The Budget Savvy Bride » $8k wedding helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank Fri, 22 May 2015 17:30:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Budget Friendly Brunch Wedding Wed, 06 May 2015 12:00:52 +0000

So much about this wedding is unconventional, and everything about this wedding works. Today we’re featuring a fun and beautiful budget-savvy brunch wedding. Where do I begin? I love that Rebekah and Kevin weren’t afraid to have their wedding on an “off” day. Their Monday morning ceremony followed by a darling brunch is absolutely perfect! Their reception is thoughtful, chic and sweet. The mimosa bar is such a classy touch. Their consideration for their littlest guests is especially considerate. The donut cake is unique, fun and so pretty. And, make sure you read the details behind Rebekah’s stunning blush dress in the Q&A below! Happy Wednesday! xoxo, Jessica

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Kevin + Rebekah

April 6, 2015

Rixeyville, VA | Rixey Manor



What was your wedding budget?

Initially, our budget was going to be about $3,000 – if we could scrimp and save that much over the six months we were engaged. We were extremely blessed to receive a gift from my parents that allowed us to splurge a little (or maybe a lot), and our final budget ended up being about $7,500. SO MANY PEOPLE helped us with nearly all the aspects of our wedding – without them it just would not have come together like it did! From a family friend altering my dress as her gift, to all the flower arrangements being done by a then-stranger who happened to message me on facebook… we felt so, so lucky and showered with love!

Venue: $1500 (because we were the first couple to break in their newly renovated venue and had our wedding on a Monday, they gave us an AMAZING deal! I will never forget their generosity)

Photographer: $875 (and she surprised us with a complimentary second-shooter!!)

Catering: $1,800 (not only did they give us half-off for kids, but kids under 5 years were free – soooo helpful)

Mimosas: $200 (this was a last-minute splurge)

Donuts: $80

Flowers: mostly a gift from our dear Facebook helper Beth, but I did purchase a bundle of pussy willow for $100

Save-The-Dates: $0 (used a weddingwire website for this)

Invitations, including postage: $134

Dress: $200 (bought from St. Anthony’s Bridal and dyed by Metro Dyeing)

Bridal Details, including hair and such: $300

Groom’s Outfit: $120

Wedding Bands: $847

Officiant: $100

Other Gifts/Tips: $400

Fujifilm Guestbook: $137

Music: $0

Ribbon Wands: $80

China and Glassware: $175

Linens and Napkins: $180

Easter Eggs: $100

Decorations: $200



How many guests did you have?

83… 24 of which were children!!



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

Oh gosh – what WASN’T personal? I work in wedding photography as a second-shooter, so having been to over 30 weddings in the past couple of years I was set on putting our own spin on nearly everything. :) First of all, Kevin and I met in person on April 6, so we knew we wanted to get married that day too. The fact that it was a Monday? No problem! About 80% of our guest list was still able to celebrate with us! Plus the fact that we got married NOT on a weekend ended up working in our favor in regards to our budget! We also knew we wanted to get married in the morning and have a brunch reception right afterwards. We love breakfast food, and we were happy about the symbolism of starting a new day and a new life together. To top it all off, we had a donut cake instead of a traditional wedding cake (Kevin is borderline obsessed with Krispy Kreme)! Other personal aspects included our custom-made mobiüs-style wedding bands, a time of communion and footwashing during the ceremony, and using an instrumental version of the song “Latch” by Disclosure for our processional song – Kevin’s friend Matt used his outstanding musical talent to arrange this for us and it is SO special to us.

When it came to my dress, it was time to get creative! I bought my dress on clearance for $75 from St. Anthony’s Bridal in Rockville, MD. It was originally white, strapless, and had a lace-up back – NONE of which was part of my vision! Nevertheless, I knew it was “the dress”… there was just a lot of work to be done! I sent it up to NYC to have it dyed blush pink (fun fact: originally the dyeing company turned me down, but I asked them to reconsider and they agreed!) and from there it went further north to my mom and her friend so they could cut it apart and basically redesign it. My mom’s friend, Janet, took out the lace-up back and made it a low-back with a zipper, and my mom stringed each individual bead to create the draping sleeves. I swear – it was a dream come true!

Something else that was really significant at our wedding was making it kid-friendly. So many of our guests were the parents of small children – I alone have almost twelve nieces and nephews. What this meant was having activity books for the kids to enjoy at the reception, followed by an easter egg hunt on the front lawn! We also had a little “library” for the kids in the ballroom… basically it was just a little suitcase filled with books my sister-in-law brought along so that kids could read if they got bored. Let me tell you though – as far as I know, there were no bored kids! After the ceremony, the kids picked up their goody bag which held the activity book, some crayons, a crazy straw, and a little plastic maze game. They later used those bags to collect their eggs, which were filled with all sorts of fun things such as finger puppets, bubbles, pennies, and raisins. As a parent, it can be so hard to take kids to a wedding… they’re all primped and preened, none of them really want to sit still and be quiet for a ceremony, and then most reception activities are geared towards the adults. It was really important to me that the kids have fun too! :) We were thanked by multiple people for being kid-friendly, so I would definitely recommend it to future brides.

Oh, I feel I should also mention the decision to not have bouquets or boutonnieres! I just found them unnecessary. Until Beth offered to treat us to floral arrangements for our tables, the only thing I was planning on doing was throwing together some greenery for the centerpieces (without any flowers at all). I was thrilled to be able to have what Beth put together for us (she really went above and beyond), but still decided against bouquets to carry. Instead, I went down the aisle arm-in-arm with both my parents, and my bridesmaids carried little glass ornaments filled with gold glitter… because why not? :)



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Searching, asking, collecting, and deciding what was really important to us (for instance, wedding favors! In my experience, most people don’t even care about these in the first place so we decided to go without).

Let’s see… our table spreads were created out of thrifted/recycled items. I spent six months saving tin cans, which we spraypainted gold and used as vases. I snatched up a box of empty, clear wine bottles that we cleaned up and used as part of the centerpieces as well. I went to thrift stores to find frames for our Kissing Menu, which I designed and printed myself. I picked up a load of free pallets which Kevin and his brother used to make road signs for the venue. And I shopped sales and used coupon codes! I tried to buy as much as possible instead of renting so I can resell items afterwards. At least that’s the plan!

I would urge brides to accept the help people offer you. My brother said he would design the invitations for us, and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect first-glance into the feel of our wedding day. My soon-to-be sister-in-laws helped me for hours assembling those darn ribbon wands and other small tasks I needed to get out of the way. I posted a last-minute ad on Craigslist because we were short on china place settings, and another bride with an October wedding offered to let me borrow hers. One thing I hold to is that if you never ask, you will never know. I was upfront with people in saying that my then-fiancé and I had a very small budget and was wondering if they would be able to work with us… and they were! It was a beautiful opportunity to see the good in people, and really lightened the load financially.



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

Not having a DJ. This is something I really went back and forth on, and if I could do it again… honestly, I would have one. It’s one area I was clueless about as far as how to find a budget-friendly option, and in the end we just decided to do Spotify playlists. Well, that may have worked out fine if we had enough speaker power and a connection that didn’t keep cutting out when people were trying to dance!! haha! Our dance floor was pretty much a flop – but oh well! It was a beautiful day outside so everyone ended up meandering out there to hang out and play.



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

Be organized, but be flexible. It was so helpful to me and others in charge to have a detailed timeline and list of what people’s responsibilities were. I had copies for myself, the wedding coordinators, the wedding party, and a couple others. That way everyone knew exactly what was going on, and if they didn’t – someone else did. But then there are always hiccups, and you know what? It’s totally normal, and it is certainly nothing to get upset about! You know the only person who knows exactly how everything is supposed to go? You. Will your guests notice if one of your decorations isn’t perfectly in place? No. Will they know if the food is 15 minutes behind schedule? No. One specific example from my day was the timing of the processional… there was a VERY particular part of the song I wanted to walk down the aisle to, but everyone else started too early. So, there ended up being an unusually long pause in the timing before I appeared at the doorway (because I waited until “my” part). It wasn’t how I had planned it, but that’s the way it happened – and it’s a memory to be cherished along with the rest of them! So don’t worry, and be at peace! It’s not worth stressing over.



What was your biggest splurge?

The catering – and it was worth every penny! I’ve always found that food is very important at a wedding. If the food runs out – no good. If the guests have to wait two hours to get food? No good! If everyone gets to enjoy a fresh meal with tasty treats in a timely fashion – bingo!! I was actually really nervous about this up until the very moment we walked up to the buffet table. I had never done a tasting with the caterer, I couldn’t find a ton of reviews for them (although the reviews they did have were great), and the closer the date got the more I began to doubt my decision to go with scrambled eggs, home fries, and bacon. Would the eggs be cold? Would the bacon be chewy? Would the home fries be dry? What if people wanted more options than we had? Was it going to be just plain underwhelming? Obviously I was a bit off my rocker. Everything turned out FINE! In fact, it was incredible! The food was delicious and people were so excited about it. AND it was arranged so beautifully. I was beyond impressed! No regrets at all.



What was your favorite detail?

This is a toughy! Hmmm… I loved the way our donut cake turned out. Kevin’s sister Janet is talented at making real cakes, so we asked her if she could go ahead and arrange our donuts to look like one. I just remember walking up to it and thinking how adorable it was! And it looks perfect in the pictures. :) It really was a very nice touch to the room, especially with the pussywillow branches and hanging glitter balls accenting the table.

But then there were the mimosas too!! This was something Kevin kept bringing up over and over. I was hesitant for a long time, but finally decided to go with it and it was a HUGE hit. We actually ended up running out of champagne – oops! It was such a fun aspect of the brunch, and people were all over it! AND I loved the fabric garland I made to hang behind our sweetheart table 



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Kevin says it was the time right after we kissed and walked back down the aisle, before we opened the ballroom doors to greet our guests. It was just the two of us, freshly married and glowing with all that pure joy. :)

I think for me, it would be when we were all hanging out outside (after the dancing wasn’t working out so well). I’m not kidding when I say the weather was stunning that day! The week before had been cold and calling for rain, and somehow we ended up with a perfectly sunny, 75-degree spring day. The orchard trees even decided to start blooming that day! It was absolutely beautiful…. everyone was out there talking and smiling, the kids were running around looking for eggs, and we were enjoying the company of all the people we love dearly. Excuse me for getting all cheesy, but it really was the perfect end to a perfect day!


Venue: Rixey Manor • Caterer: Savory Fare • Photographer: Emily Sacra Photography • Dress: St. Anthony’s Bridal, Metro Dyeing (dyeing services) and Janet Rigby and Karen Graham (alterations) • Bride’s Jewelry: Susan Gray • Bride’s Shoes: Jewels By Wanda • Groom’s Outfit: Kohl’s (shirt and pants), Marc Darcy Suits (vest), Sears (tie),  Gordon Rush (shoes) • Wedding Bands: Elite Jewelers • Processional Song: Matthew Clevenger • Flowers: Nettleton Hollow and Beth Miller • Donut cake: donuts from Krispy Kreme, arranged by Janet Kemp • Hair: Tabatha from Jane of All Trades (up-do),  BB World Bridal (comb)




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Rustic Barn Wedding Sun, 22 Feb 2015 16:00:00 +0000

Such a lovely Rustic Barn Wedding to share with you today! This couple really focused only on what mattered most to them and crafted a day that truly celebrated their relationship. I love the DIY details like the paper pinwheel bouquets and the pennant banners that hung around the venue. I also LOVE that the bride and groom kept the environment and their eco-footprint in mind when planning their big day. Budget + environmentally friendly go hand in hand! Hope you love this wedding as much as I did! xo Jessica

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Kevin + Brittany

July 26, 2014

Millersylvania State Park  |  Olympia, WA

What was your wedding budget?

Venue: $600
Photographer: $500
Dress + Accessories + Hair and Make-up: $750
Groom’s clothes: $450
Cake: $400
Rings: $1000
Live Band: $700
Flowers: $0
Catering: $2200
Beer and Wine: $500
Save-the-Dates + Invitations + Postage + Programs: $100
Decorations: $300
Extras (cups, napkins, table linens, ceremony chairs, etc.): $300
Total: $7800


How many guests did you have?



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

We put a lot of thought into every aspect of our wedding because we really wanted it to reflect our values. We tried to stay as environmentally conscious as possible, used local vendors, and really got into the DIY theme.

We made each other’s wedding bands through a private workshop offered in Seattle called With these Rings. I designed my dress and had it made by Victoria at Bella Jean Boutique here in Olympia. We made our own programs and invitations, made all our own decorations (with lots of help from family and friends) and tried to thrift as much as possible. I found fabric at a thrift store and our mothers cut out hundreds of pennant flags that we strung up on twine everywhere!

Kevin’s mom made our Giant Jenga set and drove it all the out from Iowa, and my dad and some friends from my hometown in Alaska caught and donated wild Alaskan salmon for our reception (which also saved us a lot of money on catering!)


What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

We spent 18 months planning, saving, and bargain hunting, which definitely gave us time to find the best options within our budget. We researched venues all around Western Washington and quickly realized most private venues were way too expensive. We wanted an outdoor wedding, so we chose to focus on local state parks that included as many amenities as possible. Our venue was only $600 and came with a beautiful barn for the ceremony, a full kitchen, including tables, chairs and place settings, and cabins for getting ready, plus it was pretty close to home, so it was easy for guests to get to from the hotel.

A friend of ours who has an enormous garden wanted to do our flowers as her gift to us, while another friend who owns a food truck in Oregon offered to cater for a discounted price, and since my dad brought the salmon, it really cut those prices in half.
We also followed our favorite photographer on Facebook and snagged her when she posted an amazing deal on a photography package that we couldn’t pass up. Reaching out to family and friends and networking within our community really helped make our wedding possible.


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

Neither of us feel we sacrificed anything. We started out wanting a very simple, low-key wedding and it ended up being more extravagant than we had planned, but we were completely happy with the outcome. We both chose one big thing we wanted: I wanted a professional photographer and Kevin wanted live music, so we searched for months to make sure this could happen within our budget.


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

Don’t procrastinate! It’s never too early to start making those favors, or researching photographers, or tying bows while you watch TV. At the same time, however, don’t stress yourself out, because it will all work out as it needs to. All wedding days have their glitches, but if you plan on that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


What was your biggest splurge?

It was really important to both of us that we had a vegan cake made by our favorite local bakery. I have food allergies and wanted to be able to eat my own wedding cake. We knew we were spending far more than we could have if we went a more conventional route, but it was absolutely worth it.

What was your favorite detail?

We had ordered cake toppers from an Etsy store but they didn’t arrive in time. I was sad that we didn’t have anything to decorate our cake with, but I didn’t have time to worry about it. The night before the wedding, while I was sleeping, Kevin stayed up until 4 am (!) making toppers by cutting out pictures of lawn gnomes, mushrooms, and pinecones from a book and gluing them onto blue card stock with toothpicks. When I woke up the morning of the wedding, we had lawn gnome cake toppers, and they were adorable!  We got the cake toppers we’d ordered in the mail the day we returned from our honeymoon, but we both agreed the paper ones were even better.


What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Kevin says our first dance was the most memorable moment for him. We had picked out a song but barely practiced, so when we got on the dance floor, we just got silly and started making up dance moves. He grabbed my hands and spun me around and around and around at arms length, and neither of us could stop laughing. It was a very unconventional first dance, but it worked for us.

Then, during the reception while everyone else was dancing, the band woke up the bats that had apparently been sleeping in the rafters. They started flying around, dive-bombing our guests, and everyone ran around screaming. I found it absolutely hilarious because I’ve always loved bats, and are even a sign of good luck in some cultures. I was pretty excited that they joined our party.



Rings:  •  Dress:  •  Catering:  •  Venue: Millersylvania  •  Music:

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Outdoor Wedding in Texas Sun, 08 Feb 2015 16:30:00 +0000

 Time for another budget savvy wedding! This outdoor wedding in Texas has lots of unique details to love — including the bride’s brooch bouquet and the fun cigar bar at the reception! I’m also obsessed with the ombre wedding cake and the punchy color scheme! Hope you enjoy this fun golf course wedding! xoxo, Jessica

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Brittany + Court

October 4, 2014

New Braunfels, TX – The Bandit Golf Club

What was your wedding budget?

Our overall budget was about $8,000. We were definitely budget-conscious but also wanted to throw an awesome party and have everyone enjoy themselves so getting as much as we could full-service for the lowest price was our goal.

Venue – $1,325
Photographer – $1,000 (but some of that was gifted to us by family)
Coordinator – they charge $1,800 for day-of coordinating but we got a discounted rate because a friend of mine is a coordinator there
Officiant – free (my grandfather married us)
Music – $700 (classical guitarist playing before and during the ceremony was $200 and a DJ for 5 hours for the reception was $500 including travel costs)
Hair and makeup – $120
Cake – $200 (a decorative 4-tier cake with three fake tiers plus a large sheet cake)
Invitations, save-the-dates, address labels, thank you cards, and postage – $150
Food – $1,600 for a three-course full-service seated meal
Alcohol – $1,200
Miscellaneous – $300 (babysitter for the reception, marriage license, wedding party gifts, decorations, etc.)


How many guests did you have?

75 adults, 10 children


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

Oh my gosh, everything and it was so fun to put together! My grandfather was our officiant and he used a bible that he got us, which was so special. My grandmother made my bouquet out of lace and brooches that family and friends donated at my shower and it came out more perfect than I could have imagined. My mother-in-law decorated two ceremony arches with flowers and fabric. She also made the grooms cake that looked so much like a real fish no one wanted to mess it up!

We had a DIY photo booth, there was a coloring table for the kiddos, my husband made yard games (beanbag toss, huge jenga, etc.) for everyone to play, I hand lettered the seating chart and one large program on chalkboards that we set on easels, and we had a guy there rolling cigars (more info on that below)!

A friend has a fun business and made us the most awesome gift—painted wine bottles with beautiful accents incorporating our wedding invitation and colors along with some personalized coasters using Scrabble tiles.

My aunt made baskets to put in the bathrooms with hairspray, bobby pins, nail files, mouthwash, all kinds of little things you might need in an emergency. A friend of a friend lives on the golf course where we got married and he let us borrow his golf cart for our getaway!


What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

I started planning early and researched EVERYTHING. Thinking creatively about alternatives that might not come to mind immediately helped a lot. (For food we looked at the venue, catering companies, restaurants, food trucks, and pop-up kitchens before deciding on anything.) Groupon offers great deals on invitations and things you can use as décor—you can catch fantastic deals that way.

Thankfully, we found a venue that included tables, chairs, linens, bartenders, setup and cleanup of both ceremony and reception, which probably saved us thousands of dollars. We chose a golf course as the site for both the ceremony and reception and because it was so naturally beautiful the only decorations we had were centerpieces and the two arches.

We had lots of DIY details and tried to only use things we already had (jewelry, groom’s and groomsmen’s suits, I wore sandals with my dress) or things we could keep and use after the wedding or give away/sell. (My dress is still for sale if anyone is interested!)

We left out lots of things that didn’t matter so much to us—not having ring bearers or flower girls saved us from buying their outfits and inviting more people to the rehearsal dinner, we limited our bar to just beer and wine, and everyone toasted with whatever they had rather than champagne.

**Alcohol turned out to cost much more than planned because we had to get it through the venue. I didn’t ask enough questions before signing and they were vague on how much it would be. It ended up being as much as the venue itself because of a 300% upcharge on their part even though we chose inexpensive options—people aren’t kidding when they say to find a place you can bring your own alcohol!


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! Researching options to find the best price takes a while and if one vendor falls through, it can save your sanity to have plenty of time to talk with other options. This also gives you time to find great deals. Our 100% customized save the dates were bought for pennies and our invitations and RSVPs came out to $27 total with a Groupon.
  • Don’t feel like you’re inconveniencing vendors by asking questions. Get the information you need; they’re earning your business and if they get frustrated with legitimate questions or act like you’re demanding too much up front, how are they going to treat you after you give them your money?
  • Be confident but kind in your decisions to include what you want (even if it’s seen as weird) and leave out what you don’t (even if it’s expected). Those are the things that make your wedding unique and memorable!
  • At the same time, don’t overload yourself with small projects. All those ideas on Pinterest are great but you have to know when to stop…they add up fast!
  • While this is a very special day, don’t take it too seriously or let it consume every waking moment of your engagement—it’s not fun to be a bridezilla and everything will work out. You really are the only one who will notice if something doesn’t happen as planned and it’s so much more fun to focus on having the best time with your spouse, family, and friends.
  • Find the best photographer you can within your budget! I didn’t think I would care so much about the pictures bust it’s been months since the wedding and I still look at them all the time. I am SO glad we went with our photographer, Lindsey! She truly has been fantastic and gone way above and beyond what we expected in every way—she met me at the venue a couple of weeks before the wedding, helped tweak our timeline based on her experience, gave us some photo ideas, and made us so comfortable. After the wedding she gave us every picture in color and black and white on an app/website and an awesome custom flash drive with our names and wedding date plus a date night gift card, free one year anniversary shoot credit, and a wedding album for Christmas!


What was your biggest splurge?

The coordinator! It took me forever to convince my husband it was worth it to hire them but he will agree now that they were worth every. Single. Penny!

From the very first moment, our coordinators asked the right questions to understand what we wanted, provided suggestions on how to work within our budget, offered to vet vendors, and looked over contracts we were ready to sign. (This alone saved us the amount that we paid them and saved us from a disastrous catering experience!) Having a planner for a small-budget wedding may seem counterintuitive but I think it could be more important because they’ve seen it all and can suggest alternatives that work for you and your budget.

Having them there for the wedding let me be truly present and not worry about what was coming next or whether anything was going wrong. Our coordinator’s boss even showed up and videoed the entire night since we opted not to have a videographer—how amazing is that?!


What was your favorite detail?

My favorite thing at the reception was the cigar roller I got as a surprise for Court. (I didn’t include that in the budget breakdown since I paid for it on my own and he didn’t know about it but it cost $600 plus tax. I’m pretty sure I found that idea on BSB—thanks for that!!) His mom made a cigar bar sign for the table out of reclaimed barn wood and the whole thing was a HUGE hit with everyone there. We were able to get several pre-made cigars from them that had labels a friend designed with our colors, initials, and date on it. So, so fun and he was really surprised and excited about it!

For the ceremony, we wrote our own vows and didn’t compare them beforehand but they ended up aligning perfectly! We both touched on the same things and added a little humor. It was so fun to have people ask us if we wrote them together and tell them we had absolutely no idea what the other was going to say.


What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Our first look was perfect and I’m so glad we did it. The look on his face was priceless and it was great to have just a few minutes to ourselves. Neither of us was nervous the day of (which is strange for me, not because I was worried about getting married but I get WAY anxious being the center of attention) so there were no jitters to work out but it was really fun.



Dress: David’s Bridal  •  Alterations: San Marcos Tailors  •  Photography: Lindsey Clare Photography  •  Invitations/save the dates/thank you cards: Groupon (Vistaprint and Zazzle)  •  Hair and makeup: Erin Parker at Allen Benjamin’s Salon  •  Catering: An Event to Remember  •  Ceremony music: Arnold Yzaguirre  •  DJ: Texas DJ Doug  •  Cake: First Impressions Bakery  •  Cigar rollers: Bobalu Cigar Company  •  Coordinator: Brass Tacks Events


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Mint Wedding Wed, 05 Nov 2014 17:00:22 +0000 I am so excited to share this lovely mint wedding with you today!! Y’all already know, I love all things turquoise, mint and teal, so when I saw this wedding in my inbox I nearly squealed. And the fact that they pulled it off on a killer budget makes it even better!! Did I mention that the couple served Mexican food at their wedding? Umm, hello – why wasn’t I invited? 😉 I love that this couple made choices based on what mattered most to them – the joy on their faces really shows that it paid off! Hope you love this sweet wedding as much as I do!! xoxo,  Jessica

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Rachel + Jared

August 16, 2013

Mt. Pulaski, IL | Mt. Pulaski Christian Church | The Rail Golf Course



What was your wedding budget?

Here’s our budget breakdown:

$1800 ceremony and reception venues

$1300 photographer

$1400 caterer

$700 dress

$400 musician/officiant/bridal party gifts

$200 DJ

$200 decor

$2000 other / misc

$8000 total budget



How many guests did you have?




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

Some things that made our wedding unique and personal were: tying an actual knot in our ceremony, using our deceased grandparents’ favorite hymns as music during the ceremony, pots of flowers as table decorations on top of cheese boxes with lace at the reception, vintage strawberry box containers holding our favorite treats as party favorites, homemade cheesecakes for dessert, Jenga pieces as the “guest book”, and Wedding MadLibs for the guests at their tables.



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

DIY Projects – almost every decoration was handmade by family.



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

Let friends and family help! We found that we had many connections to experienced and talented people who could help make decorations, put together flower arrangements, alter a wedding dress, video-record the ceremony, and more, for a small price or as their gift to us! Also, try out local restaurants rather than catering businesses, they’re more authentic and affordable.



What was your biggest splurge?

The Rail Golf Course reception venue.



What was your favorite detail?

The decorations at the reception were definitely a favorite detail. The flower pots with lace and candles were beautiful with chains of paper roses as embellishment on the tables and pastel colored lanterns hanging from the ceiling.



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The “first look” – such a special moment!




Photographer:  Karen Feder Photography  //  Dress Store: Adore Bridal and Speciality  //  Hair Stylist: BJ Hair Salon  //  DJ: Demario Williams  //  Makeup Artist: Jamie McFadden  //  Caterer: La Fiesta  //  Tuxedo and Mens Attire: Men’s Warehouse  //  Reception Venue: The Rail Gold Course  //

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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Vineyard wedding on a budget Fri, 08 Aug 2014 12:00:52 +0000 So happy to share one of our own bride blogger’s weddings! Today we are sharing the lovely Laura’s real budget wedding- she got married in a vineyard in North Carolina and pulled it off on an impressive budget. Everything turned out so great and it looks like they had a fabulous time, too! I hope you enjoy the lovely photos from Laura and Josh’s vineyard wedding shot by the talented Christopher Bell Photography. And if you want to get a little behind the scenes info about Laura’s plans leading up to the big day, be sure to read her previous posts! Congrats Josh & Laura– hope married life is treating you well! xoxo- Jessica

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Laura and Josh

April 26, 2014

Asheville, North Carolina at Fontaine Vineyards

What was your wedding budget?

Photographer-$1,650 (including engagement session)
Officiant-$100 (donation to church)
Hair, Nails, & Make-Up: $140
Dress & Bridal Accessories-$600
Groom’s Tux-$180Flowers-$150
Invitations, Stationery, & Postage-$200
Wedding Party Gifts-$150
Sparklers for Send-Off-$30
TOTAL: $7,430

How many guests did you have?

50 guests attended

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

A very personal aspect to us was the ceremony. The best man’s aunt was our officiant, and we carefully chose our vows and the scriptures she read. I also chose to walk down the aisle with both my mom and my dad because they raised me to be the woman that I am today. I consider myself a modern woman and a feminist, so it was important to me have these aspects in our wedding.
Similarly, we used the ampersand (&) a lot to denote our joining together. Initially, we selected our invitations which had that detail, and then I found a silver ampersand to place on the head table. On that day, I wore a ring I had made with L & J engraved into a heart.
We did a few DIY projects with the signage, aisle markers, and centerpieces. I didn’t want to spend money on things I wouldn’t be able to give to another bride or reuse myself.

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Having a small guest list was a huge savings, and we did our ceremony and reception at the same venue. They had tables and linens, chairs, and pretty much everything we needed already there, so we didn’t have to do any rentals.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
Don’t be afraid to do what you want. We chose to keep wedding planning between the two of us to decrease conflict, and that way we were able to do a lot of things

What was your biggest splurge?

The venue and caterer, photographer

What was your favorite detail?

If I could only choose one, I’d say the chalkboard that Josh and I made together. My mom had a mirror at the end of the stairs in the house I grew up in, and she hadn’t put it up in the new house. I asked about it one day, and we found it in the garage. The mirror was broken, but she let me take the frame. We painted a piece of plywood with chalkboard paint and painted the frame. We used it as a program for guests when they came in to see who our attendants were, etc. We now have it in our house as an “I love you because…” board. It is a special part of my childhood that is being incorporated into our new life together.

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Our first look! I walked down the hill to where Josh and our photographer were, and I was so nervous! My heart was pounding. When he turned around and saw me, it was like we were just meeting again. We were both giddy with excitement, and neither of us had slept well the night before. It was so nice to just see him, and it made me feel okay with everything else.


Venue & Catering: Fontaine Vineyards  //  Photography: Christopher Bell Photography  //  Blue Ridge Event Staffing
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Rustic Autumn Wedding Wed, 04 Jun 2014 14:00:05 +0000 real budget wedding

I know it’s a bit out of season, but you’re gonna love this rustic autumn wedding! This couple really focused on what was most important to them and put together an absolutely gorgeous day in the process! I love all the rustic fall details that carry through the day from the gorgeous bouquet to the s’mores station. Hope you enjoy these gorgeous photos from this fab wedding! xoxo – Jessica

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Abby + Nick

October 5th, 2013

Burchfield Park, North Bluff Pavilion  |  Holt, Michigan


What was your wedding budget?

We did not have a precise budget set, but we just did things as cost effectively as possible.


Rough Estimates:

Caterer: $400

Dress: $ 550, alterations $90

Officiant: $250

Ceremony/reception location: $200

Videography: $550

Photography: $2000

Invitations: $120

Decorations/other: $2500

Makeup: $110

Hair/nails: $90

Flowers: $300

Cider and donuts: $50

Memory box: $120



How many guests did you have?

We invited 60 and had around 45 come to the wedding.



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

Nick and I made: The aisle runner, the doors, the s’mores box, the ceremony altar swag, the wood slice for the ring bearer, the sign for the 2nd ring bearer, the curtains, and the programs.

We decorated the entire pavilion, designed the memory box, and cut the wood slices ourselves.



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Made as many things as possible and found great deals on the things we could not or did not have time to make. We had a non-traditional caterer. We limited flowers to my bouquet and boutonnieres and corsages (we had no bridal party). We did not have a cake.



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

DON’T STRESS! Our wedding plans changed 4-5 times. We changed venues multiple times, we changed caterers, and we changed plans for almost everything. We had vendors cancel 6 months before the wedding and luckily were able to find new ones. We had a vendor we WISHED we could have cancelled because they were awful. This was all very stressful for me. In the end I wish I would not have let myself be so stressed. Because even though all of these things happened and in the end I was worried about it all coming together (because we did not have a chance to do a “dry-run” in any way) everything worked out perfectly. Yes the pavilion was flooded the morning of (the staff at Burchfield Park is amazing and got it pumped out right away), and the chairs we rented did not show up on time and then finally showed up hours past the expected time, but in the end everything came together and if something was not perfect Nick and I were the ONLY ones who knew it was not the way it was meant to be. I had nothing I should have been stressing over because in the end it was our wedding day, even if it was not “perfect” in how it was planned to be,  it was perfect because we were married, which was the whole point!

What was your biggest splurge?

Our photographer. I saw Kellie’s photos online before we were even engaged and knew she was going to be our wedding photographer because she is amazing! Photos are your memories after the day of, so it was worth the price for us.



What was your favorite detail?

Our memory box. It was custom made by Etsy seller SixthandElm and the entire box has words burned into it. The top has the lyrics to Marc Cohn’s “True Companion”, the sides have our vows we wrote to each other on them, the front describes the meaning of the box and the inside has our wedding date and a part of the ceremony. On our wedding day we put a letter to each other inside. On our first anniversary we will read that letter and put a new letter inside which we will open on the next anniversary and continue this every year. Not only is the box GORGEOUS but we will have a time capsule of our relationship. Everyone really loved this detail!



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Our first look. We did a first touch with the doors Nick made for me to make my entrance through and then we did a first look. It was amazing to have some alone time with each other before everyone started showing up and definitely calmed our nerves.



Photographer: Kellie Saunders Weddings and Portraits  //  Caterer: King of the grill  //  Ceremony/reception: Ingham county parks-Burchfield park  //   Videography: My Video Wedding  //  Memory box Creator: Etsy seller SixthandElm  //  Dress: Davids Bridal style T9612  //  Officiant: Pamela Klusack  //  Invitations: Catprint  //  Save the dates: Shutterfly  //  Makeup: Heather Spataro  //  Hair/nails: Panopoulos Salon  //  Flowers: Linnaea Floral Design  //  Donuts and cider: The Country Mill


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Blue + Purple Garden Wedding Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:00:26 +0000 real budget wedding

Another lovely budget savvy wedding for you today! I absolutely love this garden venue – isn’t it stunning? I also love how the lace bridesmaids dresses mimicked the style of the bride’s lace wedding dress! So gorgeous! Of course I think all weddings are beautiful but there’s always something extra special about those emotional moments when they are captured on film – like the families of the bride and groom joining them on the altar for a prayer. SO sweet! That’s what weddings are all about y’all- family. Hope you love this sweet garden wedding as much as I do!! xoxo – Jessica

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Amber + Nick

May 25, 2013

Fort Worth, Texas  |  A and M Gardens, Azle, Texas



What was your wedding budget

 $8,000 was our total budget

-$2,000-videographer and photographer



-$300-cake and decorations




How many guests did you have?     

Invited 110, 85 attended



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

I planned my own wedding, so I was able to pour a lot of Nick and myself into it all. I personalized the water bottles with coordinating colors and posted several pictures of Nick and I all over the reception hall. I created a seating chart and numbered the tables with baby pictures, and my mother-in-law made the groom’s cake in the shape of a Razorback. We held the ceremony outdoors in a garden area. Nick and I did a “first look” picture time as well. I loved having that alone time with him, and the pictures turned out great too!



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

When I was making my budget with my parents, I decided in the first place what all I wanted to spend money on. Was it the guest experience, the food, the pictures, etc.? As you can tell by my breakdown of my budget, I wanted to spend the most money on the venue, the video and pictures, and how I looked. Knowing that I wanted to spend money on those three things, it made it easy to search and find places that fit into my budget. It also helps to have friends and family who can help you out with connections to make it a little cheaper.



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

Don’t let it consume you. There were several times I would be with my mom or on the phone with her and would just get frustrated because we had only talked about wedding stuff. I would suggest being mindful and taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and knowing that everything will come together as it’s supposed to. Keeping a good perspective on it is also a good thing. A lot of brides make their wedding day all about themselves, and while that is easy to do, you can’t forget that there is life after the wedding. Be sure to give your beaux plenty of attention too, and if he has ideas, be sure to listen and consider them.



What was your biggest splurge?

My biggest splurge was my dress. I had originally budgeted only $800 for my dress. When I found the one I wanted though, my mom and sisters knew that it was the one I wanted to wear for our special day, even though it ended up being more expensive.  I’m happy I splurged though, because my wedding ended up being like a fairytale that I had dreamed about. It poured down rain right as my ceremony started and got my dress wet as soon as I started walking down the aisle but it didn’t matter. I felt beautiful and was so incredibly happy to be walking with my dad down the aisle to meet my husband.



What was your favorite detail?

My favorite detail would have to be the family prayer during the ceremony. Instead of a unity candle or sand, Nick and I wanted our parents to come pray for us. Both of us come from a long line of marriages as demonstrated by our generations table. The table had the wedding pictures from all 4 sets of grandparents, both our parents, aunts and uncles, and siblings. Our families have set the ultimate example for us in that with Christ, we can make it through anything together, including 50+ years of marriage. As long as Christ is the center, our marriage will last and we also have their advice to help us along the way as well.



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The most memorable moment of my day was the moment of exchanging vows and finally kissing my husband for the first time. I remember it the most because we personalized our vows, and I still remember everything I said to Nick and all he said to me. As soon as we kissed, I stated the obvious fact of “we’re married!” where all the attendants just laughed. I was so incredibly happy in that moment and knew that the rest of my life would be spent with the man that I have the privilege to love and serve in life.




Catering: TCP Catering  //  Venue: A and M Gardens  // Photography: Two Blue Shoes Photography   //  Flowers: Pam’s Ribbons and Roses  //  Entertainment: Under the Tower Productions  //  Gown: Maggie Sottero







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Lakeside wedding in North Carolina Wed, 08 Jan 2014 13:00:51 +0000 real budget wedding

You’re not going to want to miss this lovely lakeside wedding today! Time and time again some of the most gorgeous weddings we’ve featured have this thing in common: they used a FREE venue. It can save you so so so much and free up a huge portion of your wedding budget to go towards other things. The couple got married at the bride’s grandparents’ lake houses and it made for a stunning backdrop! And I definitely love the bride’s advice to keep things in perspective and not sweat it if things go wrong. Hope you enjoy this lovely budget wedding!! xoxo – Jessica

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Brittney + Will

July 20, 2013

 Denver, NC   ||  private residence 


What was your budget?

About 8,000 total! 

Save the dates: $50 from Zazzle

Invitations: $250 from Zazzle

Venue: Free

Dress: $1,000 by the time we did alterations and a bustle ($250) 

Tux rental: bought our tuxes on sale about $60 per groomsman from Belk

Catering: $1200 Catering by Tracey

Photography: Christopher bell photography $750

Rings: $5,000 for engagement and two wedding bands from Jared

Flowers: $750 albertine florals

Music: Ceremony and/or reception: We rented speakers for $150 and played the music from my computer

Wedding cake: $250 family friend made our cake

Hair and makeup: hair free from a long time friend and makeup $100

Wedding favors: candy- made mason jars and spend about $50 on a variation of candy

Site rentals: about $3000 for tents, chairs, table cloths

Decorations: around $500 from etsy and we crafted all of our own mason jars

Transportation: $600 for shuttle bus



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

We had a remembrance table that had pictures of all of our loved ones that had passed. This was especially meaningful because my Papa died a couple days before our wedding day. 



What was the biggest budget saving part of your wedding?

Definitely the venue. It was such a meaningful place. The only expenses that came with it was our rentals. 



What was your biggest splurge, and why?

Definitely the tent, but it rained all morning and afternoon, so I would say it was money well spent. 



What was your favorite detail?

All of the burlap and lace detail. It was a common theme throughout and meaningful in a lot of ways. I used the lace cap from my mom’s wedding veil to bind my flowers, and we used lace off of a table cloth that my husband’s nanny made on our arch that we stood under to exchange our vows. It’s the little touches that mean the most. 



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

Things WILL go wrong. You can plan your heart out, but nothing will be perfect. All that matters, is that you marry the man that makes everything worth while. Every aspect of your wedding day is memorable and treasured. At our wedding it poured down rain and the shuttle showed up at the wrong location, but that thirty minute delay allowed for the rain to stop and we were blessed with a cooler night :) 


Photographer:  Christopher Bell Photography, LLC  //  Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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Backyard Wedding in Ohio Fri, 27 Dec 2013 13:00:52 +0000 You are going to LOVE this wedding!! The couple managed to keep it under $8,000 total for 145 guests! They served some amazing looking food as heavy hors d’oeuvres with special little details. I love that they gave coffee beans as their wedding favors and what a savvy way to get them! Of course I love the mismatched bridesmaids dresses… you know me! My FAVORITE piece of advice from the bride: “Give yourself permission to not have a Pinterest perfect wedding. The pressure and expense can really add up.” AMEN sister! Let me know what your favorite part of this wedding is in the comments below! xoxo Jessica

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Heather + Evan

June 15, 2013

Mentor, Ohio  |  Private Residence



What was your wedding budget?

$5000 from parents plus whatever extra income I personally had. So about $5000-7500 altogether.

$2600 for photography was non-negotiable for me. And everything else was to be covered by whatever was left.

The dress wound up costing $275 from a warehouse and a friend did my alterations.

Location was free.

Port-a-potties were $275

Flowers were $800

Catering was allotted $1100

Musicians were $350

Cake was $150 (just the ingredients)


How many guests did you have?     

 We invited around 175, but around 145 ended up coming



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

Everything was personal. Our friend did the catering. His friends did flowers. The location was a family friend’s home. We’re both musicians so the musicians were friends. The bridesmaids did hair and make-up. We got to know each other while working at Starbucks so we had coffee beans as favors. We did mad lib RSVP cards and had those and kazoos on the table. A friend of mine painted the “guest book” thumbprint tree. Another dear friend of mine made our cake – and it was incredible. Also several of our friends are home brewers so we enlisted them to each brew a beer for the wedding. They came up with some amazing results!



What was the biggest thing you did to save money on your wedding?

 Basically we pooled resources from all of our insanely talented and generous friends. We saved on the location by having it outside at a friend’s house. The gown was from a warehouse and altered by an old college friend of mine. We were given a jewelry gift certificate and used that for Evan’s wedding band. The catering was done by a friend and we did small bites instead of full meals for everyone, but there was plenty of food for all our guests. And the favors were basically free. I ordered burlap bags from a warehouse supply place (Uline) so they were more rustic, but SO much cheaper and we each get coffee for free from Starbucks so we stored that up for months and then portioned it out for the favors.



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

Give yourself permission to not have a Pinterest perfect wedding. The pressure and expense can really add up. But do have the kind of day you want to have and will be happy about. But you’re going to have to cut some corners financially if you are on a budget. Choose yours battles, but stick to your guns on the things that are really important to you.



What was your biggest splurge?

 The photographer was definitely the biggest splurge, but worth every penny. And it took some convincing of many of my family members, but I am SO glad we had the Van Elks. And now that the pictures have come in, everyone else sees why I was so insistent … and they agree with me.



What was your favorite detail?

I have to pick just one? Probably my grandmother’s necklace that I wore. Or my bridesmaids dresses because there was such an ordeal getting those.



What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Instead of a unity candle (or alternative) ceremony or a first communion, which I’ve never particularly cared for in the first place, Evan and I had a foot washing ceremony to demonstrate our commitment to emulate Jesus and His relationship with His church as a relationship of service to each other over ourselves. It was a poignant moment, but it was also funny because we each had trouble getting the socks and shoes back on the other person. But even that was a great demonstration that even washing each other’s feet at our own wedding can be difficult, but with laughter and help and each other we will make it out the other side.




Photography: Jennifer Van Elk  //  Flowers: K.E.W.  //  Cake: Gloria Kenyon  //  Port-a-Potties: Aris Rentals  //  Chairs: CCM Rental  //  Dress: David’s Bridal  //  Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Target, Macy’s, Dillards


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Lovely Texas Church Wedding Wed, 13 Nov 2013 13:30:44 +0000 real budget wedding

I just love this lovely Texas church wedding! The couple kept things fairly simple to allow for their large guest list and did much of the work with the help of friends and family. I absolutely love the ring box in lieu of a ring pillow, the fact that the bride wore TOMS with her wedding dress, and the rustic details at the reception including the tree stump cake stands, baby’s breath centerpieces and lace and burlap details. And can we just stop for a second to recognize– that is one *gorgeous* church! Of course my favorite detail of all is the love between the couple– can you just see the depth of their hearts when you see the way they look at each other? So sweet!  Such a lovely wedding, and beautifully captured by Brittney Melton! xoxo – Jessica

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Deidra + John 

November 10, 2012

Westphalia, Texas  | Church of the Visitation



What was your budget? 

Budget = $6,800

            Ceremony location = Free (member of the church)

            Reception location = $700

            Flowers = $1,300

            Photographer = $1,800

            Videographer = $600

            Caterer = $1,600

            Decorations = $800



How many guests did you have?     

 We had roughly 275-300 guests.



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

My mother and I completely came up with the décor ideas on our own, with the help of family and friends of course! We prepped all the burlap and lace details throughout the reception ourselves. My husband created these coaster type trinkets for our guests to take home. I am a photographer, so he incorporated that into the coasters, making them the shape of a camera.



What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Almost all of our vendors were local people and some were personal friends of ours already! That helped a TON with saving money.  But in the large scheme of things, it was probably buying and prepping the decorations ourselves. All of the burlap, lace, and table centerpieces, as well as renting all the potted plants from a local nursery really helped to save money instead of hiring an event planner.



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

Do NOT stress! Take one step at a time! If you have a large family like I do, delegate responsibilities if they are willing. We had so many people help us the day before decorate the reception venue. It was awesome! So grateful!



What was your biggest splurge?

I would say photography. I am a photographer myself, and I was extremely picky on who we were going to hire. Of course, Brittney Melton did the most AMAZING job. I am so thankful for her skill and creative eye. Not to mention, she is super sweet and friendly. She captured the day perfectly; from the details to the overall joyful spirit we had that day. I relive it every time I look at our photos!



What was your favorite detail? 

Oh my goodness…do I have to pick one?! I would have to say our guestbook. Again, being a photographer, I did not want a traditional guestbook for our many guests to sign. I made a photo book through Blurb with pictures of John and I over our entire relationship, leaving space on each page around the photos for our guests to sign and leave their words of wisdom and love!



What is the most memorable moment of your day? 

From sharing our own personal vows to dancing the night away with our closest friends, it was all so memorable! But of course, I loved our decoration details, all the burlap and lace and lights…it was perfect!



Photography: Brittney Melton Photography & Design   //   Ceremony Location: Westphalia Church of the Visitation   //   Reception Venue: Flag Hall, Cyclone, Texas   //   Invitations & programs: Graphic Designer, Kasey Villarreal   //   Videography: Living Media Production Company   //  Floral Design: Sharon Long   //   Caterer: Michna’s Bar-B-Que





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