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

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