A quick note before I get into this*
This is an approximate value of our wedding day. We had a few factors that fit into this in an odd way that wouldn’t affect most people reading this. Mostly, my neuroticism. The main points of this are that I bought several wedding dresses and in the end we pulled extra money for cash tips & miscellaneous decorations that will be detailed below.
I did trade services with several vendors. I want to be up front about that as well. As a wedding/boudoir photographer that was a big plus for me. I’ve seen tattoo artists, massage artists, etc. do the same and if you have a talent and a close working relationship with certain vendors, I don’t believe there is any harm. Some vendors will not want to trade and that is ok. If you truly want that vendor, be prepared for a no and save up to have the wedding you want. I specifically did trades for Make-Up Services, Floral, and Photography. Some of these were huge priorities for me and others I had back up plans that would have looked less glamorous but I would have been okay with because I had a budget to stick to.
I will always suggest making a budget, picking a priority, and then hiring vendors that way.
I have been in love with this venue since a friend inquired about photographing her wedding here. I was obsessed with the architecture, the location, & the open vendor policy. I always thought I’d get married in the woods. Like, forever. However, once we started planning and we picked a date (one that gave me a small break from photographing my own clients), it was going to be too damn hot. La Villa is an indoor venue that fits 170 seated guests and 200 for cocktail. Lori, who helped us throughout the process is a delight. The only cons for the venue for us were because I wanted it I sacrificed a couple of other things like hiring someone to help clean up or just picking a venue that would aid in things like the table flip. We had friends there designated who made that easy, but I wish we wouldn’t have had to worry about it.
I let Facebook help me pick! I can’t eat a ton of foods, but I had fallen in love with KC Taco Company at another wedding I attended. Unfortunately, at $17/person we had to redirect. We also checked with Jack Stack which was really close to budget, and also Hyvee. Eventually, McGonigles was suggested. They had a variety of foods and my Husband used to grab fish from there when he was younger. We opted for 2 meats (BBQ Chicken & Burnt Ends) and we also had Ceasar salad, rolls, au gratin potatoes, & beans for $10.99 a person. It was delicious, amazing, and people were even able to take some food home at the end of the night. For your vegetarian friends, they will make a veggie lasagna, but unfortunately there were no Vegan options. We found this out a little too late, so we had some vegan pizzas purchased right before dinner with the headcount from our RSVPs.
Everyone looked at me skeptically when I told them I was hiring a magician for our wedding. I don’t regret a single damn thing. I first saw Korso a couple of years ago at comic con. I love magicians more than anything and asked Ean to stay several hours to wait for the magic show with me. Korso is a magician who is also a comedian. He’s very charming and can either do tableside magic for your guests, a show before toasts, or both. We opted for the show before toasts because no one ever pays attention during those, but ours were very important to us and we wanted to hear every word. He was the best part of our night, everyone loved him, and he even gave us a special card at the end of the night as a take away. We’re getting it framed.
We were very deliberate with our guest list. We had to stop the extended family members at some point and we used the general rule “If we haven’t talked to these people in three months, they are not invited.” It sucked a little. There were people we wanted to spend our day with, but when you are paying for a wedding yourself you have to be practical. We ended up with around 110 guests total. A lot of these were couples/families so we sent out enough invites/save the dates via the internet with credits and then we made our own wedding website via the knot. If you wanna know what it looked like, click here! You can give options for meals (we did BBQ or Veg), they can type in their name and find their RSVP. It’s amazing and I could keep up with the guest count real time. There are options for couples and Households as well.
I love the idea of Slabotsky’s. We were recommended by several people and I have recommended several people to use them. I would still recommend them, but I would say you’d need to keep record of everything and make sure you check in. My husband was in charge of the tux stuff at the end because it was one of the more stressful parts. The biggest positive of the place is that the price of your tux/suit is that you get to keep them and all tailoring is in house. It’s a huge benefit, but also could be part of what made the process a little complicated and left some things behind. On our first visit the owner wrote everything down that we wanted and through the process things were forgotten and we were told we never asked for them. We had documentation that said otherwise and everything turned out okay in the end which is what matters. Everyone who works there is very nice and everything is done quickly. The suits looked great.
Here’s where we got lucky. I have the ability to trade services in the industry. I was able to do so with three of our services. This is the first and it was the most important for me. Molly is one of my favorite people and photographers so when she threw her name in the hat with our other photographer friends I knew I had to have her and that I would be so lucky to do so. Photography was my top priority. If I had to come up with the money, we would have skimped somewhere else. Being a photography vendor paid off. I won’t say it didn’t and a lot of people don’t have that option. So I will reiterate that everyone has their priorities. Photo was mine. I just was lucky and blessed that I was able to trade for a future service and Molly’s travel from Santa Cruz. Check out her work. It’s unbelievable and obviously, her photos are scattered all over this blog post. She’s incredible.
Ashley Hotka owns Good Earth Floral & Collections Floral. Collections is the sister brand to Good Earth and you are able to find a place for affordable flowers if you have a color palette in mind. It’s perfect for low key weddings if you aren’t looking for a ton of floral decorations. It is what we almost did. Then our budget started to shrink other places and honestly I’m the worst DIYer on the planet. My photographer stepped up and offered to do floral (she’s so talented I was honestly okay with this. She’s made great bouquets for other clients). Then Ashley saw me looking for decorations and eventually we struck a deal.I’ll be photographing some business things for her company and some other things and I got absolutely STUNNING florals. She decorated the arch we got married in front of, the tables, we had gorgeous bouquets and Ean’s boutonniere was great. I sent her over reference photos from Pinterest and told her I trusted her. Best decision I could have made. My flower dreams came to life and everything looked even more amazing than I could have dreamed.
From the beginning, I did not want to be the bride who made everyone wear the same dress. Our bodies are so different and I didn’t want anyone stuck with a dress they would never wear again. My first thought was coordinating color dresses, but I didn’t have the brainpower for that. Instead, I found the color “Cabernet” through Azazie’s swatches system and then had them pick out whatever style they wanted as long as they were the same color. My sister – in the suit- was also from Slabotsky’s and we eye-balled it as best as we could. I don’t believe any bridesmaid spent more than $150 on their dress. You can even send in custom measurements and have the dress sent fitting you like a glove for no extra cost.
Madee is my hair and make-up artist over at Good Bodies. She is insanely talented, efficient, and so so sweet. I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t trust anyone else with my face or the faces of our wedding party. If you want someone with a bright and bubbly attitude who also knows how to get down to business, hire her.
Due to an unfortunate mix up with the hair stylist I hired, Shani stepped in to save the day. She had 3 bridesmaids to fix up, showed up around 9AM and we were all ready to go on time and everyone looked amazing if I do say so myself. She also helps out at Good Bodies and has an art background so you’ll see her mixing her own foundations and she’s amazing when it comes to color theory.
This was another non-priority for me at first. I hired a friend of a friend and minus some communication snafus, it was a good experience. My husband and I don’t love attention so we didn’t do an entrance, any games, or any tosses so it was pretty straight forward. We needed someone to run the ceremony music, coordinate dances, and dismiss tables for food. I’m not undermining the job of a DJ at all. They’re very important, but I just think that if we had those things we would have gone with an established full-time business with all the bells and whistles. Kurt was really fun and kept everyone engaged.
Our wedding party likes to drink and party. La Villa doesn’t have a ton of parking when you get married on a Friday until later that evening. We got a bus that seated 30 and the driver took us to QuikTrip for water because no one thought ahead. We also headed to the River Market and Nelson and he was very up front about how much time we had without going over and was easy to reach, super kind, and really accomodating. My husband left his shirt for his suit at the airbnb so we were an hour behind and he just sat out in the bus with no complaint and told me to let him know when we were ready. The bus had bluetooth as well so we could hook up and play music. It was definitely one of the best parts of the day.
Ean works as a scientist in a lab all day and cannot wear a traditional ring. I am picky and frugal and didn’t want to buy some big flashy ring when I can’t find my keys most of the time. I found a ring designer in Bulgaria that I loved on Etsy named _____. He was out of my size so he had to custom make another ring for me and then send it over. It still didn’t take too long and it’s exactly what I wanted. It was affordable, my style, and you wouldn’t look at it and know that my ring only cost a couple hundred bucks. Ean’s ring came from Enso where they make silicon rings in many styles. He loves it and they’re also incredibly affordable.
Alcohol – Gomer’s – $400~
My Godmother sells wine for a living, so she provided 12 bottles of white and 12 bottles of red wine. Other than that, I e-mailed Gomer’s and let them know what I wanted to serve (beer) and they told me how many I would need and we got Boulevard (represent) pilsners, pale ale, and wheat beers. We then picked up some vodka from Gomer’s and cans of soda from Sam’s Club. We made sure that everything we had we’d be able to return the excess. (We ended up giving a lot of stuff to guests at the end of the night instead because we knew we’d never get around to returning things. It was a pipe dream) Turns out everyone wanted the vodka and we ran out and no one wanted to bother me. So we made one more run end of night before last call and were able to get some final drinks in for guests. Essentially, easier to get too much and return than run out.
Ean and I weren’t sure we wanted a videographer. Something a lot of people say. We went to a wedding show in January and met John from Robot Monster Creative. His energy and positivity was absolutely contagious and I went home and watched his videos and decided that we had to have him. We’ve told him to raise his prices so before he does that, you should probably hire him. Feel free to view our wedding video here: Click this link! I’ll also have it at the bottom of those post if you just want to scroll on down. He was in sync with the photographer and just let the day happen. Something that is most important for me is to have documentary style footage. I don’t want to be moved a million times, I don’t want to be posed (except in the obvious instances) and I don’t want someone to tell me I’m not smiling correctly. John just observed with Molly (except once when they had to tell me, the photographer, that I obviously wasn’t standing anywhere near the light) and got the most beautiful and amazing footage that meant the world to me.
The Dress(es) – BHLDN/All My Heart Bridal/Torrid – $1600+
Here’s where things get dicey. I’m not going to lay out all the drama that was my dress journey. What you do need to know is that in the entire journey of my wedding planning purchased 6 wedding dresses. I purchased one from Azazie to get it over with and returned it. Next, I went to All My heart and had the best service. I loved the entire process and due to how late in the journey I did this I bought off the rack. It cost me about $1400. It ended up no longer fitting my vision, but if you’re a plus size bride in Kansas City? Run, do not walk. Sarah is amazing and if you have your head on straight and go in time to not have to rush something, you’ll fare better than I did in the end. My bridesmaids chipped in and purchased a jumpsuit from Torrid for me. I wore it during the reception and did a change right after our first dance. The jumpsuit was perfect for movement and for partying and dancing with my family. The dress I did wear in these photos is from BHLDN. Their sizes go up to 18 and it fit me perfectly. (I am an 18 in street sizes, so I was surprised). I bought one more dress from BHLDN that was $400 and I wore it for a day after session with another talented photographer friend. I’ll insert that photo below! I’m glad I didn’t wear it day of because it was a bit more restrictive than I imagined, but I loved it all the same. So, if you need to add up the cost of those dresses that did not end up returned and tack that onto my total, feel free. I did want to be honest in this post and I did want to hope someone resonates with my wedding dress stress.
Dessert – The Dapper Doughnut + Cake Baker KC – $400
Neither Ean nor I had a single doughnut that night. All of our guests said they were amazing. They made them on site and plated them for people to eat in the venue. We didn’t have much communication with them and what we had was decent. There’s no online payment portal so we had to rely on them to take payments which wasn’t done in a timely manner and they were slow to respond to e-mails. My guests were happy though and the price wasn’t outrageous, so we have deemed it a win.
Our cake was absolutely DELICIOUS. My friend Ally made them as a trade for doing her photos as well. She even threw in some cupcakes to celebrate my sister’s birthday which was the same week as our wedding. It was amazing and everyone was raving about it. She’s an up and coming baker in KC, hire her!