This post will probably end up as a tab so it’s easy for people to reference. It’s meant to cover everything I can think of about the wedding- every detail, as well as a *mostly* accurate cost breakdown.

It’s a long post, so get comfy!

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Let me start off by saying that I absolutely loved our wedding. It turned out exactly the way we wanted it to. It was beautiful, and people actually hung around! (I don’t know if it’s a Utah thing or what, but it seems like at a lot of weddings, people just “drop in” to show their faces; my theory is that it has something to do with the lack of food and stuff to do at said weddings.) I’ll be honest: I didn’t think we were big “wedding” people. All through the planning, we agreed that we’d be just has happy to elope. But as these things go, we’re really glad we did it anyway.

One thing that I think we kind of diverted from was the “It’s OUR day” mentality. Indeed, it was our day- but in the end we’d have been just as happy if “our day” had consisted of the two of us getting married at the court house with a few close friends and family. Therefore, we tried to focus more on what we thought our guests, many of whom had come long distances, would enjoy (while definitely still doing it our style and on a budget). Does any of that make sense?

So! Priority #1: A Cool Venue: Cactus & Tropicals in Salt Lake City

Cost: $1800 including tables and chairs for 100 people (although we had over 150 guests!), setup and break down, moving of chairs after ceremony to reception area, etc. They had everything we needed: tables for the food and drinks, a bar (we used the gazebo outside), cake table, gift table, sign-in table…

This place is awesome. We buy plants there a lot and have always loved it there, so it seemed like a natural swap for my original back yard idea.

After the ceremony, the space where the chairs were became the dance floor.

I’ll say it again: We loved this place. No decorating required and there are all sorts of cool plants and sculptures to walk around and look at. If you got bored of mingling with people, there was always something to wander around and admire. Also, there is an outdoor area with a koi pond- with big ol huge koi! It really facilitated the “stay awhile” feeling we wanted.

We didn’t even have to do centerpieces- we just used their plants!

The only things we did to spruce up the place were to:

1. Rent linens for all the tables (Cost: $125) and

2. Hang up picture clotheslines of us as kids and awkward teenagers. I think this was another thing that got people up out of their seats, walking around, mingling, etc. In terms of a schedule, our wedding reception had about as much structure as marshmallow fluff, so we wanted people “milling around” but with a couple of things to keep them entertained. The picture clothesline cost about $85 to print photos at Costco (it would have been about $50 cheaper had we gone for 4×6 instead of 5×7).

Priority #2: Feed people

Although we’re kind of self-proclaimed foodies, we didn’t feel the need to have anything fancy: just something good, and plenty of it. REAL good. I’m not kidding when I say that here in Utah (and a few other states now) Cafe Rio is the bomb dot com. If you don’t live in Utah, I imagine Cafe Rio is something like Chipotle or any one of those “fresh” type Mexican restaurants. No, it’s not somewhere you’d take the Queen of England. But it is somewhere you’d take a crowd of friends (okay, maybe our friends).

There aren’t really pictures of the food, but here’s one of the food guys. 🙂

They offered salad with their famous dressing, tortillas and two kinds of meat for tacos, rice and beans, and desserts (Tres Leches cake and Key Lime pie). They also set everything up and cleaned it all up, and served the meat for the tacos. This cost was $11 per person (gratuity included). We got enough food for 151 people, so the final cost including tax was $1774.

We heard things like “best wedding food” and even “best food” all night and weeks afterward, so we’re pretty stoked we went with that option.

Oh yeah, and those chocolate covered strawberries were left over from our rehearsal dinner the night before. Score!

Priority #3: Have a good, reliable photographer.

We knew that this would be one of our biggest single costs, but that’s why they call it a “priority”. We loved Terra‘s work. Cost: $1597 including tax for five hours of shooting and all editing.

Those were the top three. Now for everything else!

My dress was a $99 tea-length strapless number from David’s Bridal. I took it to the amazingly talented DeAnna of D’Antii here in Salt Lake, and she hemmed it to my knees and added that lace boat neck to the top, plus fitted it (it was a size too big). Tailoring cost: $230

My shoes: $20 (originally $295) from a Cole Haan outlet in Las Vegas (bachelorette party trip wahoo!!) I also spent $20 on some “matching” yellow flip flops because I’m a wimp in heels. By the end of the night I was soooo glad I did! Total cost for shoes: $40

My mom made the birdcage veil headpiece thing. After the ceremony, we simply turned it around. The netting was $5 and I’ll estimate the flower at $5 too. Total: $10.

I borrowed the pearl necklace and earrings (thanks Wendy!) and my friend Candice, who happens to be an instructor at Paul Mitchell The School, did my hair and makeup (thanks Candice!). Chelsey did my French manicure and pedicure (thanks Chelsey!).

Stan’s suit: he already owned it, but to look extra sharp we had it tailored by DeAnna for $113 (I highly recommend the tailored suit!). He already owned his shoes. We got his tie from for $34 (not that I recommend them; it’s a really thin cheap flimsy tie but the pattern was our favorite).

Hubba hubba!

Groomsmen’s attire: We asked them to wear dark slacks and shoes and a white shirt (which they either already had or needed anyway). We supplied their yellow ties from (which I would recommend) for $10 each, totaling $55. We also bought them bright yellow socks from for $4 each, totaling $26.

Bridesmaids’ attire: I bought a couple yards of fabric from, which cost $27, and bright yellow sweaters from the Gap outlet for $15 each, totaling $30. My wonderful sister made the skirts, and they provided their own shirts and shoes. They’re pretty casual as far as bridesmaid attire goes, but I wanted them to be comfortable and to truly be able to wear their outfits again.

As I’ve mentioned, I have eight nieces and nephews. I love all of them. My talented and patient mom made five dresses with $100 worth of fabric from a quilt shop here in town… plus buttons and flowers, which I’ll estimate at another $30. For the three boys, she bought them white shorts and yellow polo shirts. I don’t know how much she spent on them… I’ll guess $70? We had the two older boys carry ring “pillows” (actually rocks- get it? Stan’s a geologist?). They were free and sentimental- from a trip to Moab.

My brother Jonny played the accordion as we walked down the aisle both ways and then a short set during the transition from ceremony to reception. This is such a Jonny face.

I spent $110 on flowers: my bouquet, six corsages, nine boutonnieres, four mini bouquets for the little girls, and we even had some left over for an arrangement by the guest book. I bought daisies, button mums, and billy balls by the bunch from the Flower Patch, and my mom’s friend Kathy, who knows a thing or two about flowers, showed us how to put them together. For the other things, like pins, floral tape, bags, etc, I’ll estimate $20.

Cake: OMG. My friend Carrie makes the most delectable cupcakes I’ve ever eaten, and her delicious concoctions got her into trouble, because she wound up making 200 of them for our wedding. Carrie (and assistants Ben and Kristin), I can’t express how grateful we are for these. People raved. Cost for supplies: $160. (They’re vegan, too- not that you’d ever guess!) PS- cupcakes are great for a wedding because you can send them home with people. We got little cupcake boxes from Hobby Lobby for this purpose.

I want to be him right now:

Drinks: We had our Coke, root beer, and Fanta in these tubs from Bed Bath and Beyond (tubs: $20 for four: two for sodas and two for recycling) and all that soda cost us $166, plus $35 for ice. Youch! We also offered Corona and Sessions at the bar, along with a cabernet sauvignon and a pinot grigio, which cost us $314. Our guests seemed pleased at the selection. The bartender cost $305 including gratuity (we would recommend Bacchus– they were great). We also borrowed two water dispensers in case there was anyone there on a diet… hehe. Limes and lemons were about $5, and plastic cups for water and wine were $15.

We weren’t originally going to do a wedding video, but we remembered the cute video our friend Ingrid’s little sister did for a contest a while back and gave it a second thought. By the way, Ingrid is the one who did our engagement photos gratis- is this a talented family or what? So we called her up and since she’s a recent grad (of high school, mind you) and wanting to get some experience under her belt, she agreed to do it for $100. We loved it! You can watch it here if you like (and catch Jonny playing his accordion at the end!).

Our guest book was a personalized leather journal from Utah-based It was $50. We loved all the comments people wrote in it, and we plan to bring it on trips to record our adventures (as if the blog isn’t enough!).

Isn’t that wood laser burned thing of us cool? My brother made it in one of his classes.

For favors, I made 70 lollipops. Yes, that’s only enough for half of our guests… but as I suspected, we still had plenty left over. I’ll guess that I spent $30 on the supplies. I stuck them in a basket in some floral foam and put peas on top to look like flowers in grass. If you follow me on Pinterest, you’ll know that I totally copied this one (among others).

And speaking of handmade things, I’m in love with our cake topper that Stan’s dad made.

AND the sandwich board that Stan’s brother Alex made ($20 for materials).

Our wedding bands were $88 for the two (not including my engagement ring). I’m not going to tell you the cost breakdown for each. 🙂


Venue: $1800

Linens: $125

Picture clothesline: $85

Food: $1774

Photographer: $1597

My dress, shoes and accessories: $379

Stan’s attire: $147

Groomsmen attire (five total): $76

Bridesmaids attire (two total): $57

Ring bearers and flower girls attire: $200

Cut flowers: $130

Cupcakes (200): $160

Soda, ice, tubs, lemons/limes, and cups: $236

Beer and wine: $314

Bartender: $305

Guest book: $50

Lollipop favors: $30

Marriage license: $50

Invitations including postage (about 150): $150

Wedding video: $100

Misc stuff (only because I have several mysterious Target and Joann’s purchases that I’m sure were wedding related): $100

Grand total: $7865

A few notes:

  • We didn’t do a formal RSVP. We got a pretty accurate count by just asking people, texting, facebooking, and just guessing. People always need to be hunted down anyway.
  • We had way too many guests. I felt bad because when it came to the food, I highly doubt everyone got a seat (I was off taking pictures at that time so I didn’t see). I think it was fine once people were finished eating and got up to walk around, though. But I swear that we were thrilled with each person who came and we felt very loved!
  • Get a flippin’ card box! For some reason I forgot to do this, and people (understandably) didn’t want to leave cards sitting out on the gift table so Stan’s and our parents’ pockets got filled up. Duh.
  • We (well, Stan and his friends) handled all of the drinks. We were able to borrow enough coolers, but it took eleven of them and it was no small task to cool all of the drinks (27 bags of ice!!!), transport them, and set them all up.
  • I tried really hard to come up with a cute saying to put on the lollipop favors, but the best I could come up with were along the lines of “Thanks for coming to our wedding! You do not suck!” and “We sure “lick” you a lot”. Understandably, I just left them plain.
  • I liked how I did my “bridesmaids”. The only official ones were my sister and my sister-in-law, but my friends also acted the part (without having to buy a dress lol). I called them “Slaves of Honor” because they were tireless! I love you guys! I’m super grateful for my out-of-towners Jo and Chels who sacrificed a lot just to be there, and then were workhorses to boot.
  • Speaking of bridesmaids, I highly recommend using people’s help when they offer it. I tried to give lots of small tasks to lots of people so hopefully no one felt too overwhelmed. These tasks were things like refilling the water (Kristin you ROCK!!!) and sodas (love you Whit!), setting up and taking down the photo clothesline, choosing potted plants for centerpieces (go Wendy!) etc. Just make sure everyone knows exactly what their task is. But if you have good friends and family like we do, then even if you forget to assign every task, they’ll probably see something that needs to be done and just do it anyway.
  • It only takes a small handful of people to get a good “seeing you off” photo.

  • A good piece of advice we got from our photographer was to make sure that if people are going to decorate your car they just use car paint. You may think it spoils the “fun” to instruct people how to do this, but there’s nothing “fun” about going to the car wash at midnight in your wedding clothes to scrub whipped cream, easy cheese, and Oreos off of your car. I loved our Subaru! Adorably over-the-top, but nothing got ruined- everyone wins! (We did pull a lot of that stuff off before driving away. Safety first!)

  • The cost above doesn’t include our honeymoon, which was about $2000. It also doesn’t include the rehearsal dinner or my engagement ring.
  • Weddings are a lot of work. Ours was super laid back and it still took all hands on deck to pull it off! We are so very very thankful to everyone who helped us out. The rest of our friends need to hurry up and get married so we can return the favor!

Hopefully that covers it, but feel free to ask me any questions in comment or email form.

I sure love this dude.