I love when a wedding is an expression of the couple’s unique personality and story, and that’s exactly what we see in today’s budget savvy wedding! Seri and Sam had their wedding at the place where they would go on walks when they first became friends! And they rented an AirBnB for some of their family and guests for the whole wedding weekend, and the AirBnB doubled as their reception venue… definitely a budget-savvy option! Enjoy this summer arboretum wedding! xoxo, Jessica
Seri + Sam
June 26, 2016
Chapel Hill, NC | Coker Arboretum
What was your budget?
Our budget was $10K-$15K. We were aiming for the lower end of that, but ended up spending about $14,500.
Family Dinner at a local restaurant the night before the wedding: $3000
Reception Venue, a bed and breakfast that we found on AirBNB: $3275, including rooms and breakfast for 10 for a four-day stay.
Ceremony Venue (an arboretum on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus): $500
Bride’s Outfit: $1400 (includes dress, tailoring, shoes, headband)
Groom’s Outfit: $200 (tailoring for a suit he already owned, new shirt and tie)
Food from local BBQ place: $1300
Cupcakes from a vegan shop and a non-vegan shop: $211
Ukulele Band: $800
Photography: $1200 (services plus digital rights)
Decorations and Tableware: $300 (mostly balloons)
Save the date/Invitations/Thank you Cards: $100 (save the date and invitations were online except for 10 paper invites for our immediate family, thank you cards were cards we already owned)
Wedding Website (Appy Couple) and Registry Website (Thankful): $80
Marriage License: $50
Day-Of Coordinator: $350
How many guests did you have?
We had 50 guests for our family dinner and 60 for the wedding itself.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
We both decided to write our own vows, which was a harrowing experience but well worth it in the end ☺ We also got married in a place that we had a personal connection to: a garden that we took weekly walks in while we were friends.
In the middle of our reception we had a foosball tournament. Sam and I had a great time picking the prizes for the competition, and it got everyone loosened up for the band ☺
Finally, we asked the band to learn our song: You and Me, by Penny and the Quarters. I had managed to make it through the whole wedding without sobbing hysterically, but I cried through that entire first dance.
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
Instead of holding a bouquet, I asked my mother to embroider a handkerchief with a love note that Sam left me when we had just started dating. It is so incredibly special to have a piece of that day that I can hold on to forever.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
We did a lot of things to save money: we only invited close family and friends, we decided to have a daytime wedding to avoid a seated dinner at the reception, we decided to skip bridesmaids and groomsmen, and etc. Basically every line in our budget involved us trying to find an affordable option. I think the single biggest thing we did to save money was to use venues that weren’t typical “wedding circuit” places. The reception and ceremony venues were both so lovely that they didn’t need much decorating, and because they weren’t used to weddings they didn’t require us to use “their” caterers, florists, etc.
We were also lucky enough to have my aunt offer to buy and arrange the flowers for us, which was just a wonderful relief.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
I think the best advice I got was that you essentially decide your budget once you pick your venue – everything else will follow from there.
I think the best advice I can give is to support local businesses and people that are just starting out in their career. We’ve never spent as much money on a single weekend as we did on our wedding, so we wanted to make sure that that money was supporting people and places that we cared about!
What was your biggest splurge?
Probably the Ukulele band! We had seen them play before and as soon as we got engaged we couldn’t stop thinking about what a treat it would be to have them play at our wedding. They even learned our song for our first dance! It was a wonderful choice that we never regretted.
What was your favorite detail?
Sam and I had bought giant candy necklaces for the winning team in the foosball tournament. We ended up winning the tournament, so for the rest of the reception I was wearing a candy necklace over my dress (and Sam managed to disappear his remarkably quickly!).
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
Our first dance and the ceremony itself are both moments I can’t ever imagine forgetting.
Photography: Rachel Abi • Ceremony Venue: Coker Arboretum • Reception Venue: Lake House Bed and Breakfast • Day-of Coordinator: Folie a Deux • Stationery: Happy Life Printables • Catering: The Pig • Bakery: Sugarland Cupcakes • Rentals and Linens: American Party Rentals • Band: Durham Ukulele Orchestra • Family Dinner Venue: Lantern Restaurant • Officiant: Secular Wedding • Decorations: Balloons and Tunes • Bridal Salon or Shop: BHLDN • Headpiece: Cameron Couture • Shoes: Yosi Samra from Zappos • Ties: Boom Bow Tie
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.