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helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank

I happened to come across this wedding featured on the awesome money site, LearnVest, (thanks to my friend Amy for sending the link my way!). Abby and Brad were able to put together their adorable, sweet Southern chic wedding for 100 of their closest family and friends for a mere $4,000! That's quite an accomplishment – I hope you benefit from her advice and that you enjoy this installment of the Budget Savvy Wedding of the Week! xoxo-Jess

dessert receptiondessert reception

dessert reception dessert reception

dessert receptiondessert reception

dessert reception

dessert receptiondessert reception


Abby + Brad
May 21, 2011
Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin, VA


What was your budget? If you are able, give us a rough breakdown of how you spent your budget.

Cake, Pies 327.74
Drinks (Wine, Beer, Cola) 322.82
Guest Book 40
Invitations 275
Flowers, Mason Jars 450
Honeymoon Registry 64
Utensils, Plates (Plates, Forks, Spoons, Cups) 100
Marriage License 30
Venue 646.86
Chairs 316.35
Photographer 600
Invitation Addressing 80
Officiant 150
Cake Topper 80
Wedding Day Helpers 200
TOTAL 3682.77

How many guests did you have?


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

I did my own hair, a friend did my makeup, and my best friend from college created pennant flag bunting for the reception, which was beautiful (and the only decorative detail we had besides the flowers).

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

We had a dessert reception. After reading “Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding,” I was thrilled to learn that according to etiquette, a dessert reception is the traditional wedding reception (so much has been added on in recent years). We held the wedding at a time of day so that guests could enjoy their morning, each lunch/brunch, and then come to the wedding to eat cake and socialize. Our friends all went out to dinner at a nearby family-style restaurant afterwards.

We also had the whole wedding at a state park, which saved us money, but also saved our friends money. They got together and rented a cabin on the lake, which put them minutes away from the wedding, and enabled them to save huge amounts of money on lodging (important, when we're all still young!).

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

Don't worry about the details – focus on what matters to you. If you're not crafty, don't consider yourself a failure. We did a very small number of key elements – the bunting, the flowers, the cake toppers – and that was it. The reception room looked beautiful, and not overwhelming.

What was your biggest splurge?

I don't know if this is a “splurge,” but I opted to have someone do calligraphy on our invitations and cake labels. They looked lovely!

What was your favorite detail?

Our penguin cake toppers – a nod to our relationship.

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Hearing Brad's father start to play the fiddle as we started to walk down the aisle.


Ceremony Site: Claytor Lake State Park  |  Reception Site: Claytor Lake State Park  |  Photography: Lauren D. Rogers Photography  |  Gown: Nicole Miller, Lovely Bridal Shop  |  Hair: Done by Bride  |  Makeup: Done by Sarah Siegel (Friend of Bride)  |  Veil: Lovely Bridal Shop  |  Shoes: Anne Klein, DSW  |  Wedding Rings: Leo Carroll Jewelers  |  Earrings: So Good Jewelry  |  Bracelet: Vintage Pearls (Loaned from Mother-In-Law); Vintage 1920s  |  Rhinestone Bracelet: Jean Jean Vintage on Etsy  |  Groom’s And Groomsmen’s Formalwear: Previously Owned Navy Suit; Tie: Brooks Brothers  |  Invitations: Milkmaid Press  |   Sign-In Book or Board: Paper Source  |  Flowers: Gates Flowers  |  Rental Equipment: Aztec Rentals  |   Music Ceremony and Reception: Couple’s iPod  |  Cake: Linda Adams  |  Other Desserts: Our Daily Bread Bakery  |  Favors: Walmart

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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

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  • Beautiful! Its nice to see a wedding can be done at that price point. My budget is $4000 as well and I am overwhelmed by it already.

    • You’re in the right place! 🙂 Let us know if there is anything specific you are needing help figuring out!

  • I was already looking at this venue since it is close to us. Thank you so much for sharing this! It literally made my day to read about a wedding in the area at a place I’ve looked at online. 😀

  • Ellen

    My little brother and his fiancee are getting married here! I’m glad to get ideas on how we can make it beautiful!!

  • Angela

    I’m thinking of having my wedding there at Claytor lake and would love some more advice.

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