• 75°

He said, She said: Priorities and budgets and decisions, Oh my!

As I mentioned before, the moment David proposed to me, millions of ideas and what-ifs began flooding through my mind (after I got over the shock, that is).

In the hours and days after the proposal, my thoughts and dreams were filled with dresses, flowers, color schemes, music and so much more.

David, however, brought me back to reality, and reminded me that before we can get to the fun stuff (he calls it the fluff, the frills or the excess use of tulle), that we had to get the backbone, or the structure, in place.

That meant setting a budget, defining our priorities and booking the major staples of the day (reception hall, caterer, pastor, photographer, DJ, etc.).

First things first – the budget.

Let’s just get one thing straight right now. I hate budgets and budgeting. It’s a killjoy to many of my dreams. Just to clarify, however, I’ve never been bad with my money. My parents taught me early on that I should never spend more than I earn, but budgeting and saving for long term investments or purchases has never been my strong suit.

David, on the other hand, is the budget king. If you ever catch him scribbling furiously in a notepad, he’s doing one of three things: working on grad school work, brainstorming ideas for work or working out his budget. I’m not kidding, he does it at least once a week.

While my parents have been incredibly generous, and have offered to pay for most of the wedding, they didn’t give us a blank check either. So, the first few weeks were filled with researching how much everything costs. After researching, we put together the best rough budget we could and began searching for vendors who fit in our budget.

We also had to define our priorities. Because my parents are paying for the wedding, we had to keep their priorities in mind as well. My top priority was finding a fantastic photographer, David’s was creating a fun atmosphere by having a skilled DJ and emcee and my mom’s was having a catered meal. We each had to sacrifice a little bit, but over the past few months, we’ve been able to devise a plan that’s kept each of us (fairly) happy.

As I said, picking a photographer was one of my top priorities for the wedding. I’ve always heard that if you’re going to splurge, you should splurge on two things – your dress and your photographer.

Your photographer, because their photos will be the one thing from the wedding that last beyond the day of, and the dress because you’ll be looking at photos of yourself in that dress for the rest of your life.

I initially budgeted $1,500 for a photographer, thinking that would give us plenty of wiggle room. Boy, was I wrong! I had a few ideas about who I’d like to photograph our wedding, but once we started looking into pricing, I realized how expensive photographers really are. Some of the ones whose work I absolutely adored were upwards of $3,000-$4,000.

So, we had to rework our budget a little bit, and David suggested that we shoot for $2,500.

We eventually narrowed our options down to three photographers, one of whom we got in contact with on Thumbtack.com, and two of which we heard of by word of mouth.

We really liked the first photographer we met with. She was professional, nice, had a good portfolio and was very affordable. Another one of the photographers we met with had a breathtaking portfolio, but once we met with her, we didn’t feel like she was the right fit for us.

Our final option was Jeff and Christy Peckham out of Mooresville.

Fun fact: Jeff’s mom was actually the wedding coordinator for my parents’ wedding.

At first I was hesitant about the Peckhams. They were a little bit out of our price range, and even though their vintage style is gorgeous, I wasn’t sure about how I felt about it for my wedding. For my mom’s sake, however, I set up a meeting with them.

I’m so glad I did. After having the opportunity to look at an entire wedding album and talking to them, I was sold. Not only did I get to see more examples of their photography, but I felt incredibly comfortable with the couple and knew I wanted them to be the ones to document our special day.

They generously offered us a discount because of the family connection, which put them right in our price range.

David’s priority was the DJ and emcee. I wasn’t able to go to the meeting with Virtual Sounds in Faith, but when I met up with David and my mom afterward, both of them couldn’t stop gushing about them. Although we weren’t able to afford the deluxe package with subwoofers and uplighting, they did manage to convince us to spring for the photobooth for our big day. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the pictures and videos from our guests.

My mom’s priority was food. David and I had thrown around the idea of saving money by serving hors de’ourves instead of a meal or self-catering our reception. My mom, however, really wanted to at least host a buffet meal. While I liked the idea of saving money, I was also excited to have a real meal.

So, the search for a caterer began. The most recommended caterer we found was Buttercup Café in Denton. As David explained, we were both sold as soon as we talked to Mary on the phone. When we tasted her Smoked Tomato Butter, there was no turning back.

Other than our priorities, there were several other things we knew we needed to take care of in a timely matter.

First of all, was our guest list. We’ll go into greater detail on how we got our final guest list in a later column, but we knew that with the size of David’s family, a tiny wedding was not in the cards for us. This influenced many of our other decisions, including which venues in the area we could use as our reception hall.

After exploring a few different options, we followed fellow Salisbury Post reporter Shavonne Walker’s lead, and went with the Messenger Room in the Rowan Museum. What’s not to love about a beautiful, airy space with massive windows and a gorgeous balcony (not to mention, it’s one of the few venues in the area that will fit our massive guest list).

Another biggie was our colors, which David graciously allowed me to pick out myself. I knew I wanted navy and gray as my primary colors, but I was torn about accent color. Tiffany blue and coral are the main colors in my apartment, but I also adore mint green. After getting a feel for David’s likes and dislikes, I decided that the warmest color, coral, would be the best pick for our April wedding.

We’re nowhere near done, but we have made an incredible amount of progress. I’m excited to see what comes next.

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