Broke-Ass Category: 5-10K Budget Weddings


When it came time to start checking out venues, I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing. You always hear horror stories about brides going through tons of viewings before they find the perfect location. Everything kind of needs to be put on hold until you snag a place, date and time. It’s kind of hard to plan any other details without being able to answer the four W’s (Who, What, When, Where).

So, where to start?  THE INTERNET!  It’s amazing the things you can find out with a Google search. Hipster moment here: I have always wanted to get married in a barn. Legit always. Where did 6-year-old Danielle have Barbie and Ken walking down the aisle? Heck yes, Ol’ MacDonald’s Farm y’all, complete with hay bales and cows. Suddenly, my wacky barn craving has caught on though, and they’re crazy expensive. One place I researched wanted $7000 … for a barn … with no food … or tables … or palm frond-wielding Cabana boys. What the crap?!

Search as I may, I couldn’t find a barn that was just right. They were all running about $2500 minimum. I had budgeted $5000 of my budget (half) for food, venue and ceremony. I wasn’t too eager to dump half of that just for a building with little or no extras. I mean, let’s be real, I’m a broke-ass bride on a serious budget. SIGH, oh well, so much for a barn wedding.

While venting my woes to one of my girls, she suggested I check out the Onondaga Parks Facilities. Her mom had just gone to a wedding at one of their places the past weekend and it was gorgeous. The zoo was also part of the park system, so I could even get married there!

I checked out their website, and lo, the heavens shined down upon my monitor and the angels sang. The prices. THE PRICES. *insert hallelujah chorus here* I could get married at the zoo or one of the three other lodges for about $750. WOOT! I jumped on the phone so fast I probably broke the sound barrier.


Pathway through Narnia to Arrowhead Lodge

I made appointments to see Arrowhead Lodge, Skyline Lodge, and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. I happen to be skeptical about the existence of love at first sight, however, Arrowhead was the first of the Onondaga Parks venues that I saw and I fell instantly in love with it. The walkway up was much prettier on the first viewing (but I forgot to take pictures), so this picture is showing the walkway in the height of this year’s drought. It has a Narnia-esque feel with a lamp post in the middle.


Back Patio at Arrowhead Lodge



Interior of Arrowhead Lodge

For $650 I got the facility, tables, chairs, exclusive use of the park, outdoor games, uplighting and patio furniture.  t’s GORGEOUS! I also love Brenda, the facility manager.  f you are in the Central New York area, I would HIGHLY recommend checking out the Onondaga Parks System. I loved Skyline as well and the zoo has its unique charm. They are both around $750 and those two have in-house catering. 

What about you, have you found a hidden gem of a venue?  SHARE THE LOVE YO!

  • 6/28

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewA few months ago, we had received some invitation samples from Minted and fell in love with their Delicate Dots design. I loved the extra elegance foil adds, and since we have a relatively short guest list, we decided to splurge on the invitations a little.

    We were finally able to get our order in this past weekend, and I can’t wait to receive them! My plan is to get burgundy paper or ribbon to use as bands, wrap some of the same jute string around them as I used for our Save the Dates, then use a wax seal to hold the string in place. We’ll see how DIY I’m feeling, given my overly ambitious Save the Date fiasco. They turned out great, I just spent way more time and effort on them than I had intended.


    What’s perfect about this design is the kraft paper pulls in some rustic elements, the gold and lowercase type font feels a little vintage, and the modern calligraphy and gold brings out the industrial elements. I don’t think that you could say our wedding is rustic, or vintage, or industrial — it’s very much a mix of our favorite elements of each. These are a perfect indication of what guests can expect at our wedding, and I love that!

    Do you feel like your invitations were a good representation of what guests can expect from your wedding?

  • 6/14

    Four months to go, BABs! I’ve always assumed I’d be one of those brides who was impossibly low-key and go-with-the-flow. And that has remained true for most things, but I’m finally starting to feel like things are creeping up on me; family and vendors are needing more and more details and decisions that haven’t been finalized. Within the last two weeks or so questions from…

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    Photograph available from Etsy seller StovallPhotography Whelp, BABs. Turns out the hotel contract that I raved about in my previous post got pulled. Last week Monday, I gleefully took my lunch hour to walk up to the hotel to drop our contract off. The hotel was more beautiful than the pictures. The historic look of the hotel would be perfect for our photos. I ended…

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    Photo available from Etsy seller KevinKlimaPhoto Hotels have been my largest vendor disappointment to date. Last year, I was really excited to learn that a brand new, boutique-style hotel was being built directly across the street from our ceremony location and venue. Couldn’t get much easier than that, right? I knew it would be a bit pricey, but was prepared to shell out some cash…

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    It’s taking everything I have to not call my bridal shop and check up on the ETA of my dress. I ordered it in November, and they said it would be in, in “April.” So vague. I’ve been waiting patiently, Googling the phone number of every ignored political robo-call, just in case they called ... and didn't leave a message for some reason. You never…

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    Something that we value is shopping local or independent retailers when we’re able. We love supporting the Milwaukee economy and I’ve sort of made it a personal wedding mission. Obviously, most people’s wedding photographers or florists are local, but I thought I’d share a rundown of how we’re supporting local or other independent vendors elsewhere. Dress: While Maggie Sottero is an international designer, I was…

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    BABs, can you believe it?! It’s officially been a year since we got engaged. Between wedding fervor, busy summers and the craziness of the holidays, I feel like it’s totally flown by. It has also occurred to me that I haven’t shared the story of how we got engaged! The whole week leading up to our engagement, I was trying to nail down plans for…

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    It’s been really nice to take a breather from wedding planning for a bit. I feel like we’ve really stayed ahead of the game by scheduling roughly a task a month or so. It has always been a goal to make planning as stress-free as possible. I never wanted to look back at this experience as a frustrating or stressful time. It helps that my…

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