Our wedding photos are in! So, as promised, here's how we pulled off our wedding for under $2000, which is $25,000 less than the average wedding budget in the U.S.:
The Venue & Decor:
The lodge at Lake Wedington costs $150 a day (this includes tables and benches!), and the people who work out there are super helpful and allowed us to come in the day before we had it reserved to decorate. We rented it for Friday for the rehearsal and Saturday for the wedding, so that totaled a flat $300. It was the PERFECT place for us to get married.
I knew I wanted to keep decor simple because the wooden lodge is so pretty on its own. For the ceremony room, I brought my living room rug from home, hung up a set of my Dad's antlers (thanks, Dad!), pushed one of the lodge's tables against the wall for communion, and set up a foot washing area with a stump my Dad cut for us, a towel and gold bowl from Target. So the front area maybe cost us $15.
My Dad built a fire in the fire pit and we lit a bunch of pillar candles on the mantle, which were probably the most expensive part of the decor, but we were still able to get them on sale because of Hobby Lobby's everyday 40% off coupon. Daniel's Mom also bought some for us. The candles were about $30 total.
I purchased three sets of bulb lights from Dollar General to line the aisle, which were $3.50 a piece, and used our clear Christmas lights to hang around the room. We lined the sides of the aisle with white feathers hanging from twine--one pack of feathers was about $2 at Hobby Lobby.
I can't thank Little Chief enough for doing us the BIGGEST favor by playing our ceremony. The bridesmaids and I walked in to "Sigh No More" by Mumford and Sons. The band played their original "As It Was" as Daniel and I washed one another's feet, and we walked out to "That's What's Up" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and it was fantastic. Little Chief is SO stinkin' good, you guys. Now do yourself a favor and check them out!
For the reception, we created a free Spotify playlist we could play offline. Our friend Weston ran Daniel's computer and we borrowed speakers from our church. Our reception music was completely free!
My dad also cut various sizes of stumps for the reception tables. Daniel and I collected pinecones after last winter, and most of the vases were given to us by family and friends. The greenery was from Sam's, where you can buy in bulk for SUPER cheap.
Elisabeth, one of my best friends and bridesmaids, stayed up til I have no idea when the night before the wedding baking three apple pies. What a woman. The other pies came from Village Inn (and we got a LOT of compliments on them!) and cost us about $50. We ordered a few cheesecakes as well from Rick's Bakery here in Fayetteville, and those cost us $100.
I spent a day and a half standing over my stove popping popcorn. They sell a 50 lb. bag for $30 at Sam's, and we only used about half of it! We provided a variety of seasonings, which were another $25.
Daniel and I made these little picture holders from rocks and flower wire--all in all they cost us about $5. I went through old photos and picked out pictures of us at the same ages and set them up around the lodge.
Our guestbook was a photo album I thrifted a while back for $2. We purchased $100 worth of film for our Instax Mini camera and a couple of Daniel's friends took photos of guests for us. :) I thought it was so fun to get a picture of each guest instead of just a signature!
For our departure, Daniel's roommates helped us collect leaves in a couple of Hobby Lobby baskets we got when baskets were on sale for 50% off. The baskets (along with the three we used for popcorn) cost us about $15. The leaves were free :)
We were super blessed when it came to getting things printed. My uncle owns a printing and signage company in Tulsa, so after I designed our save the dates, invitations and programs, I just sent them his way. So all of those were free!
All in all, our venue, decor, music, etc. came out to $705.
What the Guys Wore:
Daniel found a Gap shirt and a pair of khaki Levis he liked and asked his groomsmen to purchase them. This was a much more affordable option than tuxes, and he tried to pick out a shirt and pants they could wear anytime. We purchased brown suspenders for all of the guys on Ebay for $2 each--so $10 total.
The bow ties were a gift from Nataley, who makes them for Two Guys Bow Ties. We purchased a bunch of vintage ties from Cheap Thrills in Fayetteville for $5 and picked out which ones we wanted her to use. They turned out so wonderful--thank you, Nat!
I made the boutonnieres from the same bunch of flowers I used for our bouquets at no additional cost!
^GOODNESS, he's good looking :)
Love these guys.
What the Girls Wore:
My dress cost a total of $100--alterations included. I did a lot of searching on secondhand websites like Etsy and ended up purchasing this dress on Ebay for $60. It was too big when the wedding rolled around, so I bought a pretty cream ribbon from JoAnn's for a few dollars and took it in to a seamstress. I figured adding a belt would cost less than completely tearing apart the seams, and I was right! She took it in a little and took it up a lot. I wanted the belt to somehow criss-cross in the back, and she made it happen, as well as my request to roll the straps up to make them more dainty (they were originally much thicker). It ended up being the super comfortable, flowy dress I dreamed I'd find!
I wanted my bridesmaids to wear dresses they absolutely loved and felt beautiful in. I sent them each a number of options as well as let them look at dresses on their own. I ended up snagging Nat's dress for her at a consignment store with the tag still on it for $8, and Rachel's was one I had in my closet but only wore once. Lizz and Kali both ordered theirs. The whole process was a little funny, but I'm so happy I didn't have to make them spend a crazy amount, and I love how all of our dresses ended up looking together!
I knew from the get go we'd wear comfy flats of some sort and I didn't want to make my girls buy something they would never wear or didn't feel comfortable in. After exploring a few options and talking it over during my bachelorette party weekend, we each purchased a pair of Minnetonka moccasins! I stressed to the girls that they should get a pair they really liked and would wear regularly. They picked their own colors and searched around for the best deals--Minnetonka is sold everywhere. Daniel and I bought mine during a half off sale at a local shoe store for about $20. They have a little aztec print and I thought they would stand out perfectly while still being the same shoe :) They were super comfortable and I didn't think about my feet once during the entire wedding day.
Our bouquets altogether cost MAYBE $20. I had a flower potluck bridal shower in July, and all my bridesmaids and I went to the local Farmers Market beforehand to snatch up bundles of flower for $2-$5, then we arranged them all together and hung them to dry. Several weeks before the wedding I picked out the flowers that didn't dry as nicely, did a little rearranging, tied some twine around the stems, and that was that! I one hundred percent recommend DIY dried flowers as a super affordable, but still very pretty option. The bouquets ended up having a vintage, fall feel to them, and we all got to keep them because they were already preserved!
However, dried flowers would not stay pretty after a bouquet toss. So I took the baby's breath I had left over from our invitations and made a sweet, simple bouquet, which was caught by my favorite little lady, Abby!
I wanted my bridesmaids and I to look like ourselves on my wedding day, so I pretty much said wear your hair down or mostly down in a way that makes you feel pretty. Nat and Kali curled theirs, Lizz and Rachel lefts theirs straight, and I let mine dry naturally wavy. I made the girls little flower hair clips when I made my flower crown, and I got all the flowers from Hobby Lobby when floral was 50% off. Overall, the hair pieces cost me about $15 and an evening of watching The Office on Netflix, which I never mind.
After clothing and accessories, we spent about $895. Under $1000!
All of these ridiculously wonderful photos were taken by Michelle Soden, who volunteered herself for our big day. She is a for real photographer who gets paid to do this stuff, but has the sweetest heart and wanted to help our cause. And obviously, she is crazy talented!
With the remaining budget, we purchased our $60 marriage license, bought gifts for our wedding party, and ended up being able to tip the people who offered their time and talents for free! We successfully pulled off our $2000 wedding thanks to the help of so many people, and it really was a dream of a day!
If any of you need advice on planning a wedding on a budget or you'd like to talk about hiring me on as your planner, I'd be more than happy to help! Whether it be researching affordable dresses, engagement/wedding photography, or planning and taking photos of the whole thing--leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org :)
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