How to Plan a $10K New York City Wedding

Photo by Kate Powers

In a city where the average cost of a wedding happens to fall around the $50K mark (not including the honeymoon!), the task of planning a chic wedding on $10K seems close to impossible. But it can be done -- with her insider knowledge and creativity, the talented New York City-based wedding planner Soraya Jollon of SORAYA weddings & celebrations shows how.

The Setting
The wedding ceremony will take place outside on Summit Rock in Central Park at 11 a.m. on a Saturday anywhere from late spring through early fall.

Wedding Ceremony
Guests will gather pre-ceremony in the rustic amphitheater of Summit Rock rain or shine for self-serve "Thank you for getting up so early on a Saturday" doughnut holes and orange juice. In case of rain (or very strong sun), golf umbrellas (from will be provided to guests.

Bonus: The umbrellas will also serve as the wedding favors. If the weather doesn't require the umbrellas, they can be brought to the restaurant and displayed next to a sign thanking guests for keeping stormy skies at bay during the wedding.

Ceremony Flowers
The gorgeous park setting (not to mention the colorful umbrellas) means there's no need for ceremony decor.

Bouquets and Boutonnieres
There will be four boutonnieres (for the groom, best man, and two fathers) and two bouquets (for the bride and maid of honor). In lieu of traditional bouquets, the bride and maid of honor will carry paper fans embellished with flowers. Everything will be made by the talented designers at Inbetween Greens.

Ceremony Officiant
Many couples know a clergy member who they'd like to have preside over their ceremony. If so, the officiant should register in NYC (the cost is $15) to legally marry the bride and groom in the state of New York. If no such person exists for the couple (or they prefer to have a friend marry them), they should go to the City Clerk's Office on Friday to be married civilly (and legally) and have their chosen friend or officiant lead them in a spiritual ceremony on their wedding day.

Ceremony Music
A lone trumpeter from The Julliard School will herald the arrival of the groom, his parents, the best man, the maid of honor, the bride's parents, and the bride. The ceremony will take place in the round with guests encircling the happy couple as they exchange vows.

Transportation and First Dance
At the end of the ceremony, the trumpeter will lead the newlyweds, their guests, and the photographer Pied Piper-style down the winding path at the south end of Summit Rock out of Central Park to the subway stop at The American Museum of Natural History. This subway station has wonderful tile mosaics that provide a great backdrop for candid photos. The couple can also have their first dance right there on the subway platform as they wait for the "C" train to take them downtown.

Reception Setting and Menu
The trumpeter will continue to serenade the guests on the ride down and then walk them from the Chambers Street station to Thalassa Restaurant in Tribeca for the wedding lunch. The wedding lunch will run from 12:30 to 3 p.m. and will consist of a three-course menu with wine, beer, and soft drinks.

Reception Music
The custom mix of tunes on the couple's iPod will be played through the restaurant's sound system. The highlight of the reception will be "Roast or Toast" speeches sprinkled throughout the reception.

Reception Centerpieces
Individual 3" x 3" cube glass vases wrapped in ribbon with one large floating bloom (think vibrant gladiolus!) will be at each guest's place setting. These can double as place cards with the guests' names on imprintable stickers attached to the vases. The couple will pre-buy the vases, ribbon, and stickers. They'll also wrap all the vases with ribbon and attach the name stickers. The morning of the wedding (early!), crafty friends of the bride will deliver the vases to the restaurant, add water, drop a bloom in each vase, and arrange them on the tables according to the seating chart.

Table Names and Numbers
The couple will make accordion table name signs from inexpensive decorative paper. Two places for reasonably priced paper are Pearl and Paper Presentation. Tables can be named after things that signify their relationship or the day (think TRUST, LOVE, FAITH, JOY, FUN, LUCK, DREAM, etc.). Since there will be only 100 guests, the couple can forgo escort cards and encourage guests to mingle as they look for their place cards on the tables.

The Photographer
The bride and groom can hire a professional photographer who's building their event portfolio (meaning they might be a fine art photographer or photojournalist primarily but are looking to do more work in events). Because the wedding will be during the day and require four hours of shooting time (10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.), a photographer can be a bit more flexible on pricing. The fee should include a CD of high-resolution images; these will be color-corrected but not retouched.

The Videography
The couple's best bet is to register for a Flip Ultra video camera (holds up to 60 minutes of video and is easy to use) and then hand it to their most tech-savvy friend to record the ceremony and speeches.

One word -- Etsy! A great shop to try for vibrant but modestly priced invitations is Decadent Designs. The couple can opt for a simple invitation plus a reply card and envelope in the wedding colors.

The Gown
This will be a daytime wedding that begins in a park, and it'll call for a flirty, gorgeous wedding dress. Great sources for just such dresses are Calypso Christiane Celle and Nordstrom. Another great resource is Once Wed for new or nearly new wedding gowns at all price points. The bride can accessorize with sandals and have her hair in a slightly messy, casual style (think half-up, half-down) held with a large flower pin. Lo Boheme on Etsy has gorgeous hairpins.

The Formalwear
This will be a casual daytime wedding, so the groom can wear a navy or tan suit that's already in his closet and then splurge on a new shirt. Skip the tie though!

The Bride's Hair
The bride can get a blow-out on Friday evening at the ultra-affordable V2 Salon on the Lower East Side ($25 including tip) and then loosely style it herself the morning of the wedding with a clip. A few twirls of the curling iron and spritzes of hairspray should do the trick.

The Bride's Makeup
The bride can make an appointment at one of the makeup counters at Bloomingdale's for a free makeup application. She should plan on buying a couple of products (the same powder and lip color would be ideal so she can do touch-ups). She might also want to do a trial a couple weeks before so she knows that she'll get a look she wants on the day-of.

The Rings
The couple will purchase simple gold or silver wedding bands. Then if they would like, the couple might upgrade to a stronger metal such as platinum or palladium on their one-year anniversary.

1. Officiant registration: $15
2. Marriage license: $35
3. Summit Rock permit: $25
4. Pre-ceremony snack: $75

RECEPTION TOTAL: $6,500 (with tax & gratuity)
1. Thalassa Restaurant lunch: $6,500 ($65 per person)

1. Reception materials (including shipping): $800
2. Personal flowers (from Inbetween Greens): $134
3. Cab to restaurant to deliver flowers: $20

MUSIC: $300
1. Trumpeter for 1.5 hours: $300
2. Reception iPod: $0

1. Photographer for 4 hours + CD of high res un-retouched images: $750
2. Video: $0

1. 50 invitation sets from Etsy: $188.50
2. Postage: $42 for invitations & reply cards

ATTIRE: $525
1. Wedding dress: $350
2. Bride's accessories (shoes & hair clip): $100
3. Groom's shirt: $75

1. Blow-out: $25
2. Makeup products at free application: $45

1. 50 golf umbrellas: $400

RINGS: $120
1. His and her gold wedding bands: $120

GRAND TOTAL: $9,999.50!
Where applicable, the NYC sales tax of 8.375% has been included in the budget and the gratuity has been included in the reception total. In other words, the cash outlay really does come in at $10K (not $10K+).