Today, we have a beautiful South Carolina wedding with you. I am loving the aesthetics of Ben and Karli's gorgeous ceremony and reception! I absolutely adore the stationery, florals and outdoor venue! And how fun is their ice cream bar? Enjoy this lovely wedding! xoxo, Jessica
Karli + Benjamin
July 3, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina | Robert Mills House
What was your budget?
We spent about $17K on our wedding.
Ice cream: $150
How many guests did you have?
We had 103 guests.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
I wanted the wedding to feel simple and free spirited. I didn’t want it to seem over-produced or something that didn’t represent who we are. We wanted the most important thing at the wedding to be the people; we wanted our friends to know how much we loved them and so we focused and spent money on things that would make them feel special. We left off the things that you’re “supposed” to spend money on (favors, something blue, etc)
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
My sister, Kelsey Farnham, is a graphic designer and designed everything we did. She designed the invites, save the dates, shower invites, and programs. My brother-in-law Seth Jones is an artist and painted the back of the invites. My mom, aunt and grandma made the program fans!
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
The best thing we did was at the beginning Ben and I sat down with a huge list of things that we were “supposed” to buy for a wedding. We went through the list with all of our friends in mind and highlighted one thing each that we felt would celebrate our friends and each other most. We said we wanted to be generous in these two areas and get the cheapest in anything else. We figured out that photographer and alcohol were the two most important things to us!
My look was where we saved an incredible amount of money! My dress was under $1000 dollars. I didn’t want to wear shoes so we didn’t spend that money, my sister's roommate did my makeup and my best friend did my hair!
Another place we saved money. One of my friends opened her own florist shop two months ago and she is incredible at what she does. I asked her if she’d like to do the flowers for my wedding and she was thrilled.vBeing her first wedding, her costs were low and the flowers looked INCREDIBLE.
90% of our wedding party was from out of town and so we planned our wedding on the Monday before the fourth. We knew that people were going to take that Monday off anyway if they came to the wedding and so we were able to have a significant discount off the venue and people didn’t have to take off too much work to fly to the wedding!
I shopped for a really long time for bridesmaids dresses. Most all of my bridesmaids had to fly in for the wedding and so I didn’t want to add an expensive dress to their already expensive trip. I found the bridesmaids dresses from Forever 21 for $58 dollars! Crazy. They fit really well, they were beautiful and light weight in that July heat.
Lastly, we hired Alisha Millwood for our coordinator. Initially we didn’t think it would fit into the budget but once Alisha told us that we could have access to any of her decorations that she has we knew that she was the best resource for saving us money. Anything from the decorations, to centerpieces to signs were Alisha’s. We spent almost no money, and I mean no money, on decorations because Alisha had EVERYTHING we needed.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
I learned that during the whole process I never realized how much I was going to need my people by my side. I imagined, planned, and visualized the day of the wedding so many times, down to the tiniest details. But when the day came, and it started pouring 45 minutes before the ceremony started, all I cared about was having the people I loved around me dancing and drinking champagne as we changed all our plans and crammed the ceremony inside.
I also learned that I really cared about the center pieces leading up to the wedding, I made sure that they were gold and perfect. If you asked me what they looked like on the tables I couldn’t even tell you. That was the last thing on my mind once we got to the reception. I’d say, make the big things big and the small things small- but make a priority list before you start any of your planning so that you know which is which.
What was your biggest splurge?
Our photography! We knew that this would be the only thing that we could take with us from the night. We imagined showing our kids our wedding pictures and we knew that we wanted someone we could trust and capture every joyful moment. And she did.
What was your favorite detail?
When my brother got married his wife gave me a gold bracelet with a little F on it as a bridesmaids gift (F is for Farnham). When I got engaged she gave me the same bracelet with a little J (J for Jones) on it. I’m going to be honest, wedding day was stressful. Shocker. Having those bracelets reminded that this day is about the people in it and not about the thousands of details. It reminded me that I had the freedom to be myself and not try and make this day perfect.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
After the first look (which was the sweetest moment of the day) I came back to this small Carriage House where we sat waiting for the ceremony. Alisha came in and told us we were going to have to move the ceremony inside because of the storm. Yes it stormed. So all of a sudden all the bridal party sprinted outside in the rain and started grabbing chairs to bring them into this tiny brick building. I was over-whelmed having that many people, in their fancy clothes and beautiful hair, willing to do that just for us. Ten minutes later and people started showing up, I was crammed into this tiny bathroom with all my bridesmaids and flower girls. Was I still barefoot you ask? Yes. Was it gross? Maybe. Anyway, we all were back there watching as all our friends entered and sat down. Not the way I planned. But when something is so far out of your control all you can do I laugh about it, especially when you are surround by your fav gal pals. We laughed and drank champagne and I had one of those moments that you almost get choked up because you feel undeserving to be where you are at. It didn’t matter that the ceremony was moved inside and it didn’t matter that I was barefoot in a bathroom, I felt so joyful to be surrounded by the people I love getting to marry the man I love most.
Photography: Jessi Nichols Photography • Venue: Robert Mills House • Flowers: Wild Petal Studio • Day-of Coordinator: Alisha Millwood • Stationery: Kelsey Farnham + Seth Jones • Catering: Hudson BBQ • Rentals: Something Borrowed • DJ: Carolina Dance and Sound • Lighting: Ambient Lighting • Bartender: Ed’s Bartending • Bridesmaids Dresses: Forever 21 • Wedding Gown Designer: Essense of Australia • Bridal Salon: NY Bridal in Charlotte • Groom’s Suit: Jos. A Banks • Groomsmen Attire: Banana Republic and Amazon
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.