wedding planning

Your Wedding Budget's 2 Biggest Enemies

Around here, we spend every day with brides, working to make the endless pile of puzzle pieces fit inside their finite budgets. Let's be real- no one is made of money, and there IS limit (at least for most people) and unfortunately, it's a big pain point for our clients and brides everywhere! 

The 2 Big Enemies of your wedding budget and how to demystify the cost of a weddin.

Ask any gal that has already walked the aisle, and she'll probably say something like,

"My wedding didn't go exactly as I had hoped, budget-wise". 

Why is that?? People get married every day, why does wedding budgeting have to be such a big mystery? I have two ideas that might just be a game-changer for how you think about your wedding, and it might save you....thousands. 


The #1 Enemy of your Wedding Budget?

I want you to use your imagination for a minute. Pretend I called you this afternoon in a panic and said,

"I'm going to be bringing two large bus-loads of people in to town and they will all be looking at me to take care of them for a big portion of the day- at least 5 or 6 hours! They're going to be hungry, and some of them will have come a long way to get here! How much is this going to cost?!"

What would you say? Where would you send me and my massive load of friendly folk?
Let's say you sent us to Buca di Beppo, a mid-range priced Italian restaurant, to take everybody out to dinner. A quick Google search of Buca's menu shows me that for the average Joe to get dinner and a soda will run me about $18.50. Throw a (stingy) tip in there, and you're looking at 20 bucks a head.

Here's the deal, my buses will be bringing about 150 friends total. Oh shoot. That's THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS. 

So - in your infinite wisdom - friend, you say to me,

"Elena, how are we going to do that? Your guests are going to be crammed in there, and there's no way we're getting a table for 150." 

A good point you have there. So then I start looking around...well maybe we could find a low-key place that will let all 150 of my pals crash for 5 or 6 hours. How hard can that be?! That won't cost too much.

Except...I might also want for that location to have chairs and tables. Also bathrooms, air conditioning, ice, trash cans, and wifi. I'd also like for them to let us play loud music, maybe drink a little, and I need them to take out the trash for us. Where would you send me then? Let's say you send me to your church fellowship hall that is going to (graciously) meet all of those above requests for just 1000 bucks. Not bad, considering they have to pay the guy who sets up the chairs, cool the building, pay the attendant on duty for all 6 hours of our event, then pay the clean up crew afterwards. DEAL. 

But we still haven't solved the food issue.

Maybe we could ask the staff of Buca di Beppo to just close us shop for the day and bring their ENTIRE SHOW on the road to feed me and all my guests. We've determined that feeding us at their place is going to run me about 3K. But you remind me,

"Elena, they are going to have to haul a lot of food and equipment, as well as pay ALL those folks fairly, even though they're ONLY feeding us today, no revenue from others." 

Well shoot. Sounds like at least another $2,000 to me! Maybe 3! Now we're at $7000. 

It is NOT the caterers fault- that makes sense. It's on me for bringing two bus loads of people in to town and then expecting to host them in a grandiose way for anything less than what is fair. 

If this is a wedding we're talking about, we haven't even touched the expenses of dresses and photographers and flowers and DJs, and linens, and pretty jewelry and hand crafted bridesmaid gifts and matching bowties and limos with red carpets. 

Friends, I love you, but the #1 Enemy of your wedding budget is probably your guest list. 

Before you come after me with pitch forks for being an inhospitable Spartan and kick me to the curb for trying to exclude your friends from your big day, just remember: the real opposing forces here are the number of your friends vs. your finances.

Which brings me to the #2 Enemy of your Wedding Budget:

It's the wedding you went to last May at that country club in Charleston. Your handsome date was all about the mashed potato bar followed by the steak carving station. You slid your custom coozie on your ice cold bev and snapped an Insta of the flora in the middle of your table. The band was the kind that sweats a lot when they perform because they're singing the classics in their white dinner jackets or sparkly heels. The second shooter got a couple shots of you and your honey on the dance floor and on the way home you can still smell a little bit of sparkler smoke in your hair. 

Friend, that was a....oh I dunno....$70,000 wedding you attended. It didn't feel like it, and I promise you, it wasn't just one thing. 

It's the wedding snowball effect that starts when the bride has an expectation- just one expectation - which informs all the other decisions that have to be made. 

"Well, we invited a lot of people, so we had to go with the nicer venue."
"Well, she bought a ballgown, so we can't have that small beach wedding anymore."
"Well, we booked this amazing photographer, so we need to have pretty things!"

That fancy Charleston wedding? It may have silently wrecked your expectations. And so did the other three weddings you just attended. As a guest, it's so easy to think- "Mine will be bigger, better, more relaxed, more fun, more food, more music, better dancing, more seating...more more more." And before you know it, you're expecting to have (like most images you see on Pinterest) a $100,000 affair. 

So, sweet thing, the #2 enemy of your wedding budget is hands down your expectations. 

Listen to me: if you have 70 grand to spend on your wedding, go for it! I'm not stopping you. I'm speaking to the girls with $15,000 that can't understand why it's just not coming together like that Charleston gig.

My #1 goal as a wedding coach is to clarify and calm all of the biggest question marks of wedding planning by helping to set realistic expectations- even the big ones like budget struggles. There are vendors out there for you and your budget. Your dream wedding IS possible, you may just have to make a few unpopular decisions or forego the confetti canons, and realize that hey- you're making a BIG step with your sweetheart. Chin up, buttercup. Your day will be swell because it's yours. 

I'm passionate about connecting my brides with the vendors they need on the budget they have! Want to know more about wedding coaching? Find out more by visiting our services page to find out how to get a lot of guidance for a little investment. 


Cheering you on,

Elena Balkcom


Friday DIY: Paper Flower Bride

Tuesday's post, {Trend Tuesday} was all about wedding flowers.

Take heart, DIY Bride, we have a post for you, my dear.

For the bride who is crafty or frugal or both I tracked my time and my costs so you can decide if this floral adventure is worth your while.

All you need are some skills and inspiration (as seen below).

...that's Indonesian blend (thanks Joel) with hazelnut creamer, and Ray Lamontagne singing sweetly to me in the background. 


Raise your hand if you've made tissue paper flowers before and been a little disappointed.


Yeah, if you do this, you have to start with shopping. Here's the skinny on the Materials:


When I first read about floral crepe, I thought, "What the crepe??" (Couldn't resist). But really, it's just like birthday party streamers but it comes is a huge roll! 10 feet by 3 feet, actually. And guess how much each roll costs? $2.50. IT'S CHEAPER THAN TISSUE PAPER, PEOPLE. Just order it. Believe me, I looked at Target, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Paper Source, JoAnn and Walmart and no one has it. (I know, right?!)
I ordered mine from Castle In The Air.  You'll have to wait a few days for it, but it's so worth it {bonus: their packaging is adorable}.


Floral tape is the weirdest. It feels like thin paper until you stretch it a little bit which activates the stickiness. It pretty much only sticks to itself, and boy is it swell for stems. I don't use any glue, I just wrap my leaves and petals into the tape. Works great.


18 gauge is the best. It's not expensive at

For the leaves on the left I used DOUBLE ply crepe paper. It's like thin cardboard almost. It's super thick paper and absorbs paint nicely. 

For the leaves on the left I used DOUBLE ply crepe paper. It's like thin cardboard almost. It's super thick paper and absorbs paint nicely. 

Foliage: 6 minutes per stem,
              approx $0.30 of materials per stem


Poppies: 7 minutes per stem, 
             approx $0.25 of materials per stem


Rose Buds: 4 minutes per stem, 
                    approx $0.30 of materials per stem

You can find lots of petal and leaf templates online. I definitely suggest purchasing a book of how-tos. Hopefully this post will give you enough info to experiment with, so if you decide to get serious you'll know if you want to invest in a crafty undertaking on a larger scale. Who knows- maybe you can get your bridesmaids in on it!



I'm gonna be honest. These first two Peonies took me almost 30 minutes each. My third one took only about 15 once I got the hang of wrapping the petals. The time was worth it though, considering the materials for one peony total around $0.45 (compared to fresh peonies which go for SIX BUCKS a stem around here).


OH, and by the way: if you try out this DIY, let us know on Facebook, share a pic, and we will send you a bag of goodies, compliments of Laurel Avenue.


Happy Crafting!