Today’s real wedding is absolutely gorgeous. Sara Beth and Josh are an adventurous couple who love the great outdoors. They got married in the beautiful Spence Cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for around $6k! Make sure to take a look at their special DIY details. We especially love their delicious DIY donut bar! You will adore this Stunning Spence Cabin Wedding! xoxo, Jessica
Sara Beth + Josh
October 21st, 2017
Gatlinburg, TN | Spence Cabin at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
What was the breakdown of your wedding budget?
Photography – 2500
Catering – 750
Rentals – 500
Dress and alterations – 1000
Suit – 250
Flowers – 500
Venue – 500
Miscellaneous – 250
Total Budget – 6250
How many guests did you have?
We had 40 guests.
How did you meet?
Joshua and I met in our church youth group, he was three years older and a senior in high school. I was only a freshman and lucky for me the age topic didn’t come up until we had already fallen for each other.
What is your proposal story?
After five wonderful years of dating and countless adventures, we decided to take our first big vacation together. We both have a love for the ocean so we wanted a beach trip. We ended up going to Charleston. While there he subtly dropped the idea to check out the Magnolia Gardens. I just assumed he wanted us to see all the unique flora and wildlife. As we are walking through the gorgeous gardens he ushers me towards a gazebo. It is nestled in the back of a small field, on the edge of the lake like something out of a fairytale. As we approach I see pictures of us from throughout the years hanging all around the gazebo and I instantly start crying. He leads me into the gazebo, takes my hands, gets down on one knee, and asks me to be his wife. I, of course, said yes! He was so nervous that he forgot to put the ring on my finger but I quickly reminded him of that part! Next thing I know out pops a photographer. She snapped a few more shots and then left us to bask in all of our joy. He thought of every last detail and it could not have been more perfect.
Tell us about your wedding vision.
We both knew that we wanted a wedding in the woods and we have always had a connection with the Great Smoky Mountains. So when we happened upon Spence Cabin we instantly fell in love and booked it immediately. Our vision for our wedding was to have a simple, personal, and waste-free wedding. We let the natural beauty of the mountains inspire our wedding style. Our colors were smoky blue, the color of the mountains from afar and green for all of the foliage.
Tell us about your attire choices.
We worked off of the Smoky blue bridesmaid dresses. The men all wore dark gray suits and blue bow ties. The groom wore a matching suit, a vest, and a University of Tennessee orange bow tie (go vols). I wore a soft white Justin Alexander gown. I feel in love with one of his ballgown designs that featured lace and tulle, sadly it had been discontinued. Then by some miracle, I found the same dress in a different silhouette on a resale site and bought it instantly! We decided to match the ring bearer to the groomsmen and the flower girl to me. I was lucky to stumble upon a flower girl dress that had almost identical lace to my own. Other than my gown, all of the attire was purchased at department stores which greatly helped in cutting down costs. The groom and groomsmen especially liked this because they were able to buy suits for less than the cost of renting!
What was most important to you two while planning? Was there anything you chose to splurge on or skip?
I would say that the most important thing to us was that the wedding was unique and representative of us as a couple. Luckily unique equates to lots of DIYs, which helped cut back on costs. Secondly, we wanted an environmentally friendly wedding. That meant renting the tableware instead of buying paper goods, purchasing anything we needed second hand, and only buying things we could donate or reuse. We chose to splurge on photography. This was important to us from the beginning, we wanted to make sure that we would have amazing photos of our special day that we could cherish forever.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
I hate to be cliche, but my favorite part of the day was the ceremony proceedings. From walking down the aisle and seeing Joshua’s face with a huge smile and tears running down his cheeks, saying our handwritten vows, and then our amazing first kiss. When it comes to the reception my favorite part was simply being surrounded by all of our closest friends and family while celebrating the beginning of our new life.
Tell us about your wedding flowers.
We knew that we wanted simple greenery inspired flowers and I have always favored babies breath and peonies. So we just combined those three aspects and took that idea to our amazing florists who went from there to create gorgeous bouquets and centerpieces. For my bouquet, I knew I wanted a more wild and flowy style, and Melissa Timm created something more beautiful than I could have imagined.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
We decided to have donuts in place of cake to put a unique spin on the reception and because I am fully obsessed with them! However, we did still want to have the traditional cake cutting so we ordered a small and simple white cake from Walmart.
What did you do for favors?
We decided to opt out of favors. We felt like they were a wasteful tradition that usually didn’t get used. In place of favors, we made a donation to the National Park Foundation. We loved this idea because it is taking the money we would have spent on favors and putting it towards a foundation we believe is doing very important work.
Please describe any handmade, DIY, or personal details.
I would say the biggest DIY was our drink station. We took about 100 empty Starbucks glass bottles peeled the labels off, cleaned them, and painted labels using chalkboard paint. It was quite the task but we had plenty of help and they turned out wonderfully! I handmade paper cranes to scatter about as decor and we handmade the ribbon photo booth backdrop. Our amazingly talented friend, Marybeth, hand painted the “Welcome to our unplugged ceremony” and the windowpane schedule signs. The life-size connect four and giant Jenga were made by our friends Josiah and Austin. The amazing cornhole boards were made designed by and gifted to us from our good friends Josiah and Mariah.
We both have a huge passion for nature and wildlife and both work in the ecology field, so it was important for us to tie that in somehow. We used our personal field guides as the centerpiece bases and beakers to hold the centerpiece flowers. To decorate the two fireplace mantels we used pictures of ourselves surrounded by National Geographic magazines, and paper cranes. Both of which are special to us.
Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?
I wore my grandmother’s pearl necklace, which was a wonderful way to have a little piece of her with me. My veil was borrowed from my older sister who wore it on her wedding day, this was such a truly special touch that will hopefully become a tradition for the future brides of our family. I also carried a picture of my Aunt, grandmother, and grandparents with me to make them feel a little closer on this big day.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their wedding now?
My advice to couples planning a wedding would be to set a realistic budget and stick to it! Don’t be afraid to get creative while planning and to take the nontraditional routes, it will save you lots of money. Decide early on what you care about most, prioritize that, and then work with what is left of your budget. Above all have fun with your partner! Try to enjoy this phase of life, it goes by too quickly. It can get stressful at times but just remember to rely on each other and take in all the joy that being engaged brings!
Photography: Juicebeats Photography • Ceremony Venue: Spence Cabin • Reception Venue: Appalachian Clubhouse • Floral: Melissa Timm Designs • Doughnuts: Duck Donuts • Floral: Bill Duncan with Kroger Floral • Rentals: Unique Settings Rentals • Wedding Cake: Walmart Bakery • Catering: Robbie Ollis • Alterations: Sandra G • Espresso Bar: Pedal Java • Garter: Tion Design Jewelry • Cake Topper: NGO Creations • Favors: Alex and Co Printables • Wedding Dress: Justin Alexander • Bridesmaid Dresses: LuLus Bridal Boutique • Groom’s Attire: J Ferrar via JC Penney • Groomsmen Attire: J Ferrar via JC Penney • Flower Crowns: Melissa Timm Designs • Submitted via: Matchology
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 pandemic wedding resources here.