Oh my gosh, you guys — today's featured wedding will take your breath away!! I just love the glamour that this wedding exudes — from the deep grey suits on the groomsmen to the stunning bridesmaids dresses to the gorgeous lighting over the reception! And the best part is the couple was able to create this gorgeous day on a budget that was right for them. You'll love this bride's advice and attitude towards saving money — she's definitely a budget savvy bride!! So thrilled to feature your day, Lauren + John! xoxo, Jessica
Lauren + John
May 3, 2014
Phoenix, Arizona | The Felch House
What was your budget?
When we started planning our wedding I said that I wanted to spend under $10,000, because I knew I could have everything I wanted for under 10k, even though many doubted me!
The venue was $4500. The DJ was $500 & our photographer was $500. Our caterer was about $2500 & the florist was $350. The table/chairs/linen rental was roughly $200. Our cake was about $200 (we had cupcakes). We spent about $500 for all the alcohol. I used a vintage rental company for some décor and that was about $200. All the other décor was around $200… keeping it under our $10,000!
How many guests did you have?
We invited 125 guests but we had 92 guests attend.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
I did the majority of the personal/creative aspects of our wedding. For starters, I made all of our wedding invitations. Pearls & lace were a recurring theme of the wedding and the invitations included those things. I had lace that I received from my grandmother that I used on the invitations and then carried that into décor at the wedding as well. I bought classy pearl & silver cardstock at Michael’s and then I created the template of the invitations on my computer & then had them printed at a local Fed-Ex store, only because I didn’t want to use my own ink on my printer at home.
My parents remodeled the house I grew up in & saved their old baseboards for us from the house. We then cut them, painted them & created frames out of those. We then added a backboard to the frame & used pearls to create a number in the frame. Those were our table numbers. We also had a double sided picture frames that had a picture of me & a picture of John at the same age as the table number. So, table five had a picture of John & I when we were five. Also, in the courtyard area of the reception there was a large tree that had little white lights. I collected many pictures of John & and I with our families, friends, and each other over the years. I used clothespins & strung them on some twine and strung those through the tree. It looked really pretty when they lights came on!
We got married on the same date as our first date. So, we created fans that were also programs that had the story of it being three years to the exact date of our first date & a brief background & history on the wedding venue, as it is an old house in a historical district of Phoenix. We also included the names of our wedding party on the other side of the fan. It was the first 100 degree day of the year in Phoenix so the fans were quite handy during the ceremony. During the ceremony I had each bridesmaid give John a hand written note from me when they walked down the aisle. Those made our guests giggle & kept everyone wondering what was on those notes! We had John’s brother in law officiate our wedding. Rather than paying a stranger to officiate our wedding we had his brother in law become ordained & together the three of us created a really personal, sweet ceremony. Also, John’s sister gave a reading during the ceremony. My grandmothers were the flower girls, as well. ‘Family’ was a really big, personal theme of our wedding.
We also made welcome bags for our guests that came out of town. This was a huge success, as almost every single guest thanked us for this & loved that they received the bag when they checked into the hotel. We made chocolate chip cookies and included two of those, we made homemade salsa and I bought the 8oz mason jars for really cheap, I bought a huge bag of tortilla chips from Costco & distributed those into little bags for each bag, we included a mini water bottle that we bought in bulk from Costco & created a label from our computer & printer for the bottles, and then we included a travel size sunscreen. Each bag was really inexpensive, most of it was homemade but a huge hit with guests.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
The biggest thing is that John & I did the majority of the work. I wanted to have the personal touches & I wanted to be what I had envisioned, and the way to do that, for me at least, was for me to create these visions myself. Some of it was using stuff I already had, such as the baseboard frames & pictures, those were free; except for the $3 I spent on paint for the frames. I spent a lot of time going back and forth to Hobby Lobby but pretty much waited until the things I wanted were 50% off or I used 40% coupons on anything that was not. I dragged John along many times so we could each use coupons! Also, I chose a venue that I had the freedom to use any vendor I wanted & could decorate anyway I wanted. However, I ended up using a large majority of the preferred vendors from our venue. By doing that I was able to get discounts on pretty much every vendor I used that she had recommended. Some of those discounts were percentages off or delivery fees waived, etc.
Another huge saving was I chose a photographer that had amazing work, believed strongly in not going into debt for a wedding & had the exact style I had envisioned but just had not done a ton of weddings. I booked her about a year before my wedding and at the time she had only done a few weddings but I liked the work I saw regarding other types of shoots she had done. Over the year she shot more weddings, gained more experience. I booked her for $500; she now charges $1500! I also saved a ton of money by using a wholesale florist. It was very personal working with her & she knew I absolutely did not want to spend a ton on flowers. So, she kept my budget in mind, not letting it go a penny over $350 & my flowers were amazing! I received so many compliments on my bouquet yet I saved so much on it!
But really, our strict belief in not spending a fortune on our wedding & being willing to do things myself to create the perfect day is really what kept us saving money!
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
I’d say that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a perfect, gorgeous day. Also, know that with a little research & effort, you can find deals & things that are less expensive and by doing that you can justify splurging on things you didn’t HAVE to have. I’d also say, try to stay organized. I was a little over the top on my organizing but it helped to decrease my stress, a little. Speaking of stress, one piece of advice I should have taken: let people help. I knew how I wanted things so I chose to do things myself but that just stressed me out. I should have given people projects and allowed for some help!
What was your biggest splurge?
I used a vintage rental company for some really cool vintage furniture places. It wasn’t a must have but it gave the wedding those added touches that I just loved! I rented really cool chairs & a vintage sweetheart table so our sweetheart table was unique and added some shabby chic/rustic/ vintage décor the reception. I also used some other vintage tables around the venue for different things. We also rented a really cool stand up cupcake stand for our cupcakes. A lot of these items were things I reserved pretty close to the actual wedding date, since I knew I had the money in the budget by then to snag them! We also splurged a little bit on our catering. We upgraded on some aspects such as having a beef option, having our salads plated versus buffet, but we saved using a caterer our vendor had recommended!
What was your favorite detail?
I have so many favorites! But I think that the entire wedding was exactly what I had envisioned. It was so extremely personal and I could see touches of John & I and our families throughout the entire thing. The entire wedding was my favorite. It was definitely my best day ever.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
I’d probably have to say turning the corner with my dad and seeing John. Our ceremony was short but very sweet. John isn’t a huge mushy guy, so hearing him read his vows that he wrote was very special and something I will remember forever. Writing our own vows was very sweet & special and vows that I think we’ll actually be able to remember.
Photographer: Jillian Ryan Photography • Venue: Felch House • Caterer: AZ Inspirations Catering • Florals: Jennifer Knoles • DJ: Push Play Entertainment • Cake: Lovely Little Cake Shop • Rentals: Royalty Rentals • Vintage Rentals: Prim Rentals
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.