Charming Smokies Elopement on a $3,400 Budget
Candace + Nathan
What was your total budget? Please provide a budget breakdown.
- Bride's jacket, shoes, and dress materials: $275
- Groom's attire: $200
- Photographer: $1,000
- Officiant, wedding license, and park permit: $450
- Flowers: $260
- Hair and makeup: $275
- 3 nights in a cabin: $775
- Other: $165
Total Budget: $3,400
How many guests did you have?
No guests, just the two of us!
How did you meet?
We met as graduate students at Kansas State University, where we were both studying Agriculture Economics. We had desks just a few feet apart and now we both work as research analysts for the same company, still with desks just a few feet apart!
What is your proposal story?
We went for a walk and stopped on the top of a hill overlooking the university where we met. Nathan simply asked, “Will you marry me?” I messed up his plans by jumping into his arms and he laughed and said: “If you get down, you can have a ring.” To me, it was perfect. Nothing elaborate or fancy.
Tell us about your attire choices.
I never even tried on a traditional wedding dress; I knew from the start that I wanted my mother to sew a blue dress for me. She wore a blue dress herself at her elopement when my parents were married 28 years earlier. She put countless hours into creating a dreamy blue skirt that I paired with an ivory top from BHLDN to give it a more bridal feel. It was a true labor of love.
I ordered a “Just Married” patch from the Etsy store TheDailyDisco and ironed it onto a Target denim jacket and wore embroidered Keds to finish off the look. Nathan wore a Tommy Hilfiger suit that he's since worn again for friends' weddings and work functions.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
One of our favorite things about eloping was being able to spend the whole day together. We ate lunch together beforehand and drove to the ceremony together. We didn't feel pulled in a million directions. We weren't worried about centerpieces or décor. We were so thankful to feel relaxed and happy and in the presence of great beauty all day.
The skies opened up despite the prediction of all-day rain and our ceremony was the stuff of dreams. We shared handwritten vows and our officiant delivered a beautiful ceremony that made us feel like she had known us much longer than just having met that day. The rain then returned and we ran and jumped and climbed as our photographer captured our joy. I had mud up to my knees and the dress train was full of twigs, but it all felt so much more “us” than a traditional ceremony.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?
Base your budget on real estimates/quotes, not just what you think things should cost. We were able to come in under budget by doing lots of research.
When you find what you want, stop looking. There's no need to try on 20 more dresses or contact five more photographers if you know you've found what you want. Be confident in your decisions.
Skip things that aren't as important to you so that you can afford to splurge on the things that matter the most to you. We skipped having engagement photos and a videographer so that we could hire our first choice photographer, go with a top-notch hair and makeup artist, and include every flower I wanted in the bouquet.
A few high-quality vendors are better than a whole team of mediocre ones. Hire the best people. Hire vendors who are experienced and talented, but also make sure they are kind, honest, and ready to help you create your dream day. Then trust their expertise. We asked our photographer what ceremony time and location would be best for pictures and gave our florist inspiration photos, but then let her create something unique for us. Hiring professionals with lots of experience helped us feel at ease for our Smokies elopement.
Photography: Erin Morrison Photography | Floral: Melissa Timm Designs | Hair: Southern Belle Beauty | Makeup: Southern Belle Beauty | Wedding Dress: Handmade by Bride's Mother | Groom's Attire: Tommy Hilfiger | Bride's Shoes: Rifle Paper Co. for Keds | Submitted via: Matchology