October Money Diary: Our $10,000 Destination Wedding



Ivan & Jennie here (back after a two week absence). 

We held a wedding reception in October. Our wedding reception. It was a bureaucratic redundancy more than anything, since we had already eloped in a courthouse ceremony in Boston two years prior. 

There was also the practical matter of our families having never met. Jennie’s family, originally from Vietnam, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and hasn’t set foot outside the U.S. in over 20 years. My family lives in Taipei and has no real roots in America. It didn't make sense for them to make the uncomfortable 14 hour journey to attend a one hour wedding reception. 

Our compromise was to hold the reception in Taipei. My parents (as the hosts) would cover the cost of accommodations and the reception. Jennie and I would cover her family’s flights both to Taiwan and to Vietnam, where they would spend three weeks ‘back home’ visiting family and paying their respects at the graves of Jennie’s grandparents. 

Planning a $10k Wedding Reception

A wedding typically isn’t about the two people getting married. Because if it was really about what Jennie and I wanted, there would be no wedding at all. We were pretty happy with our elopement at Cambridge City Hall because it suited who we were.

No, this wedding was strictly for our families. And that’s who we invited. Our immediate family. Meaning no second cousins, no long lost uncles we’ve never heard of, no friends or co-workers of our parents. Basically, if we have to draw more than two lines to get from us to them on our family tree, they were not invited.

This also meant no friends, which simplified things immensely. We didn’t have to invite people just to be polite. Nobody got hurt that they didn’t get to be the best man or the maid of honor. Our guest list was limited to those related to us by blood.

So how did it go? Well, the reception went great. Everyone had a good time. Okinawa was an okay time too, in case you were wondering. But since this is a money diary, we're going to stick to breaking down the various costs of holding a family only, destination wedding in Taipei, Taiwan: 

What We Spent

Six Multi-City Tickets to Taiwan and Vietnam ($2,000)
Wedding Rings ($1,000 purchased two years ago for our elopement)
Clothing for Wedding ($200)
Photography ($0 - our families took some great candid photos) 
Homemade Wedding Invitations ($50)
Four Day Okinawa Mini Moon ($1,000)

Total Cost For Us: $4,250

What Ivan’s Parents Spent

Hotel Accommodations ($2,000)
Pre - Reception Tea Ceremony and Dinner ($500)
Lunch Wedding Reception at Taipei 101 Restaurant ($4,000)

Total Cost for Ivan’s Parents: $6,500

Total Cost for Wedding: $10,750
Total Value of Red Envelopes Received: $8,000

This left us with a $3,750 surplus after expenses. After returning a portion of this to help recoup Ivan’s parents, and considering that the wedding rings ($1,000) were a cash expense incurred over two years ago, we wrapped up the whole affair slightly ahead. 

Family obligation? Check. Now we move on with our lives. You know, the part that’s actually important: our day to day marriage. The one that’s supposed to end when one of us dies - not when they close the bar.

Expense Breakdown

1. Rent and Bills ($1,674.90)
Nothing new here. 

2. Travel ($558.41)
Okinawa expenses. The airfare and hotel costs (around $400) were logged to prior months. 

3. Groceries ($226.50)
About 2.5 weeks worth of groceries due to travel. 

4. Eating Out & Entertainment ($262.50)
It was a lot cheaper eating out in Taipei. 

5. Savings, Education, and Investments ($329.21)
Ivan ran his first marathon in October. Included here are registration fees, a one night hotel stay and other marathon related purchases. We also bought a cheap video camera to document our Taiwan and Okinawa travels. 

6. Miscellaneous ($155.79)
Mainly souvenirs, parking, and airport food. 

7. Life Happens ($180.00)
Last minute blazer from H&M and Jennie’s wedding dress. We bought items that we would wear again (as opposed to thousand dollar museum pieces).