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We're back with another wedding of the week! This Montana DIY lodge wedding has lots of fun and creative details– the couple managed to host 280 guests for only $11,000! Very budget savvy! I love that they spent a significant portion of their budget on their photographer- and it definitely paid off! These photos from Patchwork Photography are simply gorgeous! xoxo-Jessica

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Maren + Aeric

August 18, 2012

Great Falls, MT

First Alliance Church (Ceremony)   |   The Elks Lodge (Reception)


What was your budget? If you are able, give us a rough breakdown of how you spent your budget.

Budget: $10,000 but we ended up spending more like $11,000

Photography: $3,000

Food: $3,000

Venue: $500

Alcohol: $600

DJ: $500

Bride’s Dress (shoes, veil etc): $800

Bride’s Maid Dresses (shoes): $300

Flower girl dresses (shoes, details): $150

Flowers: $500

Tuxes: $300

Décor/other details: $500+
How many guests did you have?



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

After looking at some different wedding blogs and photos, it didn't take me long to decide that I wanted to go for a vintage feel.  I've always loved vintage, simple things and thought it would be perfect for our wedding.  I had also developed a sort of odd infatuation with old doors and furniture which we incorporated into our décor.  Oh, can't forget to mention our treat table!!  I love sweets so it only seemed appropriate that we have a treat table.  Aeric and I each chose two of our favorite treats to share with our guests.  It was a big hit and, I have to admit, I most definitely indulged in several lemon cookies throughout the evening.  So yummy!!
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

I don't know that there was any one big thing we did to save money. It was more just little things here and there like finding reasonably priced bridesmaids dresses and having the guys wear jeans instead of renting the whole tux.  We also made our own boutonnières, had simple, inexpensive table decor and a friend who graciously volunteered to make our cake; all of which helped us keep costs down.


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

Oh gosh, the million dollar question. 🙂 I would say make it the day you want it to be no matter what.  If you have a vision, or a dream, make it happen.  I really wanted a vintage, shabby chic type wedding.  Unfortunately, in an attempt to accommodate everyone and do what I thought would be the easiest, I compromised hugely on my reception venue.  I'm still bothered by it.   Also, I would reduce the number of guests by at least 100.  We had nearly 300 guests and it was overwhelming.

What was your biggest splurge?

While food and photography were by far our biggest expenses and accounted for more than half of our budget, I’d say my biggest splurge was on flowers.  I didn't do a lot of flowers, but I that was one thing I knew I wanted to be sure I was happy with and I definitely was.  The flowers turned out beautifully!


What was your favorite detail?

Our treat table!  I'm a huge fan of sweets and treats so we had a table with two of Aeric's favorite treats and two of my favorites.  It was fun and definitely my favorite detail.  🙂
What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The ceremony for sure.  I feel like it had the personal touches that I really wanted from the songs (one of which I wrote), to the musicians, (all friends and family), to the message given by the pastor.


Photographer: Patchwork Photography   |   Florist: My Viola Floral Studio   |   Caterer: Deb Hudson with Golden Corral   |   Cake: Kathy Vincent   |   Brides Dress: Designer Mori Lee, purchased from Marshell’s Bridal Aire &Tuxedo   |  Grooms shirt, vest and tie: Kauffman's Menswear ~ Great Falls, MT

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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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  • Denise

    So in love with those wedding programs! Could you give info on where you got them? Thanks.

    • Maren

      My sister put my programs together using Microsoft Word. I have lots left over. Let me know if you’d like me to send you one.

      • Send via e-mail, like a Microsoft Word template? That would be cool, and helpful.

        Or a hard copy to my mailing address so I can try to figure it out?

        Let me know which, and I’ll send you over my mailing address if it’s the 2nd 🙂

        • Maren

          I can’t seem to find where we saved it. But I could send you a hard copy. My email is [email protected]. If you send your address, I’ll put one in the mail for you.

  • Carla Caruso

    This is such a lovely wedding! I’m completely amazed that they hosted 280 guests for only $11,000. Wow!

  • Stick

    I was just wondering if you can share the wedding gown style or name of the dress. I love it and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for that seems to be in my budget. If you can ask the bride for that info and share it, I’d really appreciate it.


  • Sister

    The bride’s sister made the wedding programs– Very easy to do if you find a format you like!

  • Gail

    I love the whole post card idea. How did you go about making it? Also, how I’d you make the programs? Thanks so much!

  • Megan

    Where did you get the bridesmaids dresses? There exactly what I want for my wedding!

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