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Romantic Fairytale Forest Wedding for under $9K

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Kate and Jeremy had to scale everything about their wedding back when COVID struck just a couple of months before. With local shutdowns and safety in mind, they reduced their guest list tremendously and scaled back with an intimate forest wedding on a friend's piece of property on the southeast side of Indianapolis. From the woodland touches throughout all the decor to dancing at twilight, this day was truly magical and joy-filled start to finish. Enjoy this Romantic Fairytale Forest Wedding for under $9K!

Kate + Jeremy

Indianapolis, Indiana
- 06/06/2020
Total wedding budget $8,360

Budget Breakdown

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

  • Photography
    51%
    $4250
  • Attire
    20%
    $1700
  • Decor
    6%
    $500
  • Flowers
    4%
    $300
  • Hair & Makeup
    3%
    $285
  • Accessories
    1%
    $120
  • Rentals
    6%
    $465
  • Food & Bar
    3%
    $250
  • Cake/Dessert
    3%
    $260
  • Miscellaneous
    3%
    $230
  • Total wedding budget
    $8360

bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods

How did you meet?

On Jan. 21, 2016, we met at a hardware trade show in Houston. Kate interviewed Jeremy for a story for her magazine. Jeremy asked Kate out to dinner. Kate thought he seemed kind. He hoped she wasn’t under 21 years old. Our relationship deepened when Jeremy moved to Indianapolis in 2017. Job changes, tragedy, graduate school, moving. They’ve tested us to varying degrees. But what has knit us together and pulled us through hard times remains the same: God’s faithfulness is great and He has never left us nor forsaken us.

What is your proposal story?

Our proposal story would be incomplete without some backstory. Before Jeremy and I got married, I lived for most of the past six years with my pastor’s family. He and his wife took me in when I was going through a divorce following a marriage characterized by domestic violence. Even after the divorce was finalized, we decided to stay together as a family. My pastor and his wife became two of my closest friends and I adore their five children.

When Jeremy and I started dating, he spent a lot of time in our home, getting to know the whole family. Jeremy asked their kids and two other kiddos we love to decorate and laminate pages that, when read together, asked me to marry him. Jeremy asked our friends, my brother and his wife, and the children to stand in the woods (in the place where we ended up getting married). He took me on a walk and when we walked around a clump of trees, our friend David turned on the lights and there were the six kiddos holding the signs and our dear friends grinning at us through tears. I started crying and then Jeremy got down on his knee in the snow and asked me to be his wife!

both parents walking the bride down the aisle

Tell us about your wedding vision.

In one of the Anne of Green Gables books, Anne talks about wanting to get married with the trees and the sky as her cathedral. That’s what I wanted: a woodland cathedral with some fairyland whimsy and vintage details. I also wanted to get married somewhere that was meaningful to us both and would feel very intimate. We knew we wanted our wedding to be a worship service.

Our close friends’ property was perfect; we had already made a lot of memories in that woods over the years and Jeremy proposed there, with precious friends and family present. We and our church family had also experienced tragedy two years ago and this was a space where we and the people we love feel at home.

I chose navy, ivory, and sage green as the colors because I thought they would look beautiful in the woods and I navy was a flattering color on all of my bridesmaids.

romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bouquet - bridal gown - white and green
navy bridesmaids dresses

Tell us about your attire choices.

I wanted a lace dress that had a somewhat vintage look. Because the wedding dress I fell in love with had off-the-shoulder sleeves, I opted for filmy bridesmaid dresses with similar neckline and shoulders. My grandma’s wedding dress in the 1950s was off the shoulder, too, so I loved that detail. We had to change a couple of bridesmaid dresses when my sister found out she was pregnant with twins, and one of my bridesmaids couldn’t come and still hasn’t worn her dress because of COVID, but somehow the day was still perfect!

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

We wanted to keep the wedding intimate, make it beautiful and Christ-centered, and have our closest people present. We didn’t get to have everyone we love present due to COVID travel restrictions and safety considerations, but everything else was perfect.

We splurged a little on my dress and a lot on the photographer. We spent more on the photographer than we originally planned because we wanted to capture as many moments on camera as possible since we knew the day would be a blur.

We spent a little more than budgeted on the dress because David’s Bridal was closed for alterations due to COVID and couldn’t finish my dress alterations, so I had to hire an outside seamstress instead of waiting for David’s to fix it. Both splurges were worth it.

bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
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What were your favorite parts of the day?

I’m so glad we did a first look! I had counted on the memory being private and special and it was, but one of the benefits I hadn’t counted on was getting to spend more of the wedding day with my groom because I didn’t have to hide from him! My curls fell out, so my bridesmaids re-curled my hair while my groom brought me food and held my hand.

There were quiet moments, just the two of us, before the ceremony that would never have happened if we hadn’t planned a first look. Walking down the aisle was really beautiful, too. I wasn’t sure how I would feel, especially since we’d already spent a few hours together prior to the service, but I felt so much joy and had eyes only for him.

bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods

Tell us about your wedding flowers.

Our wedding flowers were really special! Neighbors who live near the property where we got married gave us peonies from their gardens and one of the sweet ladies next door made my bouquet. Some of the peonies in my bouquet had been planted many years ago by one of the neighbors’ grandmother!

For the bridesmaid bouquets, my mom ordered bulk flowers online, cut thistles from my parents’ farm and spray painted them navy, and then added dark pink peonies from my sister’s garden. My sister and brother-in-law bought my grandparents’ house a few years ago, so my grandma had planted those dark pink peonies in my sister’s garden many years ago. Since no grandparents could come to the wedding due to COVID-19 concerns, I loved including little details to honor them and the dark pink looked gorgeous against the navy bridesmaid dresses.

wedding dessert table
wedding cake
cutting the wedding cake

Tell us about your wedding cake.

My aunt is a chef, so she makes cakes for every important event in the family. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, my aunt didn’t feel safe coming to the wedding, so we made a quick decision to order a beautiful cake from a trendy local bakery in Jeremy’s favorite flavor, which is lemon blueberry. We didn’t do a tasting and we didn’t tell them the cake was for our wedding, but the cake was delicious and the blueberries on top went well with our navy attire and table cloths.

What did you do for favors?

We filled tiny bottles with hand sanitizer and my sister-in-law printed labels for them with our names, wedding date and a scripture verse. We also asked guests to sign wooden blocks instead of a guest book and had each family keep the Sharpie they used.

bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods

Please describe any DIY, handmade, or personal details.

A neighbor and my mom made the bouquets and the table garlands. My close friend helped me pour hand sanitizer into tiny bottles to give away as favors. I ordered wooden blocks with our names and wedding date on them for guests to sign instead of a guest book. We took communion as part of the wedding service, and the juice and bread were set out for us on a log cut in the woods where we got married.

One of our friends surprised us by wearing a top hat and coattails as he drove us around on a borrowed golf cart. All of the plates for the cake and snacks we had at the reception were mismatched antique China plates we found at thrift stores. My necklace was a family heirloom. My friend did my makeup for me.

A little boy who we love as family died two years ago and his older brothers were our ring bearers. One of them carried a stuffed animal in his baby brother’s honor as a reminder that he wasn’t forgotten, we miss him, and our hearts long for him both when we’re sad and when we’re joyful.

bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods

Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?

I wore a pearl necklace that my mom had inherited from one of her grandparents’ cousins. My sister wore the same pearl necklace with diamonds on the clasp for her wedding. My grandma treasures that necklace so I felt honored to wear a family heirloom.

My family also has a silly tradition of always asking DJs at weddings to play “The Chicken Dance” song. When my dad found out we weren’t going to have dancing due to COVID, he asked, “Not even ‘The Chicken Dance’?” Our friend, who DJed for us, played it as a surprise for my dad, who got excited when the song started!

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

Remember that getting married matters more than the wedding and people matter more than creating a perfect event. Also, identify friends and family members whom you trust to stand up for you and understand what you really want. They can make your vision happen, while ensuring you don’t have to make any decisions on your actual wedding day.

bride and groom - romantic fairytale wedding - outdoor wedding - wedding in the woods
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