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I had such a hard time narrowing down the images for this Two Bright Lights submitted feature from Deborah Zoe! So many gorgeous shots, so many darling details. This fall wedding really warms my heart- from the bridesmaid styling to the season appropriate color scheme and centerpieces- it’s just stunning! Best of all, the bride had around 180 guests and pulled it all off for $7,000! Inspiring! Hope you all enjoy this feature as much as I have! 

Where did you get married?

North Church, Portsmouth NH, reception at a friend’s house in Madbury, NH

What was your budget? Give a rough breakdown of what you spent if possible.

We wanted to keep our wedding in the $6,000 range, and definitely wanted to stay under $8,000. We spent around $7,000.

How many guests did you have?

We invited 260, and ended up with 180 guests at the wedding ceremony and reception.

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

My friend Colleen offered her Victorian house for our reception; this was a perfect fit for us! We wanted the reception to feel very informal and fun, like a big party with all of our friends and family. In my friend’s yard we set up two tents, a dance floor, a fire pit with s’mores, and tables and chairs under the tents and around the fire pit. Some people sat outside, and some sat inside the house which is beautifully decorated.

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

In order to save money (and because we thought it would be more fun), we decided to have an informal buffet dinner with Thai take-out from a local family-owned restaurant. We paid a few professional caterers (who are friends of ours) to serve the food. It was incredible food, professionally served, and one of the highlights of our reception. Our food costs for 180 guests were about $1300. That’s about $7/person!

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

Don’t assume that you have to spend a lot of money to have the wedding of your dreams. If you’re able to put in the time you can save money on most aspects of your wedding, from making your own invitations to asking for help from your creative friends.  In fact, one of the favorite parts of my wedding was how many of my friends and family were involved with making it happen; it’s so much more fun that way!

What was your biggest splurge?

Our biggest splurge was the photography, but it was worth it! When we look back on our wedding 30 years from now, we’ll have beautiful pictures to remind us of the day.

What was your favorite detail?

I loved my flowers. My friend Julie offered to make the flower arrangements and she is so talented. In order to save money, we used fake berries and some silk flowers for bouquet filler and I bought fresh-cut flowers (roses, alstromeria, heather, etc.) from a local florist. Because we didn’t use all real flowers, because my friend made the arrangements, and because the florist gave me a 50% military discount on the fresh flowers (I’m in the military), we were able to spend only $150 for my bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages. And they were beautiful and exactly what I envisioned!

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Definitely the most memorable moment of the day was walking down the aisle towards Jay without a doubt in my mind that I was ready to commit to being with him forever. Through all the wedding planning, Jay kept saying, “No matter what happens, at the end of the day we’ll be married; and that’s what counts.” Although I really enjoyed planning the wedding and thinking about all the little details, at the end of the day a wedding is about saying vows to your best friend – the rest is just detail.


Photography: Deborah Zoe Photo

Dress: Monique Lou, from David’s Bridal

Flowers: Jardiniere

Floral arrangements: Julie (a friend)

Food: Sara Thai Restaurant

Caterers: Bram Hepburn, Great Bay Catering

Hair: Adriana at the Wingate Salon

Centerpieces: Bumblebee & Sophie

DJ: Billy (brother of the bride)

Videographer: James (a friend)

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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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  • Tami

    Aww love these pictures! The Bride is soooo pretty! Awesome job with the budget too! Awesome!

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  • Danielle

    The black and white photos are amazing!! Great post, Jessica! Have a great holiday!

  • Gina

    I love the colors and I love that the bride wore her beautiful long hair down! Seems like most brides opt for an updo which to me is silly when you have gorgeous long hair like this bride!

    • savvybride

      I definitely agree! I wore my hair mostly down on my wedding day– I spent so long growing it out, I had to show it off! haha. :)

  • Kristin

    This gives me hope for my upcoming wedding! Already the guest list is getting larger but if she can get married for $7000 in NH, I can do something similar in central IL!

    • savvybride

      absolutely! you can do it! :)

  • Christina Moore

    What a beautiful wedding! I love your dress and the colors you chose for the flower arrangements. A big way I saved money on my wedding was doing it myself rather than hiring a wedding planner. Check out the difference yourself.

  • Becs

    As a guest, I can say first hand that it was an amazing wedding. I had no idea that they had spent so little. It was gorgeous and like Emily said, it was a huge party. The house was amazing, the food delicious, and overall it was a perfect representation of who Emily and Jay are as individuals and also as a couple. :)

    • savvybride

      sounds like a rave review from a guest! that's something I always hoped to achieve at my own wedding. :)

  • Sam

    Wow. I love this wedding. And the bouquets are beautiful. I'm not really into flowers. But when I saw those, I was blown away. I can't believe some of them are fake. They look great.

  • Jeannine

    I think that dress is Monique Luo, not Monique Lhuillier! From what I've read, David's Bridal deliberately went for a name that would be confused with the big name designer.

    • savvybride

      you were right! I was copy editing and thought it was an abbreviation… :) bad blog editor!