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DIY Christmas Wedding in Mississippi

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Mary Erin and Mason planned their dream Christmas wedding during the pandemic. They were extremely savvy with their details and found amazing ways to prioritize their budget and cut down on costs where possible. We love how much they love each other, and Christmas!

Mary Erin + Mason

Clinton, Mississippi
- 12/12/2020
Total wedding budget $6,522

Budget Breakdown

Below is an estimated wedding budget breakdown provided by the couple.

  • Venue
  • Music/Entertainment
  • Bridal Attire
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Photography
  • Catering
  • Stationery
  • Flowers
  • Cake/Dessert
  • Videography
  • Decor
  • Miscellaneous
  • Total wedding budget

Tell us about your wedding vision.

I loved a classy, simple look, with a few boho elements. I grew up overseas in Turkey, so I also incorporated several cultural elements such as a Turkish rug at the front of the church, with flowers to match the bright colors of the rug.

What were your favorite parts of the day?

One of my favorite memories from the day was when a bagpiper showed up at my reception to play one of my favorite hymns. My family loves the bagpipes as we have Scottish heritage we are quite proud of. My mom had secretly hired a bagpiper to surprise me, my husband, and all of my guests. It was an absolute hit! I think the guests enjoyed our surprised reactions just as much as they did the song he played! But to me, it wasn’t just a sweet song. It made my wedding even more unique to who I was, and who we were.

How did you two meet?

We both attended Mississippi College (MC for short) and got involved in a campus ministry called RUF. At one of the RUF Swing Dancing Events, Mason told an RUF intern that he was not going to dance with anyone. He would just help others find a dance partner in an attempt to not meet anyone. The intern told Mason, “You are going to meet the girl you will marry tonight.” Mason successfully did not meet anyone during the swing dance.

Mary Erin attended the swing dance and had several other commitments following the swing dance. By a series of events, each one of those commitments got canceled or postponed. She was invited last minute to a gathering at IHOP following the swing dance, and she decided she would go. Despite getting lost on the way and almost just going back to campus, Mary Erin found her way to IHOP and joined the table of people from RUF.

Mason came in shortly after and took the only empty seat left, next to Mary Erin. Mary Erin knew of Mason because he had been an RA over the freshmen dorms Mary Erin’s freshman year. Mason did not know Mary Erin. Mary Erin noticed Mason was bald, so she introduced herself and asked him, “I was just wondering… will you tell me what it is like to be 20 and bald?”

Mason laughed heartily and gave a hilarious response, explaining life as a newly bald guy in his 20s. He then asked Mary Erin, “Will you tell me what it is like to have long, thick, curly hair?” She answered him with another long, funny response. Their laughter even caused a family to move tables. They left that night thinking about the new friend they had made. Nothing more…


A couple of weeks went by and MC hosted a tailgate. Mason saw Mary Erin at the tailgate and made his way over to her to start a conversation. While they were talking, he got her phone number and invited her to a movie night with some friends the following Sunday night.

The movie night came and Mary Erin showed up, but there was no sign of Mason. She began to believe that he may have just wanted to help her get more involved with the RUF friend group. Mason showed up to the movie night late because he volunteered with his church’s youth ministry and had to do rounds as a resident’s assistant.

They, again, bounced off of each other very well in conversation and through being willing to play chubby bunny and stuff their faces with marshmallows in front of everyone. After the movie night, Mason left and waited at the bottom of the apartment stairs until Mary Erin also left. He then asked her to coffee on Tuesday.

Tuesday came and Mary Erin and Mason met for coffee at a local coffee shop. Over two hours passed full of wonderful conversation, making it feel like a mere ten minutes to them. As Mason and Mary Erin made their way back to the parking lot, Mason asked Mary Erin to dinner. She said yes.

He said, “Just to clarify- this is a date.

“She said, “I know.”

What is your proposal story?

On February 28, Mason surprised Mary Erin with a proposal in their future home. Now in the midst of a global pandemic, they are more and more thankful for the way the Lord has continually blessed them with His presence, His blessings, their support systems, and each other.

What was most important to you while planning? Was there anything you chose to splurge on or skip?

The most important thing to the two of us while planning was that we honored the Lord who brought us together, and all those we loved and cared about who showed up to our wedding. Some of the simple ways we hoped to appreciate and honor our guests were by making room on our program to mention as many names as we could that played a part in our wedding. We didn’t just limit our program to the bridal party; we included grandparents, wedding coordinators, my cousins who passed out the cake and managed the guestbook, etc. We also gave a short 1-2 sentence description of every person in our bridal party so they felt important on that day, too, and so that our other guests would know the significance of the people standing on stage to us. In addition, we made sure during the reception to go to each table and talk to every person that showed up at our wedding.

While I don’t think there was anything, in particular, we “splurged” on, we did decide that the photographer was something that we wanted to be sure was exactly the quality and style we were looking for. We did price shop a little bit among photographers, being conscious to not choose the highest cost. However, we definitely did not choose the least expensive option available as we knew these pictures would be the ones we’d look at and cherish for years to come and we wanted the day to be well-captured.

We chose to skip sending out save-the-dates before the invitations. We did mail out formal invitations, though. I also skipped the makeup artist. I did my own makeup that day.

Tell us about your wedding flowers.

Pantone Marsala Flower Pack (Seeded Eucalyptus, Leucadendron, Burgundy Carnations, Ivory Roses, Spray Rose Chablis, and Queen Anne’s Lace). I chose these flowers because my wedding colors were burgundy and ivory. This flower pack matched my wedding scheme perfectly. In addition, I was so excited to receive Queen Anne’s Lace in the flower pack because my grandmother primarily used these flowers when she got married in the dead of winter about 55 years ago- it was all she could find or afford at the time, but her wedding turned out so beautifully. Queen Anne’s Lace was my tribute to her and the beautiful picture of marriage she set for me.

Describe any DIY, handmade, or personal details.

I loved just getting to “reap the fruits of my labor” on my wedding day. I did so much of the tiny details of my wedding on my own because I loved making things uniquely my own. I designed all my own stationery cards and ceremony programs, and I created all of my centerpieces and send-off items. I had so much fun in the process, but it was so special to see everything come together, not have to worry about a thing, and just hear from others how beautiful it was. The day was so much fun, but I’d be lying if I said I could remember everything that happened! It was such a whirlwind.

We DIYed the florals! After my formal bridesmaid luncheon, I had all of my bridesmaids bring a pair of comfy clothes, we set up a table like a buffet line in the garage, and they went through the line to build their own bouquets!

Do you have any advice for couples planning their wedding now?

There are ways to make a beautiful, classy wedding happen without breaking the bank! It is also even more fun to allow your personality to show through the things you do to make it uniquely your own!

Are there any additional details you’d like to share?

I got married at my church so there was zero cost. A sweet lady in my church played the organ during the ceremony, and I made a Spotify playlist and just had someone hit play during the reception, so that was also no cost!

My wedding dress ended up being only $307 (including shipping). I went to a ton of bridal stores but didn’t find any dress I loved more than the one I had found online made in China.
My veil was $20. I bought this off amazon and it looked like it came with my dress- it was perfect!

For food, we ended up WAY overbuying, we had food for weeks and weeks afterward! We had Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Sliders, Garlic Herb Chicken Skewers, Meatballs, Fruit and Cheese Tray, Crudités Cups, and punch at $12.50 a person.

I had a friend who makes wedding cakes, so I asked her to make my husband a gluten-free groom’s cake so that he could enjoy cake on his big day, too!
For the bride’s cake, I ordered a 3-tier cake from Sam’s club in white icing with no decorations and a full-size sheet cake that was the same flavor. I then brought my own decorations for the cake (pine sprigs, baby pinecones, and holly). I put the tiered cake on display and had extra sheet cake in the back kitchen.

I found lanterns on 40% off sale at Hobby Lobby; we have 4 girls in my family, so they will get used for many weddings. We had all 20 of them in the ceremony as decorations lining the aisle. I had a couple of designated people who carried the lanterns to place them on the tables at the reception across the hall when the ceremony finished. They then served as a table centerpiece, too, decreasing the number of decorations I needed to buy. They already have gotten used for about 5 friends’ weddings since then! A good investment!

I bought the most realistic-looking artificial flowers I could find at Hobby Lobby and made the groomsmen’s boutonnieres, junior bridesmaids’ flower crowns, and used any extras to scatter around the reception for added decor.