Excited to share this beautiful rustic barn wedding on a budget – the wedding of our LoveWins2013 contest winners by the talented Charlie Juliet Photography! Shannon and Jordan planned a gorgeous day by using many different budget savvy tactics! They had friends and family donate services or other wedding items as gifts, such as the cupcakes, the bride's hair and makeup, etc. Another smart thing that Shannon did was borrow items whenever possible– they avoided extra rental fees for several items by borrowing them from their church! So smart!! And I think we can all agree, the results are gorgeous! xoxo- Jessica
Shannon + Jordan
June 22, 2013
New London, New Hampshire | New London Historical Society
What was your budget?
Wedding total spent: $8000
Our Personal Spending: $6,000
- Venue: $600
- Dress: $150 alterations
- Rings: $400
- Save the Dates + Invitations + Postage: $35+$70+$97=$202
- Chair Rentals: $112
- His & her shoes: $98 + $40 = $138
- His suit: $120
- Bridal Party Gifts: $485
- Tablecloths: $200
- Day of servers/coordinator: $1000
- Emcee (friend): $100
- Photography: $500 (traveling expenses)
- U-haul Truck Rental: $350
- 2 Flushing Port-a-johns: $500
- Lights: $50
- 100 pounds of candy (for candy bar): $100
- Misc. decorations: $200
EXPENSES PAID BY OTHERS / FREE STUFF / GIFTS
Food & drink (paid for by parents): $1,300
Flowers (paid by mother of groom): $200
Wedding dress (paid by mother of bride): $100 + $170 for alterations
Cake/cupcakes: Free (gift)
Bride’s hair: Free (gift)
Bridal party makeup: Free (gift)
Dance Floor (father of groom): $75
26 Tables, 3 pop up tents, 100+ mason jars, lights, candy jars, photo booth backdrop, sound equipment: Free (borrowed from church)
Photo booth photography: Free (gift)
Videography: Free (gift)
Table runners: Free (borrowed)
How many guests did you have?
135 people total, including bridal party.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
My husband and I designed and created most aspects of the wedding, including our save the dates and invitations, candy favor bags, banners, guest book, cake topper, flower girl baskets, and place cards. Most decorative pieces were made by hand – centerpiece mason jars (decorated by the bridesmaids), wood-slab table numbers, hand-painted signs and banners, all bouquets and centerpieces, and windowpane programs and menus.
The venue was a beautiful barn “shell,” and everything had to be added by us. Setting up for the big day was a labor of love by my fantastic family and bridal party, who spent the Thursday and Friday prior to the wedding helping us turn the vacant grounds into our dream wedding. The ceremony took place in a field, in front of a large tree, only a hundred feet away from our vintage barn reception. Outside the barn was a photo booth, as well as various lawn games to keep our guests entertained.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
My favorite money saving tip is from my dress: I bought it at a prom and bridal expo at a goodwill! The expo sold gently used (worn once) or brand new dresses, retailing from $1000-$5000 dollars, selling from $50-$300. I knew I wanted a simple, lightweight lace dress, and I found a beautiful Watters Bride gown that fit that exact description for only $99! The only downside, it was a 12, and I am a 4. On a leap of faith and vision for what the dress could turn into, my mother bought me the dress, and a month before the wedding I found a seamstress who completely altered the dress to my exact size and taste for only $320. I later found out my dress retailed for almost $2000.
Additionally, hunting for a wedding photography package contest online, and actually WINNING it was a HUUGGEE money saver!! We could have never afforded the amazing photography provided by the talented Charlie Juliet, but we are so grateful that she was there to capture all the memories and moments of our big day that we can cherish forever.
Another major saver was our venue: we wanted a location that would allow us to bring in all our own pieces – the catering, rentals, DJ, etc. – and most places won’t let you do that. Although it becomes WAY more work to do it all yourself, with the proper hookups, you can save a bundle.
Final money saver: holiday candy. We wanted a candy bar, with a wide selection of his & her favorite candies. The colors for the event was a palette of pastels, mix and match everything. Therefore, having candy of a variety of colors rather than just one or two, made my selection much broader. I purchased all the “day after” holiday candy I could scoop up post Valentines and Easter. Most Valentines candy was either heart shaped, or in pinks and purples. Easter candy came in pastel colors. I had 13 or 14 different kinds of candies, and saved about 75% on the retail cost. We easily had close to 100 pounds, and I spent only a little over $100 in total.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
1) Don’t sweat the small stuff! I had so much stress and headaches over minor detail decisions, which really didn’t matter in the end!
2) MAKE A PINTEREST BOARD. Keep it private if you want, that way your ideas are kept secret until the big day. But seriously – I got SO MANY ideas from Pinterest, and it was super helpful to keep them all in one place when you needed a refresher. I pinned probably close to 200 pins, from boutonnieres to hairstyles to dresses to cakes. I ended up recreating at least half of my pins. I found Pinterest to be a lifesaver – my husband however found it to get very annoying! (I may have been a tad addicted) J
3) Utilize all FREE resources. I borrowed a ton of stuff from my church and from family members and friends. I hired my friend as our DJ and created most of our cocktail and lunch hour music from crooner and Motown CDs I picked up at my library.
4) When the big day rolls around, release the reigns to someone else. Don’t wake up on your wedding day worrying about the final details of how the guest table looks or if the ceremony site has enough flowers. Soak in every moment of the big day – it goes by SO FAST!
What was your biggest splurge?
Although it may not have been our largest expense, our bridal party gifts were probably our biggest splurge. For the ladies, I wanted to get the girls something representative of me. I got each girl a bag of “A few of my favorite things…”, some my favorite pieces of makeup from Sephora (I’m a frequent shopper.) The idea was that the girls could use the makeup on the wedding day! Additionally, my husband bought all his groomsmen matching dress socks and suspenders to wear on the big day. We ended up spending about $50 a gift, but we really loved what we gave our party.
What was your favorite detail?
Our photo booth! A simple rod and tri-pod stands with a patchwork quilt created a perfect backdrop for our photo booth. The groom’s mother had a hookup with a theater costume supply company, and was able to supply us with a variety of old-fashioned props and costume pieces, for FREE. Our friend, Savannah Hanes, with Dream Big Photography, was gracious enough to run the photo booth as a gift to us. The booth was a fun activity for our guests, and created some incredible, FUN photos.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
Right before I was ready to meet my father outside the bridal suite, my bridesmaid asked me if I was going to cry. I said “No! I am feeling good, I’ve cried enough, I’m just ready to rock and roll!” I was really feeling confident that I was able to keep my composure.
I stepped outside on to the wooden ramp, my father standing at the bottom, waiting for me, blubbering. I instantly lost it, and continued to cry the entire walk to the ceremony, and pretty much throughout the entire day.
My husband-to-be was likewise a mess, crying during the processional of the bridesmaids, heaving over as I entered his sight. Our ceremony was amazing – full of laughter, and tears, and heart-felt, genuine vows. Finishing with a heck-of-a-great kiss, and a dance down the aisle, we were on top of the world! I may be slightly biased, but it was the best ceremony I had ever seen! It was one of the many amazing parts of our love-filled day.
Photography: Charlie Juliet // Videography: Vinny Mwano // Chairs: Special Events of New England // Tablecloths: Linnentablecloth.com // Hair: Moriah Vineyard, Salon Therapy, Auburn, NH // Makeup: Giullianna Fernandes, Bare Essentials, Burlington, MA // Cake & Cupcakes: Crystal Vineyard, Cupcakes by Crys // Flowers: Shaws // Mobile Restrooms: Henniker Septic // Food: Costco
Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.