Broke-Ass Tag: Handmade Wedding Dress


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!

  • 3/9

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewLucinda's wedding dress update
    As you an tell by the title, I’m now three months away from the big day — yikes! Fortunately, my dress is really coming along and I feel like I’m in a good place with the construction — all of the pieces are sewn together and I actually have something to physically wear down the aisle, whew. This dress has not been without its hiccups so far, which I guess is to be expected when using a sewing pattern with no instructions (!!!) and using slippery fabrics that need special care and handling when working with them.

    The element I’m the most happy with is the belt, something I wasn’t planning on making for my dress originally. When I tried the dress on after I sewed the zipper in, it just seemed like it needed a little more “oomph” and definition at the waist. I looked for some belts on BHLDN to get an idea of something I liked and landed on this floral belt, but wasn’t exactly thrilled at the price. Five hundred dollars, are you kidding me? With a little resourcefulness and my leftover dress fabric, I found the original company that made the flowers for the BHLDN belt, sent them my fabric and a few days later had my own version that perfectly matched my dress and at the size I needed, for a fraction of the price. BOOM!

    Enough chatter, here’s a little video I put together of my dress so you can see what the whole thing looks like so far – I still have a lot of work ahead of me with all of the hemming and hand-sewing the lining, but I’m happy with how far I’ve come.