We’re huge fans of TLC’s show Four Weddings, aren’t you? Lucky for us, actual brides who have taken part in the show are sharing their stories with us in this new series! Up today? Carrie Cathey, whose low-budget wedding was pretty high impact, if you ask us!
The challenge: I had one and a half years to plan the best low-budget wedding I could plan.
The plan of action: I got right to it, and every day I would research the best venue deals in Arizona, the best quality caterers with the most food options and low prices and even the best bridal boutiques that would accommodate my budget of $10,000. I made Excel spreadsheets and cross-referenced each vendor and compared it to the next. My final decision was to customize everything I possibly could to make it personal and affordable.
Planning the wedding
Our colors were ivory, black, silver and fuchsia. Everything from flowers to shoes was customized to make our wedding unique and special to us, all while maintaining a low budget.
Starting with invitations — I used Groupons I had purchased for Vista Print, which cut costs in half.
I chose a dress at a boutique in Phoenix because their slogan was, “If you don’t like it, return it.” The dress is ivory and consists of minimal beads but has just enough bling at the top and mid-section.
I picked up my flip-flops for my wedding day at Target and purchased all of my bridesmaids’ flip-flops at Payless for $6 each! I added a fake fuchsia flower to each shoe and came out with a $6.50 shoe for each bridesmaid. I’m not into veils, so I had a fake ivory flower I used as a headpiece which matched a fake ivory flower in my daughter’s hair.
Every night leading up to the wedding, I would edit my wedding itinerary. I wanted to make sure that it consisted of backup plans for any malfunctions that could happen.
As guests arrived, we had a red carpet that took them to the star-backdrop where guests would pose for a picture. We used an old fashioned Polaroid camera so guests could use the picture to write on as our guestbook sign-in. From there, guests approached our lemonade stand, which my husband made himself using all the old wood out from our backyard. I sprayed “Lemonade” on a chalk-like board and used Pinterest as a source for décor.
The ceremony consisted of a handmade pergola my father I made. The best part? It cost us under $150 and single arches range up to $200 to rent! My friend has a rose bush garden in his backyard and offered to provide the rose petals for the center aisle for free.
All of the linens and sashes were purchased online and ranged from $3-$9 each. The savings were huge since several rental companies were going to charge us $8 each just to rent! The flowers were all chosen from a local florist and my friends and family helped display them throughout the venue. This cut the cost of a hiring a personal florist.
Cocktail hour and reception
At the cocktail hour, we strung paper lanterns around the patio and inside the restaurant area. These were all black, silver and fuchsia. I purchased these online and bought LED lights to go inside them so the patio lit up at night.
“I walked down the aisle to “A Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts, we said our vows to “Marry Me” by Train and concluded the ceremony with “You and Me Together” by Dave Matthews Band.
I had a wine and cheese station and a buffet station that consisted of finger foods. This kept the costs down as well, using a little of everything the restaurant would allow me to choose from.
As the guests arrived to the reception, they were greeted with floating lanterns flying into the sky. Each one represented my husband, our daughter (at the time she was 1 year old) and me, as we entered the journey together as a family. The reception site also consisted of endless lights, lanterns and stars hanging over the guests.
The décor consisted of black table cloths with hot pink napkins (as the centerpiece runner). Using napkins instead of actual runners saved us $2 on each centerpiece! The centerpieces themselves were all customized bouquets of flowers that my friends had made earlier in the day.
Our cake was actually made the night before the wedding! When we received our original cupcakes, they were all melted and destroyed, and with no time left, my friends and I stayed up the night before my wedding to bake and frost 150 cupcakes!
No one left the dance floor until the grand finale under the stars — s’mores at the bonfire. We all sat around a campfire on location and chowed down on our s’mores while finishing the night of laughter and memories. It was by far the best, affordable night I could have ever planned.