Broke-Ass Tag: non-floral bouquet


Your “I dos” are a moment of gravitas, a quiet but weighty culmination of your decision to spend your lives together. In honor of their serious decision to make this commitment, Destry and Lanny decided on a similarly intimate wedding ceremony and reception: 40 invited guests, immediate family and the closest of friends. By this decision, they were able to spend more time with the community that has watched them sow the seeds of their relationship, helped them nurture it, and witnessed it flourish.

Names: Destry & Lanny

Occupations: Destry is a design drafter,  Lanny was an administrator for a private travel company but currently attends business school full-time

Wedding location: Kingston, Idaho

Wedding date: July 27, 2013

Wedding budget: My crazyperson spreadsheet tells me our final total was $4,300-ish.  We didn’t give ourselves a hard maximum. Instead, we decided to spend by priority. Neither of us gave two hoots about centerpieces or expensive favors; instead we cared about food and photos and got INCREDIBLY lucky on both counts. While we spent a lot less than the national average, we still feel like we spent an enormous amount of money for one day.

Approximate guest count: We limited our invited guests to 40, but counted on 35 attending for sure. We only invited our immediate family members and very close friends. Destry is the oldest of five, so you can imagine that it adds up quickly.

How would you describe your wedding? At the risk of sounding cliché and ridiculous, I’d describe it as a balance of country, rustic and vintage.  We kept it subtle though. We didn’t want guests to feel like we were beating them over the head with kitschy crap. We didn’t have time or energy to invest in kitschy crap either.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? It’s a cliché, but it’s so true: It’s really hard to choose one favorite.  I would say that driving from our hotel to the venue together was so special and important to me. We both had a chance to be alone together, in our own car, just being together, quietly. Because we knew it was going to be such an emotional day, that short drive was so important to both of us.

We were lucky to have an equally meaningful moment alone at the end of the night after everyone had left. The sky was inky black with bright stars and the barn was lit up with twinkling lights woven throughout the Virginia creeper that covered its entire frame; we stood silently at the top of the hill wrapped in a blanket, looking down upon the scenery and reflected on the deluge of pure love we’d experienced that day.

What did you splurge on? Without a doubt, the food and furniture were our most costly expenses. Our wedding was held over 60 miles from our home in Spokane. So, we felt it was important that we provide a really solid meal to our nearest and dearest if we were going to drag them to a mountain farm in the middle of the woods. Have you ever been to a wedding on a Saturday at 6:30 p.m., only to find that it’s a cake and punch reception in the church gym/basement/lobby?  Those are basically the worst (in my opinion) and we were against that at all costs.

Additionally, we really scored with a venue that embodied everything we hoped for and wanted to provide some aesthetic continuity by using furniture that didn’t clash. We found an up-and-coming furniture rental company out of North Idaho who provided some stunning pieces for us.

Also, I know it’s silly, but I totally went all out with my hair as well. I was pretty close with my hairdresser at that time, but after her two previous attempts at formal styles left me crying in the car we decided to go another direction. My hair is fairly long, but I wanted it longer for the wedding, so she offered to pick me up some extensions with her discount and color them to match my hair.  After several unanswered texts and voicemails left me feeling like a jealous ex-girlfriend, I bought the hair myself and scheduled an appointment with someone else. I ended up spending a small fortune on the whole ordeal, but it felt worth it: $200 for the hair, $70 to color it, $50 for the trial and $100 for the wedding day style. (I feel compelled to note that I’m still pissed that I spent as much as I did on the day of the wedding because the salon’s active price list shows the trial hair as included in the total price.)

So, what became of my former stylist?  Well, I finally heard from her three days before the wedding letting me know that she had blocked out the entire day and we could go get hair, color and style it starting at 9 a.m. A note about that – the wedding took place on a Saturday, and the hair extension shop isn’t open on weekends, so despite the sketchy billing practices, I am glad I opted out. 

What did you save on? Ev-er-y thing. We saved by doing our own flower arrangements – actually, we didn’t use flowers at all. We bought raw cotton online and put everything together. The allergic reaction was totally worth it.  Picture, if you will, my then-fiancé and I in our non-air conditioned kitchen, trimming and cleaning raw cotton bolls. We spent countless hours picking dried leaves out of the cotton so we could spend ADDITIONAL countless hours stringing each one just-so on jute twine and arranging them into our respective bouquet and boutonniere.

I had intended to splurge a little and treat myself to a morning of girly pampering, however that never materialized. I scheduled a makeup trial a few weeks prior to the wedding, but I didn’t feel that this woman was listening to me. I’m 30, and I don’t think it’s in my best interest to try out a new personal style on my wedding day. I’m old enough to understand what looks good and what works for me. Since I’m a jeans and hoodie kind of girl, you can imagine how hard it was to mask my disappointment when she revealed my potential makeup.  Winged eyeliner and I are never going to be best friends, nor do I have aspirations of acquainting myself with berry lip stain. Adding insult to injury, I paid $75 (after tipping, because I’m a doormat) for a look I couldn’t wait to wash off my face.

Ultimately, I didn’t feel that she was especially honest or talented so I lied and canceled my appointment about a week before the wedding, citing something about the cost being budget-prohibitive. The (supposedly) agreed-upon rate was $100 for both sessions, but I had already effectively paid the bulk of it after listening to her talk shit about everyone else in town while she applied makeup that didn’t match me or my coloring. After the rage-tears subsided, I went to Nordstrom (alone) and met with the only kind a makeup artist. I showed him a photo and he whipped my look into shape, directing me to all the right products and showed me how to recreate his work at home. I hugged him, and practiced nearly a dozen times before the wedding and I’m thrilled with my choice to do my own.

The piece-de-resistance, though, were our photographers. We happened to have two very close friends who are not only incredibly talented, but provided their services for free. Without their generosity, as every bride knows, we would have EASILY doubled our expenses.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Looking back, I would have asked more people to help.  We would have had a little more fun during the planning stages if we’d allowed more folks help us out from the beginning. Instead, we stubbornly refused offers for help until much closer to the wedding date. That cotton-stringing party I mentioned above?  Ultimately, my in-laws came to the rescue with four additional hands for stringing.

I can’t quite remember why we were so secretive about planning, but I suspect part of it had to do with a bizarre idea that someone might steal our ideas? Weddings make people crazy. Like, crazy-crazy.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? 1.) Hurt feelings. If I had known beforehand, how personally other people would take our wedding choices, we might have eloped. We received unsolicited suggestions, advice, and requests for invitations for people we’d never conceive of including in our celebration. It was an ongoing challenge of (and testament to) our patience, kindness, and ability to tolerate other people.

2.) Money. It would be so much easier to throw everything on a credit card, but that’s not our style for anything we do in life. We felt incredibly fortunate to have been in such a position that allowed us to do everything we needed and wanted to do on our own terms. Still, having more money might have abbreviated our timeline considerably but we don’t regret any of it.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) have a contingency plan. ALWAYS. For good measure, have three or four backups. We picked out a favorite restaurant to host our rehearsal dinner and made reservations to hold the date (I can’t remember if we paid a fee or not). A month before our wedding, my best friend drove up from Portland, Oregon, for a bridal shower hosted by my mother-in-law and I had hoped to take her to dinner there … as we were walking up to the building, it dawned on me that they weren’t just not open, they were closed. Like, for good.

Obviously, we ate elsewhere, but I was determined to keep from getting ruffled by the situation. Later in the week, my fiancé and I ate at another restaurant that had recently undergone a major renovation and appeared to be a great place to host our rehearsal – so we booked it on the spot.

By sheer bad luck, we were forced to resume our search on June 17 (about a month before our wedding) because our second choice BURNED DOWN. I crowdsourced suggestions on Facebook and had friends beg me to stop ruining Spokane with our wedding. It was about this point that I stopped giving a shit about it but it turned out to be better than I ever could’ve imagined. A family-owned bar/café where we spend Saturday nights playing trivia stepped up to bat and hit a grand slam (those are the same sport, right?) with how they handled our dinner. We told them how much we could spend, the headcount, and offered a vague suggestion of the kind of food we liked. It was such a success that our families are still raving about it to this day.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? It was a day full of love and laughter and ridiculously delicious food. Because we chose to invite literally nobody outside our immediate families and our closest friends it made the day so ridiculously special, I still struggle to elucidate my feelings.

Top 5 least favorite? We had a lot of people offer to help or provide something (mostly food) and we were far more comfortable hiring people to do that job for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) sanitation. Remember, if you will, the comment above where I mention that the venue and our hometown are 60 miles apart – now imagine chicken salad, pasta salad, potato salad and basically mayonnaise-based anything in someone’s back seat for nigh on two hours. Sounds like fun, right? Sorry to let the booster club down, but I’m not trying to battle diarrhea on my wedding night. For the sake of feelings, let’s just say it’s because I want everyone to have a good time and avoid being unfairly labeled bridezilla, okay?

One of my photographers is married to a former marine and bodyguard. Why on earth is that even remotely of consequence? Because my husband’s ex-girlfriend (one he’d broken up with before we even met; IN 2002.) has a super-adorable habit of making her presence known. Neither of us expected anything especially dramatic, but he studied photos as a precaution and kept her out of sight when she did, in fact, show up.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “Just relax! It’ll all come together” – Everyone who ever planned a wedding but experienced a subsequently immediate Telenovela-style bout with amnesia. Nothing ever just “comes together” and anyone who suggests otherwise probably didn’t have a DIY wedding if you know what I mean. Are you fucking kidding me? RELAX? I am relaxed (sort of), but I am still allowed to give like, ONE shit about how this day goes down. Will I remember all of it, not likely; but I don’t expect to.

The best? From my older sister, more than 10 years ago: “Wedding planning is so stupid. It is literally the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever done.” Having done it, I can confirm that she’s right. The wedding itself wasn’t stupid, but the kinds of things that consumed my thoughts throughout the planning process were so cosmically insignificant; but they felt so god damned essential in the moment.

Second best was between my husband and me – it became kind of a mantra between the two of us: “This is our party; our wedding is not our marriage.”

Any other bits of wisdom? Just Relaaaaax!  Okay, I’m kidding … kind of. It’s easy to get upset and overwhelmed when people overstep boundaries, but standing up for yourself is the best thing you can do when you’re planning your wedding. I desperately wish I had just told a few vendors to piss off directly instead of skirting the issue as if their feelings were supposed to take precedent above mine. I wish I had been more assertive and direct when people acted in a way that made me feel like they were taking advantage of an emotionally charged event. But there’s nothing I can do about it now. (Except write some passive-aggressive Yelp! reviews.)

Oh, and don’t you dare listen to anyone who has the nerve to tell you that you must spend more or else your wedding won’t be “everything you ever dreamed of.” Your wedding will be everything you dreamed of because you’re marrying someone you love. Anyone who suggests otherwise is presumptuous, snide and condescending.


Budget breakdown


























    TOTAL:  $4335.42

Wedding vendors and links:

Venue: French Gulch Farm and Garden, Kingston, ID

Furniture Rental: The Attic, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Catering: Couple of Chefs, Spokane, WA

Attire: Bride – David’s Bridal, Spokane, WA Groom – Duchess Clothier, Portland, OR

Hair: Bride – Douglass McCoy, Spokane, WA Groom – Porter’s Barber Shop, Spokane, WA

Bride’s Makeup: BRIDE!

Flowers, bouquet and decor: Bride and Groom designed all decor using dried wildflowers and cotton purchased online. Tabletop arrangements were styled by Groom’s brother and sister in law. (Bride made bouquet, Groom made his own boutonniere)

Rings: Bride (same ring, except blue) Groom

iTunes, operated by Groom’s brother

Designed Online, Printed at Home (We purchased the full suite; including save the dates, thank you cards, and custom map)

Photographers: Andrew Callaci (Portland) and Nicole Varnell (Spokane)

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    Hope everyone’s 2011 is starting out with a bang and lots of throwing confetti!  So excited to share this little charm of wedding with you all!

    Lilia and Lou both come from enormous families and while the thought of eloping had surfaced, they decided they still wanted to surround themselves with 175 loved ones with a wedding.  Lilia, the bride was kind enough to share some details:

    “We spent more than we planned on Lou’s suit. Since my mom made my dress, it was a perfect fit and I felt awesome in it. Lou has very particular taste and department store suits just weren’t fitting right. I felt that he should be able to feel just as smashing as I did in my wedding outfit so we bought a brand new suit for him from Banana Republic.”

    “We didn’t do any fresh flowers. Instead, I used some beautiful silk fabric that my mother had in her collection, buttons and a die cut machine to make the bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages. It was labor intensive but it saved us a LOT of money. I probably spent about $300 in supplies. With nine (yes, nine!) bridesmaids, I can’t imagine what our flower costs would have been! Plus, I think it made our wedding really unique.”

    Seed paper escort cards/favors made by cousin of the bride!

    “We saved big on the flowers, my dress and the decorations. My mother is so talented and I’m quite crafty so I figured we could just use our creativity to make things look great rather than spend a fortune on fresh flower centerpieces and arrangements. I think it translated well — there was a lot of DIY at our wedding and it offered a unique look and I really think the guests understood that many loving hands went into this event.  All tissue paper pom pom decorations were made by bridesmaids (pom poms were our main decor and part of the centerpieces).

    We relied heavily on our friends and family to help put this thing together. My mother made my dress and the neckties. My bridesmaids made the tissue paper pom poms. His musician friends provided BEAUTIFUL sound and music throughout the night. My maid of honor, a pastry chef, baked our cake. My aunts crocheted and knitted wraps for the bridesmaids. A family friend gave us free dance lessons. My cousins made the escort cards and table numbers. The day of the wedding, all of our out of town guests arrived early and decorated the place.

    In the end, I think everyone took some ownership over what happened that day.

    It wasn’t just OUR day… it belonged to everyone who was there!”

    “Our venue had in-house catering and we chose a unique menu — all vegetarian. Initially, some of our family members were concerned but the Italian dinner buffet was delicious and it seemed like everyone was pleased. It actually saved us a bundle because we used the fact that we were going with a vegetarian menu as our bargaining point and got the cost down to $18 per person.”

    Cake and cupcakes were made by Maid of Honor (she’s a pastry chef) and the cupcake tower was made by the brother of the bride.

    “We splurged on the bar. At first, we thought that we would do a cash bar but after saving so much money with all of the DIY projects, we reconsidered. Plus, I kept reading in all the bride magazines that it’s considered rude not to provide drinks. We counted up how many drinkers we had and allotted the cost of 3.5 drinks per drinker. The venue allowed us to pay for drinks up to that amount which worked out great — our guests enjoyed complimentary beer and wine all night. And we decided to include a champagne toast because it didn’t feel right not to have one (although the venue didn’t serve it on time so we sort of lost out on that one…bummer).  And our other splurge was the photo booth. It was 100% a luxury item but MAN, it was worth it! Everyone climbed in and took goofy photos all night. It was a huge hit!”

    Memorable moments? Too many to describe! Everything was such a blur… my mother looked amazing. One of our guests was a dog… in a tuxedo. Lou’s parents cut a rug on the dance floor. The families and bridal party did a group tequila shot. Our photographers — could they be more amazing?!?! My three older brothers gave me tear-filled hugs after the ceremony. My dad and I had a blast when we danced. As soon as the DJ started spinning, our guests made a soul train on the dance floor. The way Lou looked at me when he first saw me…he didn’t take his eyes off me all night. And, someone took a photo of their butt in the photobooth! Ha! What a night.”

    “We saved HUGE on our music as well. Lou is a musician so we called in a few favors from friends. We had a live pianist for the ceremony, a live violinist for the cocktail hour, a professional audio engineer, and a tremendous DJ for the reception. Since they were friends of ours, they all offered to do it for free or at a super discount.

    We did the thing that everyone says not to do and didn’t have a strict budget. That said, we tried extremely hard to save in every way that we could. We ended up spending 21k. That’s a lot of money. But, with such a large guest list, we feel like we got a LOT of wedding for what we spent!

    What would I have done differently? I think I should have negotiated more on a few things with the venue. I always feel too guilty to barter effectively. And, I wish we had hired a coordinator-type person for the entire evening. We had someone with us for the ceremony and cocktail  hour but I felt like the reception fell apart without someone directing things — one of my bridesmaids had to step in, and I wish she hadn’t had to spend the evening doing that. Our venue, while beautiful, was not very helpful (and was downright problematic at some points during the night).

    Loved Lilia’s advice to all those planning weddings now:

    “Use your creativity and the talents of friends and family. Everyone has a talent and usually they’re willing to lend a hand.
    Look for alternatives. People looked at me like I was nuts when I explained what I was doing with the flowers. And some were horrified that we didn’t offer meat at our wedding. But on the day-of, it all came together and people thought the non-traditional parts of our wedding were great! We used alternatives to save money but it turned out that it made our wedding details more memorable.  Let people help you. It’s a little frightening to involve others in the planning process and I did end up compromising on some things but, overall, our wedding was a team effort and I think it made it all the more special.”

    And here’s the budget breakdown:

    with 175 guests: total cost $21,450

    Venue (includes food and alcohol): $12,000

    Wedding dress & Groom’s suit: $1000

    Flowers and decorations: $600

    Music: $800

    Transportation:  $900

    Photography & photo booth: $3100

    Gifts: $1500

    Wedding Rings: $1100

    Hair, Makeup, Mani-Pedis, Facials: $450

    Again, congratulations to Lilia and Lou!  Many thanks for sharing your big day with us!  Loving all the DIY details and hope it inspires you all!

    Lastly, here’s a bit of wedding vendor info too:

    photography:  Simply Knot Photography

    venue:  Corona Ranch

    dj:  DJ Hartbreaks

    XoxO, Lydia from Ever Ours