What was your total budget? Please provide a budget breakdown?
- Photography: $3,695 (included engagement photos)
- Dress: $1,134 (including veil)
- Catering: $7,700
- Cake: $270
- Favors: $72
- Venue: $500
- Flowers: $700
- Decor: $1,000
- Groom’s attire: $200
- Music: $1,195
- Transportation: $976
- Dance Lessons: $275
- Invitations & Thank you Cards: $220
- Officiant: $250
- Hotel Rooms: $600
- Hair & Nails for bridal party & moms: $760
- Bridal makeup: $110
- Day-of Coordinator: $500
- Videographer: $2,200
How many guests did you have?
We had 100 guests.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
We got married at the lake I grew up going to. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. I spent every summer there from when I was 5 and worked there for 11 years as a lifeguard and beach director.
Greg and I are really laid back people and enjoy good food. We had a fry bar during the cocktail hour and a s’mores bar during dessert.
We did a wine ceremony during our wedding ceremony and drank our favorite wines from vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island, which is one of our favorite places. Our guestbook was shaped like a giant wine bottle – can you tell we like wine?! Greg is also into craft beers. I had jute-wrapped beer bottles as part of our centerpieces and we had lots of craft beer at our rehearsal dinner.
I’m a music teacher at a K-5 public school and had students write well wishes for us the week before our wedding. We had them hung in the stairwell between the ceremony and the reception space and in the school bus we rented as a shuttle. We also took pictures on the bus, which was really important to me and they are some of our favorite pictures!
As a music teacher, I also play the ukulele all day in my classroom and I love the instrument. I walked down the aisle to “Over the Rainbow” by IZ and our wedding song was a ukulele cover of “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel.
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
I made as much of the décor as I could! I made all of the wedding flower arrangements for the bridal bouquets, boutonnières, corsages, centerpieces, and aisle flowers. I added lace to the burlap aisle runner to keep with the burlap, lace, and mint theme.
I painted 30+ mason jars that we used for centerpieces, aisle décor, and other décor around the venue. I made mason jar lanterns by spray painting over lace so votive candles could shine through, that was one of my favorite crafts! I wrapped jute around beer bottles and we had wine corks in mason jars and lanterns all over the venue. I also created wine cork table number holders and made wine cork coasters for gifts.
I personalized chalkboard signs for our ceremony, the sparkler sendoff, our memorial table, and for our s’mores bar. I also created a wooden wedding welcome sign at Board and Brush! I made a 14’ lace and burlap backdrop for our DIY photobooth using an iPad, a photo printer, and the app Simple Booth. We actually ended up getting married in front of the backdrop because it rained on our wedding day and we couldn’t get married outside.
I etched wine glasses for our wine ceremony, but they broke during our rehearsal dinner. I refinished and repainted the box we used to collect cards to match the color scheme of our wedding. I made the ring box we used to keep our rings in during our ceremony. I also made the Thank You and Mr. & Mrs. Sylvester banners we used for some of our wedding photos and thank you cards.
I had each of my classes at school sign one of the letters of the Mr. & Mrs. Sylvester banner and I have it hanging in my classroom. I also personalized totes for the guests staying at the hotel for our wedding and totes for the groomsmen with the graphics one of the guys made for the bachelor party. I personalized anything and everything that I could!
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
Getting married in Fairfield County, CT is EXTREMELY expensive! Even though our budget ended much higher than we originally wanted, we tried to save where we could. Making all of the flowers was a huge money saver because I was able to incorporate flowers we couldn’t afford if they were fresh. I was also able to sell a lot of the arrangements after the wedding and made almost half the money back.
I bought second-hand décor on Facebook wedding groups. Our caterer was a STEAL, and we bought Costco brand sparkling wine for our champagne toast and Dollar Tree champagne flutes instead of renting them.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
Plan ahead and use the Facebook wedding groups in your area. It took me a really long time to make all of the décor for the wedding and to search out the best deals. I had spreadsheet after spreadsheet with the best prices for everything from mason jars to flameless candles to make sure I was getting the best deal.
The CT Wedding Facebook groups were also invaluable for advice, recommendations, and cheap decor. Our day-of wedding coordinator quit 3 months before our wedding. I posted about it on the FB group and found someone that was less expensive and more detail-oriented than my original coordinator. We were able to RELAX on our wedding day since we had someone running around making sure everything was going smoothly and that was priceless.
Also, have a rain plan in place! We were supposed to get married on a peninsula with the beautiful lake behind us and take pictures at a park down the street, but it poured! A friend of ours works at the Beardsley Zoo and told us about the indoor greenhouses and we were SO LUCKY we could sneak in there to take pictures before the wedding planned later on that day. It was actually better than our original plan and they are our favorite pictures.
What was your biggest splurge?
Our photographer and I wouldn’t change it for a second. Your wedding is just one day but the photos last a lifetime. I had been following this photographer for years since we went to school together during our childhood. Our pictures are absolutely stunning. Every time I look at them I am so happy that we paid a little more for a great photographer. We were not planning on having a videographer but ended up hiring one less than a week before our wedding. She was able to capture some of our favorite moments, our goofy personalities, and my sister’s amazing speech. That was also worth the extra money.
What was your favorite detail?
The music we chose really helped set the tone for the day. Greg and I created a playlist for the cocktail hour and chose a lot of 80’s music during dinner. It kept the day fun and laidback and everyone had a great time!
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
It poured the day of our wedding and I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t get married outside on the lake. However, there was a 30-minute break in the rain and we ran outside to grab some outdoor pictures. Greg and I got to escape the madness and take a few moments for ourselves. We got to take a breath and take everything in, just the two of us.
Photography: Joanna Fisher| Ceremony Venue: Pinewood Lake Association in Trumbull, CT| DIY using Hobby Lobby flowers | Day-of Coordinator: Ashley DeGroff | Stationery: Minted| Favors: Matchbooks | Videography: VBitzProductions| Catering: Fortuna Catering | Bakery: Whole Foods| Transportation: First Student Charter Bus Rental| Hair Stylist: Melissa at Stunning Styles Hair | Makeup Artist: Wildly Beautiful| Bridesmaids Dresses: Bill Levkoff in Mint | Wedding Gown Designer: Allure Bridals | Bridal Salon or Shop: Julie Allen in Newtown, CT | Groom’s Suit/Tux: Jos. A Bank