We photographed a wedding back in August of 2016 for Chenzy & Chelsea. We soon learned that they planned their dream wedding for under $6,000 which is insanely inexpensive as far as weddings go. It is possible! It can be done! Here are some tips, tricks and advice for how to plan a beautiful DIY wedding for cheap from our bride, Chelsea!
We were married on August 6, 2016. As a little girl, my dream wedding was a huge with hundreds of people (pretty much everyone I knew). After getting engaged, talking to our families (and looking at our own bank accounts) we realized that we wanted to do something simple and special. We didn’t feel like we were settling and our wedding actually ended up being exactly what we wanted! I stress easily, so I need something easy, but also something I would love. Our wedding was a dream… beautiful, rustic, romantic DIY wedding in the woods and I wouldn’t have it any other way! We made everything happen for under $6,000 and I didn’t miss out on anything. It is very possible to have your dream wedding on a strict budget. We didn’t cut that many corners – we just played it smart!
Deciding to invite family and close friends only. The only non-family members were our wedding party and our vendors. This makes planning much easier. Nobody’s feelings were hurt because guess what? They weren’t the only ones not invited! No one was invited! Anytime someone would bring up my wedding, I would just say, “Family and wedding party only! Wish you could be there!” I definitely wasn’t lying. I did want people to be there. But it was way less stressful to do it the way we chose, and I don’t regret a thing. Many people at my engagement party and bridal shower knew they were not invited to the wedding, and they understood. Normally, you’re not supposed to do this, but I really did not follow any rules with my wedding… I never understood why there are so many rules.
My aunt and uncle own a beautiful cabin on a large piece of property in Connecticut. They offered to let us have the wedding here! This is the number one reason our wedding was so cost-effective and beautiful. Choosing to travel out of town for our wedding sounds a little crazy at first (I was living in Florida and my fiance was living in Georgia at the time). This worked because it was free, beautiful, and convenient for our families; my family is in Connecticut and his is in New York. The wedding party was the only ones traveling and they were still so excited to go. It’s obviously not always easy to find a free venue… But you would be surprised! Ask around. It’ll save you thousands that you will want to bring into your marriage. It saved us about $20,000 – after looking at Florida venues originally.
Planning an outside wedding can be scary. We had a big tent for the reception area, but it did dump rain on our uncovered ceremony! Everyone actually ended up having a lot of fun in the rain and my pictures look amazing. Have lots of umbrellas handy – because it saved me from ruining my dress, hair and makeup. We had a plan B – but it started raining during the ceremony… So we decided to go with the flow and it turned out awesome!
Because we chose to have our wedding outside in the middle of the woods, I decided on a rustic theme. My fiance and I had met in film school, so we added little elements such as cameras and movie clapboards. To my surprise, it went well with the barrels and mason jars! I also added some birds and some old books. I owned most of these items already. All of my other decor came from Michael’s and cost me less than $100. I made a ton of pallet signs for the venue. These added a lot to our theme and they were totally free. I had a lot of paper banners and lights, too.
We did burlap table runners, candles, and mason jars full of baby’s breath, purchased flowers from Costco for the bouquets and for accent flowers for tables, and just picked out all the flowers that worked with our wedding colors! My wedding colors were navy blue, marsala, and dusty rose. My girls dressed in navy blue dresses with bouquets that of dark red, light pink, and white with feathers. All of the bridesmaids bouquets are hand made. My bouquet and husband’s boutonniere was made by Woodbury Floral Design in Woodbury, CT.
My favorite detail about my wedding… I had my dream dress made by a friend for $300. Obviously, not everyone has access to something like this. I just really lucked out! I met Kelly Sirbola in high school, and I saw on facebook that she was making costumes for theater. She had never made a wedding dress, but I had a lot of faith in her. She makes beautiful dresses and all she had to do was hear my inspiration and make it white! After showing her a picture of my dream dress, it was done a few weeks later! I chose periwinkle blue lace-up oxfords from Modcloth ($50), stud earrings from Francesca’s Collections ($10),and a veil from Amazon ($10… seriously.) My whole wedding outfit cost under $400 and I felt beautiful.
For the reception, we rented tables, chairs, a tent, barrels, table clothes, and a large industrial-sized fan (life saver for dancing) from a local rental place for under $1,000. We wrapped lights around the tent (Amazon $100) and it looked beautiful! We didn’t have a seating chart. I view my wedding like a family picnic. People served themselves buffet style and sat wherever they wanted. We had our dinner catered from Villarina’s, an Italian Restaurant and our appetizers were from Costco along with the Beer & Wine.
Do whatever you want! It’s your day! Keep it simple. Overall, our wedding was super easy and beautiful. My advice to brides is to enjoy your engagement time and the time they are planning. Don’t stress! You will never get the time back and your wedding only lasts a handful of hours. Focus of what’s important – your marriage! Don’t worry about rain or something going wrong because the end of the day you are marrying your best friend, and that’s all that matters!
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THE CREATIVE TEAM
VENUE: Private Residence
BRIDE’S DRESS: Handmade by Kelly Sirbola
BRIDE’S SHOES: Restricted Shoes
BRIDESMAID’S DRESS: Mismatched/Multiple Stores
DJ: D.I.Y (iPod/Speakers/Spotify)
FLORAL DESIGN: Woodbury Floral Design
HAIR/MAKEUP: Wynter DePriest of Monarch Hair Co.
INVITATIONS: Adrian Isai Garcia
PHOTOGRAPHERS: Josiah & Steph Photography
VIDEOGRAPHER: Richard Sanborn
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