Budget's Got Me Down :-(

I'm curious what recently married knotties (or engaged knotties) set their budget at and how much they went over or under if at all? (If you don't want to share the exact budget amount, just the amount over, under or match is fine) And if you went over or under, what was the item or cost that put you there?
I had a budget in mind ($20,000), but as I am from NC and planning my wedding in MD (the DMV area is the FI and I live -- sort of a midway location between his family and mine) I am finding it more and more difficult to find reasonable prices for anything here. It's like vendors hear the word "wedding" and prices skyrocket by 100%. 
Any venue (ceremony&reception combo places) , caterer, or DJ suggestions would be greatly appreciated but please don't suggest them if you don't know what they normally charge. I am not shy about discussing money (even though it is a socially "taboo" subject) and really just need to be aggressive about finding the best deals out there. I don't want our wedding to leave us in a financial hole. 
Thanks in advance!
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Re: Budget's Got Me Down :-(

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    Hi, I understand your concerns and I can tell you what I am doing to try to stay on budget (20,000).  I still need to book a DJ and an officiant but I have a venue.  I am getting married at Smokey Glen farm in Gaithersburg, MD.  You basically just pay for food.  However there are limited days since they do company picnics at this site and they have first dibs on summer weekend.  Their is a barn and a pavilion on site.  In colder months the pavilion is closed in i believe.  I am doing my own decor and getting dried flowers from save on crafts and some other flowers from Costco.  I am making my center pieces.  I made my invitations and will make my programs using paper from paper and more web site.  A friend of mine recently got married and got table linens from smary had a party and I am going to borrow those.  The venue dose not have much for decor so if you want to spend a ton you can spend it there.  I agree though many places in maryland have a huge venue coast.  A friend had a recommendation on a photographer who is building her business so since she is still getting her name out there the price was reasonable. I also asked a family friend to make cupcakes for me and she agreed.  Hope this helps.  Good Luck and congratulations.
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    When I was planning my wedding, I planned it in 2 years, and during that time i was able to get a lot of great deals for decor, flowers, centerpieces, etc. I designed and created my invitations and programs, I bought the food myself, and my friends cooked it for me. My husband's friend did our cake, and I cut 100 butterflies plastic butterflies (that I printed myself), and a friend put them on the cake. Another friend happened to be a DJ and did my wedding for free. The total I spent including photography, venue, food, decor, wedding dress, accessories, and any extras was $5000. I saved a lot of money by doing things myself. You can definitely do a great wedding with $20,000. I used craigslist to get my photographer, and he did an awesome job. The venue and photographer were where i spent most of the budget. 

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    Can you tell us a bit more about what size guest list you need to accomodate, what style of wedding you are looking for, what level and amount of food and drinks you expect, and what you want to include in that $20k budget (like are you including your attire in that budget amount? wedding rings? etc. or is that budget just for the ceremony and reception?)?

    We didn't have a set budget that I was bound to, so I just spent an amount that we/I felt comfortable with on each thing. Some things Mr. LK felt were not necessary (live music during the ceremony and a videographer) so they were nixed, even though I wanted them (ahhh... compromise). Sometimes I spent more than he would have preferred (hello, letterpress invitation suite and calligrapher) because it super mattered to me. And sometimes things ended up being less than we expected (like MOH's dress) so that was a nice bonus.
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    Ditto Lovekiss.

    But to address your original question, we blew our budget lol.  We have a guest list of 170, and I think when you add it all up and include the rehearsal dinner we are closer to 16000, when we first started we wanted to be around 10k.  BUT we have been engaged for two years now and our wedding isnt until June, so we had a few life changes (he got a raise and I won a scholarship) and the long time being engaged allowed us to save a little more than anticipated.  The things that put us over were our photographer, and the per person rate for the food.  I wanted to be under $30 per person (preferably closer to $20pp like I was quoted for KS Catering) but our venue has only one caterer starting at $34 pp.
    June 2013 - Shoe Inspiration
    Daisypath Wedding tickers
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    I actually ended up putting an ad on Craigslist for Photographers/DJ's/hair stylists! And i exsplained what i was looking for and in a few short weeks I had litterally like 150 responses. Then it was up to me to sift through them and find a photographer and dj in my price range that i liked there work. I actually ended up finding both for under $1000! Which is amazing! Location I decided to keep it very simple a Rustic Barn wedding. I got a 3 day rental at the Tea Barn in Elkton MD for $490! Now if your going for super fancy i can't help. My goal was something pretty and simple (like me) for an affordable rate!
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    Oh the dreaded budget. Ours is between 15,000 and 20,000 and I've already minused 13,000 for our reception space and food. So besides the wedding attire for him and I we really have to budget the other expenses. It may sound crazy but Craigslist Baltimore or Annapolis may be a big help. I found my wedding planner from a post on Craigslist and she's been amazing so far and I found our photographer for our engagement party on there. I plan on checking with CL before I decide on a DJ or photographer for the wedding as well. As long as they references and proof of their work why not : And of course look up things that you can easily do yourself. DIY projects like invitations, favors and even a bridal veil will save tons. I personally find no reason to spend a lot of money on things like save the dates, invitations and programs when people are ultimately just going to throw them away. The craft store paper isle can be your BFF :
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    Man....I am definitely in the same mindset as you, but my wedding budget is 10k. For everything. For 100.... Eeeek.
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    If you're on a budget, definitely check out Little Bliss Photo! Was amazing to work with :)
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    I am in the same boat we are just starting to look,.  I am figuring 25K.   I am hoping to cut some costs in trade.  I am taking a floral arranging class and going to do a smaller cake and using sheet cakes in the back. I am ordering my dress from Light in the box and invitations from Hong Kong.  I am also doing my own centerpieces.    I used to be a professional photographer and I am going to try and barter Senior Pictures or pictures of family or kids for discounts on services.   Now I just have to find the right boards to barter.   My darling says we should just put lots of mirrrors at the cermony and I can do the pictures - sarcastic guy that he is!  Hey I need to assign him something.
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    A few vendors that I always reccomend and  believe are very reasonable based on my best friends and sisters weddings are; 

    -Linganore Vineyard *****
    -Cersville Mansion ****
    -Musket Ridge*****

    -Brodie Ledford Photography*****
    -Turner photo***

    Shewsical entertainment *****

    Abloom ***

    Karen Rodkey Cakes or Cakes by Karen *****
    A dessert for me ***
    Sisters bake shop ****

    I would say that all of these vendors are great! some are a biit more expensive than others however any choice that you make would be great! These are mostly in the Frederick / Carroll county area. I gave them stars based on how good the experience was for the weddings that I was in at these places. I hope this helps a little!

    GOOD LUCK!! 
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    For those budget conscious brides, be sure to take a look at  We're a new pop-up bridal salon selling premium dresses at an under $1,000 price point!  Take a look for yourself.  If you are interested, we'll be at the Washington Bridal Showcase April 14th at the Dulles Expo center.  Or you can make an appointment at our Rockville headquarters.  Good luck brides!
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    You should look into Havre de Grace, Maryland, You can have a wedding right on the Bay in one of the many parks, or at the great Vandiver inn. I see weddings hosted there constantly. Its a beautiful little town.
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    We set the budget at $10k ... now we are at about $15k and havent included rings or attire or honeymoon. SMH lol  
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    We set our budget at about 13k but after our rings we destroyed that lol
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
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    We set our budget at 15k for 150 guests at FI parent's home and I cannot keep it under! It is so frustrating and I can't figure it out.  Our big expenses are rentals: tent, bathroom, tables, linens, dance floor, flatware/china - about $5k, band $2k, photographer $2k, and food which we can get for around $30 or so/pp but then when you add on the 2k of service charge..which is the part I can't figure out- any good budget catering suggestions that are not only chicken or fish? We are thinking of getting a food truck, but then we would have to be in charge of running everything else- setting tables, bar, etc which i am a little nervous about. we aren't spending any on dress, decorations, flowers, etc...just want to pick whatever is around and in season that day.
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    @katparsons1 any reason you're having it at their home? Sounds to me like going w/a preexisting venue would be more cost effective...
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