Our DIY Wedding on a Budget

When my husband and I began planning our wedding, the first concern was money.  We have large families, and most of them had to travel to attend the wedding.  But, being the budget-er and do-it-yourself-er that I am, we made it happen.  Our wedding, which had about 130 guests and was held in Saratoga Springs, NY was made a reality for about $8,000 total, including our stay-cation honeymoon and an open bar.  Here's some things we did to cut down on costs:
The Dress

I went into dress shopping with no real idea of what I wanted, so off I went with most of my bridesmaids, my 3-month old son, my mom and mother-in-law.  I tried on a bunch, but (probably because I had just had a baby) a lot of them looked maternity and I didn't like any of them.  Except one, which when I walked out of the dressing room and in front of my clan, it was an overwhelming SAY YES TO THAT DRESS!  I was lucky enough to find my dress on the first stab at dress shopping; a one-of-kind dress, no less.  There weren't even any photos of it anywhere.  Best part: to my utter shock and surprise the price tag read $99. 

I wanted to be sure my bridesmaids didn't need to spend a fortune for our wedding, so I gave them a color, and let them choose what they wanted to wear.  Because we had a fall wedding, it was perfect, because the dresses reminded me of leaves changing in the fall.  For their gifts, I wanted them to personal, so I made each one a crocheted clutch.  Even if you don't crochet, there are so many awesome options on Etsy.  (if you want some just like these, visit my shop Crooked By Design and just send me a message!)

Date and Location
When it came time to set a date, my husband immediately told me he wanted a fall wedding, specifically on 11.11.11.  To our surprise, the venue was available and we booked right away.  Our reception was at the Saratoga Elks Lodge, and the menu was a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings.  Of all the things at our wedding, the delicious food was the most talked about part.  It was amazing. 

Though we were on a tight budget, we wanted to treat our guests to an open bar, since most of them were traveling and had the added cost of hotels.  I didn't think it was going to be budget-friendly, but it was only $8 per person the entire reception.  This did include even children, who could get sodas, but still, it was an amazing deal. 

We went with Vistaprint for both save the dates and formal invitations.  They were a great deal, and once we purchased the dates, we received a coupon 20% our next order, which was used on our invitations. 

Center Pieces
Center pieces are a very DIY friendly part of the wedding.  We made ours from mason jars, filled them with frozen cranberries (which were in season and super cheap) and then added a plain white candle in them.  Around we put some leave printed ribbon (about a dollar for a roll) and created a wreath like bed for the jar sit on.  They were easy and quick to assemble and looked great.  To add a little to it, we put ceramic pumpkins on each table too. 
One of my favorite parts were the table numbers.  We had my brother take photos of us holding up a chalk board sign and made a different one for each table.  We loved the idea of our guests seeing personal photos of us together and we had fun with the editing, making some very saturated and some black and white.  To assemble them, all we did was cut a slit on a wine bottle cork and placed it on the table.

Arguably one of the most expensive parts of a wedding, I was determined not to spend a fortune on them.  One of my bridesmaids gave the idea to make a brooch bouquet and it came out wonderful.  Ok, truth be told, I had absolutely nothing to do with it since my husband surprised me by staying up one night and assembling it for me. 

You're probably wondering where we got all the brooches, and that's the best part! For my bridal shower, the invitations asked each guest to bring a brooch and we made it from all the ones we received.  At the reception we set it in a vase and it made for a great talking piece for our guests.  One of my favorite parts about it was that I will always have it.

For the bridesmaids bouquets, we went to the grocery store the day before the wedding and got a bunch of bouquets (I believe we spent $40 total for six bridesmaids and both moms) and had them assemble their own using all different flowers while they waited to get their hair done.  Add some ribbon and ka-bam! Bouquets on a budget. 

The Cake
I'm gluten free so we were unsure what to do about the cake situation.  We opted to do a cupcake tower for our guests and a small gluten free one for us.  This cut way down on cost and people loved them!  The cupcakes were $90 total and the gluten free cake was about $40 and made by the amazing Cake

Another huge cost is a photographer.  We were so lucky to have an amazing photographer friend who helped us out and saved us tons, but there are other ways to save too.  A lot of new photographers are looking for experience and are fabulous, so look into college students studying photography or friends who are great with a camera.  Having someone who knows you take the photos makes them that much more personal.

The Stay-cation
We had a one year old to think about when planning our honeymoon and I wasn't ready to leave him for a prolonged period of time.  Also, we had recently moved to Saratoga and were still getting to know the amazing town, so we decided a staycation was just what we needed.  We had the grandparents stay with Atticus and we stayed at the amazing Gideon Putnam Resort.
Because we didn't have to pay for airfare or travel, we explored our new city and went to all the restaurants we otherwise wouldn't have been able to go to and indulged in a couples massage at the spa.  We went bowling and saw a movie.  It was a great few days away!


  1. Yeah, being an event planner it’s very important that one must organize any event in client’s budget and try to save his money. Do you agree with my point or not? Anyways, you did a superb job and are really awesome at organizing things.


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