What I spent on my Long Island wedding — and if it was worth the cost

Danielle Petry, 35, of Islip Terrace had a “no budget” wedding in May of 2019 at the Inn at New Hyde Park.  Credit: Danielle Petry

Attention to detail at Nicole Danielle Noulis’ DIY October 2021 backyard wedding at her parents’ house in Farmingville was on point. Though challenging, the bride, 40, was determined to stay on a $16,000 budget. And she did it with great flair.

There were plenty of frills: a station of wrapped blankets — a giveaway to guests with a sign that read, “to have and to hold in case you get cold,” along with wooden flower centerpieces so artfully hand dyed they looked real, and elegant golden napkin rings on all the tables, these spray-painted plastic shower rings purchased at Dollar Tree. The pictures underscored the fact that the budget-friendly wedding came together without a hitch.

Nicole Danielle Noulis’ October 2021 DIY wedding in her parents'...

Nicole Danielle Noulis’ October 2021 DIY wedding in her parents' backyard in Farmingville, was a gorgeous affair that cost $16,000.  Credit: Nicole Noulis

But in retrospect, Noulis says, “My biggest regret was not having the photographer longer. There aren’t that many pictures of just my husband and me unfortunately." 

The couple paid $3,000 for photos, this their biggest ticket item. "Had I spent more,” she says, “and had them longer, I would have gotten more.”

Truth told, there are always afterthoughts on weddings — especially given the cost commitment.

Heather Cunningham, the owner of local bridal organization Brides of Long Island, with 22,100 members on Facebook, says she's found local weddings average $62,000.

But Noulis’ lesson, even on a budget, had us wondering what wisdom other newish brides can impart to folks in the planning stages, about to spend the big bucks. 

We asked them to share their total spends, highest priced item (other than the venue itself) and what, if anything, they would have done differently.

Jenny Bollet Trompeter, 29, Glen Cove

Credit: Jenny Trompeter

Tied the knot: October 2022

Venue: Garden City Hotel, Garden City

Guest count: 160

Total spent: $100,000

Biggest ticket item: Flowers, $10,000

Her wedding day takeaway: Trompeter was over the moon about the entire affair to her now-husband Michael. “The whole thing was amazing,” she says … except for one thing. “I loved my dress, but by the end of the night I was so uncomfortable that I wish I had brought a change of dress for the party," she says of her $5,000 Essence of Australia gown. "I could have worn the dress I wore to my bridal shower.” 

Marni Nichols, 33, Amityville

Credit: Christian Shackton / Natura Collective

Tied the knot: December 2022

Venue: de Seversky Mansion, Glen Head

Total spent: $75,000

Guest count: 130

Biggest ticket item: Photography, $6,000

Her wedding day takeaway: A friend gave Nichols a pre-wedding bit of advice: Set aside $5,000 per vendor, some will be less, “and that’s like found money,” she says, although some were more. "There was comfort in managing those expectations,” says Nichols. The couple also did their own thing. “We tried not to get swept up in social media and trends, we didn’t go on Pinterest,” she explains. As for the photos, they were well worth it. “You could have the most perfect day but you won’t be able to relive it without great photos and you want them to be good and your style. Of particular importance to her and her wife, Katherine Karpinski, 36, was using a photographer that “understood a same sex couple.”

Jenelle Fiori, 33, Amityville

Credit: Jenelle Fiori

Tied the knot: August 2023

Venue: The Mansion at Timber Point, East Islip

Total spent: $35,000

Guest count: 132

Biggest ticket item: Her dress, $2,300

Her wedding day takeaway: “Looking back on it was such a wonderful night, and I’m glad we did what we did, but the biggest thing I was shocked at was the overall price," she says of the day she married Logan Canaday. "I was originally thinking of doing it in a park. I had an idea that I wasn’t going to be as all out as other brides, but as you go, you realize how it happens. It would have been helpful to have a breakdown of it all in the beginning.”

Shelley Viola, 34, Huntington

Credit: Shelley Viola

Tied the knot: June 2021

Venue: Chateau at Coindre Hall, Huntington

Total spent: $45,000

Guest count: 100

Biggest ticket item: Photography, $6,000

Her wedding day takeaway: “I was generally happy,” says Viola of the day she married now-husband Ty. "But I do wish that I would have put more responsibility on other people. I was in charge and I think it was too much, I was worried about things like getting the vendors paid. It’s one day and it goes by really quick.”

Danielle Petry, 35, Islip Terrace

Credit: Danielle Petry

Tied the knot: May 2019

Venue: The Inn at New Hyde Park

Total spent: $135,000

Guest count: 320

Biggest ticket item: Photography/video $12,000 along with spending “a ridiculous amount on invitations” $6,500 “that people are still talking about.”

Her wedding day takeaway: It was a “no budget” wedding for Danielle Petry and husband Matthew who saved for two years so, “we could do anything we wanted to,” says Danielle. Though she smiles about it now, there were issues. First, at the church, the deacon called her the wrong name (that of Matthew’s former girlfriend) throughout the service, prompting her father to say, “That was the worst ceremony I’ve ever been to.” To add to the aggravation, the air conditioning at the venue went out leaving the bride and guests broiling. That said, “People had the best time.” Her advice to future brides? “Everybody always freaks out about transportation. I went to the church in an old-fashioned car with my parents and that’s something I would do again; it was such a special time for us.”

Expert tips from a wedding pro

Huntington-based events planner Michael Russo of Michael Russo Events has planned and overseen loads of weddings, some high-rolling affairs for celebrities such as Kevin Jonas, Elvis Duran and “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay, and others for those who have budgetary concerns.

A fan of Long Island as a location, he says, “You’re not locked into one type of wedding. There are so many venues here for every kind of wedding from farm, coastal, vineyard and castle. The choices are unlimited and it’s so beautiful.” And he reminds that, “While everything can be planned to a tee, sometimes stuff just happens, so go with it.” 

We tapped him for some wedding tips:

— Very important, says Russo, “If you’re trying to stay on budget, find a place where they have everything in-house: the tables, the food and linens.”

— Along those same lines, “Don’t choose a place where you have to change everything about it. When you know you have the perfect place, think about how you will accessorize it to make it your own.”

— A Russo mantra: “Focus on what’s important to you, not what’s important to everyone else.”

— A must, he explains, “One of the trickiest elements in wedding planning is weather. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding definitely have a solid plan B and accept it.”

— And finally, if you’re looking to save a little money, “Depend on the people around you who are really great in their fields. Lean into your friends and family for their expertise, maybe they’re a crafter or a baker. You’d be surprised at how much people will be more than willing to help and happy to play a part in your special day.”


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