Broke-Ass Tag: Budget Wedding


Affiliate Disclaimer NewReal Bride Lucinda married Chris under sunny skies and amidst a gorgeous northern Massachusetts backdrop in a classic wedding celebration. After DIYing some seriously huge aspects of her wedding — including her wedding dress, veil, signage and paper flowers for decor — the couple celebrated with family and friends while the talented Maria Burton Photography captured their day. In a typically super expensive wedding market (about $40K on average), this couple pulled off a gorgeous, classy and fun celebration for about $15,000.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris -- Family Photo || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Name: Lucinda and Christopher
Occupation: Marketing (L), Real Estate (C)
Wedding location: Dracut, MA
Wedding Date: 6/4/2016
Budget: $15k
Number of Guests: 55

How would you describe your wedding?

For our wedding, we incorporated things into the day that make us happy and had a personal feel to them — we did not want our wedding to look anything like those cookie-cutter weddings you’d see on The Knot! It was small, with only close friends and family, and it was nice to be able to talk to everyone during the evening and have the whole gang on he dance floor at once.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris -- Bridal Party Portrait || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris -- Couple Portrait || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

What was your favorite part of your wedding?

Our DIY photo booth (or, “faux-to” booth) was a fun element we decided to make at the last minute with some funky fabric and a PVC piping frame. Our friends provided the props for silly pictures, and the mylar balloon banner added a whimsical touch. Plus, having it right in the foyer when you walked in to the reception to pick up your seating card set the tone for the evening and made it easy for people to grab some pictures away from the dance floor and dining room.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris -- Guests pose in photo booth || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris -- couple poses in photo booth || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

What did you splurge on?

The balloons were the most expensive part of our wedding decorations (about $600) but worth it (despite the fact that we went through a lot of difficulties with the company we worked with and had to fix the balloons on our wedding day. I’m not listing the vendor because I really don’t recommend them). It was one of those unexpected elements that surprised our guests. I mean, who has balloons at a wedding?!

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - Portrait with Balloon || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

We also had a harpist for the ceremony and cocktail hour! It was a nice touch that added a personal feeling with the music we selected, lots of Beatles and classic rock tunes — the kind of music we both like listening to.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - Harpist || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Other than my wedding dress, the photography was the most important part of our wedding and we were willing to spend a good chunk of our budget on photography — after all, our photos would commemorate our big day and would be what our family would look at in future years and generations to come. We were lucky enough to find a wonderful photographer that fit in our budget and exceeded our expectations in every way for our engagement and wedding photos.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - bridal portrait || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

What did you save on?

My dress! Because I made my dress from scratch, I saved a ton instead of finding one at a bridal shop, and it was exactly what I wanted.

We bought the bouquets and boutonnieres at Wegman’s (a grocery store chain in the mid-atlantic and northeast) instead of a traditional florist for the bouquets and we DIY’d our centerpieces — that was a huge savings, flowers can be so expensive and we didn’t want to spend that kind of money. Using big blooms like hydrangeas instead of a mix of flowers cut down on the expense, and I like how dramatic and modern one single type of flower looked. Wegman’s put the bouquets together for us and wrapped each one with ivory ribbon. For reference, my bouquet was $35 with six blooms and the bridesmaid bouquets were $25 with three blooms.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - bridesmaids with bouquets || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Instead of finding someone specializing in bridal hair, my hairdresser who has cut and colored my hair over the last eight years did my updo as well as my sister’s hair. I also found my makeup artist at Sephora last summer when I went in to get my makeup done for an event. I liked her work so much I hired her to do makeup for the entire wedding party. These were much more economical choices than finding someone who does only bridal hair and makeup, because as soon as you mutter the word “wedding,” there’s immediately an upcharge with so many vendors.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - first dance || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect?
Nope! It was exactly how we wanted it.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - rings || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - shoe decals || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

What was your biggest challenge in planning?

Thinking that we needed a theme and stressing out how to incorporate all of the elements of the wedding into the theme. We ended up saying screw it, you don’t need to have a theme for your wedding! Once we let go of that idea, figuring out how to decorate etc. became a lot easier.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - bride and father walking down the aisle || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - cake table || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself?

Things aren’t always going to turn out how you hope, but that’s ok, you just have to roll with the punches. And lean on your friends to help you with planning and DIYing — they’re really willing to pitch in and give you a hand!

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - bridesmaids enjoying themselves || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - dance floor revelry || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - bride's family || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - groomsmen dancing || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

1. Our photographer was awesome =- hands down.
2. The food — everyone raved about the hors d’oeuvres and we actually got to eat our yummy dinner and cake!
3. Getting ready with my gals before the wedding and being silly in our matching robes
4. Dancing with all of our friends and family
5. The coordinator at our venue was a doll to work with and kept everything on track, even when we had an unexpected guest show up at our wedding!

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - bride and bridesmaids getting ready || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - groomsmen pose || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Top 5 least favorite?

1. I wish I could have said “bye” to all of our guests as they were leaving and to have thanked them all for coming at the end of the evening — we were having too much fun on the dance floor
2. Our balloon vendor was downright awful — it was easy for them to take our money, but challenging to work with and nail down the details such as when our balloons were actually going to be delivered on our wedding day and how they were going to be set up. Do not recommend!!
3. It would have been nice to spend more time with some of my relatives that I don’t get to see very often
4. We didn’t get to hear much of the harp music since it was played before our ceremony and during cocktail hour when we were off taking pictures. It’s ok, it was more for our guests but it would have been nice to hear more than we did
5. Feeling like you’re getting pulled around on a tight schedule — everyone wants a piece of you on your wedding day

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - custom guest book poster || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?

“Your wedding is more about your guests than it is about you.” Umm, to a degree, but not really. Last time I checked, it was about us celebrating a lifelong commitment to each other and sharing in that with our guests. Yes, we wanted to make sure that we picked out tasty food that would cater to everyone’s preferences and we were able to swing having an open bar for cocktail hour, but other than that, remembering that the day was about our commitment to each other helped to keep things in check as we went through the planning process, trying to figure out what to do.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - sweetheart table || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

The best?

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint” — credit to my sister on that one the night before the wedding, regarding how to treat marriage and the issues that come up.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - bridesmaids during ceremony || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - groom portrait || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Any other bits of wisdom?

Don’t let anyone make you think or feel that you need to do things a certain way or have your wedding be a certain way. It’s your wedding, do what you want. And if you’re afraid that people are going to think poorly of your decisions, then they aren’t really your true friends or care about you.

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - groomsmen goofing around || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - newlyweds dancing

Budget breakdown?

Ceremony – free, our JP was a family friend
Reception – $7,800
Decorations – $1,000
Flowers – $150
Harpist – $250
DJ – $895
Photography – $1,800
Stationery – $350 (including invitations and magnetic Save the Dates)
Wedding Dress – $800 (including my travel to NYC and hotel while I hunted for dress fabric)
Shoes – $80
Veil – $10
Jewelry and accessories – $192
Hair – $75
Makeup – $350 (including makeup for my bridesmaids, part of my gift to them)
Groom’s suit – his own
Groom’s shoes – $75
Gifts – $400 (ties and nips for the groomsmen, robes and clutches for the bridesmaids)

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - newlywed portrait || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography

Real Wedding: Lucinda & Chris - newlywed portrait || Photo credit: Maria Burton Photography


Venue – Four Oaks Country Club
Photography – Maria Burton Photography
Cake – Frederick’s Pastries
Wedding Dress – made by me!
Jewelry – Sarah Walsh Bridal
Invitations – Minted
Save the Dates – Basic Invite
Harpist – Mary King
DJ – Modern Entertainment
Bouquets – Wegman’s
“Guest Book” Poster – Miss Design Berry

Congratulations, Chris & Lucinda and many happy years to you!

  • 6/27

    Since my wedding is a year away, I have not actively started the DIYing that I plan to do. I have also experienced my fair share of being totally non-committal in choosing our wedding venue. While on vacation, we found one, and it is gorgeous. It’s n an island in Georgia, overlooking my favorite thing on Earth: the ocean. The ceremony will take place under a 500-year-old live oak tree referred to by the locals as “the tree of love.” I found a great deal. They have my name penciled in for the date, and I have the contract for us to sign and return (with payment) within two weeks in order confirm the booking.

    Real bride heather_post

    My fiance has been seemingly excited, and I am, too about being his wife. While I know how much weddings can cost, and I know that the price that I have managed to work for this one day is amazing, I have been literally sick with anxiety about the costs we are incurring for literally four hours. I found ways to slash the costs by eliminating florists, making my own centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres, getting a cake from Publix, etc.

    But that contract, unsigned, in my inbox is giving me night terrors. I want a day with him to celebrate us becoming husband and wife. I want to wear the dress and have our family and close friends there, I want us to celebrate the absolutely rock solid relationship that we have built. None of the second thoughts that I am about to share with all of the Interwebs have a single thing to do with being married. It has solely to do with feeling like we are wasting money on one day, when our daily lives would be so much less worrisome with that $7,500 dollars sitting in an emergency fund, or a Roth IRA.

    Here are the ways that I wish I was more of a girl who could be frivolous:

    Instead of the value in the ocean breeze and sunset creating the ultimate backdrop for amazing memories: I see that if my daughter fell and broke her arm, we would have the deductible money.

    Instead of seeing the cake with our adorable, carefully chosen, and most likely, nerdy topper: I see an unexpected car repair bill that could be easily covered by money in our savings account.

    My mind is reeling with all of these other uses for the money he and I work so very hard to earn. I want all of these elaborate wedding things, but in the end, do we need them?

    I guess one downfall of growing up kind of poor, being a single mother in the great recession (where I at some points had three part-time jobs because full time work was just not out there), is that its very hard for me to spend money. So last night, I said something. We talked. For a long time. Turns out, he feels the same way and never mentioned it because he thought that by going along with it, he was making me happy.

    So, here’s what we decided. We are not doing it that way. We are going to figure out something else. He and I will use the money to improve our every day lives, not one day of our life. We are going to keep the same day that we chose and figure out something that will be laidback and far less money. In the end, all that matters to him and to me, is that he is my husband, and I am his wife.

  • 5/20

    Etsy TheAngelPaperie These are My People Quote on Canvas

    Quote on Canvas available from Etsy seller TheAngelPaperie I recently re-shared a post I wrote last year about fear-mongering, shaming and budget weddings because I've been noticing a trend that concerns me -- not necessarily among our readers, but more among wedding businesses. Recently on BAB's Facebook page, one of our advertisers was harassed and bullied due to the nature of her business. See, she…

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    Our first official wedding correspondence is going out in a week or two (as soon as I get around to DIY-ing them) -- our Save the Dates. Everyone we’re close to knows that we’re getting married. It shouldn’t be a secret or surprise to anyone when they arrive in the mail. It’s also not as if our wedding and getting married doesn’t already seem real;…

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    Sneak peek pic from Julie and Matt's wedding

    One of our sneak peek photos provided by SK Photography One of the things I was most excited for as my wedding approached was the free time I was sure I’d have once everything was said and done. For the past four years, any time Matt and I weren’t at least trying to think about the wedding, I felt an overwhelming amount of guilt. In…

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  • 11/20

    The Broke-Ass Bride's 2015 Gift Guide For the Libation Lover

    Hey Broke-Asses! It's that time of year again, where instead of Five for Friday, we'll be compiling some seriously rad gift guides for y'all. From the fun to the funny, the quirky to the practical and all of the budget ideas in between, I've scoured the Interwebz to find those perfect gifts for someone -- or everyone! -- on your list. We all have that one…

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    As a brand new Real Bride Contributor, I thought I’d share with you how I became a Broke-Ass Bride in the first place. As a teenager, I worked at a hobby shop with an enormous magazine section covering every possible topic you can think of. I would cautiously walk past the bridal section but wouldn’t dare flip through any for some inane fear of jinxing…

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    Hi BABs! Apologies for being AWOL – February and March went by in a blur! As we got closer to our Pi Day wedding, I felt a lot of stress and pressure coming at me from all sides. Despite my now-husband’s best efforts to calm me down, I worried a lot about our wedding and making sure everything was perfect. I know, I know, it’s…

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  • 1/5

    Heeeyyyoooo! Welcome to 2015, BABs! For those newbie Broke-Ass Brides, welcome to the party! For those of you who've been partying for a minute, yay! You made it through the hols, hopefully with your sanity fully functional. Regardless, darling, you're engaged. And that means you've got some biiiig things coming your way. And we're here to help! A great place to start would be here:…

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