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I absolutely ADORE this stunning budget wedding by Sunglow Photography! This wedding is definitely luxe for less – just check out that chapel! Isn't it gorgeous!? I love the classic glamour- it is truly stunning and the photography is just gorgeous- I love the documentary feel it has to it. Niki has quite alot to share about their day so I'll leave it to her- be sure to check out her advice and tips! xoxo-Jessica

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Niki + Ross  
February 23, 2013

Ceremony – Wesley Chapel, FL at our church where we both work, Victorious Life Church 

Reception – Ybor, FL at The Don Vicente Historic Inn


What was your budget?

$15,000 total budget
Dress- 900 (500 for alterations) 1,400 total
Tux Rental – 200
Reception includes venue fee for 4 hrs, plated dinner & drinks for 135  guests – 6,000
Decorations – 2,600
Photography – 2,100
Videography – 500
Limo – 350
Florist – 300
Candy Bar – 600
Cake – 450
DJ – 400
Hair – 100


How many guests did you have?
Ceremony Guests – 300
Reception Guests – 135


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

We had our cake made by our good friend and incredible baker – Nicole Pino-House. I searched on pinterest and Ross and I fell in love with this cake –

Also, it was great to have my hairdresser, Nicole Urso from Danielle's Hair Studio, there the morning of to do my hair, my mother's hair and my mother-in-law's hair. My mom and I have known Nicole since I was 13. She has done my hair for every homecoming and prom and has watched me grow up. It was so special to have her there on our big day, and she did exactly what I pictured. She worked in my Nana's beautiful hair clip into the half-up/half-down hair do.  My curls lasted all night long and I felt like a princess!

My mother in law, Donna Mann, created much of the décor and personal touches that were seen throughout our wedding. She did all of her creating all the way from North Carolina and had her amazing husband package it in a van and drove it all the way to meet us in FL a few weeks before the wedding.
She made all of the centerpieces at our reception. We alternated centerpieces at the tables. Half were white feather stands and the other half were burgundy rose ball stands. She used silk flowers from amazon, crystal gems and feathers from Michaels, and she even gathered twigs and spray painted them gold to give accent to our feather centerpieces. Here are some shots of our centerpieces

My mother in law also created 4 large white roseball stands for pieces of décor in our wedding ceremony in our church. She saw the idea on pinterest and then created it to go with our color scheme for the ceremony. There were two of these at the front of the center aisle and two at the front of our stage. We rented most of the other décor for the ceremony form Elegant Events in Spring Hill, FL. The ceiling draping is what really transformed that room from a bland church activity/all-purpose room to a beautiful wedding venue.

Donna also created all of the bouquets – One for me to use, one to be thrown at our reception, the bridesmaids got beautiful silk sprays, and even our flower girl got a baby bouquet. I loved the idea of silk flowers because they can be kept by the bridesmaids,  used as décor, or sold at (formerly called The Recycled Bride) …they also look just as beautiful as real flowers, in my opinion! 🙂

One of my friends, Jayce Day, who I have known since he was 5 years old, is extremely creative. He paints, he sews, he can make earrings, headbands, headpieces, and much more. He helped us save money by creating my bridesmaids hair clips and pearl earrings. We looked for ideas on pinterest and bought the supplies at Michaels. Black feathers, pearls, jewels, black flowers, and black lace that hung just over their right eyes.


What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
We saved in a number of ways. Because my husband, Ross, is the children's/middle school pastor at Victorious Life Church, we were able to use the church as our wedding ceremony venue without charge.
Also, having a crafty mother-in-law and a few talented friends, really helped us cut costs. We still ended up spending quite a bit on decoration because we had many places to decorate.  Not only did we transform the multi-purpose room in our church, but because we did not have a big enough budget to invite our 300 guests to our reception, we used our main church lobby for a “Meet and Greet”. We brought in a bit of our “old hollywood glam theme” into this room where we offered cookies, petite fours, and drinks for all the guests.
You can see the black draping and candelabras behind us (with roseballs made by my mother-in-law of course)

Some of the projects we tackled that saved us money:

  • When we got engaged we began thinking of our dream wedding and we always thought it would be fun to have a photo booth at our reception. Once we priced out the necessities, we didn't have the extra space in our budget for a photo booth, so, with the help of my good friend Kat, we created our own in the downstairs area of our reception at The Don Vicente!
  • We bought simple props from the Dollar tree and our friends and family had a blast dressing up and taking photos!
  • We also always thought a dessert bar would be wonderful, but we stayed in budget by creating a candy bar instead. We rented some jars, bought candy from Big Lots and Walmart and we even purchased some smaller jars from Goodwill to create the look we wanted.
  • We were also able to save by being blessed with friends who are incredible singers. Instead of hiring a wedding band for reception entertainment, we had our friends from college, Jamie and Jessica sing a comical “tribute” to Ross and I!
  • After we changed into our get-away clothes, ready to get on our flight to Ft.Lauderdale, we were able to have a fun fireworks exit. We simply looked on line and found really affordable sparklers for all our friend and family.

We even were able to give our guests bubbles, thanks to my husband's step mom who gifted us with adorable bride&groom bubbles,  to use for our exit into our limo at the end of the Meet and Greet.


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

Stay calm and have fun! Always have fun, the whole entire time.You will never be able to re-live those few months of planning. I am so, so happy we are married, living together, and making married couple memories…but I also and thankful I have amazing memories of planning, pinterest-ing and dreaming with my mom and bridesmaids about the style and theme of our special day. My hubs and I were best friends first and we have a very similar style so we made a lot of decisions together. In those last few weeks before the wedding, things can get a little crazy, but remember to laugh in the craziness. Also, remember to stick to the budget you decided on in the beginning. Do not feel like you have to have certain things in order to get married. Our wedding was not traditional at all and did not include every single element that others thought we “had to have” and needless to say we are happily married and loved every moment of our wedding.
Oh…and for sure – get a wedding planner! (Or like I did, get two wedding planners!) Haha. My mom has two awesome friends who are also wedding/event planners, which helped more than I could ever image. Overall, as long as the wedding itself never becomes a priority over the relationship you have with your “soon to be hubby”, then the wedding planning process will bring you closer and build such anticipation for that special day.

I would encourage any couple – never settle for something you don't love, there are other options out there and when you piece things together yourself, it makes it more special to see it all come together in the end. It was nothing short of perfect.


What was your biggest splurge?

Our photography was where we chose to splurge and it was completely worth it. Dustin is so accommodating, patient and as you can see – extremely talented. Ross and I knew we wanted to use him for our wedding minutes after looking at his website. The way he captures love stories makes you feel like you are a part of your very own fairy tale. We are so thankful for him.


What was your favorite detail?

All of the personal touches made by people we love that brought our personalities and style into every aspect of our day. If you can, use those closest to you to bring intimacy to the day with those little details, it makes a world of difference. I loved being able to look around and know that my mother-in-law and friends created so much of our wedding décor.


What is the most memorable moment of your day?

It may be a common answer, but the most memorable moment of our wedding day, for us was when I was walked down that aisle to meet him. That was the same “aisle” I was walked down by Ross when we led me into a room of 100 family and friends in April, 2012, to surprise propose to me…the center aisle of the room was lined with real candles (just like it was for our wedding ceremony) and he placed the ring in a jar of crystals (which were also a huge element of our wedding decor) on top of a tall black table and had our awesome tech guy place a spot light on it. The moment I linked arms with my dad on our wedding day and heard our song, “Forsake All Others” By William Fitzsimmons I could not stop my tears. My heart was racing out of my chest, not because I was nervous, but because I was so happy. I knew that in just moments, we would be starting our forever. (Side note – Starting Forever by Corey Crowder is the song we used as our first dance…which we had sung/played live by two of our close friends at our reception).
All of these personal touches made that day nothing short of perfect.



Lori Greene and Nina Pazos – Event Planner  |  Photography – Sunglow Photography    |   Giovanni Guidicelli – Videographer   |   Nicole Pino-House – Cake Vendor Hair – Nicole Urso at Danielle's Hair Studio   |   The Don Vicente Historic Inn  – reception venue  |  Transportation – Suncoach Limo Service    |   DJ – Dave Conrad    |   Jayce Day – bridesmaids headpieces & earrings  |   Davids Bridal wedding dress/shoes/jewelry   |  Kohls – bridesmaids dresses   |  Men's Warehouse – groom's tux & groomsmen attire

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About Jessica

Jessica is the creator of The Budget Savvy Bride; she launched the site in May of 2008, shortly after becoming engaged. Jessica has been recognized as a budget wedding expert by various media outlets and continues to share realistic inspiration and actionable tips to help brides save money on their weddings. Google

Connect with Jessica
  • Such a lovely wedding, that $600 cost for the candy buffet got me a little nervous though, we’re planning one and put a $175 maximum on it.

    I’m curious to know how you went about inviting folks to just the ceremony and not the reception? I know you mentioned the meet-and-greet, but did you print out 2 separate invitations for your 135 guests to both, and 300 to just the ceremony?

  • Heather

    Everything is SO beautiful!! All of the details are wondering. Thank you for sharing!

    • Heather

      Wonderful — not wondering.

  • Robe de mariée

    Wow, beautiful. I love this gorgeous style of the wedding.

  • Alice Pirola

    Hi, I am Niki’s Mom and worked side by side with her on the wedding. We had so much fun! To answer your questions Denise, the $600 for the candy bar was a bit much, but necessary to fill the jars…it took so much more candy to fill than we anticipated. We even used fillers like marshmellows, cookies and liquorice sticks. We ended up having to throw out allot of candy in the end. To the invitations question, we had two invites ~ one for those that were attending the wedding and the reception and one for those that were just attending the wedding with the “Meet & Greet” after. Hope that helps!

    • Thanks for weighing in and answering these questions, Alice! The wedding was gorgeous- you all did a great job! 🙂

      • Alice Pirola

        Thank you, Jessica, for featuring their wedding! Great website!

  • Aunt Joanne

    Niki and Ross so proud of you both and how you handled your whole wedding. I am so exited that they featured your wisdom and the talents of everyone who helped you plan your fabulous day. GREAT article. Love you much!

  • Roberto Sandoval

    I am wedding videographer. I was looking over the brides budget. I was a little concern with her decision to cut back the wedding video budget to $500. She took a risk hiring someone just starting out that budget. I did find her wedding highlights online and it seem that her videographer did an excellent job considering the budget. He even had 3 video cameras running at the same time during the ceremony. Very Rare for $500 wedding.

    Not every bride will be this fortunate when paying $500 for a video.

    Roberto Sandoval, Medallos Wedding Films

    • Alice Pirola

      The videographer was a family friend and very good friend of the groom for that matter …. he had never done a wedding before and gave the Bride and Groom a break on the video. I agree with you that, if they had a professional do it, it would have cost much more. Alice (Mother of the Bride)

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