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Three Weekend Wedding Celebration for $10K

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outdoor wedding venue

Kelly + Samuel

10/09/2016
Little Rock , Arkansas
Total wedding budget $10,000
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What was your budget?

Our budget was $10,000 over three wedding locations.

  • Travel & lodging (including dog-sitter and treating friends to meals/drinks): $2,100
  • Food, alcohol & tableware: $2,100
  • Photography (ABQ & OKC): $1,800
  • Venues & furnishings/equipment rental: $1,615
  • Dress, shoes, accessories, alterations & dry cleaning: $1,285
  • Groom’s attire: $250
  • Decorations: $250
  • Hair & Makeup (mostly DIY): $130
  • Invitations & postage: $100
  • Rings: $100
  • Flowers (silk bouquet & boutonniere): $55
  • Marriage license: $60
  • Music (Spotify Premium): $30

How many guests did you have?

We had 75 guests over three weekends.

 

What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?

Our three-location “traveling wedding” format! We couldn’t imagine holding our wedding without certain far-flung loved ones, not all of whom could travel or could all be in the same location. So we took the wedding to them! We held ceremonies, complete with vows, in Corrales, N.M., Oklahoma City, Okla., and Little Rock, Ark – sites convenient and/or significant for all of our guests. These were all REAL weddings to us because we see the ceremony as a community endorsement of our union, not a legal or religious event.

The ceremonies were self-officiated, and we exchanged vows at each. We also included an “open period” in our ceremony during which our loved ones could offer their words of support, advice, or memories. Then the two of us went to the courthouse on a random weekday to make it legal. This format also allowed us to spend a long weekend in each city, spending extra quality time with friends and family outside the blur of a wedding reception.

Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?

I mostly stayed away from DIY; it’s not my forte and I found I could save money in other ways. That’s why our decorations included simple elements like bistro lights, paper lanterns, picture frames we already had, and basic candles for centerpieces. The one thing I made myself were some hand-held cardboard fans in the shape of the heads of famous people, for our Little Rock wedding. People had tons of fun taking pictures with them!

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

For venues, we sought out unconventional spaces that offered us the flexibility to handle our own decorations, food, and alcohol. In New Mexico, that was my parents’ small grassy backyard overlooking a beautiful mountain. In Oklahoma City, the event was at an art gallery with a glassblowing studio and a courtyard. And the Little Rock wedding was held under the gorgeous pergola of a xeriscaped sculpture garden in a historic downtown neighborhood.

I researched thoroughly and relentlessly to find the best deals on venue, photography, rentals, and catering. Because our weddings were on Sundays, we got good deals on the venues and photography. We saved on food by striking a casual tone and offering a barbecue buffet in Little Rock, a taco truck in Oklahoma City, and a catered buffet in Albuquerque. We had no bridal party to worry about. Friends and family did aid us greatly, helping with labor, lending jewelry, and party supplies, and keeping things running smoothly.

What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?

It’s been said before, but – figure out what’s important to YOU, and don’t stray from that. We wanted weddings that were unconventional, fun, and focused on our love for each other and our supporters. We wanted our loved ones to be central to our ceremony and to know how precious they are to us.

My second piece of advice is that it’s impossible to be too organized. I got good deals by searching long and hard for vendors, making dozens and dozens of calls, and asking lots of questions. I avoided certain last-minute problems by insisting my vendors do onsite run-throughs with me ahead of time. But on your wedding day, the less you care about the details, the better. Easier said than done, right? I‘d happily made dozens of checklists, but on the actual day a few things were still forgotten, misplaced, or mis-coordinated. I knew this would inevitably happen. No regrets!

What was your biggest splurge?

The two areas we splurged on were my dress and good photography. I got my dress affordably at David’s Bridal, then added off-the-shoulder sleeves, silk buttons on the back, ruching, as well as a bustle and hem. Total alterations were $675. I loved the end result.

We insisted on great photographers in NM and OKC, but for budget reasons, we did shop for ones who were willing to work just three hours, focusing on the ceremony, family photos, and candids.

What was your favorite detail?

Can I pick a dozen?  I loved our ceremonies in-the-round, seeing and hearing everyone. In New Mexico, a thundershower delayed our ceremony, but the most magnificent rainbow emerged after that, and then a gorgeous sunset.  In Oklahoma, our venue had a neon theater marquee that displayed our names and wedding date. There was so much to love!

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The first look with Samuel in New Mexico, our first location. I already felt pretty before I saw him, but I will never feel more beautiful than I felt the moment he saw me. In those few minutes together, I felt so close to him and so happy.  Also, I remember every moment of our ceremonies, including our words for each other and poems we read, as well as the wonderful things people said to us.

 
VENDORS

Photography: Talitha A. Tarro in New Mexico +  Catie Bartlett in Oklahoma  • Ceremony Venue: Bride’s parents’ backyard in Corrales, N.M. + Urban Art Studios in Oklahoma City + Bernice Garden in Little Rock, Ark • Flowers: DIY •  Stationery: Design by friend Tonya Nelson + Printed by CatPrint • Catering: Above & Beyond in New Mexico + Chef Ray’s Street Eats in Oklahoma City + Whole Hog Barbecue in Little Rock • Bakery: Natalie Madison Cakes in Little Rock • Rentals: Brawley Rentals in Oklahoma City + Ace Rentals in Little Rock • Linens: Brawley Rentals in Oklahoma City + Party Gras in Little Rock • Hair Stylist: Ali Larsen in New Mexico + Madelyn Lee in Oklahoma • Hand-drawn wedding certificate: Alexandra Brodt  • Hotel in New Mexico: Comfort Inn of Rio Rancho  • Little Rock Rental House: Will Wooten’s Drummond House • Wedding Gown Designer: David’s Bridal • Bridal Salon or Shop: Alterations – Linh’s Bridal of Oklahoma City • Veil: Buckingham Weddings on Etsy  • Groom’s Suit: Nordstrom Rack • Tie: Nordstrom Rack