The Chipper Chicken – Frank Eggelhoffer and Howard Strike Again

Jun 29, 2011 | Beauty and Style, Full Time Family | 10 comments

I know I have been promising the Wedding Budget Breakdown post for a couple weeks…

et voila…
When Chelsea asked me to help her plan her wedding her one request was,
“Just don’t let me do anything tacky!”
Hilarious.  Endearing.  Right up my alley.
You know – being as I am so opinionated!
I have snickered before on this website that I could,
“Plan weddings, drunk, blindfolded, with my hands tied behind my back.”
But that’s simply because I am über decisive and have about a hundred planned already in my heart and mind…
What I can NOT do is grow impatiens, spell out loud or bake chocolate chip cookies…
I digress…
But planning your sisters wedding is a bit more difficult because, darn her, she has this thing called “an opinion” AND I didn’t have total control – The Bride and the Mother of the Bride were at the helm…
You mean I don’t reign supreme?
Three cooks in the kitchen turned out to be a recipe for sheer perfection with doses of emotional disaster along the way – as you could expect with three woman who adore each other but are related.  Yeah, just a little drama…
So here you have it:  The Dress, The Details, The Dollars…
Long story long.
Along the way I learned that I really would love to do this wedding planning thing as a side gig along with my photography, headdress making, macaron baking…
(jack-ass of all trades??)
 I learned to back the heck off,
how much I adore my sister,
how much I respect my Mom’s work ethic and generosity (trust me – she didn’t have that bottom figure sitting around in some account, she worked like a DOG for it for the past year!).
Ooops, there I go, text heavy again…
I mooched photos off her blog (with permission) or else this post would never have happened…
Say yes to the dress baby!
And Chelsea did at Wedding Belles in Barrington, Illinois.  These ladies know what they are doing – no,  dingbat, snooty, David’s Bridal salesgirls here.  Designer salesman’s samples and delightful insight into what a bride needs.
Chelsea KNEW exactly what she wanted –  a dress ruffled and reminiscent of the Lazaro she had her eye on without the price tag.
She found it after trying on just three dresses.
For awhile there I personally felt like we were all over the place…
Tiffany Blue, Black bridesmaids dresses, coral flowers with maybe some orange… “What does a Peony look like” and then,
like kin singing harmony something happened…
 I got a vision for the bridal shower (remember the birchy, woodland, macaron tower photo?) during the same week that Mom was making all these woodland Fairy gardens for Shop the Shed, during the same week that Chelsea came to her and said, “What about a Woodland sort of a look?”
Et voila – we were all on the same page with a very happy bride to be.
The details are what rocked this wedding (this is where the SIL came in!  She made the cake topper (photo???) , tent decor rosettes and Sofia’s adorable top hat!):
The Ring Bearer Pillow and Flower Girl hats.
 Table numbers
 Custom bridesmaids bouquets – throw together by Mom two hours before the event!  We were going to have this lovely day of “arranging flowers” together – ya, right.  We underestimated the last minute stress so while we were all primping she ran down to her tubs of wholesale flowers in the basement and “threw” together our bouquets – she even went out to the lawn and clipped some extras off a flowering tree!!!!!!!  HILARIOUS!!!!
 Shoe clips for the bride made by moi – you can’t see them really good here but they had rosettes and little white birds and totally matched the facsinator I made for her too (photo???)
 Victoria’s paper rosettes… which BTW showed up on BHLND last week!!!
   Victoria is always so “ahead” on stuff like that!  She was into “birdies” long before Mom, I or Chels ever thought of using them!
Garage sale found Tiffany Box for the cards!
And then even more details like a like a bird bath full of bug spray cans, old iron church lights hanging from trees, an old wash basin full of flowers, iron lawn chairs for fun seating in the yard, the bridal party (girls) cruising down the river on a boat and using the dock as the aisle to make the grand entrance… to Opus 23 from Marie Antoinette mind you!!!!!!!!!!
Am I boring you?
I am finding it very difficult to describe everything and how it all came together…
Here’s the financial breakdown:

85.00 4,000 white lights (half off after Christmas)




750.00 Chelsea’s dress
27.00 save the date cards
70.00 postage
40.00 envelopes for save the date
175.00 dress alterations and  custom sash
78.00 hobby lobby supplies, rose petals etc
420.00 limo rental
170.00 invitations ordered on line
70.00 postage for invites
44.00 hobby lobby shower supplies
112.00 inserts for invitations
167.00 port a john
460.00 bridal bouquet and mother’s flowers etc
185.00 Joann/ supplies for head table
500.00 DJ
43.00 sample bouquet
127.00 red wine /Aldi
1600.00  Monterey Pizza/food
3233.00 tent and all rentals
610.00 custom cupcakes and cake topper 
123.00 supplies/moss/twigs, gluesticks
68.00 wholesale/white bedding plants
309.00 champagne from Trader Joe’s
19.00 Michaels glitter
50.00 centerpiece containers
35.00 bridesmaid roses, Costco
83.00 Michaels … guest book, birds, candles
150.00 tux rental for DOB
507.00 wholesale flowers  for centerpieces and rusty tubs
Use of landmark Castle for photography – free!  Thanks to a generous neighbor.
Photography was a gift from Aunt Julee.
Video was a gift from brother Nic.
(we have a very talented family:)

grand total
A little under 200 guests



The bridal party had their own expenses of course
Juliette’s dress was on clearance at Target for $10, Sofia’s was $5 and Amélie’s I found at Nordstrom Rack for $35 marked down from $95. (size 8 – needed alterning)
My dress (and the other bridesmaids) was off the rack from Carsons $85 – tricked out for a Mother to be $40 
Aidan’s Perry Ellis pants and tie were from Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack – $40 and the alterations for the kids’ were $25.

I spent about $60 on the supplies to make the two hats & the brides facsincator and shoe clips.

It was awesome, exhausting and gorgeous.  
I wanted to share these numbers with you because I just can’t believe what people are spending on weddings these days.  I think ours could have been even less but we did our best with a pretty short engagement and Chicagoland pricing as far as tents and rentals go.

Mom said all the thank you’s so I will leave it at that.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask either one of us.  More information and photos will be featured by Mom in the September edition of Belle Inspiration.




  1. Mandy

    it’s all just beautiful!! however, i am still choking a little on that being a steal;) my wedding was about $2,000 and simply gorgeous! about 100 guests, though that doesn’t include food, which was a bbq lunch provided by my in-laws.

  2. birdie blue

    it looks like such a beautiful wedding. love all of the woodland inspired special touches.

    fun to see wedding belles mentioned, i’ve friends who’ve found their dress there, too.


  3. Mari

    Whoooo whee! You ladies (Mandy too!) amaze and inspire me! Here I thought I could “do budget” but a $75 birthday party and a $10,000 – gorgeous – wedding? That’s crazy! Now granted, I was in a country club(!) – over looking the ocean(!!) – in Los Angeles(!!!) and was at 27K with 130 people. For comparison, my sis in law spent 45K the following year for a similar wedding. 🙂

    I’m still trying to add up all I spent for my daughter’s recent b’day but it was def. more than I’d hoped, and probably still not even as charming, beautiful, and sweet as the birthday you put together for Hoolie and Mandy for Amelia.

    I got no game. You all beat me senseless. LOL 🙂

  4. Amber

    OMG! It was all sooo beautiful! Loving the little hats and headbands the cuties are wearing. You did an amazing job.
    xo, Amber

  5. à la parisienne

    I love seeing the breakdown of weddings/events, so thank you for the time you put into this post. I think what made this budget seem a little high (for us frugal decorators) is the tent/chair rentals, but there’s not too much a person can do to save money there…I mean you can’t just use any tent or any chairs to make an elegant outdoor wedding.

    I think the Tiffany yardsale box is my favorite item. Perfect color, quality, and function and rare find.

    I know what you mean about not getting photos of everything; I’m always disappointed at myself at the end of an event for not capturing some details, but that’s just the nature of being a mommy and participant in the celebration.Beautiful job on the wedding; you all did a WONDERFUL job.


  6. Ann at eightacresofeden

    It is all breathtakingly beautiful and I am just in love with that teal blue. I don’t want time to speed up but my goodness the thought of a woodland wedding has me breaking out in goosebumps – here’s hoping my daughters will want to get married on our own forest property.

  7. cityfarmer

    yup … when there’s a guest list of 190 … one can’t pitch a pup tent … I can see now where we we could have saved .. like the DJ … the over ordering of flowers … too many cupcakes … yadda yadda ….
    but still someone would’ve had to do the music and bake a cake

    Don could’ve worn a suit he owned … the kids just a sun dress … it isn’t written in stone that ushers and groomsmen need a flower …

    however … when you’re doing everything else yourself … those details seemed lilke a fair tradeoff and an eensy weensy luxury …

    the rental companies have us over a barrel …

    I’m a little taken aback at some of the responses

    … I looked hi and lo …
    there was no chipper chicken

  8. Victoria

    I’ll throw my two cents in, too..
    I’m sure the budget looks high to people, but there is a reason we ended up in Indiana and not in the ‘burbs of Chicago – price was a BIG factor. Ours was a little over $5k I believe, but we skimped on many things I now wish I would’ve cared more about including.

    One thing that is difficult to fake with party decor is quality. Take the rosettes I made – the paper was pricy but cheap paper looks cheap. It would’ve drug down the whole affair. Same goes for flowers and clothing – but honestly, cheap often just looks tacky.

    This wedding was gorgeous. IDK how else to say it, but that it looked worth every penny!

  9. Victoria

    hmm… I’ve looked through all the comments and mostly (99% or more) seem to be overwhelmingly positive. Am I missing something?

  10. Meredith

    The brides bouquet is gorgeous!

    You seem to have fed 200 people VERY budget-savvy for only $1600. Cityfarmer mentioned champagne brunch. I would love to know more about the menu and how you were able to tackle serving/food prep on top of all the ohter DIY!


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