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helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank

I am continually impressed by my local Nashville brides! Chelsey & Ryan are from Nashville and Chelsey styled their gorgeous, whimsical wedding without breaking the bank. Her biggest budget cutting advice? Forget the fancy dinner! They hosted a dessert only reception and saved a bundle. She pulled off this stunning wedding using thrift store finds and pieces of decor from their own home. This wedding is super sweet and the photos by Austin Gros are phenomenal. I hope you enjoy this edition of the BSWOW!  xoxo, Jessica

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What was your wedding budget?

We actually didn't have a set budget, our idea was to spend the least amount of money possible! We had a 15 month engagement so we could save up and figure out exactly what we were doing. We ended up spending just over $4000 which is amazing. Here's a general idea:

dress: It was vintage and i bought it off of last summer for $200. After cleaning and alterations it ended up being about $500.

venue: $500

photographer: $1000 (we got a huge discount because he's our friend- this is not his normal rate)

cake and cupcakes: $500

Alcohol: donated

groom's attire: $100

rentals: $300

flowers: $300

and the rest was odds and ends for decorations, gifts for parties and pay for officiant, dj…etc.

How many guests did you have?

we invited about 250. 150 were at the ceremony and about 110 at the reception.

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

We went into knowing we were going to have to do a lot of DIY. Which was fine because I felt more connected to my day! I made all the invites by hand and spent a lot of time looking at wedding blogs to gather inspiration for decor. I went through a wholesale florist (After going to a florist and getting a quote for $2800!) and ordered MORE flowers than I was going to get through that other florist for $300! I did all the arrangements in vintage vases I had collected for cheap at garage sales and goodwill and my friend Keith threw together my bouquet the night before. We also used a lot of our home decor in the decorations to kind of make it more homey – vintage type writer, framed photos of us, candle holders…etc.

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Easy. We cut out dinner. People thought I was crazy but it was perfect. First, we save THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, and second I always thought it was awkward having everyone eat and stare at you. Our ceremony was at 4pm and the reception at 7. We took photos at the church right after with our parties and family and then ran off to take those lovely portrait photos about 20 minutes away (the church was downtown and I wasn't into that haha). We invited our guests to go downtown and eat and offered suggestions on our wedding website. We had a lot of traveling guests so it gave them an opportunity to enjoy our city and actually get to see it, since wedding weekends can be expensive and busy or boring for guests since they usually don't have an opportunity to be touristy. We had a dessert bar and an open bar at the reception and it basically was just a big dance party. It was so much fun and I couldn't have asked for anything better.

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

Even if you do everything yourself and space it out and aren't stressed during planning, you will be very stressed on the day you decide to set up. Things will go wrong but just go with it. I would say have a responsible friend, that you trust, to head up everything. You will want to be in charge, especially if you went DIY route but having someone else boss people around will make you less of a bridezilla and take a lot of the stress off.

What was your biggest splurge?

Photographer. Even though he is a good friend of our's, and cut us an enormous deal in his price, he was still the most expensive item!

What was your favorite detail?

We had our ushers pass out little clear favor bags filled with blue and white confetti when our guests arrived. On the bags I had printed labels explaining to throw this when we walk out of the ceremony as husband and wife. It was amazing walking through all this confetti while friends and family were cheering for you! we left the confetti on the ground for the reception which looked great and gave the venue a little more UMPH. 😉

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

The whole walking down the aisle bit. I guess I was basically running because my mom stopped me and said “OH MY GOD SLOW DOWN” ha, and then looking up at Ryan to see that he was very much crying…and then when he cried during the vows. Oh, he's so sensitive! haha.


Venue: The Anchor Fellowship   •  Photographer: Austin Gros   •  Dress: OnceWed   •  Hairpiece and boutonnieres: Oh My Deer  •  Hair and Make up: Nichole Lim  •  Cake and Cupcakes: The Bake Shoppe  •  Bowties: Etsy  •  Clutches: Yensew on Etsy  •  Bird Seed Favors: Nature Favors on Etsy  •  Shoes: Urban Outfitters  •  Groom and Groomsmen: JCrew  •  Bridesmaids and flowergirls: Melissa Sweet  •  Wedding certificate: Wedding Depot


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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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  • Alaynah

    Love this wedding and how much money you guys saved. What a beautiful day for a beautiful couple!

  • Emily

    Totally amazing. This bride is my hero, only 4000$ good lord. Holy budget crunching batman!! No seriously, they look amazing.

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  • I kind of want to cut out the meal during my wedding reception (already had the ceremony!) but I'm afraid of the flak we'll get. How'd you explain it to people? It would save us SO much money by doing hors d'oeurves, dessert and open bar but I've already heard from people that they're expecting a "warm meal." Ahhh!

    • Christina

      People often spend significant money to share your day. The least I can do is thank them for making my day a priority over work or other commitments by making their experience and comfort at my wedding my priority.

      My wedding budget is 4k. My budget for a dress is $150.00 I have made other cuts on budget items that are only for my experience to make my wedding a great experience for others. People who plan a wedding over a meal hour while refusing to feed their guests should get flak, imo.

  • Gorgeous photos! What a great wedding!

  • I'm so glad to see a beautiful wedding at such an affordable price! Congrats Ryan and Chelsey!!

  • mack

    What a great wedding!Congrats Ryan and Chelsey!!

  • Shia

    You had your reception during a meal time but your guest had to buy their own food? Right? Also how can 110 guest celebrate a ceremony they did not witness and not be provided a proper meal? I have been invited to several wedding receptions, but not the ceremony by close friends and I declined the invite. I couldn’t celebrate a wedding I didn’t witness.

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