What was your budget?
Our goal was to spend as little as possible, but pull off a nice wedding for 100-120 guests. We didn’t want to exceed $25k for everything (including our honeymoon). We spent about $20K in total.
- All-inclusive ceremony & reception Venue: $5,940
- Photography: $2,350 (included engagement portraits)
- Catering (cocktail hour, formal buffet and plated children’s menu selection and late night Walking Taco bar): $4,778
- DJ/Emcee (for ceremony and reception): $1,500
- Dress Alterations, Veil & Shoes: $870
- Cake & Cupcakes: $555
- Day-Of Wedding Coordination: $1,500
- Floral design & centerpieces: $2,675
How many guests did you have?
We had 102 guests.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
We had our engagement shoot on the property by our same wedding photographer, before the barn was even built.
As a fatherless bride after losing my dad in 2012 after battling cancer, I decided to have my 2 older brothers walk me down the aisle. Sam (Groom) has 3 brothers and neither of us has biological sisters, but 3 sisters-in-law… so we wanted all siblings and siblings-in-law in our bridal party, and of course a few of our closest friends. So we had a pretty large bridal party and opted to call them all our “Best People” and not designate a specific Maid-Of-Honor or Best Man.
We were excited to include our 6-year-old triplet nieces & nephew as the perfect flower girls and ring bearer and another 8-year-old nephew as the most dance-floor-dominating, guest-welcoming, junior Groomsman an aunt and uncle could ask for.
We got engaged on Groundhog Day, our previous anniversary, so we had a life-size pop-up cardboard cutout of Bill Murray in a tux and a stuffed groundhog as props for our DIY attempt of a photo booth. We’re both Cubs fans, and this was the night the Cubs won the game that led them to the World Series… which real Bill Murray was at. We turned on the TVs in the barn’s attached “saloon” to watch the final inning, which concluded around the same time as our ceremony was over, so naturally, our last dance organically was to “Go Cubs Go!” 10 days later, we returned to Chicago from our Honeymoon in Maui the day the Cubs won the World Series. And Bill Murray was there. He has a special place in our hearts.
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
I did all things stationery for our wedding, from designs of the save-the-dates, invites and thank-you notes, our guest book, and menus for the tables. Every thank you card sent was unique and included “something old” such as one of the duplicate buttons from my grandmother. Some of them are 100+ old and totally added to the “rustic,” vintage, BoHo, yet classy vibe that matched the theme of our wedding.
I had my bridesmaids at the last minute cut out table numbers out of sheet music (Sam and I both are hobby musicians and share a love of all kinds of music) and labels I printed out for our various cupcake flavors.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
We had a beautiful venue surrounded by nature that works for both ceremony and reception, that included chairs, lighting, tables, sound along with the natural beauty. We also DIYed most of the décor and stationery.
And, we asked our caterer if they offered a children’s menu vs. the standard buffet menu charge “per person.” We had 10-15 children at our wedding and that simple and feasible request saved us around $35-$40/child.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
No matter how frugal you are, invest in a good photographer and a DJ/emcee who you can trust to make your day flow. As much as you think you can plan it all yourself (coming from one with a background in creative and event planning), a day-of coordinator is worth the investment. Mine was also a fabulous florist and designer, so I got a discount by hiring more than one service.
What was your biggest splurge?
I splurged on florals and day-of-coordination (same vendor, 2 services at a discount). Both were the last things I thought I’d splurge on. However, we had a bridal party consisting of the bride, groom, 8 bridesmaids, 8 groomsmen, 1 Jr. groomsman, 2 flower girls, a ring bearer, an Officiant, 2 readers, 3 parents, and 2 grandparents. I didn’t have a lot of initial criteria or clue, really, regarding flowers, but I’m glad we invested in these! I wanted to honor everyone however I could on the day of, while incorporating some sentimental value, especially in my bridal bouquet, and wow did they deliver! Most gorgeous floral arrangements I have ever seen! And absolutely no way would I have been able to set up and coordinate décor and stick to timelines without our coordinator. Hair and makeup take a long time and being able to delegate to professionals was so helpful so we were all more in the moment together!
What was your favorite detail?
All of it! I loved the handmade farm tables at the venue that were decorated with handmade table runners and seeing all my random purchases from various craft and vintage stores displayed in various ways, all serving some kind of purpose.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
Our venue was brand new and also has the cutest and most homey and comfy log cabin on their 30+ acres of family-owned property. Some of my bridesmaids stayed with me there the night before and all the gals got our hair/makeup done there before walking over to the most amazing bridal suite ever in the “barn” to get our dresses on. That was also our newlywed suite for the wedding night, and after our ceremony, just Sam and I took a fairly short walk on a trail through some trees to get there instead of riding in a vehicle to some hotel. That was the most special walk I’ve ever taken. We held hands, reminisced the day from each of our perspectives, we laughed, we cried, and felt what true love really feels like, one that’ll last forever, as husband and wife. At the end of the day, everything was beyond perfect, and we were officially a Mr. and Mrs.!
Photography: Meredith Rogers Photography • Venue: Barn at Bay Horse • Flowers + Day-of-Coordinator + Event Styling: One Of A Kind Events • Stationery + Calligraphy: DIY • Favors: Donation to the American Cancer Society in remembrance of father of the bride • Catering + Linens: MBP Distinctive Catering • Bakery: Kim’s Kakery, Bakery & Café • DJ: Track Seven DJ • Transportation: We purchased $10 Uber vouchers for each guest to use if desire • Hair Stylist: Willow Salon • Makeup Artist: Makeup by Ashley Neu • Bridesmaids Dresses: Alfred Angelo Style 7243 with concierge services from Brideside • Wedding Gown Designer: Custom altered by Julia Needlman Custom Couture • Veil / Headpiece: Custom made by Julia Needlman Custom Couture • Shoes: Blue by Betsey Johnson • Groom and Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux • Ties: The Tie Bar