This might be one of my favorite BSWOWs ever! First of all, I am a HUGE sucker for sunflowers. I had an embarrassing amount of sunflower decor in my bedroom as a teenager, and they just make me super happy. 🙂 This wedding has some incredible details and I am so glad that Liz was a reader of BSB while she was planning her wedding! She managed to pull off a creative, handcrafted affair for a modest budget, including her honeymoon. She's definitely a budget savvy bride! Her amazing photographer, Deborah Zoe, submitted this wedding via Two Bright Lights and I totally swooned over her incredible images of the handmade details. I had the hardest time editing down to a reasonable amount of photos so this might be one of the more photo-heavy posts I've done. I also think that the pic of her bridesmaids just might be one of the cutest bridal party photos I've ever seen: navy + sunflowers + cowboy boots= love. 🙂 Hope you enjoy this edition of the BSWOW!
Ben & Liz
April 9, 2011
Cape Neddick, ME
What was your budget? If you are able, give us a rough breakdown of how you spent your budget.
We did everything for around $10,800, INCLUDING our honeymoon. Our goal was to be around $10,000, but we went a little over when we splurged on a few things such as photography. Considering our honeymoon was included in the total though makes me feel like we hit our mark pretty well. The breakdown is:
Reception & Catering – $5,700
Photography – $2,500
Flowers – $625 (Costco & fiftyflowers.com )
Invitations – $250
Decorations – $380
Dress – $30 (I know, right?!)
Honeymoon – $625
Other clothing / hair – $350
Misc (gifts, etc) – $300
How many guests did you have?
We invited about 210, and ended up having around 170.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
We did a lot of DIY decorations, and involved our community of family in friends in a LOT of different aspects of the wedding. We both love things that have a rustic and antique feeling to it, so we knew that we could get away with doing a lot of things ourselves. We did all of our own flower arrangements, bouquets and boutonnieres the day before and it gave me an excuse to have a lot of my girlfriends who were in from out of town over for morning of flowers and mimosas. Also, a dear friend of mine who is an amazing baker made our wedding cake as a gift to us. I involved friends in making all of our centerpieces, table numbers, favors, decorations, etc etc. We spent hours putting together sunflower seed packets to give away to our guests! I've received a lot of pictures of the seedlings now growing in friends yards. Last, one of my favorite things we did was a non-traditional guest book. A friend of mine who does graphic design made us a ‘wedding tree' where guests could ‘leaf' their thumbprint, and sign their name. We now have it hanging on our bedroom wall.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
Four things. One – I went a non-traditional route with a dress. I got my dress at Nordstrom's Rack and was able to buy it for $30! It looked MUCH more expensive than that, and nobody believed me that I spent so little. I figure I saved us around $1,000 with that move. Second – we did our own flower arrangements which was much more fun and probably saved us $2,000. Third – We used a videographer who is just breaking into the business and offered to shoot our wedding for free if we allowed him to use all our footage for PR. We got an amazing video and an amazing deal! Fourth – The non-profit I work at has a great sound system which we borrowed for the dance party. A friend emceed and did a great job!
What's the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you're on the other side?
Ask for help and use your friends talents! We saved so much money (and time and stress) by involving loved ones in the planning process and letting them gift us things that they were good at and wanted to do. I know at times it was hard for me to let go of certain aspects of the planning, and trust that things would be done well, but in the end it ended up being great. Second bit of advice is if you don't have a day of coordinator (I didn't), to designate two people to oversee the details of the day. I had one member of my bridal party who was responsible for making sure people in the bridal party and family were where they were supposed to be, and then I had a good friend oversee decorating and setting up our reception site and making sure all of that went smoothly. It meant I didn't have to think about any of the details the day off.
What was your biggest splurge?
Definitely our reception site. We wanted to make sure we had a great location that was very ‘us' for people to go to, and make sure they had good food. We were able to afford it by having an ‘off season' wedding.
What was your favorite detail?
I think our cake was my favorite! For a bit, we weren't actually sure that she was going to be able to make it, and we started looking at different vendors., My friend offered to make it as soon as we were engaged, but our reception site required some sort of liability insurance. It took a long time to figure it out, and at one point we thought we would have to scrap the whole idea but in the end it worked out. She put so much work into it, and her kids even helped make it (her son was our ring bearer). It was so beautiful and made with so much love.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
Our first dance. We both hate slow dancing, and thought we would look so silly (I am a little bit taller than Ben). When it came time to dance though, it ended up being such a special moment to just be there together and we didn't even care how we looked.
Church: First Baptist Church of Hampton Falls | Reception: Clay Hill Farm | Photography: Deborah Zoe Photo | Videographer: Fresh Focus Pictures | Flowers: Costco and Fifty Flowers | Cake: Sarah Riddle (friend) | Dress: Nordstrom Rack | Suit: Kohls | Bridesmaid dresses: David's Bridal
Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.