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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4 thoughts on “Shanna and Charlie: Frugal Outdoor Peacock Wedding

  1. This is fantastic!!! I’m actually from around Baltimore AND doing a peacock-themed wedding as well, so this is perfect!! Who is the “cute old couple” who owns the peacocks?! I’ve been looking for peacock feathers everywhere and they are not cheap! The tips are great – I love the tip about using sheets instead of table linens! PERFECT!

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