wedding budget

The 60/40 Wedding Budget Approach

by Melissa on May 9, 2012

Remember a few months ago when I posted our distribution of wedding expenses by amount, and realized that, based on my analysis, 60% of our total budget was spent on expenses less than $500!?

That was an insane realization for me. Absolutely insane.


Weddings are so expensive and I was so focused on saving on the big ticket items, like catering, videography, and deejaying. And of course, I’m not saying that focusing on decreasing those big item costs was bad or unnecessary or anything like that, but I shouldn’t have forgotten about all those “small” expenses of $500 or less, which added up to more than $14,000!!


So, I got to thinking. Why are wedding budget tools so damn complicated. I mean, nearly all of my wedding wire budget categories were drastically different than what was projected. Why do I need to focus on each category so specifically? Especially when those categories’ prices can vary so much depending on your geographic location.

Let’s try a different wedding budgeting technique. I’m calling it the 60/40 Wedding Budget Tool.  And here’s how it works.

The 60/40 Wedding Budget Technique

You see, most of those smaller, less than $500, expenses were “unknown” expenses. They’re expenses that didn’t fit neatly into typical wedding budget categories, like wedding cake toppers, photobooth props, cardstock for signage at the wedding, foamcore for display signs … you get the idea. All things I couldn’t really estimate how much I was going to spend.

However, most of the “big,” greater than $500.01 expenses, were known, anticipated expenses. Because, for instance, I knew what our venue fee was going to be. I knew how much our photographer was costing us, and how much our catering budget was going to be (plus or minus a few hundred dollars depending on our final guest count). Of course there are a few exceptions. For instance, I “knew” how much our officiant and hair stylist was going to cost, and those were both less than $500.

Here’s how I suggest projecting your wedding budget:

Add up the expenses from your desired (or already booked) big ticket vendors, like the caterer, photographer, deejay, videographer, etc. You should anticipate that the sum of all those vendors’ costs will comprise approximately 40% of your wedding budget, so you can expect to spend approximately.

Let’s say those big ticket expenses add up to $4000. And from this formula, you can assume that you’ll be spending 60% of your budget on expenses less than $500, most of which are probably going to be “unknown” expenses. So if you’re spending $4000 comprising 40% of your budget, then that means you’ll likely spend an additional $6000 (or 60%) on expenses less than $500.

That works out great if you have a wedding budget of $10,000. You’ll spend $4000 on big ticket items and then $6000 on smaller expenses.

But, what if your budget is $10,000, but when you added up all your “big ticket” expenses, that it came to $5760. That would mean that your “unknown” and lesser expenses of less than $500 will likely add up to $8640. Now, all of a sudden, you’re looking at the potential for spending more than $14,000 on your wedding. More than $4000 over your budget!

This is a really easy trap to fall into. Saying, that you have a $10,000 budget, and then spending 90% of it on your big ticket vendors and figuring you’ll still have $1000 of wiggle room budget and money to spend on décor. Wrong-zo. You need to allow yourself significantly more wiggle room in your budget than 10% for all your unknown and smaller expenses.

I realize that my wedding is just one wedding an the 60/40 ratio might not work for everyone. But I do think mine is an illustrative example of someone who really tried to save money (got very inexpensive catering, two wedding dresses that were less than $200 each, the only flowers we had were my bouquet and corsages and bouts for family members, we self-deejayed, etc.) but we STILL managed to go more than $8000 over our intended wedding budget.

So, while 60/40 might not work for everyone, you should anticipate that it will be something similar. Maybe 50/50 or 40/60, etc.

Did anyone else out there track their wedding expenses obsessively like we did? Was your expense distribution about the same?


Overall Net Cost of Our Wedding

by Melissa on March 13, 2012

One of the nice things about wedding expenses is that sometimes you can manage to actually “recoup” some of your costs. After all, you get nice gifts and/or cash, and you can sell many of the items you purchased during the wedding planning process.

So, what was our overall “net cost” of our wedding? Lucky for you, I’ve figured that all out for you!

Wedding Gifts

We already know that our grand total of wedding expenses was $23,598.91, more than $8000 over our intended $15,000 budget. Now, let’s take a look at the money we “made” from our wedding. These figures include the wedding only, and not shower gifts.

Amount of Cash and Gift Cards Received: $2340

Total Value of Goods Received*: $2438.91

Total Amount of Gifts Received: $4678.91

* For gifts we received that were on our registry, we used the price of that good to calculate the price. For gifts that we could not easily determine the value of, we made a best guess estimate.

Selling Used Wedding Items

We’ve been sticking to our strategy for selling used wedding items.  It’s been going well, but we still have a few additional items to sell.  Therefore, in addition to wedding gifts received, we have also managed to recoup some of our wedding expenses by selling lots of items.

Total Amount of Goods Sold: $1684.00

Total Estimated Value of Goods Remaining to be Sold: $500

Total Estimated Value of Recouped Costs: $2184

In the near future, I’ll do a more in-depth post about our experiences with selling our used wedding items. But compared to the total cost paid for the items that we sold, we’ve recouped about 80% of those costs.

Total Net Cost of our Wedding

$23598.91 (-) $4678.91 (-) $2184



This calculation makes me feel a *wee* bit better, knowing that our overall net cost of our wedding is much closer to our original $15,000 budget. That’s not exactly how we intended to get there of course, but it still helps.

But wait! What about repurposed items?

For the purposes of my calculations, I’m not going to delve into the value of the goods that we can reuse in the future. At least not now. Maybe it’s a topic for a future post.

But just to give you an idea, we have a decent number of items that we purchased for the wedding that can be used for future (non-wedding) events, or in some cases, already have been repurposed. For instance, all of my wedding accessories I purchased, including pearl necklaces, shoes, and bracelets, are not very wedding-y looking, so I am able to wear them with regular outfits. Ken can wear his suit, tie, and dress shirt in the future, and our save-the-date prop and sand ceremony kit now serves as art in our home. At future parties, we can reuse the coffee urn and chalkboard A-frame we purchased for the wedding. Heck, there’s even an argument for saying that part of my bouquet has even been repurposed!

Oh, and Frequent Flier Miles Too!

There are other aspects of our wedding expenses that reaped financial benefits that are much more difficult to quantify. For instance, during the course of wedding planning, Chase offered a phenomenal British Airways 100,000 bonus miles promotion. I signed up for the new credit card, and promptly started putting all our wedding-related expenses on it. All told, my current British Airways miles balance stands at 104,352 miles. That’s enough for 4 round trip coach tickets to Maui, or 2 round trip business class tickets to Maui. Or two round trip coach tickets to Maui plus one coach ticket to Europe.

You get the idea. It’s difficult to quantify these rewards because they have so many different redemption values. And before that British Airways card, I was putting our expenses on my normal everyday card, my Southwest Airlines Chase card. When we went on our minimoon to Las Vegas in November, our airfare came to 10 bucks for two tickets. Granted, I also put my everyday expenses on that card, but the increase of expenses thanks to the wedding helped contribute to those free tickets!

So, if you use a credit card strategy wisely for your wedding purchases, you can also reap additional rewards from stuff you’d be buying anyway.


Please remember that I am writing this from a purely financial perspective. I’m not saying that you should plan a wedding just to get gifts or try to keep your wedding expenses low and, in tandem, invite only your wealthiest friends and relatives. But just keep in mind that although your wedding day itself has the potential to be expensive, you can indeed recoup many of your costs!


Distribution of our Wedding Expenses

by Melissa on March 6, 2012

This post is part of a series that analyzes our wedding expenses. See also our Our Comprehensive List of All Wedding Expenses, The Cost of Getting Married vs. the Cost of our Wedding, Our Avoidable and Regrettable Wedding Expenses, The Overall Net Cost of Our Wedding, and Some Wedding Budget Lessons Learned

As part of my ongoing discussion this week about our wedding budget and expenses, today I’ll talk about the distribution of our wedding expenses.  I realize that this is something extremely important for folks who are on tight budgets and are trying to figure out how to budget their regular monthly income for wedding expenses. 

First up, our wedding consisted of 174 separate expenses (this may vary a bit from figures I mention in the future, because our “wedding expenses” spreadsheet also includes transactions such as refunds from things like, oh, missing wedding dresses, and returns of items I didn’t want. So, there are a few negative (-) figures included in our overall transactions. But for the purposes of this analysis, I’m just including postive (+) figures.

Also, you’ll note that this will affect the overall amount “spent.” These figures will appear higher than the amount I mentioned yesterday, because yesterday’s figure included ALL the wedding expense transactions, including refunds and returns. It’s just that the negative figures really affected the charts and graphs, so I decided not to include them.

Wedding Expenses by Month

We had a 13 month engagement (engaged in October 2010, married in November 2011), so first up, let’s take a look at our wedding-related expenses by month:


As you can see, the wedding month itself was the most expensive month, but only by about $900 from the second most expensive month. Since we couldn’t apply to our wedding venue until March, and didn’t find out that our wedding date was confirmed until the last day of May, our wedding expenses for the first seven months of our engagement were fairly minimal and included wedding magazines and books, dance lessons, and some other random things. (Yet another reason why you can plan your wedding in a much shorter time frame than the traditional “it takes a year to plan a wedding” advice).

Our big spend months are pretty consistent with what I thought they would be. Our November 11 wedding date was confirmed on May 31st, so we sent out a bunch of deposits in June. And then in September, I was trying to finish 99% of wedding tasks two months before the wedding, so we spent a lot of money that month too.

(And just as an FYI, that $134.22 expense in January 2012 was for our thank you cards and stamps. I’ll be posting the comprehensive listing of ALL our expenses tomorrow.)

How this can help you if you’re on a budget and need to pinch your pennies?

So what do these figures mean for other couples planning their wedding? Well, of course every couple will be different, but in our circumstance, this is how we spent our total wedding budget by month:

We spent nearly 23%, or nearly one-quarter, of our total budget the actual month of the wedding. So, if you have a $10,000 wedding budget, you can expect that approximately $2500 of that will be spent the month of your wedding. Nearly 20% of the total was spent two months before the wedding, and 15% of the total was spent one month before the wedding (and another 15% of the total was spent five months before the wedding). 

Here’s a quick reference table, based on our experience, of what percentage of your budget you can expect to spend during a 13 month engagement. Again, this isn’t universal, especially given our unique venue situation, but I hope it can still be useful.

T-13 Months 1%
T-12 Months 0%
T-11 Months 0%
T-10 Months 0%
T-9 Months 0%
T-8 Months 4%
T-7 Months 1%
T-6 Months 4%
T-5 Months 15%
T-4 Months 9%
T-3 Months 8%
T-2 Months 19%
T-1 Month 15%
Wedding Month 23%
Post Wedding 1%


Distribution of Expenses by Amount

I’ve talked about our distribution of expenses before, and I thought it was a useful exercise. It helps illustrate that smaller wedding expenses add up to huge chunks. So, while categories listed on sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot include the major expense categories (catering, venue, photographer, attire, etc.), you also have to be keenly aware of those expenses that are less than $100.  Because they add up like crazy!

So, I did some analysis of our expenses for the following categories:

  • Expenses less than $100
  • Expenses $100.01-$500
  • Expenses $500.01-$1500
  • Expenses greater than $1500.01

Now, a few caveats. Our wedding expense tracking spreadsheet (more on that tomorrow) lists out each individual expense. So, for instance, our catering deposit is a different line item than our catering balance, which is different than the catering tip (and different from the beer, wine, etc.) So yesterday, when I mentioned how our catering expenses (or, as we categorized it, our “food and beverage” expenses) was $3933.92, that was our TOTAL food and beverage expense. For the purposes of the distribution of expenses, I’m accounting for each individual line item such as deposits vs. balances.

Another caveat: like the above analysis, I’m not including transactions from our wedding expense spreadsheet that were negative, such as refunds and returns. Therefore, not including those negative transactions, we had a total of 174 expenses.

Here goes:

    • 124 expenses less than $100 that added up to $4819.25
    • 42 expenses $100.01-$500 that added up to a whopping $9,627.05
    • 5 expenses $500.01-$1500 that added up to $3769.10
    • 3 expenses greater than $1500.01 that  added up to $6212.85 (Our biggest single expense was $2910 when we paid our wedding photographer in full after we negotiated a $150 discount for paying the full balance up front)



When I looked as these figures, I was completely flabbergasted! All of those “less expensive” items (i.e., less than $500) accounted for TWO-THIRDS of our wedding expenses!  It wasn’t our “expensive photographer” or renting our wedding venue for three days instead of just one or two that broke the bank. It was all those “small” expenses of less than $500 that completely killed our budget!

How this can help you budget for your wedding expenses

Figure out what your individual “big ticket” expenses will be (i.e., expenses greater than $500) and add all those up together. Using our wedding as an example, you can expect that the sum of all those “big ticket” expenses will be approximately 40% of your budget. The remaining 60% should be set aside for expenses less than $500, that often can’t be anticipated.

For example, let’s say you added up all your estimated “big ticket” expenses, and that figure added up to $4000. You can likely estimate that you will spend another $6000 (60% or approximately two-thirds) of your budget on additional expenses that cost less than $500. If your wedding budget is $10,000, then you’re in good shape! If your budget is only $7500 though, then you’re unfortunately well-positioned to go over your budget.

But there is hope!

You can learn from our wedding! You can be very careful about what you spend money on that is less than $500, or heck, even less than $100. In a few days I’ll talk about what expenses we could have avoided for our wedding, so maybe that will help illustrate it a bit more, but just be very wary of those little expenses that add up to such significant amounts. You know what costs less than $100? DIY supplies, thrift store vases, table number holders, cake toppers, cute little chalkboards, stamps, and tons of other items. So, even though I thought I was saving money by buying things from, for instance, the thrift store, those expenses still added up significantly!


How about you all? Were your expenses distributed similarly? Any additional distribution analysis you would like to see?

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Our Wedding Expense Analysis: A Prologue

by Melissa on March 5, 2012

wmw-2012This year, I’m participating in Women’s Money Week, all about encouraging women to speak up about money, take control of their finances, and reshape their financial futures. I definitely recommend checking out all the amazing bloggers participating and topics that are being discussed.

This week, all of my posts will be about our wedding expenses and budget. How much we spent. How much we’ve made back by selling items we used at the wedding. What expenses we regret. And what expenses were well worth it!

Ummm, you’ve been married for almost four months now … what took you so long?

I’ve been putting off my wedding budget posts for a while now. There’s a few reasons.

1) We’re still in the process of selling items from our wedding. We started posting our wedding items for sale at the end of December. We’ve sold more than $1600 worth of stuff ($1664 to be exact), and still have about another $500+ worth of items to sell. Since that will factor in to the overall net cost of the wedding, I didn’t want to call any of the figures “final” until we had unloaded ALL of our wedding stuff.  But, the figures will be close enough, and I can always come back and update the final figures when we’re done selling all the items.

2) This whole wedding expense tracking thing is complicated shit. Ken and I tracked every.penny of wedding-related expenses. $1.25 parking fee during our engagement session? Accounted for. Cardstock purchases at Michael’s? Yep, it’s on the spreadsheet. But there are additional complications though.  Exactly what expense category do “patio heaters” go into? Or what about the foam core I purchased to make our escort card display? Or the royal blue totes I purchased as our wedding welcome bags? Or the buckets I purchased to hold our s’mores supplies next to the fireplace? Somehow, WeddingWire and The Knot do not have categories for these types of purchases!

So, here’s the deal. A lot of the categories are simple judgment calls. Should the s’mores buckets go into the food expenses or the supplies expense category? Well, I put it in the “supplies” category, but it just have easily could have gone in the food expenses bucket since, after all, it was holding food items. Does the liquor license go into the venue expense category (since our venue required it) or does it go in the “food and beverage” expense category? Well, I put it in the “food and beverage” expense category. Do tablecloths go in the decor budget or the supplies budget? Well, I put them in the decor budget.  Judgement calls. That’s it.

Other folks may have categorized these items as something totally different, and that’s fine.

3) There are just so many budget and cost-related things to discuss, I had no idea how to organize it. So, I’ve done my best to organize it in the clearest way possible, but, since I don’t have the skills to do a pretty infographic, I will write about a bunch of topics, all in separate posts.

Post Schedule for this Week

    • Monday: Projected Budget Breakdown according to WeddingWire vs. Actual Budget Breakdown (still using WeddingWire’s categories)
    • Tuesday: Distribution of Expenses (i.e., how many expenses were less than $100, $101-$500, etc. and how our expenses were distributed during our 13 month engagement)
    • Wednesday: Comprehensive listing of all expenses and pretty charts to go along with it.
    • Thursday: Wedding Day costs vs. The Cost of Getting Married (and what the heck the difference is)
    • Friday: Avoidable expenses vs. Regretable expenses (again, a lot of judgment calls in this post. Realistically, all wedding expenses are “avoidable” except a marriage license fee. So, this will just be my own judgment).
    • Saturday Tuesday: True Wedding net cost: Total cost of getting married (minus) wedding items sold (minus) wedding and shower gift values
    • Sunday Friday: A few wedding budget lessons learned

So, check back later today for the first post in the series! I hope that this series will be the most comprehensive analysis of wedding expenses that you have ever seen and that it will be helpful to couples trying to budget accordingly for their wedding!


Lie #1: “We’ll work within your budget!”

The translation: Instead of listing pricing information on my website, I will use that phrase to entice couples to contact me so that I can woo them and convince them my services are essential. And when they resist my pricing, I will show a good faith effort and lower my price 5-10%.

How to handle it: Let me explain what “we will work within your budget” actually means. It means that a caterer might be able to lower their price from $110 per person to $95 per person. Does that help any of you all out? Hells no!  When communicating with vendors, let them know how many guests will attend and what your overall wedding budget is, not just your budget for that particular vendor. That will let that vendor know immediately what they are working with, and whether they’ll be able to actually “work within your budget.” Reality check for brides: Don’t ever expect a $110 per person caterer to lower their price to $20 per person.

Lie #2: A “Budget” wedding dress will cost you at least two grand.

The translation: You are a bride. Therefore I can assume you have seen at least two dozen episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress.” Therefore I can easily convince you that $2000 is considered a budget wedding dress.

How to handle it: A budget wedding dress is not $2000. You can get very inexpensive wedding dresses. I bought my ceremony dress for $175 from Ebay, and my reception dress from Macy’s for $139. You can order dresses from China. You can buy used wedding dresses. You can do a lot of things that do not involve $2000 wedding dresses.

When you try on dresses, tell them that your wedding dress budget, including alterations, is $500 max. Do not waver. Do not apologize. If they can help you out, they will, by offering you sample gowns, or letting you know when their next trunk sale is.

Lie #3: “You need a day of coordinator if your wedding day will run smoothly.”

The translation: I will instill fear and panic by convincing you that EVERYTHING CAN GO WRONG on your wedding day if you don’t hire a day-of-coordinator. I will leave out the parts about how you, your friends, and family can help out.

How to handle it: Okay, okay. We all know that I had my own issues with our day-of-coordinator. And if you’re not an organized person or think you might have trouble executing your vision, then by all means, hire a day-of-coordinator.  But a day-of-coordinator is not a necessity. Instead, enlist the help of a few friends the morning of your wedding and go to the venue and set things up! This is not brain surgery. Have a detailed task list for each person, organize the task list in chronological order (for instance, tablecloths go on tables before centerpieces go on tables) and execute it!

Lie #4 “Oh, your guests will really prefer …

(insert idea here: having transportation from hotel to venue, having hors d’oeuvres before dinner, having a full bar instead of wine and beer).”

The translation: I am a salesperson. I am trying to sell you things. I am trying to make you feel bad by telling you that your guests will think you’re inconsiderate if you don’t buy my services.

How to handle it: Throw this ridiculousness back on them. “Wow, really? My guests are coming to the wedding to celebrate our marriage, not with expectations of [Getting shuttled around, having expensive h’orderves, etc.].  How silly some people must be to think they need those things!”  The end.

Lie #5: You need to book wedding vendors very far in advance

The translation: I am a small business owner. I would really really like to be able to project my cash flow far in advance and have bookings far in advance.

How to handle it: I got married on a very popular wedding date, 11-11-11. So, I was in a huge rush to book vendors like our photographer. But other vendors, such as ceremony musicians and hair stylists, I couldn’t decide on, so I waited probably a bit later than I should. But I couldn’t believe it! Even two months prior to the wedding, I was able to book vendors for a popular wedding date with no problem!  I had no trouble at all getting my preferred choice of vendors. What does this say to me? Brides are serious procrastinators, and the wedding industry just tells you that you have to book everything really far in advance. And brides don’t listen to that advice. So, carry on and don’t panic when a vendor tells you that you have to book them ASAP.

Like #6: Bridal shows are a great way to find and book vendors!

The translation: Vendors have to pay a lot of money on marketing, so this is a great way to let a lot of people know about their business at once.

How to handle it. There’s a lot of debate on whether bridal shows are beneficial. I went to one, and didn’t like it. Vendors spammed me afterwards, and some even sent countless follow up e-mails. But, there were some yummy food and cake samples, and a few fun pieces of schwag, like pens and canvas bags. But I did not, under any circumstances, find a vendor there that looked promising. So, make the decision for yourself. Weigh the cost of the bridal show against the potential benefits (while realizing they might be minimal).


Last Year on SuperNoVABride!

by Melissa on December 9, 2011

My one year blogoversary passed unceremoniously on November 4. On that day, we were just a week away from the wedding, so I barely even noticed the occasion. I’m introducing a new segment that will recap some of the more interesting articles from the same month the previous year. I realize it’s already December, but let’s take a look at some of my favorite posts from last November!

  • I pointed out that Kate Middleton clearly adopted the trend I had set just one month earlier of getting a sapphire engagement ring in I had one first, Kate!
  • I lamented how expensive weddings are in The Obligatory Wedding Wire Budget Post. I just want to point out that we came in more than $4000 LESS on catering than Wedding Wire projected (which was $7050) we would have to spend out of our $15,000 budget!


Our Strategy for Selling Used Wedding Items

by Melissa on November 22, 2011

Ken and I rented practically nothing for the wedding. We realized almost right away that we could purchase things on our own significantly cheaper than buying them. For instance:

We wanted patio heaters in case our wedding day was chilly (it was!). To rent the heaters from a party rentals company, it was $150 each. To buy them from Costco it cost $139.99 (and free shipping). Hmmm, $10 cheaper to BUY something instead of renting it? And we actually get to KEEP it or SELL it? No brainer there. Same thing for table linens. $11 each to rent the brown rectangular linens we wanted for our tables. I found them online to purchase for $8 each.

Now, we have a boatload of used wedding items to sell. This makes me so happy! I purchased a lot of used wedding items myself, mostly via Craigslist and the Weddingbee Classifieds, although there are a lot of other great sources out there.

Now that the wedding is over, what is our strategy for getting all of this stuff out of the house (and maybe a few extra dollars in our new joint savings account?)


We were VERY organized prior to the wedding. All our boxes and bins were labeled and like items were together.


Getting things home from the venue was an entirely different matter. Obviously the day-of-coordinator’s goal is to get everything picked up as quickly as possible. Therefore, now we have centerpiece vases in the same boxes as tablecloths, and photobooth supplies in the same boxes as leftover paper plates and silverware. Therefore, our first order of business will be to get everything organized into bins and boxes again and label them appropriately.

Decide what to keep and what to give away for free

Some items that we purchased for the wedding may be useful for future, non-wedding parties. For instance, we bought large industrial coffee pots for our “hot beverages bar.” Two of the large 100 cup pots were found by my mom for $25 each in a Penny Saver ad. I bought an additional smaller coffee urn at the last minute from Amazon when we decided to have apple cider too. I gave one of the coffee pots away to a family friend that helped a lot in the days leading up to the wedding, but I’ll probably keep the other two. They can come in handy for other large parties and gatherings, which Ken and I (and our families) have very often.  We’ll separate the items we want to keep.

Other items will be best donated or given away for free. For instance, I bought huge boxes of of creamer packets for our “hot beverages bar.” The box was only like 8 bucks or something, so it’s not worth returning. But I figure some shelter could use it, or heck, I could even bring it to work and put it in the kitchens so coworkers can use it.

Clean, Launder, and Organize Further

I’ll clean and/or launder things like the tablecloths and put each one in individual packages like a plastic grocery bag or sealed baggie. For instance, although we have about 45 tablecloths to sell, someone may only want to buy 20 of them, so I want to make sure I can just grab 25 without everything else getting disorganized and unfolded.

Photograph items.

Now that the items have been organized, cleaned, and laundered, I’ll take photos of the items I want to sell, probably using my DIY lightbox, which I talked about in a previous post. I can also post photographs from the wedding itself to illustrate how that items were used during the wedding. For instance, I bought some boring, unfinished wooden crates from craft stores. Then I draped them loosely with fabric to create height and dimension on our cake table.

Create a free website to list all the items

Weddingbee, Craigslist, and other online classifieds definitely have their limitations with regards to posting photos. What some Weddingbee sellers have done, which I have found incredibly useful, was create one “for sale” post on the classifieds, and then quickly list the items, but then include a link to a website, like a weebly site, that includes all the photos and descriptions of the items. Then when an item sells, they just update the description to say “SOLD.”

Attempt to use Craigslist to sell items first, then transition to sites like Weddingbee classifieds

Nearly all the items that I purchased used came from Weddingbee sellers. And Weddingbee is great, because you have a captive audience of brides and brides alone wanting to buy used items for weddings. However, I cannot begin to describe how much I hate the post office. Every time I go, no matter what time of day, the line is always SO long. So, the idea of having to ship all sorts of different items across the country makes me shudder. Therefore, I’ll try to sell things locally first, then transition to other methods where I may likely have to ship items. I’ll probably list things on Craigslist three weekends in a row before I transition to other sites.


Right now, we’re on our minimoon. By the time we get back and start to get things cleaned and organized, I’m guessing it’ll be at least a few weeks until things are ready to sell. And frankly, who’s going to buy used wedding items during the holiday season? Therefore, I’ll wait until after the first of the year to start listing the items on Craigslist. And that will probably work out for the best anyway, because so many people get engaged during the holidays and may start looking for things right away.


That’s it! Our strategy for selling all our used wedding items. I’m anxious to find out how much money we can make back by selling our items!


The nebulous world of wedding expense tracking

by Melissa on September 28, 2011

To date, we have spent $12,704 on wedding expenses out of our $15,000 budget. $214.44 dollars of that has been shipping costs.  We estimate that we’ve earned about $211.89 using cashback reward programs so far. I’ve also earned more than 100,000 British Airways miles after I signed up for a mega bonus program a few months ago as well as many many Southwest Rapid Rewards Points. Given our projected expenses (balances to be paid to vendors, etc.) we estimate that we’ll be approximately $4000 over budget. Yikes. (For those interested, I’ve updated the expense tracking spreadsheet in the sidebar)


Let me tell you though, if you haven’t tracked your wedding expenses to the absolute nitty gritty level that we have, it is a really nebulous exercise.  Just to give you a breakdown:

So far, we have had 93 wedding-related expenses

  • 72 of those expenses (77%) have been less than $100
  • Those 72 expenses add up to $2442.84
  • 18 of the 93 expenses have been between $100-$500.
  • Those 18 expenses add up to $4182.35
  • 3 of the expenses have been between $501-$1000
  • Those 3 expenses add up to $2011.16
  • We have had 2 expenses between $1001-$3000 ($2910 was our max expense)
  • Those two expenses add up to $4067.85

I guess what I’m trying to illustrate with my analysis here is that it’s not always the big expenses that kill your budget. Our 18 expenses between $100-$500 have been a complete budget buster.

There are many other things that leave me scratching my head when I add line items to our expenses spreadsheet.  Let me illustrate with some examples.

  • The other day, I bought a huge multi-pack of scrapbook paper for $14.99 (after coupon). I’m only going to use maybe 15 out of the 100 sheets. So, what do I put down as the wedding expense? $14.99 for the whole pack? Or since each sheet comes out to about 15 cents, do I just put down $2.25 in the spreadsheet (15 cents each (x) 15 sheets of scrapbook paper used)?
  • I bought a hot glue gun from Amazon to assemble my seating chart poster. Now, I never had a need for a hot glue gun before, so the wedding was the reason I had to buy the hot glue gun at this moment in time. But will I use the hot glue gun again in the future?  Very likely yes!  So, is that a wedding expense?  Or, let’s look at it in a different way. Let’s say I already owned a glue gun and glue sticks. Would I have to to deduct the glue sticks that I used as a “wedding expense” even thought I might have bought those glue sticks years ago and was only just using them on the wedding project?
  • Over the past few days, I’ve been purchasing accessories (purse, bracelet, necklace, etc.) to wear on my wedding day. Nothing “bridal” looking, but instead fun, funky jewelry and some plain old elegant pearls. All jewelry that I would wear on future occasions. So, are the accessories a wedding expense?
  • I’ve identified a difference between the cost of “getting married” vs. the cost of your wedding. For instance, should our engagement photos and the amount I paid to get my hair done for our engagement photos be considered a “wedding” cost? The more I thought about it, no. That might be part of the cost of “getting married” but our engagement photos cost have nothing to do with what we’re spending for our wedding day.
  • What if I manage to sell $1000 worth of stuff after the wedding? Would I subtract that from the “cost” of the wedding?
  • What about all the gifts and money we receive? What about all the frequent flier miles earned? Shouldn’t that somehow be taken into account when trying to determine how much you “paid” for your wedding?

Or maybe I am just trying to make excuses for myself as we anticipate that we’ll be nearly $4000 over budget?  What this all boils down to is the need for multiple spreadsheets. So, what you’ll see here on SuperNoVABride after I get married (in just a little over 6 weeks! Yikes!) is all sorts of different expense analysis. One counting supplies (even if it’s a supply I’m likely to use again in the future), one breaking down “wedding day” vs. “getting married” expenses, and all sorts of other fun stuff.  What? Other people don’t think that’s fun?

Has anyone ever taken an accounting class? How are expenses like these accounted for in the business world?

Image Source


Yesterday I talked about how I’m organizing all the STUFF I’m starting to acquire for the wedding.  Well, in typical SuperNoVAbride fashion, before actually buying anything, I developed a spreadsheet to help me compare costs.

Well, actually, it was a spreadsheet partially “borrowed” from my fiancé, which he developed when trying to compare costs of LED light reels from various online Chinese wholesalers (long story).

I heart spreadsheets t-shirt(A t-shirt my fiancé’s family gave me for Christmas a few years ago)

My issue was this:

  • I would go to one website, and they would be selling six vases for $30 and free shipping.
  • An Ebay seller would be selling 25 vases for $90 plus $5.50 for shipping
  • Someone on Craigslist was selling 10 vases for $40, and all I’d have to do is go pick it up.

At quick glance, I can’t tell which one is a good deal, and which one is the best deal, or if one of them is a total ripoff.

In another instance, I was looking for dried wheat stalks for centerpieces.  I looked on various websites, collected the price of wheat (in terms of ounces) and the shipping costs various websites charged.  This spreadsheet (thanks Fiancé!) has been invaluable helping me make sure that I’m not overpaying for items, and which items I should scoop up right away because they’re a great deal!

So, I’m sharing the template that I developed with you all.  It’s in my template library on Google Docs called Cost Comparison Spreadsheet (Weddings)  I hope you find it useful!

Screenshot of spreadsheet comparing wedding item costs


Whether you’re looking for used wedding items because you’re looking to save money, be green, or a little bit of both, there are a lot of ways to find used wedding items online.  From dresses, DIY supplies, decorations, favor making supplies, to equipment like chafing dishes or chairs  it’s all available! In addition to your basics like Craigslist and Ebay, you’ve got a lot of options. 

I’ve started to obtain and purchase wedding decor.  In the last week alone, I have bought items from WeddingBee Classifieds sellers, Ebay, thrift stores, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  I actually like this whole “not buying new” stuff.  Someone else used it, loved it, and now wants to pass it along to someone else!  These are some of the best sites I have found to buy (and then sell!) used wedding items. 

Top Sites to Buy and Sell Used Wedding Items

WeddingBee Classifieds.  I check the WeddingBee Classifieds, especially the decor category, several times a day. Wedding Bee classifieds posts, in my experience, are by far the most frequently-updated collections of used wedding items.  But, you must be quick.  I’ve ordered some vases through a seller there successfully, but I have attempted to buy some other items as well, but I wasn’t quick enough, and they were sold.  A tip: If you’re really, truly interested in something and know that you want the item for sure, send a private message to the seller with your PayPal e-mail address and zip code for shipping purposes and tell her to invoice you via PayPal.  That way she knows you’re serious and you’ll get the item! A few things I don’t like:  No image thumbnails in the list of posts.  You have to actually click on the post to see photos.  

The Knot’s Trash To Treasure Forum.  Although it’s updated less frequently than the WeddingBee Classifieds, the Knot’s Trash to Treasure Forum is also a great resource to buy used wedding items.  A few minor complaints: Unlike to WeddingBee classifieds, there are no subcategories in the Trash to Treasure Forum.  So, I have to trudge through all the used wedding dresses and other attire (which I’m not interested in), just to find various decor items that might be for sale.  

Ruffled Blog Recycle Your Wedding.  I really like this forum.  The items for sale tend to be more specific (as opposed to WeddingBee in which a single post which might contain a list of dozens of items for sale) and, it posts thumbnail photos next to the entry.  There’s a lot of great stuff on here! 

Project Wedding’s Classifieds.  Project Wedding’s Classifieds are similar in structure to The Knot’s Trash to Treasure forum. There are no subcategories, so if you’re looking for something specific, you’ll have to rely on search or just scrolling through all the entries.  This board is also updated frequently. 

Recycled Bride.  Another good site that has more focused posts and also contains photo thumbnails.  One thing that bugs me (and unless I’m missing it somewhere on the page), there’s no date of when the seller posted the information.  So if I search for something, like twine, and it comes up in my results, I have no idea if that person posted it for sale yesterday or last year! 

Some Honorable Mentions

Bride Share.  While BrideShare is a great concept, unfortunately it does not have a lot of active users, making it difficult if you’re looking for some very specific items. 

Smart Bride Boutique.  Smart Bride Boutique does not have a very active community either, but again, it’s good if you’re searching for something specific. 

Wedding by Color Marketplace.  While there are several posts from brides selling their used wedding items, Wedding By Color Marketplace seems to be dominated by businesses posting their goods and services, instead of newlyweds looking to pass on their wedding items. 

Wedding Dress Specific

I’m not interested in buying a used wedding dress, so i haven’t played around much on either of these sites.  But if you are interested in buying a used wedding dress or other used wedding attire, here are some great sites:

Brick and Mortar Stores

  • Goodwill and Salvation Army (support a good cause while shopping)
  • Other local thrift stores
  • Habitat Re-Store (Another great cause to support!  I scored some awesome finds from our local store). 
  • Consignment stores (although I have found consignment stores to be outrageously overpriced, at least here in the DC area.  Same thing goes for antique stores in the DC area.)

Non-Wedding Specific Online Resources, but Still Useful! 

Craigslist.  I don’t think much description is necessary here.  But I will share my method for finding items on Craigslist.  Although being a quick replier on Craigslist is typically the way to go, I have set up RSS feeds for the items that I want.  Although there is a slight delay for them to appear in my feeds, it saves me time from having to perform the search each time.  Here are some of my search terms I use for my RSS feeds:  “Wedding -dress -ring” (because I’m looking for wedding items, but not dresses or rings).  “Mason Jar”  “Vase *less than $5”  “cobalt blue.” “autumn.”

Ebay.  I use a lot of the same keywords above on Ebay but set them up as alerts. I also have the app on my phone to let me know when items on my “Watch List” are ending soon.  

Freecycle.  I know a lot of people love Freecycle.  And maybe Freecycle and I just got off on the wrong foot.  But it has not been useful for me.  1) Freecycle is extremely, extremely neighborhood-focused, to a fault.  So, it wouldn’t let me join the Freecycle groups for neighboring communities.  For instance, the city I live in is right on the border of another city.  So, I applied for the city that I live in (I had to give my zip code and nearest major intersection on my group application).  They denied my freecycle application, saying that was the other city’s group.  So, I applied to the other city.  They told me I had the wrong one.  So then, I applied for the DC Freecycle, because their Terms of Service said that folks who work in DC but live in Virginia or Maryland could still apply.  So I applied to the DC Freecycle. And they rejected my application.  Eventually I got one application approved (for the neighboring city).  So, every once in a while I’ll check out the group page, but I’ve never found anything useful. 


Because it’s difficult to keep track of the actual costs of the items I’m looking for across so many different sites, I’ve developed a spreadsheet to determine the true cost of each item to ensure that I’m not overpaying!  I’ll share it with you in a few days!  Simple, but works like a charm! 

Am I missing any other good sites out there?

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