The Budget Savvy Bride » $5k wedding helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank Sat, 28 Mar 2015 20:01:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Intimate Lavender Wedding Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:00:29 +0000

Today’s featured wedding comes to us from Virginia. Cory and Mae kept their wedding costs to just more than $4,000 by using the same venue for the ceremony and reception and accepting the help of generous family and friends.  I love the creativity and industriousness they demonstrated by using Spotify for their music, purchasing their own alcohol and choosing to alter a used wedding dress versus buying new. This gray and lavender wedding shows ways you can trim your budget without compromising the spirit of the event. xoxo, Jessica

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Cory + Mae

November 9, 2014

Waynesboro, Virginia | Fairfax Hall

What was your wedding budget?

Our target budget was $3900.

Venue: $1000

Cake: $335

Total Flowers: $339 (this was the cost of the flowers/bouquets alone—a good friend did all of the flower arrangements for decorating, all the corsages and boutonnieres, and my bouquet was a fabric bouquet from Etsy custom-made in Israel—it cost less than many real flower bouquets, was gorgeous, and I get to keep it forever).

Photographer: $300 (for a second shooter)—my main photography was FREE! (a special wedding gift from my sister/matron of honor, as she is a professional photographer)

Music: $10 (my fiancé and I signed up for music for one month on Spotify and downloaded all the songs we wanted onto a playlist)

DJ: FREE (another special gift from my brother-in-law)

Food: $300 (a friend catered it for free, and only charged for the cost of the barbeque food)

Caterer: $200 (a gift to my friend for catering)

Dress: $350 (found used dress in the wrong size that I loved, had it tailored to fit)

Hair: $170 (for myself and three bridesmaids)

Alcohol: $300 (bought nice boxed wine and good glass bottled beer)

Table linens: $235

Seat covers for ceremony: $100

Invitations: $50

Decorations: $300

Wedding wands: $134


Total spent: $4123 (Cory and I contributed the additional money above my parents’ budget).



How many guests did you have?

94 guests (including the wedding party)



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

I did all the decorations myself. Our “guestbook” was a large picture frame with a border about 1 foot thick all the way around. I painted it our wedding colors and put an engagement picture in the middle. People signed with white paint pen and now we have it hanging in our bedroom.


I also included a board with pictures from our childhoods covering it, another board with pictures of us while dating, and another board with interesting wedding facts written on scrolls.


One very personal and special aspect was that I walked down the aisle to “Wonderwall” by Oasis, which was the first song that my husband played for me before we even started dating, to tell me how he felt about me. Walking down the aisle to that song was so meaningful and Cory had no idea ahead of time, so he was floored.


My dad not only gave me away but he also officiated the ceremony, which was super special for me. My brother was the one who asked, “Who gives my sister to marry this man?” (which is something I have wanted my whole life). My little 1 year old niece was my flower girl, and she toddled down the aisle and tried to pick up some rose petals to put in her little lace-lined pail. It was adorable. My sister Maria was my matron of honor and my photographer (I’m still not quite sure how she managed to pull that one off!), my other sister, Megan, was one of my bridesmaids and her and her boyfriend played music during the reception and during our cake cutting. My sister-in-law, Kelsey, was my third bridesmaid. Nathan, my brother-in-law, coordinated all of our music for us, and it went off without a hitch. Cory’s groomsmen consisted of my brother and his closest friends and his brother. Our ring bearer was one of Cory’s nephews, who was absolutely adorable. Overall, having my family so involved in our wedding and close during the process was hands down one of my favorite aspects of our wedding.




What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

I did/made my own decorations and had friends do the flowers and catering, and my family helped so much. I could not have had this nice of a wedding on our budget without friends and family pitching in to help. Honestly, it was well worth it because each detail was so much more meaningful because it was personalized and I spent time and effort on each piece.



What was the biggest sacrifice you made to stay on budget?

Although it turned out not to be much of a sacrifice, we decided not to include wedding favors for our guests. We felt that the options we could afford would be items that our guests wouldn’t use anyway. We decided that the alcohol and food counted as a wedding favor!



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

Remind yourself why you are even having a wedding in the first place. Whenever I was tempted to stress out, I reminded myself that at the end of the day, surrounded by people that we love, Cory and I would be married. I stayed focused on that aspect, and tried not to worry too much about how every little detail would fit together and be perfect. Even when my flowers arrived in the wrong color (hot pink instead of lavender) I allowed myself a “mini-cry” in the car, and then decided quickly to move on and embrace it as a funny story for later. Also, I know everyone tells you to do exactly what you want and how you want it because this is “your day” to be selfish. However, I decided not to go this route. I asked for input from family and friends and considered others’ wishes. I was much happier this way and would not have done it differently at all. Plus my friends and family were all very supportive and no one made any crazy demands.



What was your biggest splurge?

The venue. It was beautiful and convenient that the ceremony and reception could all be held at the same place. This also saved money because I only had to decorate one place.



What was your favorite detail?

I could not possibly pick a favorite detail. I did love my mason jars with flowers on lace and gray burlap as centerpieces, and I loved my fabric (not silk!) bouquet. “Our Vows,” framed with a frame that I hand-painted and glued fabric flowers to the corner, written with white pen on a black “chalkboard background” was one of my favorites as well. I also loved the little tin pail that I bought for $2 and decorated with lace and a lavender fabric flower for my tiny flower girl. I loved having little unique details like these.



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

There are so many….the funniest one was when we did the exchanging of rings. We each had one line to say, unprompted, and Cory’s was first. He began placing the ring on my hand and I realized he had forgotten that he needed to say something. So I quietly whispered, “with this ring…” (which was NOT how it was supposed to go!—I had forgotten how it began). So Cory starts, “With this ring….” Then he realized that that wasn’t right, and had to turn to my dad to ask what he was supposed to say. This resulted in a room filled with chuckles. Cory said, “I give you this ring as a symbol of our covenant.” Now it was my turn. As I placed the ring on his finger, I completely blanked (even though he had JUST said it) and I started laughing and had to ask my dad what to say. At this point the room erupted in laughter. It was great. Cory and I were both giggling. We’ll never forget it.




Photography: Maria Grace Photography  •  Hair: Kristin at the Hair Cuttery  •  Cake: Buttercream Dreams  •  Venue: Fairfax Dining Hall


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Fall Wine Country Wedding Wed, 15 Oct 2014 12:00:00 +0000 real budget wedding

You will love this lovely fall wine country wedding! The couple kept things simple and sweet, with an intimate guest list of 12 people. They spent the majority of their budget on the venue which was also the accommodations for the guests for the weekend. Such a nice way to spend a weekend, and a lovely savvy wedding as a result! Hope you enjoy this bride’s advice! xoxo Jessica

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Tracey + Adam

November 2, 2013

Napa, CA  | Private Estate


What was your wedding budget?

About $5000 was the most that we wanted to spend on everything.  The home we rented for two nights was $2200, but we split the cost with guests so that everyone could stay at the same place and it would be more affordable for everyone coming instead of them having to find separate more expensive lodging.  My dress (including alterations and undergarments) and my shoes totaled a little less than $1000.  My husband’s outfit and shoes equaled about $250 (he was able to wear all the items again as other outfits). Photographer was about $375.  Wedding cake cost was $100 which included shipping it to California. Alcohol and the food for appetizers and main course totaled somewhere around $200.  Cost for marriage license and person to officiate was less than $200.  Our round trip flights to San Francisco were about $800.

How many guests did you have?

12 total.



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

We made our own flower bouquets.  When my husband and I first got engaged, the only request that he had was that the main color of our wedding be purple.  He had remembered that my mother’s (she passed away when I was 17) favorite color was purple. When discussing this with my sister, she and I both thought it would be so great if we could use Louisiana blue irises in the bouquets.  My mother loved these flowers and also grew them.  I was excited about the idea but also realistic that we may not be able to find that type of flower in California in late fall.  I had gotten the idea for purchasing my own flowers to make the bouquets from a Brides magazine that suggested getting flowers from Whole Foods.  We also purchased food and beverages from Whole Foods.  I almost forgot the flowers but remembered as soon as we began checking out.  I ran over to the floral department where there was a large section of all different bundles of Louisiana irises.  I was so excited and emotional when I saw that there were so many.  It surely felt like fate and my mom watching over us on the big day.


The cake was also a personal touch.  I had a doberge cake shipped in for the wedding.  A woman I know in New Orleans owns a cake company called Debbie does Doberge that sell cakes to different restaurants in the city.  The first time my husband ever tried the peanut butter, salted caramel, and bacon flavored cake at our favorite restaurant, Toups’ Meatery, he said that he wanted to marry the woman that made the cake because it was so good.  I thought it was only fitting that he be able to indulge in that cake for our wedding.


We also had the very personal experience of having Adam’s brother marry us.  Luckily in California, one can pay a fee for someone to officiate a one-time event.  The cost of the marriage license and fee for him to officiate the wedding cost less than $200.  When exploring ministers in the area, we found the cost ranged from $500 to over $2000 for services.  We saved money and had the pleasure of having a family member marry us.


I did the something old, something new, and something borrowed in my jewelry.  I borrowed my matron of honor’s pearl earrings.  I bought a single tear drop pearl necklace for the wedding.  I wore a pearl bracelet that I was given as a bridesmaid in my second oldest brother’s wedding (only my oldest brother was able to make it to the wedding).




What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

We saved a lot of money by splitting the rental cost with guests. We also saved money by purchasing and preparing our own food.  The flowers were also significantly cheaper than purchasing items from a florist.  I also saved money by shopping around for different articles of clothing.  I compared prices and even got some items online.  For example, to buy the veil and under garments for my dress would have cost over $200 if I had bought them from a dress shop.  I spent about $100 by purchasing these items on Amazon instead.  My bridesmaids found dresses on clearance through the David’s Bridal website for only $30 each. My sister made decorations using some of the flowers we purchased along with flowers and twigs she found on the estate grounds.  We also saved money on our wonderful photographer, Lauren Lindley.  Every photographer I was finding in the Napa area was thousands of dollars and must be booked for an all day affair. Since we were having such a small wedding, it would not have been prudent to spend so much on photography.  I gave the task to Adam to find the photographer and he did very well.  He found Lauren Lindley on thumbtack.  She was able to give us a package that met our needs.  She was great with communicating with Adam before the event.  She charged us by the hour so she would take pictures for as little or as large amount of time we wanted her to photograph.  What could have cost us thousands of dollars ended up costing less than $400.  We spent a fraction of the price and gained a friend in the process.



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

I would and do tell all brides to be is to do what you like and what makes you happy.  When looking back on my wedding, there is nothing I would change.  A wedding should a very personal experience and be what you truly enjoy.  Some people love huge, extravagant parties.  My husband and I rather have an intimate, small wedding with people who truly wanted to share the experience with us.  I tell brides to stick with your gut and make your own choices.  Don’t feel like you have to spend a lot to have the best experience.  It can be beneficial to shop around or to even do things yourself.  On the other hand, if it is something that you are truly passionate about, don’t feel bad about spending a little extra.



What was your biggest splurge?

The biggest splurge was probably the cake.  It was not the most expensive thing on which we spent money, but it probably was the most costly for quantity.  The cake could cost only $30.  I felt it was worth shipping it to California.  I helped support a local small business, it was a little piece of New Orleans, and it is my husband’s favorite cake.  I loved seeing my husband’s face when I told him what cake I got for the wedding.  He still thinks about it every once in a while and thanks me for making it special for him.


The thing that cost us the most money was our flights to San Francisco from New Orleans.  It was completely worth the cost because we were able to get married in such a wonderful location that made the experience of getting married just a little more special.



What was your favorite detail?

My favorite detail was probably the flowers because they had emotional significance.  Also, the bouquet was made by my matron of honor.  I loved that we were able to put together a simple yet beautiful flower bouquet for a fraction of the price it would cost from a florist.



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The most memorable moment would have to be my husband and me taking pictures in the vineyard behind the home after our wedding.  We were enjoying the first moments as a married couple in such a beautiful environment.  My favorite pictures were of us playing around and chatting between vines while our photographer stood a distance away.


I also really enjoyed how intimate and small we made our wedding.  The people that were present were able to share such a unique experience with us.  After the wedding, we prepared food together, drank wine, listened to music, and talked till late in the night.  It was a wonderful, relaxed wedding.




Photographer: Lauren Lindley   //   Cake: Debbie Does Doberge   //   Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal   //   Food: Whole Foods   //  Misc:



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Intimate Park Wedding Sun, 07 Sep 2014 17:00:23 +0000 simple weddings

I just love this simple and sweet intimate park wedding! At under $5,000 – this couple really focused on what was most important to them: having their loved ones around them and enjoying good food and fellowship! As with many budget savvy weddings, the couple received lots of help from family and friends! What resulted was a beautiful and special day. And can we just talk about the bride’s shoes? LOVE! ;) Hope you enjoy these lovely photos. xoxo Jessica

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Danielle + Tony

August 31, 2013

Tobaccoville, N.C.  |  Tobaccoville Park Gazebo



What was your budget?

The budget for my day was around $5,000

The venue was $100.00. It was a $25.oo deposit that you got back as long as you returned everything to as it was, and $75.00 to rent the Gazebo for the minimum of 3 hours.

Next we secured the photographer who charged us $100.00 an hour and we had her for 5hrs. This fee also included our engagement photos, so this came out to $500.

My dress was FREE!!! Yes FREE my sister had bought a dress a long time ago from David’s Bridal for about $900.00. I had no money for a dress so I just used it. It was perfect for my day.

I did however have to alter my dress and I went to Spring Tailors in Winston-Salem NC in Hanes Mall I got a hem and my dress taken in around the bust for $80.00.

My accessories for my dress: Shoes, jewelry, veil were $250.00

My make-up and hair for me and my Bridal party were about $300.00. I used my hair dresser and make-up artist I have been using since I was 12 and at the time I got married I was 28. So she was very generous to not charge me an arm and leg she also helped at my reception.

My Flowers the real ones were $80.00, the men were the only ones who had had real flowers and the Mother of the Bride and Groom.

I also had fake flowers these flowers made up the Bridal Party and my bouquet. Those flowers cost about $50.00 from Michael’s.

The table and chair rental and podium I got from Hauser Rentals and in all it came out to be $400.00. I save money by using my brother in laws truck. My Brother-in-law my Husband, and the Groomsmen set up the chairs. What most don’t realize is that the chair and table delivery cost almost as much as the table and chairs and if you can get someone to pick them up and set them up, then you save on gas and labor.

My programs were very simple as were my invitations. For my Invitations I bought them from Wal-Mart for $25.00 there were about 75 invitations in it. I used maybe 50 of them.  For my Programs, I got card stock from Michael’s punched a hole in the middle with a hole puncher and then got my colors in ribbon and tied little bows to them. This cost was about $35.00. I also bought my thank you card which were $20.00, postage all together was about $50.00 which equals out to a roll of stamps.

Now on to the reception. The venue was free and at my sister’s. She has a big back yard and she and my Mother gifted me my reception, however I did pay for my cake, cupcakes, and topper and that was about $100.0 from Sam’s Club and I also paid for the spirits and that was about $150.00. I only bought a few bottles of wine and a half gallon of brown liquor and ha half gallon of white. My Sister provided the mixes i.e. soda and juice. Now if I had to If I had to guess how much the reception was I would say it was about $1000.00. And I believe this even maybe too much. Now to entertainment. I did not have a D.J. what we did was I purchased Google play and made a very long play list and just let it play. I put a mixture of everything on the play list. Google play is $11.99 a month and I still have it and I love it. Really cheap D.J. huh?

My favors for my wedding were also gifted by my sister and if I had to guess she spent maybe $200.00.  I also rented a Yukon for the Bridal party for one day which cost $150.00 gas included.


How many guests did you have?

At my wedding I had about 40-55 Guests. At the reception I only had about 30-40.



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

I used artificial flowers. I made my own wedding programs. I put together my own music. My family helped me with a lot of things which really made it special.



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

FAMILY, FAMILY, FAMILY!  I was very blessed to have my Mom, Dad, and Sister. A lot of the things I mention my Dad gave me money for and my Mom and Sister as I stated gifted me things. I had my reception at my Sister’s house and It just so happens that my Sister and Brother in law do a lot of hosting and dinner parties so I did not need catering they cooked my food and everything. Also friends use the resources that you have. If you know someone who puts together flower arrangements ask them to help. Once again I have been going to my hair dresser for 16years this relationship helped me to save money. Don’t be afraid to ask what I can get for almost FREE or FREE!!!



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

Don’t sweat the small things. Half of the people who say they really want to come or make a big fuss about getting an invitation will not come. Plan the wedding for you and your fiancé NOT for others, do not let any outside forces make any decisions or make you spend ANY money you do not have. Lastly it’s ok to have a small wedding. It’s about the marriage NOT the wedding.



What was your biggest splurge?

FOOD!!! My Sister knows me pretty well and she knows I LOVE food so I would have to say the reception and the food that was my biggest cost.



What was your favorite detail?

I would have to say the setting of my wedding. The gazebo was just so perfect it fit so well with my vision. I did not even have to decorate it, it was perfect just as it was!



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Taking pictures at this old timey gas station after the wedding it was so intimate and spare of the moment. The photographer said hey on the way here I saw this really cool gas station old timey place let’s stop and take some pictures. They came out GREAT!!! Oh and I had forgotten my garter and I went into a Family Dollar and Dollar General looking for one at the last min in my dress. The looks on people’s faces were AWESOME. I didn’t find one but it was fun anyway.




Rentals: Hauser Rentals  //  Venue: Tobaccoville Park  //    Photographer:  Shanna Duffy Photography //

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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Crafty backyard wedding Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:00:13 +0000 simple weddings

You’re gonna love this crafty backyard wedding. So many fun and entertaining details – including games and interactive stations for the guests to take advantage of during the reception. I mean, a s’mores station?? YUM! And a photobooth, and games for the kids? Sounds like one fun wedding to me. I just hope you love this wedding as much as I did! xoxo Jessica 

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Jaimie + Justin

September 14, 2013

Wedding location Hellertown, PA   |  Our 3 Acre Farmhouse


What was your budget?

Food & Drinks – $2000

Invitations & Thank you – $250

Décor – $500

Tent Rental – $300


We were fortunate to borrow tables and chairs from our local church. As a licensed esthetician I was able to barter Hair and a discount on photography by doing making for their clients.

How many guests did you have?

120 Guests



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

Our property is a late 1700s farmhouse and we made as many rustic touches as we could with items from the property.  Our guests were greeted with stuffed burlap bags painted with directional signs for parking and a walking path to the festivities.  Pieces of slate from the original roof were used to make signs for yard games, and directions for party favors, sign in and such.  We filled an old canoe with ice and drinks.  We set up a s’more station next to our large burn pit; old hinged jars were filled with different flavor marshmallows and candy and a large metal milk jug held s’more sticks made from branches on the property.  I painted mason jars and made large flowers as center pieces and used a wood burner to burn each guest’s name in a personalized wood slice coaster.  Our guests used mason jars as glasses with hemp tied brown tags to write their name on them.  An old wooden swing from a beautiful magnolia tree for pictures.  We also set up a photo area with a remote controlled camera and props.


My husband and I have each lost a parent in recent years so we set up a memorial on a fallen 200 year old willow tree with pictures, candle lighting and a poem written on slate to honor them.  My bouquet was made of fabric flowers and jewelry from my late mother’s wedding gown and jewelry.  In celebration of everlasting life, we placed edible butterflies and dragonflies on each cupcake for our guests.  I surprised my husband, a retired Sergeant in the US Marine Corps with a customized dress blues cake and a puppy.



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Making all of the décor for our reception and being creative with the resources we already owned saved us so much money.  For example using the canoe, our own camera for the photo booth, bartering services and using web resources for ideas.


I can be rather long winded but if needed, I can give endless tips on how I saved money by crafting so much of our décor and interactive items for our guests.  A quick example – I bought pastel butterfly nets at the dollar store with bamboo handles and placed them in a tall bushel basket with personalized “bug hotels” (dollar store food containers with floral wire handles and holes in the lid) and a cute poem about catching bugs for all the children in attendance.  This was a HUGE hit with all ages and every child took theirs home.



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

Elope.  Ha ha As a bride and a professional who works with many brides my best advice to give is that you do not have to fulfill all the “traditional must-haves” of weddings, like having tissue paper in your invitations with 8 inserts. There are many areas to save money that older generations might say is “wrong”. An easy example is party favors.  I challenge people by asking them which favors they still have in their home from weddings they have attended.  Donations, extra food or fun activities are often more enjoyed by guests than a trinket to take home.  Make this event about you and your husband.  Understand you will not make everyone happy with your planning but when the day of your wedding arrives it will be a joyous occasion and your guests will remember more how they felt then what they took home.



What was your biggest splurge?

We spent the most on food.  A good meal will erase the memory of folding chairs any day.



What was your favorite detail?

As the bride my favorite detail is a tie. The first was the s’more station.  It was the last item on my list because I knew it was not a priority but I was so excited when I had the time to make it.  Hunting for all different marshmallows and filling jars with all the different treats made me feel like a penny candy store owner.  It was a guilty pleasure for all our guests and even adults were excited to try their own creations.

The second is my bouquet made from my mother’s belongings.  It helped me feel like she was there with me and I can still picture her wearing the earrings and costume jewelry used to make it.

The groom’s favorite detail was the horse shoe pit, as he built it especially for the event.  To know your hands have touched so many details in planning an event and then watching your loved ones enjoy it, is a great feeling.




What is the most memorable moment of your day?

We stood under an enormous willow tree for our ceremony and when we kissed the  long hanging branches swirled around us.  It was a beautiful moment.



Photography: Sherry Sutton Photography  //  Hair: Vintage House of Hair  //  Catering: The Meadows Grove  //

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Purple Park Wedding Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:00:10 +0000 real budget wedding

The details in this Purple Park Wedding are sure to make you smile! This wedding has so many lovely purple details for you to swoon over so if purple is your fave, you’re gonna love this wedding! The couple got married in a state park (love how they thought outside the box on the venue!) and the area was so gorgeous there were little decorations needed. They were able to pull it all off for around $5k! Hope you love this wedding as much as I did! xoxo Jessica

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Corrina + Brandon

June 20th, 2013

Duffield, Va  |  Naturel Tunnel State Park



What was your wedding budget?

Our budget was $5,000 and we did an amazing job at staying close to that.

Cake – $800

Venue – $100

Catering – $1800

Photography – $500

Decor (w/tables chairs) – $2000

Floral – $400

There isn’t anything else I can think of. Hmmm my grandfather did supply the hay bales we used with the decor.  A lot of our decor was handmade, even some of the favors. We got a lot of ideas off of Pinterest and used etsy as a supply source for most of the crafts.

How many guests did you have?

80 guests



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

Purple is my favorite color and I had to have the country burlap. I feel like our venue was perfect for the rustic country feel. My grandmother’s wedding band (who passed two years ago) was used and tied on to my bouquet. It might have been country, but I still wanted to feel like a princess. I’m a Disney fanatic and I HAD to have a disney princess wedding dress! I had the 2012 Cinderella by Alfred Angelo!



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

We hand made a lot of the favors and the decor ourselves. My dad and maid of honor stained crates for us instead of spending double the price for the already stained. Etsy and Pinterest almost became my best friends throughout the whole process.


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

Don’t sweat it, because it all comes together in the end. Trust the people around you helping you put everything together because it will be amazing. Just relax and enjoy YOUR day.


Make a checklist a few weeks ahead of time and have it ready on the day before and the day of. Our biggest faux pas? Forgetting the flower girl dress! My husband had to drive back home and get it while I finished getting ready!



What was your biggest splurge?

I consider our biggest splurge to have been the catering and it was worth it! The decor was a little more expensive but we had been buying, making, and creating it over time. We wanted to make sure everyone walked out to an amazing feast!



What was your favorite detail?

My favorite detail would have to be the venue. Between the gazebo and the rolling hills, it just felt like our own little piece of heaven. We got some amazing pictures at dusk. My dad also did a great job with the lights and decorating the inside of the gazebo!



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The first look, pictures! I am so glad that Amanda and Chad told us about it. It didn’t ruin the sanctity of seeing the bride before the wedding, for us. We had our own special moment and we were able to get rid of our butterflies, talk, and embrace our future for that one little moment before the wedding.




Photography: Bellamanda  //  Catering: Pratt’s BBQ  //  Cake: The Cake Gallery  //  Rentals: Action Party Rental  //  Hair: Head Hunters Salon – (Wise, Va)  //  Flowers: The Blossom Box – (Big Stone Gap)  //  Wedding Dress: Annie’s Room : Alfred Angelo Cinderella 2012  //  Bridesmaids dresses: David’s Bridal

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Fall cotton wedding Wed, 28 May 2014 12:00:04 +0000

real budget wedding

I absolutely adore this simple fall wedding with cotton details. How AMAZING is the bride’s cotton bouquet? So chic! Hope you love these details just as much as I did! xoxo – Jessica

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Jacquelyn + Jordan

October 11, 2013

Eventful at Locust Grove, Weston, MO

What was your wedding budget?

    *Venue-$2200 (This included ceremony, reception space, rehearsal space/time, tables, chairs, and alcohol for most of the reception.)
     *Food – $1000 (barbecue for the reception food, and alcohol for the party bus)
     *Decorations- $180
     *Flowers – $10
     *Favors – $60
     *Party Bus- $300
     *Cake – $75
     *Smore’s bar – $70
     *Music – Free
     *Dress – Free
     *Shoes – $40
     *Rings – $200
     *Wedding video – $100
     *Beanbag toss games – Free
     *Tree for planting ceremony – $50
     *Tux – $133
     *Photography – $100
     *Day of coordinator – $160
     *Hair & Makeup – $140
     *Bridesmaids/groomsmen gifts – $100
     *Transportation – $120
     *Programs – $50
     *Invitations, Save the Dates, Thank You Cards – $30
     *Extras (postage, unexpected expenses) – $300
     *Total for Wedding  – $5418

How many guests did you have?

We planned for 100 guests, but about 85 showed up.

What creative or personal aspects did you incorporate into your wedding?

We had a LOT of creative details.  There are so many things you can do to make your wedding memorable without costing any money.  We did a ring-warming ceremony, which most of our guests had never heard of before.  Most of our guests said that was their favorite part, and it was a unique touch that didn’t cost a thing!
We also had several aspects that were very “us.”  I’m from the south, so I wanted to represent that by having a cotton bouquet.  My mom picked the cotton and made the bouquet for me.  The only flowers we bought were single sunflowers for the bridesmaids to carry and corsages for the moms.  The guys bout’s were a single boll of cotton with a guitar pick nestled inside, since my husband is an avid guitar player.  We also handmade our programs that folded out into fans (with fun facts about the bride and groom on the back).  We offered small water bottles at the guest book table before the ceremony.  We offered an extensive s’more’s bar and also DIY’ed our favors (which were boxes with our monogram on top, and two plantable seed bombs inside.)  As a gift, the best man made us beanbag toss games, and I painted “Mr.” and “Mrs.” on top with paint I had at home.  Rather than having centerpieces we would never use again, we got flowerpots, filled them with rock and sterno cups, and had the guests roast the smore’s at their table.  Now we have the flowerpots to use in the spring!

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

I think the best advice I could give for saving money on a wedding is do your research!  The first thing I did was plan out a budget for ANYTHING I could think of that I would need for a wedding.  I wrote it down and figured it in.  There were things (like buying a new garter) that got dropped along the way, but my unexpected expenses turned out to be very low.  I got great deals on all my stationary because VistaPrint did a deal for $70 worth of product for $15.  I ended up with two of those deals and got all my stationary and most of my bridesmaids gifts for a very good price!  (The reason the gifts part was so high in my budget breakdown was because I splurged for custom silk-screened ties for all the guys.)
Also, advice part two…be laid back.  You may have an idea of what you want for your wedding in your head, but be open to how it happens.  I knew I wanted a photographer.  I couldn’t find any for less than a couple of grand, so I reached out on facebook and found a friend that wanted to get into the industry.  She had already shot some great photos and she agreed to shoot the wedding AND an engagement shoot.  I also knew I wanted wedges under my dress.  Guess where I found them?  In a consignment shop.  I knew I needed a wedding dress, and my parents offered to pay for it, since it was really all they could afford to do for the wedding.  I walked in to the bridal shop without a set idea, and found an $800 dress marked down to $200.  This was a bit under my parent’s budget, so that came free.  And so many people raved about the dress.  One lady even said it was the most beautiful dress she had ever seen!  None of these things happened how I thought they would, but all turned out great!

What was your biggest splurge?

We had two real “splurges.”  One was the venue.  I was never a girl that grew up dreaming about her wedding…but I knew if I ever did get married, I’d want it in a beautiful spot.  We chose an outdoor location just outside of a quaint little town in NW Missouri.  There was a field next to us with a tobacco barn in the distance and a huge oak tree in the front.  It really was a beautiful location.  The second splurge was the party bus.  Almost 95% of our guests were coming in from out of town, and most of those guests were first-time visitors to Kansas City.  We rented a party bus to show up after the reception and take a tour of the city.  It was a neat thing for people to see our town, and was so much fun!  Definitely worth the investment!

What was your favorite detail?

My favorite detail of the day was the necklace I wore.  It was my great-grandmother’s lavaliere necklace that was presented to her in 1917 in lieu of an engagement ring.  All the women in my family have worn it in their weddings since then.

What was the most memorable moment of your day?

My favorite moment was during our photos.  I’ve been a bit of a tomboy growing up, and I said when we signed on the venue that I wanted to take pictures IN the Oak tree on our wedding day.  Sure enough, when the day came, the ladies at Eventful found me a step ladder and Jordan and I (while I was in my wedding dress) climbed into that tree for pictures.  Those are some of my favorite pictures of the day.
Photography: Be Vivacious  //  Venue:  //  Dress:  //  Day of Coordinator: Two by Two: Events & Productions
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Cabin Wedding in North Carolina Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:30:36 +0000 real budget wedding

I love so many things about this sweet budget savvy cabin wedding. The bride found so many creative ways to save money – by utilizing family and friends’ talents and reusing items they already had. The bride even wore her mother’s wedding dress which is something you just don’t see very often so I thought that was really special. I love that they kept things low key and only focused on what was important to them as a couple. Be sure to read Lynae’s advice – she’s got some great tips. xoxo Jessica


Neal + Lynae

September 29, 2013

Blowing Rock, NC


What was your wedding budget

We were trying to keep costs as low as possible. We kept it under $5,000 for sure. And that included the cost of accommodations for 10 of the Bride’s family members. So the wedding itself was definitely even lower.

Cabin Rental: $2000 (Rented a vacation home called Mountain Camp from Blue Ridge Mountain Rentals that allowed weddings. The price included accommodations for 10 of Brides family for all three nights, $500 of that cost was the extra we paid to have a wedding there one of those days.)

Food: $700

Drinks: $185 for keg of beer, wine was donated since it was leftover from my sister-in-laws wedding

Photographer: $700

Cake: $28 (was just a small cake for Bride and Groom to cut, guest were served banana pudding)

Invitations and Save-the-Dates Total: $65

Officiant: $200

Wedding Dress: $100 (I wore my mother’s wedding dress, a friend of my mom’s offered to redesign it. The only change I did was redesign the top of the dress into a lace one shoulder using the lace that was on the original dress. She did not want any money for her work, but we gave her $100 anyway, she deserved way more…)

Groom Attire: $100 (found pieces to his attire on sale at various department stores)

Guest Favors: $50 (DIY, made 65 favors)

Flowers: $200 (my mother-in-law went to several grocery stores to find a good collection in my color pallete, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law put together the bouquet and boutonniere)


How many guests did you have?



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

Neal and I are outdoor people. We wanted that incorporated into our wedding. We took the risk of an outdoor ceremony site and it worked out perfectly for us. The views at our ceremony were amazing. We also wanted to get some cool outdoor pictures of us hiking around in our wedding attire. So we added a “Photography Tour” into our day. Having the ceremony at 8am allowed us to do this. (We also only had immediate family members at our ceremony, which allowed for an 8am time). The Photography Tour gave us pictures of us hiking and even a few of us fishing! Our reception was a Pig Pick’n. We just wanted to celebrate this day with our close family and friends. The Pig Pick’n started at 1pm. Guests could play yard games or just hang out until the pig was served around 4pm. It was a perfect day for us!



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

We had a lot of help from both of our immediate families. My sister-in-law got married about 6 months before us, so re-used a lot of things from her wedding. For instance, we saved the nice plastic plates used at her wedding, washed them by hand, then used them at our wedding. The wine that was left over from her wedding was donated to ours. Wine glasses and Mason Jars were found at garage sales for her wedding, we kept them for ours, then sold them again.

I think it helped that we didn’t go to a wedding specific venue. Find somewhere creative that could still work as space for a reception. We were able to bring all of our own stuff in which kept our alcohol and food bill down. We also did not use a caterer. Two of Neal’s buddies cooked the pig for us, and my mom and sister made the rest of the sides. I really liked only having family and friends at the reception and no strangers from the catering crew. Our photographer was even a friend of mine.

We also kept to a Pig Pick’n theme for the reception and did not have tables set up for everyone. We did not pay the rental fees for those or for a tent. Instead we had our local family and friends bring camping chairs and then used the rest of the chairs that came with the cabin rental to give guests a place to sit. There was one picnic table for guests that especially needed it.

I also did my own make-up and my sister did my hair. With the ceremony at 8am, I didn’t think it would be affordable to have someone be up with me by 5am to start on hair and make-up! I also borrowed jewelry and shoes from my mom as well!



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

Be creative! And keep it simple! It took me a while to come up with the idea to just use a vacation home as a spot for our wedding reception. The house we rented was gorgeous. It was already decked out like a lodge/cabin. I kept getting asked how I was going to decorate it and I said I was not, and stuck to it. The only thing we added were a few mason jars with flowers in them. I wanted it simple.

Don’t be afraid to do things yourself. I kept multiple lists and updated them constantly to keep me on track and make sure I didn’t miss anything. As long as you stay organized, it’s totally do-able. 



What was your biggest splurge?

The photographer. I had never had professional pictures done, and I wanted a good photographer at our wedding. I finally remembered a co-worker/friend that did photography on the side. So she gave us the friend deal and was awesome. She was with us from me getting ready at 6am, ceremony at 8am, went on a 4 hour photography tour along the Blue Ridge Parkway with us, then stayed at our Pig Pick’n from 1pm until 6pm. Then drove 4 hours home because she had class the next day!



What was your favorite detail?

Wearing my mom’s wedding dress. I had never thought of doing this until after I was engaged when my mom brought up the idea. I was the same size then as she was when she got married, so I figured it would fit fairly closely, and it did. My mom said I was free to change it however I wanted, so I did. But it really didn’t need much. The bodice and length of the dress I didn’t touch at all. I only changed the lacy top part of the dress into a lace one shoulder using the original lace.



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Walking down the aisle. We got married on the top of a mountain on private property behind my in-laws mountain house that we were given permission to use at no cost. We only had immediate family members here for the ceremony. When I arrived at the top of the mountain and walked down to my groom, the view was perfect. I had been to this spot several times before, and this particular morning was the clearest and prettiest view I had ever seen it. The weather worked out perfectly for us.



Photography: Chrisabel Photography   //  Venue: Blue Ridge Mountain Rentals


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Public park wedding in Arizona Sun, 23 Feb 2014 15:30:41 +0000

simple weddings

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Dean + Catherine

November 2, 2013

Litchfield Park, Arizona   |   Rose Park

What was your wedding budget?

Our rough estimate on total costs were $5,000

Dress $100

Venue $350

Insurance $360 (venue required $1mil insurance policy)

Catering $1200 (including rehearsal dinner)

Photographer $590

Tables and Chairs $250

Rental Truck (For tables, chairs, ice chests, all the decorations and everything for event day) $100

Cake  (2 x 10 in cakes and 90 cupcakes, 12 sugar free cupcakes and 12 gluten free cupcakes)  $150

Groomsmen’s Shirts $200

DJ/MC Free (friend of Groom) Gave $40 tip

Flowers (Artificial) $75 and arranged by family

Decorations and Misc $750 including centerpieces, tablecloths, lights, plates, and all other decorations

Drinks $280

Ice and Sound Equipment (Free from Groom’s employer)

Officiant $200

Security $240



How many guests did you have?

Between 80 and 90



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

Just about all of it. It was very much a do it yourself wedding. The entire tables settings, from the center pieces to the place settings were all created by the Bride and family. The lights we used to light up the dance floor were Christmas lights. The take home gifts, bouquets, boutonnieres and signs were all made by family members.



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Did all the decorations ourselves. We used a park for the venue. Bride’s mother made all the Bridesmaids dresses.



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

Have a good, reliable, dependable team in place as support and planning so the day of the event, you will not have to worry about things getting done.



What was your biggest splurge?

Photographer and Catering.



What was your favorite detail?

For the Bride, The center pieces and the Thank you notes we left on the tables.
For the Groom, all the personalized details, the signs, the notes on the table, the informative letters.



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

For the Bride, Honestly, the photographer acting as security and running the public out of the park. For the Groom, Seeing my Bride for the very first time that day.




Venue: City of Litchfield Park, Rose Park  //  Catering: Bo’s BBQ  //  Photography: Bumble Bee Photography  //  Cakes: Sam’s Club  //  Gluten Free + Sugar Free Cupcakes: Bite Me Breads and Cookies  //  Table + Chair Rentals: A to Z Rentals  //  Rental Truck: Uhaul  //  Insurance: Underwritten by Travelers  //  Groomsmen Shirts: NyFifth

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Blue wedding with tons of DIY! Wed, 22 Jan 2014 13:30:37 +0000  real budget wedding

I am SO excited about this week’s featured wedding! This couple incorporated so many fun details into their day by getting their hands dirty with a ton of DIY – and it totally paid off! Meg + Matt were able to pull off this wedding for $5k thanks to all that elbow grease and with the help of talented family and friends! I was SO excited when I saw that Meg wore a blue wedding dress – I love when brides “break the rules” and do what feels right to them – including wearing pops of color! This wedding is definitely covered in a blue hue– how amazing are the bridesmaids dresses in the range of shades? LOVE!! I also love that the couple infused little nods to their likes by including dinosaurs, books, comic books, etc into their decor. This is a great example of how you can personalize your wedding to reflect who you are as people and as a couple! I hope you enjoy this fun wedding as much as I did!! xoxo- Jessica

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Meg + Matthew

October 12, 2013

Draper, VA  |  Red Hawk Rising


What was your wedding budget?

Our Budget: $5,000

Venue: $1300
Photographer: $1600
Food: $200
Flowers: $175 (Bulk ordered from Sam’s Club)
Table/Chair Rental: $250
Table Linens/Runners: $150 (
Decorative Bottles: Found/borrowed
Cake: $100
Alcohol: $250
Dress: $200
Groom’s Outfit: $25 vest/tie, $30 pants, $35 shoes
Groomsmen ties: $5/each (they paid)
Bridesmaid Dresses: $75/each (they paid)
Boutonnieres: $5 (handmade from comic book)
Earrings/cufflinks: $20 (
Mini terrariums: $30
Lollipop Favors: $20 (homemade)
Succulent Favors: $20 (parts bought from ebay)
Plates/Silverware: $50 (thrift stores/yard sales)
Lanterns: $25
Succulent Wedding Favors: $65 (ebay)
Glowsticks: $15 (
Temporary Tattoos: $15
Bridesmaid Gift Baskets: $60/all
Programs: $5 (printed ourselves)
Hair: Free (bartered)
Makeup: $350
Wedding Coordinator: Free (friend of ours)
DJ: Free (friend of ours)
Officiant: Free (a friend of ours)


How many guests did you have?



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

Matthew hand-made all of the book-trinket boxes, and we put lollipops and mini-terrariums in them. We also put together our own succulent favors with miscellaneous small containers we collected.


What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

We handmade everything we could. Instead of buying table runners/linens, we bought bolts of fabric and cut them ourselves. We also bulk-ordered flowers and arranged them instead of using a florist. My family made the food instead of using a caterer. I spent 9 months going to tons of thrift stores and yard sales to accumulate all our dish ware and some vintage decorations. I also had my blue wedding dress made by a seamstress starting out her business instead of buying from a store. I bartered wherever and whenever I could, which saved us a lot in the long run!


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

Give yourself LOTS of time to plan and obtain items, especially if you are on a tight budget!


What was your biggest splurge?

I do wedding photography for a living, so I couldn’t live without having my own photographer. We loved our AMAZING photographer, and she was worth every penny and more!!


What was your favorite detail?

Everything. Every little detail we put into it had blood sweat and tears in it, which made it so much more personal than hiring someone to do it all for us.


What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Exchanging vows, we wrote our own and they were incredibly touching and personal.



Venue: Red Hawk Rising  //  Photography: Chelsa Yoder Photography  //  Makeup: Beauty By Kearston  //  DJ: Bobby Hash  //  Rentals: Aztec Rentals (tables/chairs)  //  Alcohol: Vintage Cellar  //  Cake: Andrea Johnston  //  Wedding Dress + Bridesmaids Dresses: Amanda Janowski  //  Wedding Coordinator: Sandy Viers Scattergood  

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Budget Backyard Wedding Sun, 20 Oct 2013 22:05:30 +0000 simplysavvysunday

We are back with another Simply Savvy Wedding for you! Please enjoy the lovely images from this budget backyard wedding shot by Melissa Lauren Photography!  xoxo- Jessica

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Kim + Sam

May 5, 2013

Tarpon Springs, Florida| Anderson Park


What was your budget? 

Our budget was pretty much just as low as we could keep it. Overall, I didn’t want to spend more than $6,000 or so and I managed to stick to that. We probably spent $5,000 all together.

  • My dress: $550
  • Groom’s outfit: $75
  • Venue: $50
  • Chairs: $250
  • Dinner: $2,000
  • Cake: $200
  • Photography: $700
  • Videography: $250
  • My hair and make up: Free
  • Bouquets & Boutonnieres: $300
  • Decorative Flowers: Free (we collected them from around the park)
  • Desserts: Free
  • Miscellaneous plates: About $120
  • The rest of the things (and the plates) were purchased at various thrift and antique stores to save money.


How many guests did you have?     

About 135



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

Much of the wedding was very personal because my husband and I spent a lot of time either shopping around different thrift stores or making the decorations ourselves. One thing we did was have personalized corn hole sets that our guests played with while we had our photographs taken. My lovely now sister-in-law made them for us and they turned out adorable!



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

The biggest thing we did to save money was having the wedding at a park! All together the venue was only $50. You can’t get much better than that.



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

Have fun and shop around a lot before you make decisions about what to buy. In the beginning I went crazy and bought a lot of stuff that I didn’t even end up using. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want the wedding to look like before you waste your money on things you won’t use.



What was your biggest splurge?

In the beginning we had decided that we didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on food for the wedding. We planned to make the food ourselves or only serve desserts or appetizers or something inexpensive like that. After a lot of consideration and input from our families we decided it would be worth it to splurge and have the wedding catered by one of our favorite restaurants.



What was your favorite detail?

My favorite part of our wedding was all of the flowers. Everything from the bouquets and my floral crown to the boutonnieres turned out absolutely gorgeous. I also love that my sister-in-law went around the park and collected all of the beautiful flowers that were used in our centerpieces.



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Setting everything up with my friends and family and husband was a lot of fun. It was so exciting and is a great memory.




Catering: California Ciccios  //  Photography: Melissa Lauren Photography   //  Al Anderson Park – Tarpon Springs

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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