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helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank

Back with another lovely budget savvy wedding of the week! Carlee and Steven planned their wedding for only $7,000! They did alot of DIY and were frugal with their choices, which helped them keep costs down. One of my favorite parts of this wedding is the bride's hair– isn't it fab? I also love the simple rustic centerpieces with sticks and sparkly Christmas swirly decorations– perfect for this winter California wedding, and super budget friendly! xoxo-Jessica

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Carlee + Steven

December 29, 2012

Salinas, California

Ceremony: Calvary Church, Salinas, CA | Reception: Aromas Grange, Aromas, CA

What was your budget? Please give us a breakdown of how you spent your budget.

To tell you the truth we never actually set a budget. With my now husband being in the construction business, him and his family own a truss company called Central Coast Truss here in the Monterey County, we knew that we would only be able to spend what came in from jobs which weren’t always so reliable due to the weather. We also had my not-so big monthly income. This made it tough to plan exactly what we were going to have or include but tried to do everything step by step. I was blessed with amazing in laws, for which I am so thankful for because my mom lives out of state. They helped us out every chance they could as well. Money was definitely tight at times and often I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get everything we needed for the wedding. I always had to try and remember that God would provide for us and sometimes you just have to wait patiently. 

My dress, veil and shoes were around $1200 Then $400 more for alterations, $99 for my tiara, $120 for my makeup and $185 for hair.

Decorations were bought here and there and we made most of them ourselves so I would say around $200-$300.

We made the favors ourselves as well and spent roughly $200.

Instead of catering, we ordered family treys from Gino’s Fine Italian Restaurant (9 in total), and they were about $600.

We bought appetizers and salad mixings from Costco which were around $200.

Table cloths, chair covers, window decorations, and stage decoration was about $600

The DJ gave us an amazing deal because of family friends. 

Flowers were through a friend and she gave them to me mostly at cost for $390

The reception venue was $500.

The groom's tuxedo was $160 (all the groomsmen were the same).

There were the flower girl baskets and flowers were around $100 all together.

We had disposable cameras on each table for people to use which came out to around $30 total.

Drinks all together were $300 between sodas, waters, champagne, beer, and wine.

The church, since we are members, was $300 to pay the janitor, coordinator, and sound man.

We rented champagne glasses, the runner, and a cake table for $200.

My amazing photographer who is the best lady I know gave me an amazing deal of $750.

All in all I would say we spent around $7000, beginning to end.


How many guests did you have?


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

My mother in law and I made all of the center pieces ourselves, and most of the decorations as well. I loved the lace and burlap theme together and went for a very rustic wedding feel. We used a mixture of both and did every other table with different sets. 


What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

The biggest thing we did to save money was avoid using a caterer. I think it worked out best because sometimes you never know how many people will actually show up who didn’t rsvp, and when you’re using a caterer, you are paying per person. 


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

My best advice now that I am officially married would be to enjoy the whole process and planning of the wedding. I was always so worried about whether we were going to be able to have everything work out as planned or not I sometimes forgot got to just enjoy it! Even on our wedding day it’s hard to look back and remember everything because it all happens so fast and I was so busy worrying about everyone else’s happiness I forgot to just take it all in. I will say making our own decorations and favors was sometimes a great way to sit and take it in and talk about it and was a great bonding experience for my mother in law and me.


What was your biggest splurge?

I’d have to say there were two big splurges for our wedding day. One of my biggest splurges was my dress and my appearance on our wedding day. I knew I wanted my husband to remember how I looked on that day forever and see nothing but joy on his face as I walked in. Along with him remembering what I looked like on our day forever would be photography. People don’t understand what all goes in to photographing weddings and the aftermath of shooting the wedding. Some people may not think it’s worth it to spend tons of money on a photographer, and although I got an amazing price some still thought I should go around it. I am a total picture person I love having pictures to look back on and so I think getting a photographer perhaps Mrs. Laura Hernandez is another detail that must be included. I feel truly blessed to have met Laura and have her share in our day and I could not picture it without her. Not only is she one of the sweetest ladies I know but is also super talented and knows exactly how to capture people’s personalities and the love between them. 


What was your favorite detail?

The ambiance of the hall probably was my favorite detail; it was amazing how beautifully everything came together. It was far prettier then I had ever imagined it could be. 


What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The most memorable part of my day had of been waiting for them to open the door so I could finally walk towards my future husband (at the time). When the door opened and I saw the biggest most sincere smile unfold across Stevie’s face was something I will never forget. I could only look at him for a second because I had already been fighting back the tears since we did our pre-ceremony pictures. We didn’t see each other, but just knowing he was on the other side of the door, for those few minutes before the ceremony, was what I needed to relax and be ready to walk down the aisle in front of so many witnesses.



Photography: Laura Hernandez Photography   |  Food: Gino's Fine Italian Restaurant   |  DJ: GEM Productions  |   Wedding Dress & Accessories: David's Bridal  |  Alterations: Campus Brial  |  Flowers: Taylor Forzani from Fiori Di Amore  |  Hair: Sherry Morris From G'Syl Salo  |  Makeup: MAC Cosmetics  |  Ceremony: Echos of Calvary  |  Reception location: The Grange   |

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About Jessica

Jessica is the creator of The Budget Savvy Bride; she launched the site in May of 2008, shortly after becoming engaged. Jessica has been recognized as a budget wedding expert by various media outlets and continues to share realistic inspiration and actionable tips to help brides save money on their weddings. Google

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  • Lauren

    congratulations!! beautiful pictures!! who did your photography? im from hollister and can’t find a photographer within budget.

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