Today's wedding is perfect for this winter season because it is the couple's anniversary! I'm loving everything about Matthew and Johanna's budget-savvy wedding, from the colors to the gorgeous venue. And can you believe the bride found her dress at Nordstrom?! So elegant and chic! Enjoy this Indianapolis wedding! xoxo, Jessica
Johanna + Matthew
December 27, 2015
Indianapolis, IN | The Sanctuary on Penn
What was your budget?
Dress: $140 dress, $100 alterations
Catering: $3000 – the regular food and beverage minimum for this venue is $10,000 – however, we received 50% off for having it on a Sunday, and an additional percentage off for planning our wedding only 6 months out from the date.
Cake: Included in catering, cheesecake made by the venue
Decor: Free – various building décor was provided by the venue’s closet of prior wedding decorations, lanterns were borrowed from a friend
Groom’s attire: Free, included in tux rental for groomsmen
Music: Gifted – cello/violin prelude music was a gift provided by one of my best friends’ ensembles, and communion music provided by our church’s worship leaders
Rentals: $240 – we split the cost of the tux/tie/shoe rentals with the groomsmen
Invitations and Thank You Postcards: $210, courtesy of Vistaprint, designed by myself
Bridesmaid Dresses: $160 total – the dresses were the bridesmaid gifts, and they wore their own pearls.
How many guests did you have?
We had 200 guests.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
Since my husband is a writer and I’m a graphic designer (on the side), we really enjoyed designing our own invitations and wedding program to represent who we are and what we value. Matthew and I spent the majority of our wedding planning time preparing and writing the ceremony/wedding vows. Our wedding was themed around light – for example, our groomsmen/bridesmaids carried lanterns down the aisle to represent the fact that that they often “carry the fire” for us in our daily lives. Our grandparents and parents carried candles down the aisle to represent the ways they have prepared the way for us and our marriage. Matthew lit lanterns along the aisle prior to the bridal procession, representing how the groom prepares the way for the bride. We also included story telling elements during our ceremony outlining where we came from and how we met, read by our siblings and best friends. Finally, we chose to serve communion during our ceremony to our wedding guests as a reminder of the ultimate Love gift.
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
We designed the invitations and programs together, with the wax seal on the front of both hearkening to the many letters we sent while dating. We also made all the boutonnieres and corsages from silk flowers thanks to a well-timed 50% off sale on silk flowers at Hobby Lobby! As I was in the middle of graduate school, I was determined not to spend too much time on DIY projects, and the corsages definitely cured me of any inklings to attempt further DIY projects!
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
We had dreamed of having a “simple and barefoot” wedding in a park with cake and punch during the summer, however my graduate school schedule prevented us from having it during the summer. We realized that having our wedding in the winter meant paying the big bucks for a venue – however, we chose a really beautiful venue that allowed us to not have to spend time and money thinking about decorations, and included a lot of the budget-eaters in the cost (linens, chairs). Additionally, the venue we chose gave us nearly 75% off their rental/catering minimums because we planned our wedding on a Sunday, and booked the day less than 6 months out. I’d say choosing an “alternative” wedding day (aka not Friday or Saturday) was definitely one of the best budget friendly things we did. We also chose not to do a sit down dinner, but decided to do a cocktail-style reception with appetizers and dessert to leave the area open for more conversation (and cut down on the stress of seating charts!).
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
Plan your wedding. Not your friend’s, not that girl’s wedding on Pinterest, not the one you think everyone thinks you should have. Planning your wedding is an opportunity for you and your future spouse to have deep conversations about what is important to you, what matters to you, and how you want to celebrate starting life together. So, don’t let the color of napkins or the wedding favors get to you – do what matters. And don’t forget the person next to you planning it with you ☺ They’re the best part.
What was your biggest splurge?
Definitely the venue. However, the money was worth it – because it was so worth having a venue where we could do both the wedding and the reception, and my family didn’t have to come early or stay late to set up/tear down anything. That was really important to us, especially since it was around the holidays and we wanted our families to be able to enjoy the day versus feel responsible for details.
What was your favorite detail?
My husband says his favorite detail was how we planned the order of our ceremony. I’d agree, and add that the theme of “light” throughout our wedding day was a detail I’m not sure people noticed, but I knew it was there ☺.
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
Turning the corner to walk down the aisle with my dad and seeing the faces of all the people we love gathered to celebrate us. I was so unprepared for this moment, and it started the waterworks down my face that didn’t stop until after the ceremony ended. Whoops. My husband says the most memorable moment for him was lighting the lanterns down the aisle to prepare for my procession.
Photography: SBChilds Photography (sbchildsphotography.com) • Venue + Catering + Day-of Coordinator: The Sanctuary on Penn • Flowers: Hobby Lobby (silk flowers) + Trader Joe’s (real flowers) • Stationery: Vistaprint • DJ: Family • Ceremony Musicians: Deoc Ensemble + Friends • Hair Stylist: Meg Hanley • Bridesmaids Dresses: Sears (Ever-Pretty brand) • Wedding Gown: Nordstrom Rack • Jewelry: Grandmother's necklace and Etsy (earrings) • Shoes: TJ Maxx • Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Leon Tailoring Co.
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 resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.