Hold on to your hats, Broke-Asses! We’ve got one serious Real Broke-Ass Wedding here. Budget: $8000. Guest count: 100. Massive DIY. A free dress (!!!) and pure ingenuity. Are you ready to see what Heather and her childhood sweetheart-turned hubz, Shane, have in store for us? You are? Well then, let’s get to it.
Name: The Follies of a Day, or The Marriage of Heather and Shane
Occupation: Writer, Blogger, Mommy, Step-Mommy, Wife, oh… and Ophthalmic Technician
Wedding location: Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center, Mansfield, Georgia.
Wedding Date: October 29, 2011
How would you describe your wedding:
I would describe it as freakin’ awesome, so kick-ass it required paramedics. It was a DIY extravaganza, and everyone pitched in to make the day unforgettable. It was a mis-matched mix of both of us, and that was exactly what we wanted.
What was your favorite part of your wedding?
My favorite part of the day was our ceremony. Everything had built up to that moment.
It was where I stood in front of all my near and dear to marry the first boy that I ever kissed from way back in 1993, back when I smelled like Teen Spirit, and drew his name on my Chucks. We were kids back then, and life eventually took us down different paths, and changed us from awkward eighth-graders into adults capable of real, deep commitment.
Our time apart made us who we are, gave us both the gift of children and then brought us back to each other to work together in all things with the spirit of compromise. Our ceremony was the moment we pledged to never break the bond of friendship and love that had begun almost two decades before. It was beautiful, and it was made just for us.
The preacher read “On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran, and Shane crafted our beautiful vows. The wedding party processional was to the Pink Panther theme song, which set the mood for our loving, yet quirky wedding. I walked down the aisle to The Imperial March (which got a chuckle from the guests).
After we sealed the deal with a kiss, we walked out as a married couple to Let’s Get It On.
What did you splurge on?
I really did not splurge on anything. I spent more than I wanted to on a DJ, but he threw in karaoke for free and did a great job, so it was worth it. I think I was very level-headed about the money spending thing. I am a legendary cheapskate. I can pinch a penny so hard that ole honest Abe cries, so it was really very hard for me to “splurge” on anything. I did not even buy a wedding dress! Everyone told me that I could spend on a dress, but I couldn’t justify that when there was a perfectly free and pretty one being offered by my sister-in-law.
One of my friends actually asked me if I was going to find a way to register at Goodwill! That is how deep my cheap streak runs, it’s kind of notorious with anyone who has ever met me. My mother and I would search for the best deal, use a hobby lobby 40% off coupon every day of the week, or we would just find a way to make it ourselves. For us money was tight, but even if it wasn’t, I could not spend that much money on one day. My car only cost $3,000 and I use it every single day, so it was really hard for me to swallow the cost of something that only lasted for a few hours. The marriage will go on, but the wedding is only one day.
That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that I could not have an absolutely fabulous wedding, I just knew that I did not have put us all in the poor house to do it. Luckily, I am moderately creative, I had the advantage of previously working in the special event industry, and I had helped all my married friends cut corners with their wedding budget, so while this was my only wedding, it was not my first rodeo.
What did you save on?
I saved on everything. I made my own wedding favors with my sister-in-law’s help.
My mom also worked tirelessly. She scoured the Internet, she hit all the thrift stores and clearance bins she could find. We were quite a team. There was a ton of DIY. The centerpieces, the bouquets, boutonnieres, guest book, favors, veil, hair, makeup, photo booth and all the décor was DIY.
I even coupon shopped for my bridesmaids’ gifts! I made them wedding day survival kits with lip balm, Bath and Body works lotions, body spray, razors, toothbrushes, and other toiletries that I got for free or next to free with coupon cleverness! I found pretty blue Pashmina shawls for $5.00 each and put it all in an insulated picnic bag that I got on clearance for $7.00 each. I was one savvy sista for 14 months leading up to the big day!
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect?
I will preface this by stating that I am no prude. I like to party with the best of ’em, and I did. Let’s not get this twisted, most everyone at the wedding was awesome, they were adult party people who behaved normally.
Some were not. Unfortunately, those that were not, belonged to my bevy of bridesmaids. Bless their hearts. So this leads up to what would have been different: The bar would have closed much sooner. We only served beer and wine. The theory was that by not having any liquor at the bar, it would cut down on any drunken calamity. That was not the case. It may be partly that there was too much alcohol available, but it is also partly due to the fact that some people may not know how to behave. Either way, it got a little crazy, but I was in my happy place and the ridiculousness did not really sink in until after we got home from our honeymoon. That is a good thing.
What was your biggest challenge in planning?
Spending money. It is one of the hardest things for me to do, honestly.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself?
I learned that this is, by far, one of my favorite things to do. I just think in terms of savings, so it was easy for me to save a lot and really be creative. I love to plan events. I love the details, and it warms my happy heart to see it all come together, cheaply.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
That it all came together and I married the man of my dreams are a given, so here are my other favorite things:
1. Our ‘First Look’ shoot.
2. As I write this my grandfather is very sick. He is 89 years old, and one of the most amazing people that I have ever known. I am very grateful that he got to see me get married.
4. Dancing with my Daddy, I boo-hoo’d like a blubbering baby, but it is one of the most cherished moments of my life.
5. All the time I got to spend with my mom while we worked on this DIY day!
Top 5 least favorite?
These are numbered in reverse order, kind of like Letterman’s Top 10. Feel free to hear his voice while reading these with a rim shot following each one …
5. My officiant calling in sick the day before the ceremony. With. No. Voice.
4. My bridesmaid that decided to read a very long, and questionably relevant poem as her toast at the reception. It lasted well over 10 minutes, and people snorted trying to withhold their laughter at the ridiculousness of it. Someone actually began to heckle her. That someone was my father. She then drank like a sorority pledge at a kegger and passed out in the foyer.
3. My almost bridesmaid, who is also my cousin, that dropped out of the wedding on her RSVP card.
2. My other bridesmaid, missed the bridal party photos, and showed up just in time to walk down the aisle, she then got hammered and cursed at my brand new sister-in-law during the reception.
1. Oh, and this one takes the cake! My maid of honor left in an ambulance due to the cussing bridesmaid from #2 falling on top of her, resulting in a concussion. Bahdoomching!
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
That I should just pick any bridesmaids dresses regardless of price because it was my day and they needed to wear whatever I picked. I went with a $42 dress from Target because I did not want my girls to waste money on a dress for only one day. I just couldn’t make myself pick something expensive, and I think that I made the right choice.
What was the best advice?
The best advice that I got was to take pictures before the wedding! We had a “first look” shoot on a peninsula at the lake near our ceremony site. We had almost 2 hours before the wedding with just Shane and I, and it was awesome.
We left the crazy crap storm of DIY wedding prep behind us and just enjoyed taking pictures together with no big time crunch. We got to show off our personalities, and goof off together before the wedding. We then took pictures with the rest of the wedding party before the ceremony, so that during the cocktail/appetizer hour we just took photos with family and headed into the reception. It was one thing that went absolutely according to plan, and I am so thankful!
Any other bits of wisdom?
Make sure that you pick your wedding party wisely. I love all my ladies, but it did hurt my feelings that many of them could not hold it together to celebrate normally without looking like a college freshman or without the need for Emergency Medical Personnel. Also, make the best of the good and the bad. There will be some things that go wrong; hopefully your mishaps will be smaller than mine, but just roll with them because that is part of the beauty of life and of love.
Venue: $750 ($500 for the wedding/reception and $250 to go in early the day before to decorate)
Breakfast for the wedding party the morning of the wedding: $174
Appetizers after ceremony: $503
Buffet dinner: $1535
Restaurant Equipment rental: $330
Bar cost: $500
DIY Tea Favors for 100: $85
Cakes: Free, made by my amazing mother-in-law!
DIY Photo Booth: $100
Peacock Feathers: $150 (used for centerpieces, bridesmaid bouquets, cake topper, misc. decor)
Groom’s Attire: $90
Bouquet: Free. DIY with gifted brooches
Flower girl fairy wings: $2.00
Flower girl dresses: $25 each from Macy’s.
Boudoir pics: Free. (I had my two best friends help me put together a pin-up girl-inspired shoot for the hubby’s wedding day gift)
Dress: Free (the dress was purchased from www.madeinchina.com by my sister-in-law for her wedding, but she found another dress before her big day and didn’t wear it. I didn’t even have to alter it. LUCKY ME!!)
Hair: Free (I watched YouTube videos to learn how to do my own hair, and I then practiced styling it before work in the mornings, so that I knew I would be able to pull off the look even under tight time constraints.)
Veil/Snood: $3.00 I bought a ½ yard of ivory lace fabric, cut it into a teardrop shape and bobby pinned it in my hair.
Flower Fascinators: $1.49 each from www.cititrends.com
Shoes: Free (I received a $30 Target gift card at a bridal shower and purchased my shoes there for $24.99)
Misc. décor expenses: $1500
Venue: Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center http://www.georgiawildlife.com/CharlieElliott/Conference
Food: Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center http://www.georgiawildlife.com/CharlieElliott/Conference
Photography: Melody Ward, Kenny and www.splashoflifeportraits.com
DJ: Mike Worley www.mikeworleymusic.com
All wedding DIY: Me www.LoveBuzzedMe.blogspot.com
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