$2 million wedding

How would I spend $2 million on a wedding?

It has taken me all day to come up with an answer to this question. Apparently Good Morning America asked viewers how they’d allocate $2 million on a wedding budget. That’s a very difficult question for me to answer. I have never had to spend $2 million. It’s a real challenge!

But risking getting caught up in dreams that won’t ever come true, I’m going to answer the question as best I can. 

People & Places
So to spend $2 million, I’d invite whoever I want – perhaps 300 people. It’s almost ridiculous to think “300 people want to see me marry Mr.” Or perhaps the more accurately absurd thought is that I want 300 people at my wedding.  But Mr and I have fairly large families and a growing number of friends. (Despite my miserly nature, I have a lot of friends. I get it from my mom. For $2 million, she can invite her friends and I can invite more of my dad’s family who I rarely share life events with.) Actually, we could expand that list to 400 guests easy, and children are included. (I love kids at weddings!)

Included on the guest list would be my family in Jamaica. Because many of them don’t have visas, that moves the wedding to Jamaica – closer to members of Mr’s family in Florida and Haiti.

Clearly a $2 million budget opens the venue options for a miser like myself – most importantly, an investment option.  Capped at $1 million, I’d purchase my wedding venue… in Jamaica. For that price, I could buy a modest hotel in Negril which is my favorite city with the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica.

Since I cannot accommodate up to 400 people at a modest hotel venue, approximately $250,000 would be spent putting guests up at nearby Sandals Negril Beach Resort for 2-3 nights. (Estimate based on 200 rooms.)  I’d also send everyone up to $500 credit toward their airfare upon their RSVP to attend the wedding.  That’s another $200,000.

Though $1,450,000 has been spent, I still don’t know how I’ll transform a modest-sized hotel into a wedding site venue to accommodate up to 400 guests. How will people fit comfortably? What will be the decor? What will people eat? Will there be space to party? I only have $550,000 left!  More money, more problems.

Decor doesn’t interest me. It’s not even sustainable. Flowers wilt and die. I can’t think of what I’d do with all the tulle and fabric and draping after the event. I could consider them investments in the hotel business and actually use my wedding to promote the venue as an ideal, intimate venue for future brides, but then I move away from my own preferences in order to appeal to people I don’t know.  I just see no reason to get caught up in decor. Our love will decorate the space! (cheese)

Thinking of my beloved Mr, who wants a bashment party celebration as part of the reception, I can’t see myself spending more than four figures on lights, candles and such to get this effect:

the-pool-and-bar-at-nightepic-ace-hotel-wedding-swimming-pool-party-23So I’ve probably spent about $300,000 on lighting, decoration and clean up of what would be a rough hotel purchase/investment.  I’d open all the rooms, and they’d function as little “VIP” lounges with appropriate decor – and cool artwork by local artists! – for those who are not up for the raucous shenanigans that can be a Caribbean blowout party.  Also, the pool is open for those who want to party in the water!


If I’m putting people up in nearby Sandals resort, eat before you come. Eat all you want because it’s all-inclusive and the only wedding expense that interests me less than decor is food. People have their own tastes, and allergies, and expectations. There’s no amount of money I could inherit, save, earn, raise, or find that would cover the cost of that headache! On this I will not budge – EAT BEFORE YOU COME! Eat whatever you want to at a time that is appropriate to have dinner – before 8 p.m. when the ceremony starts.

I will provide drinks, dessert and snacks. No more than $30,000 for 400 people ($75/person). I have no problem buying silverware, plates, glasses, serving dishes and utensils for this purpose, and I’ll hire wait staff and bartenders, which I’m guessing will cost me another $30,000.

That leaves $190,000. What’s left?

Please come
I’m a letter-writer, and a reacher-outer. I’ve envisioned myself writing personal letters to most invitees and calling others.  I love paper!  I could spend all day at Papyrus. I know it’s unnecessary, but everyone has their splurge area. This is mine.

While I wish I had the time and penmanship consistency to write about 400 individual letters, I do not. But I can buy two autopens, get great personalized stationery and have a calligrapher address the invitations. Adding postage including stamps for RSVPs, I estimate that to be $14,000 – $15,000.

Party, party, party
My Mr wants to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time. He wants a live band. He wants diverse music from reggae to country for the reception and classical to gospel for the reception. (OK, so the gospel is from me.) I might be a miser, but when it comes to artists, I feel this group of professionals has been nickled and dimed in every attempt to be paid a fair rate for their craft.



I figure a steel band ensemble, a string trio and a vocalist and keyboardist for the ceremony and a full band for the reception, we’re shelling out another $25,000. Why not?

Having worked in stage management and production before, I know we’ll need speakers and should probably get an engineer in there to manage soundboard, so another $10,000 there.

Pretty threads
So… I’ve already fallen in love with a dress. (More on that in a forthcoming post.) The dress plus alterations costs under $500. I don’t have it yet, but no bigger budget is going to make me fall in love with another dress. That’s not going to change.

Now, Mr… Mr is a much more stylish and fashionable person than I am. He wants to get a suit made. He has huge size 17 feet. He has very high-class tastes, and on our day, I do want him to feel like the Prince Charming he is to me.  I’ll give him $5,000 to go to town with. More than that just seems ridiculous.

And if Mr gets a suit and shoes, so does my dad and his dad. We love our dad’s. And his dad will most likely be his best man. His son will get a suit and shoes, and my mom will get a dress. As a matter of fact, let’s just outfit our immediate families so they all feel and look fabulous!  That include’s Mr’s mom, stepmom and 3 half-siblings in addition to my maid of honor, two closest aunts and my godmother.  That’s another $15,000.

I still haven’t gotten under $100,000 balance yet… I’m exhausted (and kinda over writing. Are you still reading?)

Picture perfect
What’s a $2 million wedding budget without a killer photographer/videographer?  I’d need a few photographers – those skilled in wedding portraiture, event photography, and also someone to work a fun photo-non-booth. (Photo booths are fun, but a little claustrophobic, especially with 400 people. I’d rather have all the booth elements without the booth and someone stationed to take photos.)  Then there are at least two videographers, and all the work they’ll do making their final deliverables.  That’s easily another $50,000.

Pull it all together
Plan all this and execute it myself? No ma’am. Coordinator needed. $50,000, and that’s with a discount because I’ll be employing the help of my supersonic, awesome cousin in Jamaica, Peaches.  Her brother works in transportation (from what I remember), so either through him or through Sandals, I need to get people to and from the venue.  Transportation for the night shouldn’t cost more than $1,000.

Pieces left in the pot
That leaves $18,500. That’s tax and tip, and I’m probably short on that, so…

money done!

Whew… that was hard!

I’m actually glad I don’t have much money to spend. One would think with $2 million, I’d have the wedding of my dreams, but that’s not the dress.  Some of us dream in 7 figures and the rest of us dream in 4. Yes, 4!


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