I love to see couples pull off a more traditional country club wedding on a budget, and today’s budget-savvy wedding is just that! Chamise and Darren created a gorgeous wedding with “adventure” themed details. They incorporated some fun accents from the movie “Up” along with a beautiful wedding cake topper. And Chamise provides a terrific budget break-down with all sorts of helpful details for any of your brides looking to get a true “behind-the-scenes” glimpse of the wedding planning process! Enjoy this country club wedding! xoxo, Jessica
Chamise + Darren
April 2, 2016
Brentwood, Tennessee | Owen Chapel and Brentwood Country Club
What was your budget?
Our overall budget was approximately $15,000, and we tried our best to stay as close to the budget as possible because we paid for the wedding ourselves. I love lists so here is a breakdown of each item:
- Cake and dessert bar – $500. We purchased a cake from a local baker, which included delivery and set-up. We quickly realized that wedding cakes are very expensive so we decided to get creative and ordered a smaller 3 tiered cake, served all tiers (we can make or buy a cake on our anniversary at a much cheaper price), and displayed the cake on a stand that I purchased from Marshall’s for less than $20 (it can be reused for birthdays and hosting). We also ordered dessert items like cookies, cupcakes, a chess and pecan pie and coconut macaroons. The price per “serving” for the extra desserts was way cheaper than each cake slice ($1 – $2 versus $4 – $5) and our guests loved the non-cake options because the cupcakes and cookies were the first to go!
- Owen Chapel: $300
- Videography – $750. We found a great group of guys at a bridal show who had just started a wedding video company. I loved their work and trusted that they would only improve and that their rates would increase over time so we pulled the trigger very quickly. They were great to work with and did an excellent job. They even worked with us when we moved our wedding date and they honored the original price. We really scored by hiring someone new to the wedding market because their current fee is now way above our budget. Double score!
- Dress – $500 (included bustling, steaming and a free accessory – I chose a belt to wear during the ceremony). I shopped around for a dress that I loved and then located a local shop that was willing to sell me the exact same dress off the rack for half the price.
- Makeup: $75. I had my make-up done at Sephora for our engagement shoot and hired the make-up artist for the wedding because she moonlighted on the side. Her fee included travel to the site on the day of the wedding.
- Tuxedo Rental: $100 – $150
- Reception flowers, bridal bouquet, 2 bridesmaid bouquets and 4 boutonnieres: $250 – $300. I took the advice of other brides and worked with my local Kroger grocery store to order single rose boutonnieres for the guys and minister and hydrangea based flowers and roses for the bouquets and reception tables. It was simple, painless and a huge savings compared to hiring a florist! The lady working in the flower department was excited to get the chance to do a wedding and we had great communication. On the morning of the wedding (her idea, not mine) we picked up the flowers and arranged them for the reception.
- Reception: Approximately $7000 – $8000, which included the room rental fee, bridal suite, food as well as all club related item such as room set-up, service fees, chairs, tables, table linens, glasses and serve ware, etc.
- Bridal jewelry: $30. I purchased my earrings at Dillard’s during the New Years’ Day blowout sale so I picked up gorgeous earrings at a third of the original price. I borrowed a bracelet and necklace from a family friend. Shoes: $60. David’s Bridal
- Rehearsal Dinner: $300 – $400. The rehearsal dinner was a bit of a fiasco. We originally booked at a local restaurant, but they pulled the rug out from under us at the last minute. Thankfully a friend’s brother had recently opened a farm-to-table style burger restaurant and he allowed us to bring our entire wedding party plus family and friends (approximately 30 – 35 people). We had the entire place to ourselves and it was so wonderful to enjoy everyone before the big day – and to support a friend.
- Day-of-coordinator: $350 – $400. We loved our day-of-coordinator who I met while at a bridal fair. She was very detail oriented and it was like having a personal assistant to help the day run smoothly. I wasn’t sure that I needed a coordinator because I planned the wedding, but in the end it was money very well spent. She helped me relax on that day and focus on having fun, not whether someone had arrived on time – it was a must!
- DJ: $495 (reception) + $100 – $150 (ceremony). DJ Aries was awesome because he was cool under pressure. He juggled 2 different locations for the ceremony and reception and didn’t miss a beat (sorry for the pun). After the reception he handed us a cd of the full playlist that we requested, which was a pleasant surprise. Now, if we want to remember our special day or dance to our first dance song then all we do is pop in the cd and it feels like we are transported back in time. He also was very good in communicating prior to the day and arrived hours before the event, in professional attire, and was friendly to our guests.
- Photo booth: $395. We booked our photo booth on special and we loved the company that we worked with because they created a full memory book (that we provided) and had guests write well wishes to us. They organized the book and even arranged the photo strips inside so that at the end of the night we walked away with an awesome memory of our day. They were very good at communicating and kept us posted each step of the way. Everyone still raves about their photo strips. We will cherish this always!
- Photographer: $1,500. Our photographer was a God-send and our package included an engagement session in order to get to know her and become more comfortable in front of the camera. It also included a full day of photography and prints and we can’t wait to display the pictures around our new home. Not only was it a great deal, but the instant I met her I felt totally comfortable and trusted that we had the right person to capture our memories. She was patient and yet professional during the entire process and we loved that she was a calming presence on such a hectic crazy day. She really worked with us to make this happen within our budget and we are eternally grateful for her!
- Table runners and tablecloths: $75, purchased online from Table cloths factory during a discounted holiday sale.
- Ceremony flowers: less than $100. Because we married after Easter there were tons of lilies on sale and so I purchased bunches for $5 – $7 each, and my sister-in-law arranged them in glass containers.
- Bridesmaid gifts: $100, and included a Kate Spade bracelet on sale, pashmina scarf because it was a windy day, a bridesmaid tote bag, and Victoria Secret makeup purchased during the semi-annual sale – LOVED IT ALL!
- Trolley transportation: $0. I won a free 4 hour trolley rental at a local bridal fair, which we used to transport out-of-town family and the wedding party. We loved the vendor and they were on time and very accommodating.
- Hair: $0. My wonderful childhood friend offered to do my hair for free, as a gift. I was really thankful and blessed to have her as my personal glam squad for the day and I felt beautiful. She created perfect “wedding hair” and even helped me change the look before the reception started.
- Belt: $20. I loved all of the sparkly belts on Etsy, but couldn’t justify the $100 + price tag so I ordered one from Amazon for the reception. It was a bit of trial and error because I returned 1 -2 before finding the perfect color and style. I would recommend that you order early in order to give yourself time to return anything that might not work.
- Up themed cake topper: $20,
- Up themed poster with frame: $10, customized Etsy print, Groupon printing voucher $5 and $10 poster frame on sale at Target
- Garter set: $10, Etsy
- Minister: $150. Even though a family friend performed the wedding, we covered his hotel and offered a love gift to offset travel costs.
- Invitations and postage: $150
- Ceremony decorator: $0. My sister-in-law was so gracious to offer her design skills to decorate the church and reception space. She was awesome and even though we didn’t pay her directly, I purchased a spa gift certificate for her after the fact so that she could get some much needed rest, $125.00.
- Reception vases: $200 – $225. I purchased Eiffel tower vases from another bride on Craigslist for $50, glass vases from Ikea for $150, and candle votives from Old Time Pottery.
- Ceremony décor: $50 – $100. Once again, I purchased kissing balls from a bride on Craigslist $60, candle vases from Dollar Tree (frosted them at home), and various décor from online, and created streamers made from ribbon and wooden sticks from Michael’s (you guessed it – with a coupon), etc.
- Other items not included were the groom’s ring that was ordered off Etsy for less than $150, my wedding band, 2 -3 hair accessories ordered from Alibaba at less than $10 each (Asian based website that was worth the price and 2/3 week wait), toasting flutes on sale from Macy’s ($12), my husband’s haircut the day of, groomsmen gifts, wreaths for church doors, DIY up lighting – 3 can lights for$50, gifts for the Mothers, etc. We also didn’t include our mini-moon, which was 3 nights in Asheville that was only $150/night for a gorgeous high-end hotel that we’d been dying to visit for years! The price was half off the hotel’s normal rate and was too good to pass up.
How many guests did you have?
We invited roughly 160 – 170, and planned for 150 guests. Our final guest count was roughly 120 people plus 10 kids for the wedding and reception.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
I really wanted a classic wedding that fit with the historic charm of the church and the classic country club setting. We chose petal pink, navy and white as our colors, and tried to keep most decorations fairly neutral. However, I also wanted to add a personal touch to the wedding and we both share a love of the movie “Up” by Pixar. We tease each out and joke that it is our love story because we are definitely Ellie and Carl – I think that life is an adventure and want to travel and experience it all and Darren is such a home body and definitely anchors me. I know that without Darren in my life I would be on my way to Paradise Falls right now! So, we incorporated a “soft theme” and added certain touches from the movie such as the wilderness explorer pin on Darren’s bout, and I pinned the Grape Soda bottle cap badge on my bouquet. We also ordered an Up themed cake topper and I had the words “Adventure Awaits” engraved in Darren’s wedding band as an extra surprise because I knew that married life would be our next great adventure.
I also love that we used our Up themed photo album as our photo booth memory book. I ordered the book years ago when we first started dating and it was already engraved with the words: “Chamise and Darren 2012.”
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
I love looking at DIY projects, but I didn’t take on many because I was also planning a cross-country move 3 weeks after the wedding to join my new husband in Texas. So, a girl has to know her limits. My “DIY” projects included small things like frosting glass candle votives, creating streamers for guests to use during our exit, and making the broom to jump over after the ceremony. I also knew that we would probably need to arrange the flowers the day of, so I put my creative energy towards this project.
I also have to share a story about the gorgeous veil that I wore. It started as a DIY project when I was home in Detroit for my bridal shower. I wanted to incorporate my hometown in the wedding so I planned to purchase my veil when I flew home. When we couldn’t find the perfect one, my Mother suggested that we make the veil. I was crazy enough to agree even though it was less than 2 weeks before the wedding and so we purchased yards of lace and tulle. We tried to hand sew the veil, but by the end of the visit it was unfinished and I was panicking. Word of advice: If something is very important to you, and you want to make it yourself, leave plenty of time to experiment. When I returned home to Tennessee, I took my heap of lace and tulle to a family friend who is like a second mom and we tried to sew it together – it was still a mess. I couldn’t bear to waste the beautiful lace so I begged a family friend who is also like a mom to help me. Because she sewed my prom dress, I trusted here completely. I held my breath until she called a week later and I almost cried when I saw the exquisite veil that she created. I will cherish this item for years to come because so many loving women in my life had a hand in making this beauty. I’ve also offered it up to her granddaughter and others because I think this counts as a joint family heirloom.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
I relied on the kindness of family and friends or “friendors” who are talented and love what they do. From my glam squad, to the custom veil, to corsages for the mothers, decorations and reception décor, I am thankful that everyone pitched in to help. Plus, it was awesome to be able to laugh, cry and celebrate with people you love. Our friends and family also sang, officiated, and assembled the wedding programs. It was a huge family affair! As far as savings on purchased items, I shopped for everything during sale seasons like Christmas and Easter and used a coupon for everything!
We also saved by choosing an all-inclusive reception venue like a country club / restaurant. Although I love the look of southern barns or rustic venues, they were out of our price range. I honestly didn’t think we could afford a country club, but they offered the most bang for our buck. Most charged less than $2,000 for the venue and their food pricing included servers, glassware, dinnerware, tables/chairs AND linen. I was sold! Plus, they were experienced in hosting weddings and special events and allowed us to customize our menu – just ask!
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
I would suggest that brides plan ahead as much as possible and know that even with all of your planning, things will happen that you can’t control. It was stressful to find out that our reception space backed out within weeks of the event, but the end result was better than we could have hoped and our guests had no idea. To that end, I would recommend that you consider “non-traditional” locations or ideas such as a burger joint rehearsal dinner or restaurant reception because these places might be more willing to work with you.
I would also recommend that you add things to your day that are special to you as a couple. I love looking back at the Up themed touches because they make my heart sing. My husband was very focused on the guests’ experience, and while that was important, I had to remind myself, and him, that the guests might not remember certain things in years to come, but we would. So, try your best to create a day that showcases your relationship. Oh, and please rest before the wedding. I was up super late with final details and only slept 2 – 3 hours the night before. I’m not sure if I would have been too excited to sleep, but it would have been nice to try.
Also, the mini-moon and BIG honeymoon later were a great compromise for our sanity and budget. It was awesome to wake up the day after our wedding and not worry about a flight or anything else because it was a road trip and we didn’t have a set itinerary. We slept most of the time in Asheville and were able to rest and recuperate. If we had planned an elaborate honeymoon I might have needed another vacation from my vacation. Because it was a low key mini-moon, we didn’t feel pressured to do anything while in Asheville except rest and enjoy lazy days with each other. By postponing the BIG honeymoon we have something to look forward to in a few months!
What was your biggest splurge?
Definitely the reception, but it was worth every penny! As an all-inclusive reception venue, we had only one vendor to manage and coordinate with for food, linens, chairs/tables, lighting, set-up, clean up, etc. I trusted the country club because of their experience and I was able to relax and enjoy the reception.
What was your favorite detail?
Besides the photos, I would have to say the photo booth memory book. I loved seeing all of the fun that people had in the photo booth and that the photo strips were customized with our colors, wedding date and theme. The photo strips were our wedding favor and everyone loved having something to take with them as a lasting memory. We also love opening the memory book and reading all of the loving messages and words of encouragement.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
We were the last ones to leave the reception hall at the end of the evening – on purpose. It was so sweet to just walk through the space together as a newly married couple and laugh and relive the day. I loved having that quiet time with just the two of us. Most people might think it is weird to stay after your guests leave because many couples are the first to leave, but we loved savoring the memories one last time in the place where we began our life together. So sweet.
Photography: Spectrum Photography • Ceremony Venue: Owen Chapel • Reception Venue: Brentwood Country Club • Flowers: Kroger • Day-of Coordinator: Dannielle Rodgers of Weddings Unlimited • Event Design / Styling: Family • Favors: Photo booth strips via Lend A Smile Photo Booth • Videography: Aspire Media Productions • Catering: Brentwood Country Club • Bakery: Homestyle Bakery • Linens: Table Cloths Factory • Reception DJ: MSA Entertainment • Lighting: DIY Up Lighting • Transportation: F.A.D.D.S. Trolley Rental • Ceremony Musicians: DJ Aries • Hair Stylist: Ryketia Strong of One Look Salon • Bridesmaids Dresses: Ann Taylor • Wedding Gown Designer: Casablanca • Bridal Salon or Shop: Bridal and Formal Shoppe • Jewelry: Dillard’s • Shoes: David’s Bridal • Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Street Tuxedo
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 pandemic wedding resources here.