The Budget Savvy Bride » Lyssah helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank Fri, 01 May 2015 16:30:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Re-purpose + Multipurpose: Two Ways to Save big! Tue, 19 Mar 2013 12:00:24 +0000 Has anyone else noticed just how expensive it can be to make a vision become reality?  You may start off thinking (or, if I am being honest, I was thinking, so for reliability, please insert your own theme here) “Hummmm, I want to have a strong literary vibe to my Victorian tea party theme” and before you know it, a dream is born.  It becomes the picture in your head that provides the setting for the day you’ve held so dear in your heart.  Until you actually start putting it on paper and begin to realize just how many pieces you potentially need to bring it about.  This was my conundrum for a while until I learned the secret of thinking outside the box when it comes to re-purposing an item and getting as many miles out of it as you can (I may even play the Proclaimers “I’m gonna be 500 miles” just to prove a point).

As a case study (because each opportunity will be as different as the dream it is facilitating), I’ll use my own example.  As I mentioned, the literary theme is something we are looking to incorporate.  We are writers, readers and all around book lovers, so it is no surprise it has weaseled its way into our wedding.  We are doing flower decorations with book page roses, heart shaped book confetti and a runner of words, just to name a few projects that require a book for two (and hint*spoiler alert for some up and coming DIY tutorials*).  I entered this thinking books should be pretty cheap to pick up, yard sales and Good Will being overrun as they must be with the advent of the Kindle.  Imagine my surprise when it still cost around 2-3 dollar per hardback at Good Will!  That can add up.  It wasn’t until a trip to Dollar Tree that a new revelation began to unfold.

I have wanted for some time to vary the heights and look of our food displays, and why not consider books for this, as I have for everything else.  While at Dollar Tree picking up some candle holders for our tiered serving dishes (*second spoiler of the post*), we stumbled across the sad Island of Misfit (or overstocked) books.  These books are mostly hardcover and are only $1 apiece.

*Photo Credit* Me
*Photo Credit* Me

I was glad to find an easy and cheap solve for the height issue when it hit me!  I could use some of the pages for the confetti without impacting the look or stability of the book….I could also use pages for the roses from here and there.  Being strategic about how many pages come out of each book and even clipping the confetti out of pages still inside turned my 20 books for 20 bucks into a stock house of resources. Three projects from one element. Are there any projects or elements that can be All-Stars for you in your planning?

*Photo Credit* Me
*Photo Credit* Me


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DIY White Board: Wedding Organization Mon, 11 Mar 2013 15:00:50 +0000 Ok, I have to take a second to brag on my daddy (and my mom)  for just a second, which thankfully segue’s into a great DIY for keeping yourself organized. See, my loving parents have been so great throughout this whole process. In fact, they have been better than any kind of Calendar or wedding planning app.  Who needs a count down widget when my dad reminds me “What is your deadline for the roses, you only have 70 days before your wedding?” After a really long day at work, I discovered my wedding area had been rearranged and some fun and creative motivations were there for me, namely this awesome new white board:

Photo Credit: Me :)
Photo Credit: Me :)

This white board cost about $6 to make and it is super cute. I had picked up the window frame at a flea market for a project a year or so ago.  My mom had seen on Pinterest (insert shocked gasp here) using a picture frame with a white backing to make a message board.  With a little improvisation, my Wedding To Do List White Board was created.

For this project, all you need is the following:

  • An old window pane (these can be picked up pretty cheap at flea markets (in the Nashville area, there is a seller that sells them for $5 a piece)
  • A piece of poster board (normally less than $1 at Walmart)
  • Hot Glue (If you want to keep the back on it.  Eventually, this frame is destined for a different wedding project, so my dad simply set up the poster board behind the frame on my easel for now).
  • (A) Dry erase marker/markers

Because it has three panes, we were able to make a couple columns without worrying about it looking neat, which is a nice feature.

Anyway, shout out to my dad for helping me stay organized and to my mom for her Pinterest stalking :)



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If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…What is the Conversion Rate into $USD? Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 Now, I have no shame in saying my photography is one area where I am ready to put down a chunk of change.  The pictures from our day will be what stay with us, and let’s face it, what helps us piece together the missing parts of the whirlwind we call Wedding Day.  Aside from venue, I probably put more energy into finding a photographer than anything else.  I scoured websites, requested quotes and haunted craigslist looking for deals while still getting a desired result.  You see, I am one of those artsy-fartsy people…Yes, I Instagram and add filters and like photographing old buildings just for the heck of it.  So I don’t want your everyday, “1…2…3 and bridal party jump” pictures.  I want pictures that other people look at and say “That’s so creative…it’s so whimsical…what great quality”.

Yay….the thing about that…most of those type of photo producing packages start at $3500 and when your budget is $5,000-$6,000, it’s a little hard to justify spending over half the budget on photographs.  We have some friends who do great work and they were willing to cut us a deal.  Unfortunately, it was still outside our range and we didn’t think it was fair to ask them to book a day at half price when they could be getting full price from someone else.   I also found a good photographer on Craigslist who had recently relocated and was looking to build her local client base.  We met with her and were really considering her work, but when it boiled down to it, her style was not quite what we were looking for.

Then one day, my wonderful daddy had a wonderful idea.  See, my younger brother is getting married later this year as well (I know, no pressure mom and dad).  My dad reached out to a photographer he knows who, if his portfolio is any indicator, does amazing pictures!  Rich and full and artistic, basically just what we have been looking for (if you want a sneak peek, go ahead and check out his work at .

My dad’s idea: What kind of deal can you make for booking two weddings in one year?

Long story short, because of our personal relationship and booking the two weddings at the same time, our cost came out to $1000 for each wedding-all day and full rights to the pictures.  All for $500 under budget!  So, as you are looking at ways to save money, don’t be afraid to pull resources and work together.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so I guess two weddings in the books would equal 4 unaccounted for.

Photo Credit: Chris Weaver Studios
Photo Credit: Chris Weaver Studios
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The Suit Can Make the Man, but the Deal Can Make the Suit Mon, 25 Feb 2013 16:00:08 +0000 Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

I’m keeping this one short and sweet today.  Sometimes, being budget savvy can be a matter of being in the right place at the right time.  Not to mention, it is exciting when those savings can be passed to other people.  That is exactly what went down as we were suit shopping for Cameron.

Over the Christmas holiday season, we decided to put some muscle into finding my handsome groom a suit, which, surprise, surprise, led us to needing to find groomsmen’s suits as well.  Go figure (insert self-depreciating “doh”).  We decided previously that we would rather do suits than tuxes and when it came down to it, since renting men’s attire can be pretty pricy, we were in the market to buy.  Looking around, we made a quick stop by Men’s Warehouse, knowing that sometimes they have decent sales.  Low and behold, as an end of the year item, they were pushing a buy one, get one and every other one 60% off after that.  Word to the wise, if you can wait until the holiday seaons (particularly the end) to get your man-fashion, do it.  Around New Years, stores are looking to move inventory and prepare for the next season.  This can lead to great deals if you are looking for them.  Back the story at hand 😉 We were stoked to find a really reasonable three piece suit for $249 before any kind of discount was applied.  As an extra bonus-it wasn’t just BOGO + 60% off afterward on suits, but on shirts and ties and everything.

The long and short of it, even though our groomsmen are purchasing their own suits, by ringing them all up together,  Cameron was able to get 6 3 piece suits and 6 shirts for just over $1,000. Because we went with a chain, it’s not as difficult getting even our out of town guys sized, secured and stoked for the wedding.

The moral: Watch for sales, look for opportunities to compound savings through larger orders rather than little ones spread out over time.  Happy Hunting!!!!

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Things I Thought I Knew and Learned I Didn’t Thu, 07 Feb 2013 17:30:32 +0000 Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Let me just start by saying that getting engaged and preparing to get married has been one of the most exciting times in my life. I’d be lying though, if I didn’t include the fact that it has also been one of the most stressful times in my life.

There were things I knew would be stressful and overwhelming.  I mean, I have been a ceremony coordinator at a couple of weddings and even been in charge of the media aspects for weddings that were held at my old church.  I have worked on corporate events and meetings for goodness sake.  This experience left me with a “How hard can it be?” mentality.  I have learned that the answer to that questions is “Crazier than I ever imagined.”

Here are some things I thought I knew would be challenging that I have been surprised at just how much of a challenge they have actually been.

Now, some of it is stuff that is semi-unique as it pertains to Cameron and I, but I am sure somewhere, there are other couples following a similar path as we are.  For instance, he is the youth pastor at our church and the son of the senior pastor, so fine tuning the guest list goes a little beyond “Should we invite your high school band teacher” or “Does etiquette require I invite my boss?”  A couple of months ago, we thought we had our guest list capped at nearly 300.  Then came the questions of do we invite the whole church?  If we do, how to do we manage it logistically?  And as you can guess, this one jump off point has a trickle down into many, many areas.

We found ourselves having to be even more creative with an outdoor venue that was within our budget that could accommodate potentially 300 people actually coming, not the 200 we initially thought would show up.  Is everyone coming to the reception?  How will this affect the cake?  Do we need more favors? For the sake of word count, let’s just quote Yul Brynner and wrap it up with “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…”

I have been very quiet the past month as I have been learning a lesson in compromise and conviction and practicing how to embrace both.  So, today I am going to share a couple things that we have discovered that have helped us out.

Most Important:  At the end of the day, we will be married and surrounded by people who love us.  This is what matters.

Uber Important: Compromise and Conviction are not mutually exclusive.  You can compromise without losing the essence or dreams you’ve held dear.  Here are some examples:

  1. We are inviting the whole congregation, but we are including a perforated RSVP card that will invite people to be part of our day.  If they want to attend, they will provide their contact information and how many people, at which point we will provide the address and time for the ceremony.  This way, we have a little more control and limit last minute show ups, not to mention having a better idea on how many extra to plan for.
  2. We are happy to open our arms to include more people, but we have to very important factors to consider: Budget and Dream.  While discussing this change with Cameron’s parents, we had to be honest and explain that we did not want to sacrifice quality for quantity.  This is the only wedding we plan on having, so we only have one chance to do it.  We all agreed that the added people will equal an added expense, not a realignment of the resources we have.  In this case, his parents have graciously agreed to help with anything that goes above and beyond, since the addition is necessitated by the family position.  In doing so, we were able to compromise without losing our dream.
  3. Making a reception work with 300+ people can be difficult and expensive.  So we decided to host a cake reception immediately following our ceremony for everyone in attendance.  Later in the day, we will be having a private reception for family and friends and out of town guests that will be consistent with our theme.  This allows us to celebrate with everyone without breaking the bank.
  4. Speaking of cake, we wanted a pretty and yummy cake, but getting a wedding cake to feed that many people…yikes!  So, to save again, we have decided to do a tiered cake for display and either “Kitchen Cakes” or cupcakes to make up the difference.  It will still be the same cake, but we will save on the decoration and display costs.  Asking your baker of choice about kitchen cakes can easily cut your cake cost in half, allowing for the best of both worlds.

So, while we have not crossed every bridge just yet, I would say we have successfully navigated quite a few without burning any.  Anyone else running into special cases that drive you to finding your “happy place”?

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A Social Media Wedding Scrapbook using Instagram Thu, 31 Jan 2013 17:30:13 +0000 Sitting at my desk today, I found myself considering the slight irony we put on remembering our wedding day.  Don’t get me wrong…I want to remember every moment and as I have mentioned before, chances are I won’t, which is why photographs are important.  But the closer it gets, the more I realize how precious all of these moments preceding it are. I meant to keep a journal or a video blog or something documenting this time…good intentions swept away in the needs attention items that are popping up more and more frequently.  Luckily, we have a solve!

Cameron and I have planned on utilizing Instagram hashtags as a means of capturing candid pictures of our ceremony and reception as seen through the eyes of our friends.  Thus, #fryawaywithme was born.  My recently engaged baby brother and his fiancé jumped on that bandwagon and improved it immensely.

Sitting around the living room one night, Jared mentioned that they were already hashtagging their wedding planning fun…and they aren’t getting married until September!  It was such a simple solve that we were tempted to kick ourselves for letting tunnel vision narrow the opportunities we could see.  So, from cake tasting and meeting with the caterer to ceremony site visiting and just fun dates and DIY, we are starting our feed early.

To be honest, right now, I can lose sight of the forest thanks to those dang  trees, but it is a little bit of a relief to know six months from now, I can type our hashtag in and have little snippets of this season to remember without all the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How mudding my sight.

Anyone else hashtaging?


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An Outdoor Wedding in April? Tue, 29 Jan 2013 14:00:44 +0000 I live in Nashville, TN, which, for the record, can be quite unpredictable when it comes to the weather.  Now, I feel a bit ahead of the game with an amateur Meteorologist for a fiancé, but there still remains the potential of being rained out and thus, the concern that comes coupled with it.

Cameron and I both want to have an outdoor wedding.  We are youth leaders at our church and spend many hours a week within the walls of the church, which we love.  When we picture exchanging vows and celebrating the beginning of the rest of our lives, it is out in the open.

I have spent weeks upon weeks researching venues in Nashville that can facilitate our rather large guest list and not break the bank.  I confess, when I first determined my budget, I had no idea how large our guest list would be, but that is for another post.  When your budget is only $6000, paying $1500 just to set up chairs is hard to justify.

So, as a result, Cameron and I began investigating alternative locations.  There was no shortage of options, but again, for every option, there was an equal and opposite condition.   It seemed like every option came with a condition that sought to punch a hole in my dreams.

One location we considered was Bowie Nature Park.  They have a beautiful outdoor classroom that can be rented for $75 for the day.  The catch: It only holds 100 people and allows no food or drink inside the classroom.  Sad days…it was really pretty.

I know the easy answer is rent a tent , but once you add on staking fees and permits, that pesky little price continues to climb up.  So, now, we are exploring (and may just have settled on) having it in beautiful Edwin Warner Park.  We can rent a shelter that, with a little gussying up, will be awesome and cost less than $30.  The surrounding park area is beautiful and lush and promises to serve as a great backdrop for our event.

For the record, we do have a backup indoor venue that can be used if necessary, so we’re not just flying blind.  I’ll keep you posted as plans unfold.

But I’m curious, are we crazy—any advice from those who have had an outdoor wedding in the heart of spring?

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DIY Challenge: Number 1-Invites Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:00:54 +0000 Ok, I have to be honest, I am that girl…I have always been that girl and even as I age and mature, in some ways, I will continue to be that girl.  I don’t like trends and I get quite annoyed when time catches up with taste and subculture becomes the standard.  So, I guess it stands to reason that when I see something I like go from obscure to trend, I tend to shy away.  Case in point– at one point I dreamed of Mason Jars… then Pinterest was inundated with them and while I still think they are lovely, I can’t imagine them as part of my day anymore.

So, starting at the beginning, I decided I wanted our Invitations (which will be going out in the next month *squeel*) to be our own little piece of history.  Now, before I sound like a hypocrite, I have to say…I am all for re-purposing and taking a piece and making it your own.  So, in this process, I have to give a shout out to and some of their amazing free downloads.  With the help of a lovely monogram, we were able to have a base around which we designed the layout of our wedding invitations- a cute little book with our story.

Now we have the design and we are finalizing having them printed or running them ourselves.  Once we have posted and shipped them all, I will post a picture of the final product.  In the meantime, here is a little teaser to whet your appetite.


Photo Credit (As it is): Me
Photo Credit (As it is): Me


Have you utilized any free resources for your invitations or other wedding related DIY projects? If so, share the links here in the comments!!

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A cheap DIY Save the Date idea! Fri, 11 Jan 2013 14:00:37 +0000 Have you ever noticed how many sites and people there are that will tell you what you need, what you like and what you should have to ensure the best wedding possible?  Some are well meaning and some are simply capitalizing on the fondly kept and anticipated dreams of little girls that have practiced walking down the aisle since they were five.  To be honest, I love hearing how others have made their day happen and I appreciate the opportunity to learn from those who have gone before or been in the business long enough to know.  In all of this, I’ve learned when it is all said and done, it is the pieces that represent the two of us that are most satisfying.

Take our Save the Date’s for example.  Because our engagement is not a long one and to save on the elastic in the purse strings, we decided to send as many as possible via e-mail.  I scoured different sites, looking for a Save the Date that fit us, but most came up short.  I liked the features associated with sites like, but I didn’t want a cookie cutter Save the Date.

With this revelation, I began to think about things that are special to us as individuals and to our relationship.  Then it hit me.  My wonderful Fiance is Mr. Weather Man.  He is a hobbyist meteorologist, so much so that most of our friends ask him what is developing before consulting  The result:

Issue a Wedding Watch!

We haven’t gotten around to engagement pictures just yet, so I picked out a favorite shot from one of our first dates.  I’m not that proficient in photo shop, so, as an Admin, I stuck to what I know and designed our Wedding Forecast in PowerPoint.  After a little nipping and tucking, I saved it as an .jpeg and BAM– personalized photo concept ready to upload into a free Save the Date provided by

Not a graphic designer but you want something personal?  Break out some of your clerical skills.  Don’t want something that has been done to death? Find something that makes the two of you the two of you and embrace it.

So, I guess to sum it all up, for me, the key to saving money so far has been sticking to who we are and not just caving to what people tell me we need.  The result: a Save the Date that our friends and family love because it is so us, or so all our posse tells us ;).

Let me know what you think! For a cheap DIY save the date idea, I’m pretty proud of it!

Photo Credit: Cameron Fry & Lyssah Ferguson. Save the Date layout credit:

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Using Pinterest to Plan Your Wedding Mon, 31 Dec 2012 13:00:56 +0000 using pinterest to plan your wedding

So, I have been engaged long enough to exhaust potential venues and be on the exhausted side of guest list planning.  But while there have been highs and lows, I just noticed one thing that is surprisingly missing.

I have yet to buy a bridal magazine.  That’s right; I have yet to even pick one up in the grocery line.  Yet I don’t feel anything is lacking.  I have seen friends drop a hefty chunk on grabbing up the inspiration laden books created to further the dreams and imagination of girls everywhere.  And while I am sure flipping through those pages has its reward, I must confess, my abstinence is not without an alternative.

Are you using Pinterest to plan your wedding? Personally, I am a Pinterest junkie.  From the website to the app on my phone, I have easily surpassed those magazine brides to be in hours logged searching, pinning and gleaning the inspiration I didn’t even know I was looking for.  When I set out on this journey, I was leaning toward a traditional shabby chic motif.  But little by little, ideas and DIY items that spoke to a deeper place began to creep into my Pinterest feed.

Gotta admit, I like that I am able to get a wide variety of resources through one site and without spending $3-$7 per installment.  So, as a bit of a teaser, here are a couple items you may just see at my wedding, courtesy of my magazine-free Pinterest obsession.

Image from


image from


Image from Etsy

Tips for Using Pinterest to Plan your Wedding:

  • Create separate boards for all different aspects of the wedding. Make boards for wedding floral inspiration, wedding decor, diy projects, wedding color scheme options, wedding hairstyles, or any other area you need to gather ideas and inspiration for.
  • Curate images and lists of things you love. Go crazy pinning away! Install the ‘Pin it’ bookmarklet to your browser so you can pin images from your favorite blogs and websites.
  • Don’t just follow your friends, follow your favorite wedding blogs on Pinterest- they pin lots of great inspiration, too!!
  • Use your new inspiration boards to help narrow down your vision for your big day.

Anyway, these are just a few items I will be updating and posting my own experience with.  And all thanks to a little website called Pinterest.  Who needs a magazine? Amiright?

Are you using Pinterest to plan your wedding?

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