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This might be one of my favorite BSWOWs ever! First of all, I am a HUGE sucker for sunflowers. I had an embarrassing amount of sunflower decor in my bedroom as a teenager, and they just make me super happy. :) This wedding has some incredible details and I am so glad that Liz was a reader of BSB while she was planning her wedding! She managed to pull off a creative, handcrafted affair for a modest budget, including her honeymoon. She’s definitely a budget savvy bride! Her amazing photographer, Deborah Zoe, submitted this wedding via Two Bright Lights and I totally swooned over her incredible images of the handmade details. I had the hardest time editing down to a reasonable amount of photos so this might be one of the more photo-heavy posts I’ve done. I also think that the pic of her bridesmaids just might be one of the cutest bridal party photos I’ve ever seen: navy + sunflowers + cowboy boots= love. :) Hope you enjoy this edition of the BSWOW!

Ben & Liz

April 9, 2011
Cape Neddick, ME

What was your budget? If you are able, give us a rough breakdown of how you spent your budget.

We did everything for around $10,800, INCLUDING our honeymoon. Our goal was to be around $10,000, but we went a little over when we splurged on a few things such as photography. Considering our honeymoon was included in the total though makes me feel like we hit our mark pretty well. The breakdown is:

Reception & Catering – $5,700
Photography – $2,500
Flowers – $625 (Costco & )
Invitations – $250
Decorations – $380
Dress – $30 (I know, right?!)
Honeymoon – $625
Other clothing / hair – $350
Misc (gifts, etc) – $300

How many guests did you have?

We invited about 210, and ended up having around 170.

What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?

We did a lot of DIY decorations, and involved our community of family in friends in a LOT of different aspects of the wedding. We both love things that have a rustic and antique feeling to it, so we knew that we could get away with doing a lot of things ourselves. We did all of our own flower arrangements, bouquets and boutonnieres the day before and it gave me an excuse to have a lot of my girlfriends who were in from out of town over for morning of flowers and mimosas. Also, a dear friend of mine who is an amazing baker made our wedding cake as a gift to us. I involved friends in making all of our centerpieces, table numbers, favors, decorations, etc etc. We spent hours putting together sunflower seed packets to give away to our guests! I’ve received a lot of pictures of the seedlings now growing in friends yards. Last, one of my favorite things we did was a non-traditional guest book. A friend of mine who does graphic design made us a ‘wedding tree’ where guests could ‘leaf’ their thumbprint, and sign their name. We now have it hanging on our bedroom wall.

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Four things. One – I went a non-traditional route with a dress. I got my dress at Nordstrom‘s Rack and was able to buy it for $30! It looked MUCH more expensive than that, and nobody believed me that I spent so little. I figure I saved us around $1,000 with that move.  Second – we did our own flower arrangements which was much more fun and probably saved us $2,000. Third – We used a videographer who is just breaking into the business and offered to shoot our wedding for free if we allowed him to use all our footage for PR. We got an amazing video and an amazing deal! Fourth – The non-profit I work at has a great sound system which we borrowed for the dance party. A friend emceed and did a great job!

What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?

Ask for help and use your friends talents! We saved so much money (and time and stress) by involving loved ones in the planning process and letting them gift us things that they were good at and wanted to do. I know at times it was hard for me to let go of certain aspects of the planning, and trust that things would be done well, but in the end it ended up being great. Second bit of advice is if you don’t have a day of coordinator (I didn’t), to designate two people to oversee the details of the day. I had one member of my bridal party who was responsible for making sure people in the bridal party and family were where they were supposed to be, and then I had a good friend oversee decorating and setting up our reception site and making sure all of that went smoothly. It meant I didn’t have to think about any of the details the day off.

What was your biggest splurge?

Definitely our reception site. We wanted to make sure we had a great location that was very ‘us’ for people to go to, and make sure they had good food. We were able to afford it by having an ‘off season’ wedding.

What was your favorite detail?

I think our cake was my favorite! For a bit, we weren’t actually sure that she was going to be able to make it, and we started looking at different vendors., My friend offered to make it as soon as we were engaged, but our reception site required some sort of liability insurance. It took a long time to figure it out, and at one point we thought we would have to scrap the whole idea but in the end it worked out. She put so much work into it, and her kids even helped make it (her son was our ring bearer). It was so beautiful and made with so much love.

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Our first dance. We both hate slow dancing, and thought we would look so silly (I am a little bit taller than Ben). When it came time to dance though, it ended up being such a special moment to just be there together and we didn’t even care how we looked.


Church: First Baptist Church of Hampton Falls
Reception: Clay Hill Farm
Photography: Deborah Zoe Photo
Videographer: Fresh Focus Pictures
Flowers: Costco and Fifty Flowers
Cake: Sarah Riddle (friend)
Dress: Nordstrom Rack
Suit: Kohls
Bridesmaid dresses: David’s Bridal

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About Jessica

Jessica is the creator of The Budget Savvy Bride; she launched the site in May of 2008, shortly after becoming engaged. Jessica has been recognized as a budget wedding expert by various media outlets and continues to share realistic inspiration and actionable tips to help brides save money on their weddings. Google

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  • Jasmine

    Thanks for showing us that couples can set spending limits and achieve them (well with a little bit of wiggle room). Congrats to the happy couple!

  • Kelly

    All I can say is yay! Yay to the beautiful full figured bride. Yay to featuring a bride that is taller than the groom (I'm taller than my fiance). Yay to the fact that the grooms and groomsmen seem to be wearing different suits, yet everything looks fabulous. I love this wedding!

    • savvybride

      I was so thrilled to feature this wedding for all of the reasons above! Glad you love it as much as me! :)

      • Kelly

        I read a lot of wedding blogs. I have to say that in my opinion, you do the best job picking diverse weddings. With some blogs, I feel as if I'm looking at the same wedding over and over again. You features brides and grooms from many different backgrounds, and in all shapes and sizes. You feature weddings from all around the country, from small towns to big cities. You feature weddings with tiny budgets and those that are on the higher end of "budget" weddings. Thanks so much for featuring this and many other wonderful weddings.

        • savvybride

          Kelly, thank you so much for your kind comment. I really strive to keep our wedding features diverse in all the aspects you described above, so I'm so glad to know that the readers appreciate it! :) Thanks so much for reading!

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