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California Beach Wedding

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Today's budget-savvy couple pulled off a lovely California beach wedding for less than $6k! How did they do it? First, they married on a Tuesday, saving money on the big-ticket items like photography and venue. Second, they only invited eight of their closest family and friends. Their wedding is filled with sweet moments, and I'm especially loving the photos the couple got at sunset on the beach... absolutely beautiful!

Leanne + Dillon

Big Sur, California
- 09/20/2016
Total wedding budget $6,000

What was your budget?

  • Photography: $650
  • Dress: $1200
  • Catering: $2000 (food and alcohol at the venue)
  • Cake: $200
  • Venue: $800 (we “eloped” on a Tuesday and got a great price!)
  • Flowers: $50 (my sister made my bouquet)
  • Groom’s attire: $1000

How many guests did you have?

We had 8 wedding guests.

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

We had our dogs with us for the ceremony and for romantic beach photos after the ceremony. They stayed with us for the entire night. We had fairy lights surrounding the table and an outdoorsy/woodsy theme. All decorations were handmade and from local places in the area.

Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?

Yes. The name cardholders at the table were made by hand. All decorations were either made by hand or purchased from local vendors at farmer’s markets and collected from various locations during our travels.

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

The biggest thing that we did to save money was to have a small number of guests. We wanted our wedding to feel like us and we’re both not big on huge crowds. We wanted to celebrate and spend time with just our immediate family, so we “eloped”. We wanted the focus of our big day to be our love for each other and the celebration of marriage – not hundreds of people we hardly knew in a venue we couldn’t afford.

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

Do what you want. Everyone said this to me and while my husband and I did what we wanted, for the most part, there are still parts that we wish we had just done our way. Don’t worry about what others think – do what works for you because, in the end, you’re the one who will look back at the photos and smile about how perfect your special day was for you.

What was your biggest splurge?

My dress! While I tried to find something “off the rack,” we didn’t have a lot of time to spare. When I found my dress, I knew I loved it and while it was a tad out of my budget, we made it work.

What was your favorite detail?

My favorite detail was adding small burlap bags to each place setting with locally made saltwater taffy. All of our guests were from out of town so the taffy was a nice local touch that everyone enjoyed.

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The most memorable moment was the ceremony for me. Looking into my husband’s eyes and telling him I loved him in front of my family (and our pups) is the moment I’ll always keep close to my heart.


Photography: Vanessa Hicks Photography • Venue + Catering: Ventana Inn and Spa • Flowers: DIY • Bakery: Room for Dessert • DJ: iPod • Hair Stylist + Makeup Artist: Artisans Salon • Bridesmaids Dresses: Bridesmaids chose their own dresses • Wedding Gown Designer: Mori Lee • Bridal Shop: Unveiled Bridal Boutique in Thunder Bay, Canada • Shoes: Macy’s • Groom’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse • Groomsman Attire: Groomsman chose his own suit

Vendor Credits