I am loving this wedding for many reasons. A) the bride’s name is Jessica. B) she and her hubby are graphic designers C) they pulled off a fab wedding on a budget D) Jessica gives great advice: “Do not worry about what other people think about your wedding.” Seriously- it’s not their wedding, it’s yours! I love her honesty! I hope you enjoy this feature as much as I do.
Where did you get married?
We got married at the historic Union Mills Homestead in Westminster, Maryland. My family and I would spend weekend afternoons picnicking there when I was a child, but we never knew that it could serve as a wedding venue. When we toured their garden and tannery we knew it was just the kind of unique space where we could hold the family-friendly, casual wedding we hoped for.
What was your budget?
My parents were generous enough to pay for most of our wedding, and I was told I could not go over $15,000. I really wanted to help them out by finding the most budget-friendly options out there, so I set a personal goal to stay as close to $10,000 as I could.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
Since Kevin and I are both graphic designers, we tried to incorporate as many creative, personal aspects into our day as we could. One of the most important details to me was the memory table for our family members who are no longer with us. Not having my grandfathers there on our wedding day was something that had been on my mind during much of the planning. I needed to find a nice way to honor them so I bought a variety of beautiful picture frames from Marshalls and filled them with wedding photos from our grandparents' weddings. Many of our guests commented on the pictures and it made us happy to be able to stop and glance at the photos whenever we wanted to during the celebration.
As our wedding planning evolved, we realized we were heading in the direction of a country fair theme. We embraced the country vibe of our venue and put together centerpieces that made us think of a casual picnic date. I bought a few yards of floral fabric on clearance and cut it down into squares for the table centerpieces. We bought flowers in bulk from a local florist and from costco.com and arranged them ourselves in inexpensive terra cotta planters and small bud vases. Votive candles and white lanterns from Ikea created romantic lighting at each table. The fun, dance hall atmosphere was complete after we added pale blue, yellow and white paper lantern clusters to the lights that were already strung in the barn.
As for some of the other inexpensive and crafty aspects of the day: I made a banner out of scrapbook paper triangles that served as a fun decoration and a seating guide. I made the ring bearer pillow from craft felt and I bought the flower girl baskets on sale at Michael's and tied a simple bow around each of them. My family and I made paper flower pomanders to line the aisle. All of these little projects made me feel more connected to our wedding. All of the little details were so much more personal than if I had just gone to a wedding store and bought everything.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
Almost everything we did served the purpose of saving money. We went as DIY as we could with our wedding. Kevin and I designed all of our stationary — the save the dates, invitations and thank you cards. We printed everything at home using paper we bought from a local paper supply warehouse. We used patterned scrapbook paper on many of our projects to give our designs a more country look and feel. I was able to buy the scrapbook paper for a reasonable price in bulk online. We splurged on a Gocco from Japan to print our stationary and used my Xyron to adhere the scrapbook paper to the backs of everything. Our paper products were truly labors of love. We spent countless hours assembling everything and it was definitely worth it in the end. We loved how they turned out and we received so many compliments from guests who couldn't believe they were handmade. More than once a week I would go to Michael's Crafts and use their 40% off coupon to pick up odds and ends like craft supplies, ribbon, paper, frames, and votive candles.
One of our biggest money savers was our venue. For one very reasonable price, the venue was ours for three days. We set everything up on Friday morning and held the rehearsal dinner there Friday night. Our wedding caterer also catered our rehearsal dinner, which was a super casual BBQ with burgers, hot dogs, bbq chicken and cold salads. Then, on Sunday morning after the wedding, we were able to come back to clean up. Setting up and cleaning everything up ourselves, with the help of some very good friends and family, saved us money because we didn't have to pay the caterer extra to do those things. We bought our upscale disposable plates and flatware from Costco, which was cheaper than renting the real thing. My parents found mason jar mugs in a kitchen supply store for $1 each. The mugs served two purposes – we used them for drinks during the reception and also attached a tag to them with our logo so that guests could take them home as favors. We stocked the bar ourselves and stuck to beer, wine and a signature cocktail. The wine was from Trader Joe's and that alone saved us an unbelievable amount of money.
What's the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you're on the other side?
Do not worry about what other people think about your wedding. Do what feels right to you. Our wedding was completely different from any other wedding I have ever been to. When some of our family members found out that our reception was going to be in a barn we got a lot of strange looks. Most people we know are used to the cookie-cutter wedding in a local wedding hall, but we wanted to do something different. It was our day to express ourselves as a couple. We just wanted our guests to relax and have fun without all of the formality that is usually associated with weddings.
Also, be aware that not everything will turn out exactly as you plan, but just roll with it. Our wedding was moved inside at the last minute because of rain. The beautiful garden wedding that I had spent so many months planning just didn’t happen. We didn’t let it bother us and most of our guests had no idea that our indoor wedding was actually a Plan B wedding that Kevin and my father put together a few hours before the ceremony. We were so blessed that the rain stopped for almost an hour after the ceremony so we were able to get some beautiful pictures taken outside. It all works out in the end.
What was your biggest splurge?
Our biggest splurge was our Gocco. It took us a while to make the decision about buying it, but we justified it by knowing that we will use it again and again for future projects like party invitations and Christmas cards. It’s been a lot of fun to use!
What was your favorite detail?
Our favorite detail was our yellow candy buffet. Kevin and I have always shared a love of candy. When we first met as graphic designers at a toy train company, I threw a Starburst at him from across the office with my phone number in it! It has always been something fun we've shared during our relationship so we knew we had to have a ton of sweets at the wedding. The candy buffet that was a huge hit with our guests and really reflected our fun-loving, silly personalities. We bought kraft paper candy bags in bulk online and gocco'd one of Kevin's bird designs on them. We saved money by buying all of the apothecary jars from Marshalls, and the candy was bought in bulk online and from Costco.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
The most memorable moment of the day for me was when the barn door opened and I saw all of the people I love inside. As I walked down the aisle and saw Kevin at the other end waiting for me, it all became so real. After all of the chaos of the planning and last minute details of the day, you realize that those things just do not matter anymore. I was there for one reason: to marry my best friend. I felt so overwhelmed with love and joy, I just feel lucky that I made it through the ceremony without completely breaking down in happy tears!