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Robert + Kristen's Lovely Beachy Wedding

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It’s been a couple of weeks since our last BSWOW! I apologize for that, dear readers, but I think that this lovely beachy wedding will more than make up for it! The varying blue hues, all the handmade details– this wedding is a DIY dream! I love it all, and I think you will too! Many thanks to Pure Sugar Studios for sharing this wedding with us!

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Kristen & Robert

September 25, 2010
St. Augustine, Florida – Bayfront Mansion

Where did you get married?

St. Augustine, Florida – Bayfront Mansion (sadly ours was the last wedding at this beautiful venue due to new city ordinances!) We live in Jacksonville, Florida – about 45 minutes away, so this was our way of having a destination wedding away from home without having to go too far! It’s a gorgeous 6,000 square foot historic home on the bay in downtown St. Augustine, steps away from the fort – Castillo de San Marcos! In addition to the ceremony/reception, it also served as the location of the bridesmaids’ brunch, rehearsal, and the ultimate “hang-out” place for my family and bridal party over the course of the three nights/four days. My nieces and nephews just LOVED the pool and the elevator inside the mansion. J

What was your budget? If you are able, give us a rough breakdown of how you spent your budget.

Our budget was $10,000 for everything. I am a super budget-conscious, Dave-Ramsey fan in my regular life which transitioned well into wedding-planning mode (which my husband now understands is a good thing!) We went over budget a little bit (mainly due to adding a tent a few days prior because of a 60% chance of rain, which of course it didn’t), and spent just shy of $12,000 – all paid for in cash.

  • Facility Fee – $0- When we rented the house (which included six bedrooms), we could do whatever we wanted on property. My dad was extremely generous and paid for all who stayed here (myself, my parents, three sisters and their families, and friends from Australia). He wanted to get our entire family together for awhile, so this was a perfect way to do so! This cost him $2,000 for 3 nights/4 days.
  • Marriage License – $93.50
  • Officiant’s Fee                  – $150.00
  • Ceremony Music  – $50.00 gift for a great friend who played piano
  • Rentals (chairs, linens, tables, etc.) – $1,675.00 (We had to bring EVERYTHING in, which worked out in our favor because we felt like we got the best prices on everything! I mixed & matched nicer fancy linens with standard linens)
  • Tent – $900
  • Food – $3,084.81 (including hors d’oeuvres, buffet, servers, set-up, break-down, gratuities)
  • Cake – $200.00 (beautiful 4 tier red velvet!)
  • Alcohol – $605.00 (We provided beer, wine, and a signature cocktail and were able to shop around since we brought everything in ourselves. My husband takes pride in the signature cocktail that he created – which included our own house-made cucumber-infused vodka!)
  • Music – DJ – $300.00
  • Other tips – $150.00
  • All stationery, including: Invitations, Response Cards, Menu Cards, Guestbook (Message in a Bottle), Save the Date Cards, Programs, Signage, Thank-You Cards, All Envelopes & All Postage – $220.05
  • Bridal Dress and alterations – $683.30
  • Veil/Headpiece – FREE (borrowed an AMAZING veil from a great friend!)
  • Hair/Makeup – $228.00
  • Groom’s Formal Wear – FREE
  • Gifts for bridal party – $475
  • All Flowers/Bouquets/Bouts, hair flower – $350 – (Got them from Etsy! Best purchase ever!!! Awesome button bouquets from Jillianns. My bouquet was gorgeous and is now a decoration in our home. Hopefully one day our future daughter will use it as she walks down the aisle!)
  • Centerpieces/décor/favors – $182.50 (Centerpieces were 95% homemade and free – gathered shells from various beaches around the country for our centerpieces, and bought various shaped/sized glass vases at garage sales/craigslist, etc. for our centerpieces. Most other décor was made by me, so this amount includes all the MANY trips to Michaels and Joanns, used to create all the personal touches at the wedding.)
  • Photographer & Album – just shy of $2,700
  • Bride/Groom Hotel Room – $295.90 (stayed in a lovely B&B the night of the wedding and enjoyed breakfast the next morning overlooking the Bay.)
  • Day of Coordinator – $0 (Lucky that my sister, Michelle took charge that day and handled everything for me!)


How many guests did you have?

Robby & I paid for the big day ourselves, and this was one of the hardest parts of the wedding since we knew in order to keep our budget down, we had to limit the guest list. Our initial list had 182 people, but we limited it to inviting 103 of our closest family and friends. We had 74 adults and 5 of the cutest nieces and nephews attend the wedding – 79 in total. It couldn’t have been a more perfect audience as every single person that attended means a ton to Robby & I.


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

A ton of them! Almost everything we did was personal to us and we received so many compliments about that, and I wouldn’t have done it any differently. It took a lot of work though since we only had a five month engagement, and every night was spent crafting something! Every centerpiece was different. We collected shells from many important places to us, with the majority coming from a beach in Massachusetts where my grandparents met in the early 1940s and that has been in our family every since. Since it was one of our first vacations together, it means a lot to us as a couple. I spent this past summer collecting an entire suitcase full of shells, starfish, sea glass, etc. with the help of my obliging nieces and nephews!

We were lucky and able to write our entire ceremony. Though it was a lot of work, we were able to include and say what WE wanted and it was perfect. After we kissed and were announced as husband and wife, our guests showered us with bubbles as we walked down the aisle to Ray Lay LaMontagne’s “You Are The Best Thing”. Perfect!


What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

  • It’s kind of cliché, but DIY saved me a ton of money! We got engaged, decided on a color scheme, and I bought all of our cardstock at a scrapbooking store that was going out of business for 75% off! So I was still able to design our invites, which was huge for me, add our own personal touches, and save a ton of money at the same time. Though it took a TON of time, I made 14 tissue paper pomanders, which ended up being super cheap but so pretty! Had a “program-party” with some friends and knocked those out in an evening!
  • I was a coupon-queen! I signed up for all the craft stores weekly ads (both email and in print) and used a coupon (mainly 40% off) every time (for every item!) I went into Michaels or Joanns which was sometimes several times per week. I saved a few hundred dollars from coupons alone!
  • The venue was a huge way for us to save money. Since our wedding “venue” is not a standard venue, it worked in our favor. It is a mansion in a residential area in downtown St. Augustine where you can have weddings in the backyard. While there was some drama a month before the wedding (new city ordinances that no longer permitted weddings there, and ours was the last one, getting it in under the wire! Talk about stress!), I’m so glad it worked out the way it did. It kept that small backyard feel, in a gorgeous spot along the bay, steps away from the Fort in downtown St. Augustine.
  • We brought everything in ourselves. So while this was more work on our part, we were able to get the best deals as it relates to catering, alcohol, rentals, etc.
  • I was an event planning major in college and did event planning for my first five years as a “professional”, so I did not hire a coordinator but did it all myself. I love spreadsheets!! I was lucky and had the help of my wonderful sister, Michelle on the day of to help ensure everything went as planned! Worked out perfectly! And my friends teased me that “only Kristen’s wedding would start on time!”


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

Be patient but still have it your way! A lot of brides don’t talk about the amount of stress that a person endures in planning a wedding – it is tough work and almost like a full-time job with not only doing all the tasks, but listening to everyone else’s opinions! My best piece of advice is to listen to what everyone has to say, discuss with your fiance, but then make your own decisions as a husband and wife team. At the end of the day, it is your wedding and you and your fiance have waited your lives to marry each other and it is okay to have it your way!

Also, make a line-item budget and stick to it! If you go over in one area (like I did with photography), make cuts in another area (like I did with the DJ, alcohol, and invitations!) Shop around. Just because you fall in love with something, look around for other alternatives or figure out to make it yourself!


What was your biggest splurge?

By far, our biggest splurge was our photography and I would not have had it any differently. After the wedding you have your husband and your photos. You give away things, you sell things, you put things in a closet, etc, but you look at your photos often and have them for your lifetime. Definitely most important! Our photographer is awesome! She has been shooting my sister’s family for a few years so it was only natural that I wanted her to shoot our wedding as well! Although she was 25% of our total wedding cost, it was definitely worth it and we will have a beautiful album and the rights to all of the awesome photos to prove it!


What was your favorite detail?

This is very tough because I really, truly was lucky and LOVED everything about the wedding! One of my favorite were the bouquets, which were made by Etsy seller, Jillianns. They were button and fabric bouquets and I received SO many compliments. I LOVED them! I loved our programs which were fans and had a game on the back – some had a mad lib, others a crossword puzzle or a word search – all custom about Robby & I of course! The centerpieces meant a lot to us, and the location was wonderful – a cozy, intimate venue where our family and friends could mingle, dance, and walk out on the dock or to the Fort – perfect!


What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The week of the wedding started our wedding festivities with two close friends from Australia flying into town. I was able to spend time with some of my best friends at Disney World, just days before the big day! It was a very relaxing (non-stressful!) time and super memorable that friends came that far to celebrate with us. One of them, Rob, provided a very memorable reading during the ceremony, while the other, Hamish, played piano throughout the wedding. So glad they were able to be with us.

On the day of, we chose to see each other before the wedding, so we could go right into the reception to celebrate with our family and friends. Our “first glance” at each other was perfect- private, special, and he just looked so handsome!  I was so nervous leading up to that moment, and he is such a calm person and seeing him quickly settled my nerves and got me ready for the big moment! It is amazing to marry your best friend and start your lives together!



Venue: Bayfront Mansion (no longer doing weddings though!)   •  Photographer: Kelly Hite at Pure Sugar Studios  •  Cake: Janel Waters  •  Catering: Catering by Liz  •  DJ: A Better DJ & Photographer  •  Officiant: Coastal Celebrations  •  Flowers: Jillianns on Etsy  •  Rentals: Andy’s Taylor Rentals



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