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Whitestone Country Inn, Kingston, TN

Wednesday, March 7, 2007
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While planning my 2004 wedding, I looked at several venues in the area. Aesthetics are very important to me, and I knew that I wanted something picturesque and elegant. Initially I liked the idea of having a ceremony outside, but the stress of not having an indoor option for inclement weather turned me off at a few locations. Once I visited Whitestone Country Inn, I knew that I had found the perfect place.

Whitestone has a cute little gazebo area with a gorgeous view if you want to have an outdoor ceremony, but they also have a little chapel available. Since our wedding was in June, I was a bit worried about the temperatures outside and decided to use the chapel. A spring or fall wedding overlooking the lake would be beautiful though.

Not only are the grounds beautiful, but the buildings are all great inside and out. I stayed in a large room with my girlfriends the night before the wedding and then stayed in another nice suite on my wedding night. All of our family and friends were well taken care of and commented on how nice the venue was. The food was excellent, and the coordinator worked with me to accomodate all of my requests and to make the day run smoothly.

It was the perfect venue for us, and I am so glad that I found it. Here are a few snapshots:

The early morning view from my balcony:

Venue Spotlight: Whitestone Country Inn

Looking up the hill to the chapel and reception building:
Venue Spotlight: Whitestone Country Inn

The gazebo and heart-shaped courtyard located next to the chapel:
Venue Spotlight: Whitestone Country Inn

Not every venue will work for every wedding, and there are a few things to consider with this location. The ceremony areas and reception hall are not extremely large. The inn is located out in the country down some small, winding roads. This may present a problem for guests traveling home afterward. Due to the inclusive nature of the weekend wedding packages and the exclusivity of the venue, many budgets will not be able to afford this venue. However, if you fall in love with the location then you may be able to find other areas to cut back in or work with the venue on a weekday or off-season wedding.
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On Location, Knoxville, TN

Sunday, March 4, 2007
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I ran into an interesting report online today about how much people are spending on weddings. It sounds a little unbelievable, but anyone planning a wedding can attest to how fast everything adds up. I thought that those of you planning a wedding might want to see how your budget compares to that of the average American wedding couple.

The average American wedding in 2006 cost almost $27,000 with the average for weddings around Knoxville closer to $23,000. The following numbers are a general breakdown and should be adjusted for inflation since 2006.

Wedding attire (dress, tux, hair, makeup, veil, accessories) = $1,800-1,900
Wedding Ceremony (location, decorations, officiate, rehearsal dinner) = $1,800-2,300
Favors & Gifts (for parents, attendants, and guests) = $800-1,100
Flowers (bouquets, decorations/centerpieces, bouts, corsages) = $1,400-1,700
Jewelry (his & her rings) = $1,500-1,700
Music (ceremony & reception) = $700-900
Photography = $2,700-4,000
Reception (wedding night hotel, beverages, food, venue, rentals, cake) = $10,000-13,000
Stationery = $600-800
Transportation = $300-500
Engagement ring = $3,100
Honeymoon = $2,600

It all sounds very expensive, but it is possible to have the wedding you want and still stick to a budget if you prioritize. My husband and I paid for our wedding ourselves and had to find creative ways to keep the price down. By finding ways to cut back in some areas, we were able to spend our money on the things that were most important to us.

I booked the venue I wanted - Whitestone Country Inn. I picked the rings I wanted (after all, I do plan on wearing them every day). My husband Marcus wanted a sit-down dinner so that is what we had.

So which areas did I save money on? Luckily, I had a wonderful friend to do the photography. I found Hallmark invitations on sale, and we printed the inserts and STD magnets ourselves. I bought flowers and did the bouquets myself. We ordered his wedding band online. I made my own veil, tiara, and jewelry. The centerpieces were bought on sale at Target after Easter. We had a sit-down dinner but did not serve alcohol (would have been a bad idea since our guests had to drive home in the dark). We kept the guestlist small. We had live music for the ceremony but used CDs for the reception. We did not have a rehearsal dinner (our rehearsal was the morning of the wedding). We did not give out favors to the guests (from experience, I know that they aren't missed). The ceremony and reception were in one location so there were no transportation costs and no rental fees. Happily, Marcus's parents gave us some money as a gift to use toward the honeymoon, and I had enough frequent flyer miles to cover the plane tickets so we were able to go to Italy like I wanted.

Also, we did not hire a videographer. We did, however, have a friend shoot some video throughout the day and put together a little video montage for us. The first time I watched it, I cried, but now we can't help but laugh at ourselves when we see it.

We had an amazing, beautiful wedding. By deciding what's most important to you and what areas you can cut back on, you too can have the wedding you dream of.

Edited 2008: This thread has received some renewed interest lately. Unfortunately, I don't have up-to-date numbers so keep in mind that these figures are a couple years old now. My current clients usually spend between $3,500 and $5,000 on their total photography coverage. My clients appreciate good photography and consider it an important part of their budget so they are willing to pay for the time and skill necessary to create beautiful imagery. However, I am not in a high-end market. Those living in large cities or different parts of the country can expect to pay considerably more for comparable work.

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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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