Gorgeous lighting. A beautiful orange rose bouquet. A perfect farm venue. Those are a few of the highlights of today's real budget-savvy wedding. I love how Kara and Justin blend classy and rustic for their big day. And isn't Kara's dress absolutely darling?! Enjoy this outdoor farmhouse wedding. xoxo, Jessica
Kara + Justin
June 25, 2016
Waterman, Illinois | The Mora Farm
What was your budget?
Justin and I went into wedding planning with a budget of about $20,000. Justin was a single dad working hard to get on a full time fire department. We were in the process of buying our first house together and money was tight. Of course we wanted our wedding to be beautiful, but it made the most since with our circumstances to watch our spending. This included a lot of shopping around and DIY projects! Our venue was just under $6000, food was $5000, photographer & videographer were just under $3000, flowers were $675, DJ was $625, transportation (school bus) was $500, alcohol was $1500, Culvers ice cream catering was $350, and cutting cake was $30.
How many guests did you have?
Our final count was 178, but 200 were invited.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
I’ve been planning my wedding since before I was even engaged! Since day one, I knew that I wanted a rustic barn feel. I spent a ton of time on Pinterest and used that for ideas or at least to get me started. I bought plain vases from the dollar store and used burlap, twine, lace and other things to make them my own and to match the feel I was going for. Mason jars were my best friend. I would buy them at garage sales and spray paint them, glue things on them, or stuff them with flowers. I used sticks, décor from around my house, literally anything to prevent me from spending.
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
All of the vases for the centerpieces were DIY projects. I glued twine, burlap, lace or other things onto them. I bought baby’s breath from Jewel (insanely cheap!!!) and filled the vases with those for half of the tables. The other tables I spray painted wine bottles and wrapped those in twine, burlap and lace. I put sticks in the wine bottles to give them a little more character. I also had small mason jars with fairy lights inside. I hot glued the battery pack to the lids of the mason jars and they lit up the tables beautifully! My cocktail tables had spray painted mason jars on them. I bought fake flowers from Hobby Lobby (almost always 50% off!) for them. My card box was all handmade. Justin’s grandma was getting rid of an old tool box. I took out all of the drawers, propped it open, hung twine across the top and clipped on the letters we made with the Cricut. It was perfect! All of my signs (sparkler send off, bar menu, etc.) I made on my computer. I downloaded free fonts and played around with them using ideas from Pinterest. I used frames from home or purchased frames I would use in my home for these signs.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
The DIY projects saved a lot of money. I also started planning early. We were engaged for a year and half, so I had plenty of time to collect things without having to purchase large amounts of things at once. I rarely bought anything full price. I shopped mostly at Michaels and Hobby Lobby and they rotate their 50% off sales often. I always watched for those. They also have really great coupons through email. When I would purchase things, I would try hard to only buy things that I would use in my house again (frames, fake plants, wall décor for decorations, candles, etc.). There is also a lot of wedding re-sale Facebook pages. I bought quite a few things from other brides!
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
Start planning right away, buy a little at a time, and only buy things you will use for yourself or that can be easily resold! Some of the best advice that was given to me was to not overthink or stress about things. I stressed a ton about my centerpieces and it was such a small part of the big day, it was totally not worth it! They turned out beautiful and I’m sure no one even noticed the little flaws!
What was your biggest splurge?
Food and alcohol, but they’re both necessities! We could not have been happier with the choices we made. The food was delicious and both vendors were phenomenal to work with! Prestige Liquors was great because anything we didn’t use they bought back from us. Of course, we didn’t have much left, but it was a great incentive!
What was your favorite detail?
I loved how all of my décor, all of the DIY projects I spent so much time on looked with the venue. I had spent so much time looking at them in my garage and basement; it was nice to see how great they turned out and fit the venue perfectly!
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
Seeing all of my hard work put together was the best feeling. The few months prior to the wedding were so stressful, and to see it come together, everyone enjoying themselves and spending the best day of my life with my closest family and friends was truly amazing.
Photography: Jonathon Brust • Venue: The Mora Farm • Flowers: Kar-Fre Flowers • Day-of Coordinator: You Name It Events • Stationery: LoPo Creations • Favors: You’re That Girl Designs • Videography: Jolie Images • Catering: Uncle Bubs Catering • Bakery: Latsis Bakery • Rentals: Top Notch Rentals • Transportation: First Student • Officiant: Rev. Jeremy Heilman • Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal • Wedding Gown Designer: Mikaella • Bridal Shop: The Crystal Bride • Jewelry: Francesca’s Boutique • Veil: The Crystal Bride • Shoes: Tilly’s • Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse
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.