Love Letters

By the time of our wedding my husband and I had been together for over 7 years.  So, in a way, we were already married (we were just get the paperwork to prove it).  This summer will mark our 9 year dating anniversary.  If you have been in a long-term relationship you know it takes some work sometimes.  Work, school, kids, bills, and just life in general can bog you down.  Especially in stressful times, such as planning a wedding, you need to take the time to remember what it’s all about.  Maybe he brings you flowers out of the blue.  You surprise him with his favorite meal.

To change things up recently I made a love letter board.  I took a chalk board and covered the edges in red rose trim.  Every now and then, we will write why (especially that day) we love each other.  It’s nothing too crazy, but it’s nice to come in and see a little “love letter” after all these years.


Have a LOVEly day!

Posted in DIY

Nic and Kelly’s Destination Wedding for Under $9,000

Today’s wedding is very special for a few reasons.  1) The groom (and now the bride of course!) is my cousin! 2) I got to shoot this wedding a few years years ago.  3) I can happily say they are still married 5 years later and have 2 beautiful daughters =D  This was not only a frugal but fabulous wedding, but it was a destination wedding also!  I can tell you it was a great day and weekend.  Because it was a destination wedding, everyone booked rooms at the hotel for the weekend.  They got to enjoy a cookout on the beach the day before along with a few other activities.  After the ceremony and reception the party continued ALL night long.  It was a lot of fun for everyone.  Check out some of Kelly’s tips (and great advice for difficult family members) on staying on budget in gorgeous Jekyll Island!


Q:  I know a “frugal” or “low-budget” wedding could mean different things to different people.  So, what did it mean to you?

A: To us, a “low-budget” wedding meant not going into debt.  We paid for our wedding ourselves and whatever money was set aside was what we had to spend!  While our wedding was an important day, we didn’t want to be paying off credit card bills for months to come over one day.

Q:  How much was your PLANNED total?

A:  We honestly didn’t have a “planned” total.  I wasn’t the little girl that always dreamed of her wedding day who looked at the bridal magazines while in high school and college.  We didn’t know how much to plan because we had no idea of what things to cost.  Instead, we ranked what was important to us and worked around those costs.

Q:  How much was your ACTUAL total?

A:  Including our honeymoon (5-day cruise), we kept it under $9,000.  Thanks to sales, we were able to even buy the bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen’s blazers, slacks, shirts, and ties.

Q:  What was your biggest budget saving tip that you can share with us?

A:  Don’t feel like you need to invite everyone you (or your parents) know.  We found that the key to keeping costs down was to keep our guest list to an intimate number of people.  We had 50’something guests and thought to ourselves thought that seemed like a large number or people.  Even with that number, we offended some but you have to keep in mind that if having a plated dinner, each person will cost you approximately $35-$50.  Because it was such an intimate group of family members and extremely close friends, we found it best to have a beach cookout rather than the traditional rehearsal dinner.  The relaxed atmosphere allowed everyone from each side to get to know one another.

Q:  What resources did you find especially helpful (i.e. websites, blogs, craft stores, etc. )

A:  Since we didn’t know anything about planning a wedding (and were way too cheap to use a wedding planner), we bought a book that provides a timeline and planning checklist.  This book was essential to us every step of the way!  Also useful were random websites we came across for centerpiece ideas.  I’ll admit, our centerpieces were a bit of a flop the day of the wedding.  We lived in Alabama and bought and practiced making the centerpieces (vases with beads, lilies, and beta fish).  We were able to easily make this and planned for the men to make these the morning of the wedding while the women were getting hair and makeup done.  Needless to say, the town in Georgia where we got married didn’t have the lilies and the men bought some different plants instead thinking it would yield the same result.  These plants didn’t work because the roots don’t clean as easily as the lily roots and we had clumps of dirt in the vases!  I was pretty angry then and almost had a “bridezilla” moment, but it’s laughable now!


Q:  What was the most important service you spent part of your budget on?

A:  This may seem terrible, but the honeymoon!  Whenever you bring together a bunch of relatives from different backgrounds, it guarantees that chaos will ensue.  For example, while taking pictures on the beach during what was designated as a cocktail hour, one of my relatives told all of the others that they could dress down for the reception.  We walked in to the reception room to find most of my relatives in t-shirts and blue jeans!  Also, we got married on an island and there’s a large bridge you cross to get to it.  One relative was afraid of large bridges and another whom is from the mountains was afraid of the ocean so we had to get her an inland room after having already spent the extra to get her an ocean view.  Anytime one of these family drama moments arose, my husband and I would sing “Come Monday” to each other by Jimmy Buffett because that’s when our cruise ship left.  It kept us from stressing over the little things and let us laugh and just enjoy the whole wedding weekend.

Q:  What was your favorite moment of the day?

A:  Taking pictures with two of my great grandmother


Q:  What was the most challenging aspect of the wedding planning for you?

A:  Our mothers.  They, like I’m sure many, had so many interjections during the rehearsal the minister actually asked them to be quiet!

Q:  Is there anything you would have done differently?

A:  We would have “assigned” someone to “deal” with the family;)

Q:  What advice would you give to a bride planning her own frugal wedding?

A:  Remember that it’s about you and your groom.  Don’t feel obligated to invite those you don’t want, have certain people as groomsmen or bridesmaids, or simply do anything you don’t want to do.  On the day of, unless there is another wedding in your venue shortly after yours, everyone can wait on you.  Don’t stress about zipping your dress and makeup to get down the aisle at an exact time; if you are a couple of minutes “late” it’s okay because the wedding’s not going to start without you.

Free For All:  Anything that I haven’t asked that you think is important to add.

A:  Just be flexible.  When you don’t have a limitless budget, you’re going to have give and takes.  Prioritize what’s important and just be prepared to roll with the punches.  Have fun with it all and try not to stress because you definitely don’t want to stress yourself into breakouts;)

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Wedding Location: Faith Chapel, Jekyll Island, GA
Reception Location: Oceanside Inn and Suite, Jekyll Island, GA
Dress: David’s Bridal
Hair: JC Penney Salon
Makeup: Myself and Bridesmaids
DJ: Dance Jammers, Golden Isle area of Georgia
Florist:The Flower Basket, Brunswick, GA
Cake: Holloway’s Bakery, Brunswick, GA

DIY Photo Booth!

While discussing a FBF wedding with one bride recently I asked about her photo booth.  I LOVE photo booths, but they can get pricy.  She had a wedding for less than $5,000, so I was sure she had gotten a great deal.  And I was right!  She shared her secret with me, and it’s called!


All you need is a computer.  To download the program is $60.00.  You can then opt to have it set up to a printer and print on site.  Or you can have it stored online to print later.  You can even have it set up to upload all the fun to Facebook!

There are a variety of ways you can personalize your booth.  For a backdrop you can use a sheet to cut costs.  If you or a friend is handy with wood-work you can have a large board mounted, painted and styled to match your theme.  Here is a great step-by-step tutorial on how to do this


Make sure that you place it in an area that is well lit.  You will be doing this on the computer, so the flash will be very limited and you don’t want your photos too dark!

Now all you need to do is add a few fun props!  Have fun and don’t forget to SMILE!

Posted in DIY

Fall Wedding in Indiana

Meet Isabel and Abe!  They were married this past fall in Indiana.  They wanted to have a fantastic day and still keep it on a budget that they could handle on their own.  Being a professional Life Coach ( Isabel believes “if you can dream it you can do it!”.  And she did!  Not only did she stay in her budget, but wait until you hear how she made $500 to put towards their honeymoon!  Take a look at the creative ways she was able to pull off a fabulous wedding for $5,000.


Q:  I know a “frugal” or “low-budget” wedding could mean different things to different people.  So, what did it mean to you?

A: Having a great wedding with all the people we love but staying within a budget since we wanted to pay for it ourselves.

Q:  How much was your PLANNED total?

A: $6000

Q:  How much was your ACTUAL total?

A: $5000

Q:  What was your biggest budget saving tip that you can share with us?

A: Keeping your guest numbers on the lower end, being creative with decorations,

and opting for a smaller but adorable venue.  We auctioned off some of our decoration items at the end of the night – worked out great

Q:  Tell me more about this auction.  Was this something that your guests knew was happening in advance?

A:  Well, some of the centerpieces we gave away as thank you gifts for those who helped us setting everything up etc so we didn’t have to spend any additional money and they all loved it.

Some of the guests knew about the auction especially family member who just told others. But some of them didn’t. We had the DJ announce it (instead of the dollar dance or so). Most of the decoration we auctioned off were my paintings that were part of the fall decoration on the walls. If I remember it right, we made over $500 or $600 which went towards our honeymoon. We had wine glasses made with fall decoration on it that everyone was allowed to take home – so we integrated the dishes/ glasses with guest gifts. Online you can get great deals and they looked awesome.

Q:  What resources did you find especially helpful (i.e. websites, blogs, craft stores, etc. )

A: I did a lot of research online but also already had a picture in mind in what I wanted to create. There had been too many books and magazines out there that would have added to my budget so I avoided that.

Q:  What was the most important service you spent part of your budget on?

A: photographer

Q:  What was your favorite moment of the day?

A: The wedding ceremony at the church

Q:  What was the most challenging aspect of the wedding planning for you?

A: getting everyone involved aligned with our budget plans. My husbands family is very big so making the decision on who to invite, was hard. But it seemed to work out just fine – some we invited didn’t come and other we did not invite showed up instead.

Q:  Is there anything you would have done differently?

A: I would have taken more time to choose a photographer.

Q:  What advice would you give to a bride planning her own frugal wedding?

A: Don’t stress about what others may think and want you to do with your wedding. You don’t have to impress anyone and you don’t have to invite everyone. With clear communication and expectation everyone understood and was very understanding and helpful. Ask for help and support. Forget about a fancy rehearsal dinner – pizza and sandwiches totally work and everyone loves it.

It is your special day and you can have it however you want. Even on a budget a wedding can be incredible beautiful.

All The Little Details!

Wedding Location: A small church in Plymouth, Indiana (cost us about $150)

Reception Location: An old Club house in Plymouth, Indiana (about $300 for 2 days)

Photographer: Jeff Polk Photography ($1100 – was not convinced of his work)

Dress: David’s Bridal (on sale for $400)

Hair: a small Salon in Plymouth, Indiana (for myself, my 3 bridesmaids and mother-in-law I believe it was $250)

Make up: myself

DJ: Krazy King Productions (great value for an amazing price We loved them. They are originally from Indianapolis, IN but travelled just for us.)

Florist: mostly Kroger flowers (very nice) and arranged it myself with the help of my sister. Turned out pretty good.

Cake: It was honestly Walmart. Price and taste was great. I would have pictured the decoration a bit different but it wasn’t bad at all.

Tuxedos: Men’s Wearhouse (with some discount and coupons)


Wine Glass Favors:

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Shanna and Charlie: Frugal Outdoor Peacock Wedding

Meet Shanna and Charlie.  They had a lovely wedding in the mountains of Maryland for $6000!  Check out all of Shanna’s great tips on how she was able to cut costs and have the wedding of her dreams.  Complete with a Vera Wang gown no less!


Q:  I know a “frugal” or “low-budget” wedding could mean different things to different people.  So, what did it mean to you?

A: Affordable, but not “cheap” looking.

Q:  How much was your PLANNED total?

A: 6000

Q:  How much was your ACTUAL total?

A: 6000

Q:  What was your biggest budget saving tip that you can share with us?

A: I found out that “DIY” was not always cheaper, definitely compare the DIY price to the actual price of just buying. It all really depends on the item, and saves a LOT of headaches and time.

Q:  What resources did you find especially helpful (i.e. websites, blogs, craft stores, etc. )

A: Pinterest, Groupon, Craigslist, and my super crafty mom and her craft store coupons

Q:  What was the most important service you spent part of your budget on?

A: Bar tab. I think its really inappropriate to have a cash bar, save on something else but give guests their drinks!

Q:  What was your favorite moment of the day?

A: The look on my husband’s face as I walked down the aisle.

Q:  What was the most challenging aspect of the wedding planning for you?

A: Definitely money, we had so very little and both have huge families. We invited over 400 people, knowing not all would come because the wedding was in my hometown, which was 2.5 hours away from where most the groom’s family lived (Baltimore). In the end it was a blessing, and we got to have a smaller more casual 2nd reception once the wedding was over and we got back to Baltimore for the folks that missed it.

Q:  Is there anything you would have done differently?

A: In all the hustle and whirlwind of all the tiny details, I forgot to get a picture with my mom. It broke my heart.

Q:  What advice would you give to a bride planning her own frugal wedding?

A: Pay attention to prices per season. We got married the weekend after Labor Day at a state park. It was still gorgeous weather, but that one week changed the price from $400 to FREE, since it was out of season at a state park. Also, location is important. We live in Baltimore, and that’s where my husband’s family lives also. I am from a smaller city of Cumberland, Md. Having the wedding in Cumberland cut a LOT of costs just because it wasn’t in the city, and it had small town prices. After all the complaints of having to drive the 2.5 hours, the guests the made the trip fell in love with the mountains and small town, and now want to go back there for a vacation!

Free For All:  Anything that I haven’t asked that you think is important to add.

A: I really made use of all my possible resources.

My friend makes her own makeup so I asked her to make a combo pack for cheap to give to my BM’s as a present. Not only did she agree to do it for free, she made 3 new shades and named them shanna, charley and vancourt, and the shades were our wedding colors (purple, teal and green).

Another friend does photography as a hobby, she has wanted to break into weddings but had never done one before and didn’t have references to show to potential clients. I asked her to do mine and she agreed for really cheap ($200 for  12 hours), got some great shots and now has photos of a wedding to show to future clients.

My bothers GF works at a salon so I asked her about doing hair and makeup for the wedding party, since my party was so large and they made enough that day, they shut down the studio just for us and comped my hair and makeup for bringing them so much business.

My sister was married 2 years prior to me, I used absolutely EVERYTHING possible from her wedding that I could. Vases, treat bags, dishes, chair covers, etc.

My reception venue was a blank slate, I had to buy everything except for tables and chairs. It was much cheaper to buy sets of sheets for tablecloths than it was to rent or buy actual tablecloths, and there was a better color selection. Each set was about $10 on sale at Wal-Mart. We used the flat sheets for table cloths, and my mom cut and sewed the fitted sheets into runners. The pillowcases were cut and sewn into bows for on back of the chairs.

A friend of my sisters is a chef at a local hotel, he agreed to prep and serve our food for $100 plus the cost of food which he bought on his restaurant depot card so it was super cheap. We also talked to him about our meal selection to make sure nothing was an outrageous price.

We picked a peacock feather theme which was absolutely brilliant. We were able to incorporate a lot of colors, (teal, purple, green, gold) which is important and difficult when DIY or finding items to reuse from craigslist, etc. The feathers brought all the colors together and we found a cute old couple who owned peacocks and let us have 200+ feathers for $20.

My bouquet was the only one we had professionally made, and with real flowers. All the BM bouquets and men’s boutonnieres were made with artificial flowers by my mom. Be careful though, sometimes the real flowers are cheaper (but in my case much harder to handle/preserve!)

My sister found a magazine company (on craigslist) that was closing and giving away boxes of purple, teal, and white premium paper and balloons. I made all my invites, my own envelopes, and my own programs using that. Aside from the cost of ink (less than $20) and stamps, all my paper products were free. To save money (and the environment) I had people either RSVP online or call me personally.

We bought things like cake cutters and servers at dollar general and jazzed them up with ribbons, etc. They looked fancy, and to be honest I would never use them again so I’m glad I didn’t spend the money on the fancier ones.

I asked my MOH to make our cake. She is a good baker and I chose a simple cake. She agreed to do it as our gift from her, and no one was the wiser.

We made our flower girls little ribbon sticks to carry instead of flowers, and tutu dresses made of tulle.

I wore an old necklace that one of my BMs made me years ago, and earrings and veil from Amazon that totaled maybe $30.

All The Little Details!

Wedding Location: Rocky Gap State Park, outside

Location: Cumberland Outdoor Club

Photographer: Meredith Brown Photography (on facebook)

Dress: The big ticket item! Vera Wang White for Davids Bridal

Hair: Pistol Salon and bombshell studio (on facebook)

Make up: Pistol Salon and bombshell studio

DJ: Local Cumberland DJ, Jason Ryan

Florist: Mainly my mom, also Pharmacare floral in Cumberland for my bouquet only.

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A Frugal Wedding for a Children’s Charity!

I love this wedding for TWO reasons: 1) it was for a TOTAL of $750  2) it was done during a charity wed-a-thon for a children’s shelter (Atlanta’s Children’s Shelter)!  Leesha is not your typical bride.  Some may cringe at the idea of finding their dress at Goodwill, but not her!  She shows us that if you have the right attitude, you can have the most memorable experience of you life on practically nothing.  Here are some of her tips and details

  • Q: I know a “frugal” or “low-budget” wedding could mean different things to different people. So, what did it mean to you?
    A: In a nutshell, just doing something that we could afford, but still making it memorable. I believe it is always possible to cut corners and save money without sacrificing the experince or quality.

    Q: How much was your PLANNED total?
    A: We didn’t really have a planned buget per say. We just got things little by little. If we had the money for it we got it, if not, we passed. We just made a goal of doing it as inexspensively as possible.

    Q: How much was your ACTUAL total?
    A: OK, I was off a little from what I told you. My total expense was about $750. However, I included things that I actually didn’t pay for myself in this total. Some of the things family members covered the expense for.

    Q: What was your biggest budget saving tip that you can share with us?
    A: Doing the Wedathon! It was the best decision we could have ever made! Our wedding and mini reception was short and sweet, but still had the feel of a more expensive, long and drawn out wedding. It was perfect for us.

    Q: What resources did you find especially helpful (i.e. websites, blogs, craft stores, etc. )
    A: Craigslist for sure! If I would have not checked there, I would have never found out about the wedathon and we probably would have been married at the courthouse with a small reception at my Mother in Laws house! I also used either or for our invites, but I can’t remember which one it was. I also utilized the dollar store for a lot of things. Pinterest wasn’t around when I got married, but I know if it was I would have used that for a LOT of great ideas!

    Q: What was the most important service you spent part of your budget on?
    A: The proffecional photographer! I can not emphasize the importance of having a good photographer enough! Our wedding may have been very fast, but every detail was captured beautifully and we can relive our special day over and over again!

    Q: What was your favorite moment of the day?
    A: Saying “I do” to my wonderful husband and our first kiss as a married couple. Nothing else really mattered at that moment.

    Q: What was the most challenging aspect of the wedding planning for you?
    A: Just figuring out what where to have the after party since we only had a mini reception.

    Q: Is there anything you would have done differently?
    A: I would have planned a head a little better and reserched the area and our options for the after party. I would have organized it a little better. It was still wonderful though and the spur of the moment decisions keep life interesting.

    Q: What advice would you give to a bride planning her own frugal wedding?
    A: Don’t be afraid to try something less conventional, you might be pleasently suprised. Don’t go with the first thing you see or have your heart set on, always research! Ten to one you will be able to find something for a cheaper price and something you like better if you don’t jump right into the first thing you like. Always try to negotiate a better price for goods, places and services….ALWAYS! The worst thing that can happen is you get told no. Most places, in this economy are willing to negotiate a little. You never know what you can get if you don’t try! Don’t be afraid of buying things second hand. There is nothing wrong with buying things used for your special day, it wont make the day any less special. You can put your own twist on things or repurpose them into something unique. The Dollar store can be your best friend! Expensive doesn’t always mean better!

    Free For All: Anything that I haven’t asked that you think is important to add.
    A: Just keep your options and your mind open.

    All The Little Details!

    Wedding Location: Loews Hotel

    Reception Location: Loews Hotel
    After Party: Front Page News Pub
    Photographer: Justin Kurtz (Kurtz Photography)

    Dress: Goodwill
    Hair: Fantastic Sams
    Make up: Me, myself and I
    DJ: Not sure who it was, it was provided for us
    Florist: Not sure, it was provided for us

    To see what  Wed-A-Thon is all about, check out this news coverage.


    And to check out the shelter:

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Saving Tips from The Carl House’s Monika Williams

I recently got to chat with Monika Williams.  Monika not only had her own dream wedding (at the fabulous Carl House) on a budget, but she later went on to become their own wedding specialists.  She helps brides of all budgets attain their perfect day.  She was kind enough to share a few of her tips (a couple I had never even known myself).  Take it away Monika!

I am so happy I get to help! I learned a lot of things from my wedding at Carl House and I was definitely trying to stay within a certain price range. Below are some things I learned by planning my own wedding and working at Carl House!

Great ways to save money when planning a wedding.

·         Venues often have off-peak and semi-season with reduced rates, check to see what those months are, you can save hundreds or thousands.

·         I know it is risky but a lot of venues and vendors offer short booking specials. The shorter notice it is a great way for them to fill up a date and for you to get a lower rate!

·         Re-use flowers! One thing I learned from my wedding is to reuse the bridesmaids flowers as centerpieces or other places where you would like flowers.

·         Look at Sunday weddings or Saturday daytime weddings, even weekday weddings. Venues and vendors often offer special pricing during these times.

·         Do not feel that you have to invite everyone to your wedding, remember you are paying per head. Invite the people who truly mean something to you, it will be a cost saver and you will really enjoy the people there!

·         Look at all beverage options, non-alcoholic, beer and wine, full bar, specialty drinks, etc.  Bar pricing can be very expensive based on your choices. Side note: if you choose a daytime wedding, your guests usually do not expect to have alcohol served.

·         See if people offer discounts if you pay by check or cash, or even upfront.

·         Don’t waste your money on a party favor your guests will throw away. Look at something fun and yummy like a Candy Station, everyone loves this!

Carl House is an award-winning facility known for their spectacular weddings and reputation in the industry, located in Auburn, GA. Brides love Carl House for their lush gardens, spacious, elegant ballroom with a classic curved staircase, historic feel, the warm staff, exquisite food and in-house florals, PLUS affordable wedding packages all designed for a busy bride. I hope you’ll visit Carl House to experience it for yourself!


Get The Most Bloom for Your Buck

When it comes to flowers you can quickly start talking about over $100 for just one bouquet or centerpiece.  This is where you really need to start thinking about how much you want to spend on flowers.  Do you really have to have roses everywhere?  Or could a few mixed in with other less expensive flowers be OK?  Do you have to have real flowers?  Or could very real looking silk flowers do?  Are you willing to pull up your sleeves and do a little work or get really creative?

One frugal tip here is to go BIG.  And I don’t mean a large amount of stems.  One way to maximize your budget is to use larger blooming flowers.  Such as sunflowers, hydrangeas, and peonies.  You can easily use just a few stems of these flowers and have a very full looking centerpiece or bouquet.

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Even using one large bloom has become fashionable these days!


Take this little BIG tip and have fun with it =)

Preview of Nic and Kelly

Next week I will be posting about a wedding I shot a couple of years ago. Beautiful low budget wedding in Jekyll Island, GA.  I am even more excited to post about this wedding because the groom is my cousin.  I can happily repot that they are still married AND have 2 beautiful children =)   265_50554260225_5340_n