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Black and White Syracuse Wedding on a $20K Budget

Jessica and Erris had a romantic ceremony with a large family. They had beautiful black, white and gold decor. We love that the groomsmen put together a choreographed dance in Jessica's honor! Enjoy this Black and White Syracuse Wedding on a $20K Budget!

Xoxo, Jessica

Jessica + Erris

September 6th, 2019
Syracuse, NY | Double Tree by Hilton Hotel East Syracuse

What was your total budget? Please provide a budget breakdown.

  • Venue: $5,000 (total was $15,000 but $10,000 gifted from brides parents. Venue includes ceremony, reception, food and drink)
  • Decor: $300
  • Dress: $0 (gift from bride's mother)
  • Flowers: $160
  • Invitations/Stationary: $200
  • DJ: $700
  • Hair/Makeup: $0 (Gift from bride's mother)
  • Cake/Desserts: $600
  • Shoes: $160
  • Groom's attire: $250
  • Jewelry/Headpiece: $30
  • Photography: $3200

Total Budget: $20,600

How many guests did you have?

150

How did you meet?

We met almost 12 years ago while I was attending college in Utica NY. We were both from the Syracuse area, although he was a city boy, and I was a country girl. We had a friend or 2 in common, but ended up connecting on Myspace! (Does that make us old?) I didn't really take him all that seriously at first, but we grew a friendship and I would visit him when I came home on school breaks. We got closer and he asked me to be his girlfriend and the rest was history!

What is your proposal story?

Every year we visit a camp in Vermont on Lake Champlain. It's a family trip–my parents attend, along with my best friend, her husband, daughters, and her parents. We were all hanging out outside, watching the boats go by, listening to music, just enjoying each other's company. My best friend and her husband started taking family pictures with the lake in the background. When they were done, her husband said “You and Erris are next!” Well, I wasn't having it. I was being stubborn and did not want to get up, but they were insistent.

So I finally got up and we took a few pictures, then Erris told me to turn around and face the water. He then started waving at boats, and all I could think was “I am over this.” So I moved to go sit back down and both Erris and my best friend's husband were saying “No just one more picture!” It was then that Erris got down on one knee and proposed to me in front of my family and friends. Totally surprised!

Tell us about your wedding vision.

Being an interracial couple, we always joked that we were going to have a “black and white” wedding. Well when it came time to plan, that's exactly what we went with. We settled on black, white and gold because I also wanted to have some bling in there! We felt those colors were timeless and classic and we didn't want to do anything that was too fussy or over the top.

We also knew that we wanted to have our wedding and reception at the same venue. We wanted it to be as easy as possible for all of our wedding guests to enjoy both the ceremony and the reception without worrying about traveling between different venues. I would say that the ultimate theme of our wedding was “Elegant Simplicity“. We wanted to make things elegant but not too complicated or expensive.

Tell us about your attire choices.

Erris always wanted a white dinner jacket with custom gold and black lapel. The challenge was finding it for an affordable price. Well, like most anything you could ever want–we found it on AMAZON!! He ordered it and got it tailored by a local tailor and it turned out perfectly! He also got his loafers from Amazon as well.

Going into wedding dress shopping, I knew what I didn't want, but wasn't sure exactly what I did want. I had lost about 40 lbs. in the year and a half leading up to our wedding. I knew that I wanted something that was form-fitting without showing off the areas that I was still self-conscious about. I also knew that I wanted a dress that was mostly plain with a little bit of bling. I didn't want a dress that was too busy. The first shop that I went to, I tried on about 5 dresses from the plus-sized section and none of them fit well enough for me to visualize how I would look on my big day. Spybaby was the 2nd shop that I went to, and by that time, I had a good idea of what kind of style I wanted. The very first dress that I tried on was the one!! Everyone talks about having that feeling when you try on your wedding dress, and I definitely had that feeling.

For our groomsmen and bridesmaids we wanted to make sure that we kept things simple and as inexpensive as possible. A lot of our wedding party was traveling in from other states so we didn't want them to have to spend a fortune to be in our wedding. We chose a Calvin Klein suit for the groomsmen from Men's Warehouse because it was the most accessible for everyone. I purchased silk lapel flowers from Amazon to tie out their look.

I gave the bridesmaids one direction; a long black dress. As long as what they wore covered those bases I didn't dictate what kind of dress they bought. I wanted them to be comfortable in what they wore and buy something that fit in their budget. It all came together wonderfully!

What was most important to you two? Was there anything you chose to splurge on or skip?

We chose to spend the most money on the venue and the food/drinks. This was very important to us because we knew that when people left our wedding they would be more likely to remember if the food was good or bad versus whether we had fancy centerpieces or not.

Things we chose not to spend too much money on were invitations/stationery, decor, favors, and flowers. All of these things usually go to waste or are forgotten about after the wedding is over, so we didn't want to invest a lot of money on them.

What were your favorite parts of the day?

My favorite part of the day was when Erris and his groomsmen surprised me by performing New Edition's “Can You Stand the Rain” during our reception. I was totally taken by surprise but it was the most entertaining part of our reception! They had only rehearsed once hours before that and it came out amazing!

The other part of my day that I loved was the taco truck. My cousin manages a food truck and her gift to us was to have her food truck outside after our reception for some late-night eats! Everyone enjoyed it and it gave us time to wind down before turning in for the night. I even got in the truck and served tacos to everyone!

Tell us about your wedding flowers.

I knew from day one that I did not want to spend a lot of money on flowers. They lose their value almost instantly, and they always die. One of my mom's friends suggested that I order my flowers in bulk off of Costco and we could put the bouquets together ourselves. That is exactly what we did! I ordered white roses and baby's breath for my bouquet, baby's breath for my bridesmaids, and white roses for some table decor. I had them delivered to my mom's house the day before the wedding and her friend assembled them and delivered them on my wedding day. Everything came out perfect and I spent a fraction of the price that I would have paid through a florist.

Tell us about your wedding cake.

Erris has the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know, so I left the dessert selection to him. We knew that we wanted to have more of a dessert bar with a small cake, rather than an over-the-top cake that would take forever to cut into. For the cake, we wanted to stick with a black and white theme, but we also wanted it to be delicious.

One of Erris' favorite cookies is a Halfmoon, and we knew Kayleigh at Halfmoon Bakery was the one who could bring our cake to life. She created us a 2 tiered vanilla cake with cookies and cream filling. She then frosted it in vanilla buttercream and drizzled chocolate on the top. Then she added mini half-moons for decoration. She finished it off with gold dusting to add a little pop. It was perfect!

What did you do for favors?

I decided that it would be most practical to give something that was edible. My aunt had recently just come into a bunch of candy that was donated to her, and she offered to give it to us for our favors. I purchased small favor boxes on Amazon, and stickers from Etsy. I then assembled them myself. I saved a lot of money and I know that the favors didn't go to waste!

Please describe any DIY, handmade, or personal details.

All of the decor was DIY, down to our backdrop for our ceremony. I got the idea for the backdrop off of Pinterest to make it with just PVC piping, long curtains, and string lights. My dad took charge of putting it all together and it came out wonderful. Once the ceremony was done, the backdrop was moved to our reception space to be used as a DIY photo booth. We purchased prop kits for people to hold up while taking pictures.

All of the table decor was DIY. For 6 months prior to the wedding, we had friends and family collect empty wine bottles for us. We then spray painted them gold (some sparkles as well), and used those as centerpieces on tables. We took advantage of the decor that the hotel provided free of charge for the table as well. I also got a lot of printables off of Etsy and put them in spray-painted gold frames to put around the reception space. I also had handwritten signs for the ceremony space and dessert table. We tried to get as much as we could on Amazon or discounted from Hobby Lobby (use that 40% off coupon!)

We also had a lot of help from some talented family members. Besides my mom's friend building our bouquets, my aunt created special bracelets for my bridesmaids and I. I wanted to give each of my bridesmaids a piece of jewelry, but nothing I found online was catching my eye. When she said she would craft a piece for each of them I was so excited! They were black and gold and added the perfect touch to their ensembles.

Another personal detail that we added were memorial flowers. Erris had lost his sister the year before we were married, and I had just lost my grandfather a month before we got married. I had my mom's friend separate 2 white roses and then Erris and I went to Hobby Lobby and each chose charms to attach to ribbons on the roses. We placed the roses at the front of the seating for the ceremony so that we could honor our loved ones that couldn't be there.

Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?

I wanted to include my mothers wedding dress into my special day somehow. When she showed me her dress, it was ALL LACE. From head to toe. I didn't know how I would incorporate lace (outside of sewing some to the inside of my dress), until I met with my mom's friend about the flowers. She suggested that we cut my mom's dress into strips and use those with ribbon to band the flowers together. She executed this idea beautifully and I couldn't have been happier to have that as part of my special day.

Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?

Try not to get too caught up in all of the little things. When you are starting to plan, sit down and figure out what is really important to you and your future husband/wife, and focus on that. The details will fall into place.
It's also important to understand that the people that want to be there will be there. We had people RSVP and not show up, we had people, not RSVP, I even had a bridesmaid drop out at the last minute. At the end of the day, our wedding was perfect because we enjoyed the moment with the people that were there. We made memories that will last a lifetime!

Vendors

Photography: Mindy Hulett Photo | Ceremony Venue: Double Tree by Hilton Hotel East Syracuse | Reception Venue: Double Tree by Hilton Hotel East Syracuse | Floral: Costco | Stationery: Shutterfly | Wedding Cake: Halfmoon Bakery | Hair: Robin North (Infinity Salon) | Makeup: Robin North (Infinity Salon) | Wedding Dress: Spybaby Bridal | Groom's Attire: Amazon | Bride's Shoes: SQ Customs | Bridesmaid Dresses: Various | Headpiece: Amazon | Submitted via: Matchology


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