.  That to me is even crazier.  Think of what you can do with that money that can last a lot longer than one day of celebration.  

What if you only wanted one thing to be the major featured item? Of course, it does not have to be just one thing, it can be several, but just so you don’t go crazy, I suggest you choose one to two items rather than a whole slew, but if you want more than that, don’t do any more than five. Most brides start off believing they can do it all and realize within eight to six months of wedding planning that they can not. Most often that is when a meltdown or ‘Bridezilla’ starts showing up.  A friend’s help comes in quite handily, after all your really close friends will have asked you all along what they can do to help. At about ten to eight months out from the wedding is the best time to take them up on their offers. I did. More about me later, though. I have a friend who did a wedding with a potluck reception at a very famous church here in Manhattan and even though it was phenomenally delicious, to my idea that was not even the featured item in her wedding. I am getting ahead of myself though.

Her wedding had a committee of three women -the project managers- to help her stay within her budget which was WAY under $10,000. I believe she and her new husband paid no more than $6000 for their entire wedding, which included the reception space in that very same famous church, which was because she is a member and soloist at the church. They did not pay for catering which can be quite pricey when it comes to weddings. In fact, the wedding couple paid nothing for the food at the reception, so plus the cost of the space, If they’d paid for catering it would have run close to the $6000 for their 150 guests. By having a potluck, she paid nothing other than the cost of the hall. The Chapel at this famous church cost me cost $800 (In a previous article, I said $1200, but in reality it was $800 for mine.) in 2005, but for the aforementioned last year, she paid $1500. I got the members’ cost, but last year, there was no differential between members and nonmembers, so even though she is a member, she had to pay big bucks.  This year there is a membership price differential in that there is a percentage off for various costs of your rehearsal dinner [Free], ceremony and reception.

My friend’s wedding costs are approximations, because I didn’t pry that much…  Forgetting about the cost of hers and her husband wearing apparel which I can tell you he had his own tux in his closet and her wedding dress was bought from a non-wedding wedding store on sale.

  • Since my friend is a singer too, she had friends who sang during her wedding, that were of course gratis or gifts. Basically that is a win-win situation all around. Since you tap your friends, you tap the voices you want singing your songs of choice. That’s what I did and both she and her ex-husband sang at my and my husband’s wedding.
  • Here’s a big tip if you don’t want to spend big time money on your dress, if it’s to be one of the featured items, go to a non-wedding store in search of your gown. Personally I went to Filenes’s Basement bridal store, a year before my wedding and bought a dress for $536 with tax, so it is possible to pay for a dress under $3000. But my friend did not go the bridal store route. She went to Paramus Mall to Lord & Taylor. I don’t remember exactly how much she paid, but I do know it was almost half as much as my dress.
  • She also did not go with a traditional veil, but went with a tiara alone. For mine, I had both, but did not pay a premium for either. I made up my own veil for less than $10 and found a tiara that didn’t look cheap at Claire’s Accessories for less than $20. She wore a tiara as well. A gold tiara, which costs no more than a $100.
  • For her reception, she had no music we’d had plenty during her wedding ceremony. In another article I’ve already told you about using your own Mp3 player and saving big bucks in that respect. If you do want to hire a DJ or reception host, I suggest you go with a friend of a friend who is just starting to spin, but that the friend can vouch for their abilities, if you have not experienced them for yourself. Although there are DJ’s out there who can give you a great price as well.  You just have to flexible with where and how you find them.
  • Remember, whatever you do, GET a contract. One that spells out exactly what you want and expect them to do at the party. That means the songs you expect and when. That way, the surprises won’t have anything to do with dancing. Both you and your guests can be happy without much annoyance on anyone’s part. New DJ’s can start as low as $75 an hour and go up from there. If you want an established DJ, it could be as much as $125 – $350 an hour. This again is if you want to stay within your budget of $10000. Just remember you will need your DJ for at least four hours, so do your multiplication from there.
  • Transportation: Ah, you can go the traditional route with the white limos, or you can go with black limos, too. Did you know that the color of the limo can determine the price? White limos are more expensive and if especially, you mention wedding [additional money is often added] for that special day. Just be glad that you are not going to prom, because that is the limousine’s big day(s) for money making. Limousines can be anywhere from $500 for a two and half hour rental to, of course thousands. To save more money, if you are friends with a special car association you could rent or borrow the owners’ cars. Or now with the Internet companies, Zip Car, Drive Mint or even Connect By Hertz, you could rent a car of your dreams for a great rate. Each of these dot com hourly car rentals can save you a bundle. Think about it.
  • If you have a friend who has an exotic car that rarely gets out find out from them if they would be willing to escort you around the city, either right before the ceremony or right after the reception.  Transportation – Getting to and sometimes from the wedding ceremony can be challenging when it comes to keeping costs down, but with these suggestions you can be home free.
  • Did you guess already that the featured item for my friend’s wedding was the dress? Well, if you did you would have been correct. The bride wore, what appeared to be gold. In actuality, the dress was a copper lace with a light pink undergarment that peeked through, which made the dress upon entrance and even as she continued to walk down the aisle appear to be molten liquid gold. She was drummed in. Of course, the bride is usually the center piece of most weddings, but as they say in the theater, people were humming the dress the rest of the evening, especially since she was able to match the dress with a cape, that was already in her closet.  Another pure savings.

Weddings come in all sizes and in all price points.  Don’t get suck into believing just because your wedding doesn’t cost the city or even the national average, that it can not be as festive and sophisticated.  It can be and everyone will have a great time, too.  We certainly did at my friends’ wedding.  Dreamers can!

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2 Comments on A Do It Yourself Wedding in New York City For $15,000 Or Less, Is It Possible? Part I

  1. CharLena says:

    Margaret,

    Yes it is possible, plus it doesn’t even have to be a DIY wedding. You can have wedding consultant and do as little or as much as you want. It’s finding the right wedding consultant to fit within your wedding budget. Typically consultants charge 20% of your total budget, unless you find someone that does packages. Before you balk at the percentage wedding consultant saves you time and money. And isn’t that what you want, more time and money especially surrounding your wedding.

  2. Magaret says:

    Magaret…

    A Do It Yourself Wedding in New York City For $15,000 Or Less, Is It Possible? Part I: Budget Weddings NYC…

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