Girls wait their entire lives for that magic moment when the man of their dreams gets down on one knee. Your prince charming shows you a ring and asks you to marry him. For me, my dream man was Garrett Carter. After almost two years of long distance dating, he proposed near the water at The Grand Floridian Disney Resort underneath the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks. It was a total surprise and so far one of the best days ever.
When I was younger, I had my future wedding planned out in my little head, color scheme and all. I dreamt of flowers and lace, rings and bows. When Garrett and I got engaged, I was the happiest I had ever been and could not wait to begin planning our dream wedding. I was 20 and still in college. Garrett was 22 and about to start his first job. We were broke. My checking account had enough in it at most to pay my car payment and eat from the fast food dollar menu for a few weeks. After the bliss of being newly engaged wore off and wedding planning got serious, we realized we needed some kind of wedding budget. My mom and Garrett’s parents were helping with a few wedding expenses but we were mostly on our own. We made a $10,000 budget, stuck to it, and had our dream wedding and enough left over for most of our honeymoon!
Honesty is essential in marriage. Our society tends to disagree but it is the only way marriage works. I believe that honesty is essential in every relationship we are in. From the start, Garrett and I have been honest with each other… even when it is difficult. When we first got engaged and started planning our wedding we sat down and had an honest and open discussion about our wedding.
We talked through what was most important to both of us, what was not important, and what we wanted most out of our big day. Although his list was much shorter than mine, we were both finally on the same page about what we each wanted for our wedding day. Garrett’s biggest priority was the food. He wanted it to be simple, cheap, but something everyone would like. Also not wearing a bow tie was high on his list. I did my best to make his priorities mine too. As a bride, it is easy to put your bridezilla wants and needs before the groom’s but just remember, it is their day too!
Talking about money is also essential in marriage but something that is not easy or fun. After we set our priorities, we had to talk about how much those priorities were going to cost. Anything outside of our budget and priorities would have to wait. If you are wondering if we ever fought about our wedding or how much the wedding was going to cost, the answer would be yes. I am thankful for those fights because we have now learned how to talk about money and compromise, which makes this whole marriage thing a lot easier.
Whatever your wedding priorities are, talk about them and make a plan. This will not only save you money but it will help you stay focused on what truly matters.
Photo by Meredith Teasley
*One of the ways we saved on our wedding budget was by using plastic plates and silverware. Chances are no one even remembers that small detail when they think back on our day. Also, doesn’t it still look gorgeous? This is a great tip for those of you on a tight budget!!!
DO IT YOURSELF
A wedding planner was not in our $10,000 budget. Some venues include a wedding planner, but ours did not. Thanks to Pinterest and Wedding Wire, I honestly didn’t even need a wedding planner. Let’s be real, there were times when wedding planning was stressful. We had eight months to plan our wedding AND were on a strict budget, yep, it was just a little stressful. But, at the end of it all, it was beautiful seeing all the planning come together!
My favorite part of wedding planning was decorations. I love to craft and we knew right away we would be able to save some money with DIY decorations. After some secret wedding board pinning and research, I found the inspiration I needed to create our centerpieces. If you are doing a wedding on a budget, mason jars will be your best friend.
Below are a few photos of our centerpieces. All I bought were mason jars, Epsom salts, and dollar store candles. My uncle cut the wood from a fallen tree from my family’s cabin in West Virginia. Our wedding was in January, so right after Christmas we drove to our local Christmas tree stand and simply asked for any leftover greenery they had. We picked up a truck full and guess what? It was all free! You do not have to be super crafty to make DIY wedding decorations. Pinterest has hundreds of tutorials and ideas that will save you major money!!!
Photos by Meredith Teasley
ENLIST THE HELP OF FRIENDS
The saying goes, we all get by with a little help from our friends! Well, without our friends our wedding would not have happened. When we set our priorities and made the budget, there were a few things that we just could not afford to pay for: a wedding planner, a makeup artist, and a server for our coffee and hot chocolate bar. After hours of brainstorming several options, we decided to reach out to some close friends to see if they would help us with those last few things!
I called up two of my best friends from high school (who were not a part of the bridal party but very special friends to me) to see if they would be willing to help with wedding planning! They happily agreed, and I was grateful to have them be a part of our day! They ended up being my go-to girls on the day of the wedding. The two of them beautifully handled all the logistics, answered questions, helped get the vendors set up, and most of all made sure the groomsmen were ready on time! Although I did not pay them, I had monogrammed gifts made for them to show my appreciation!
My sister’s best friend was a hospitality major and the perfect server for our coffee and hot chocolate bar! She also helped get our caterers set up. She was such a blessing to have on the day of due to her knowledge and experience! One of my bridesmaids who was really into makeup agreed to do my makeup for the big day! We played with it a couple days before just to make sure she knew what she was doing and what I wanted. The big day came, and she did a truly beautiful job and I was so pleased with it. And guess what, it was FREE! I also had a friend offer to do all my bridesmaids’ hair for free, and she ended up helping me put the finishing touches on my hair!
I am so thankful for these sweet friends who helped us make our day everything we dreamed it would be, we could not have done it without them!
Photos by Meredith Teasley
HAPPILY EVER AFTER
One of the best parts of wedding planning is seeing it all come together. When your big day arrives, there is nothing left for you to do except enjoy every single moment. We are so thankful for everyone who helped us prepare for our big day and thankful for those who joined us to watch it all come together. We were surprisingly relieved when it was all over so we could finally just be married, but our wedding was the most beautiful day of our lives and we would not have wanted it any other way!
So, if you are newly engaged or planning a wedding remember to have that honest conversation with your future spouse to set priorities and a budget! Also try some DIY projects (it is easier than you think) and enlist the help of your friends! Not breaking the bank or going into debt for your wedding will help you to start your marriage out right!
Here are some more of my favorite wedding photos I just wanted to share with you all!
Shoutout to our amazing photographer and friend Meredith Teasley for taking all of our gorgeous wedding pictures! If you are in the Nashville, TN area she is such a gem and so wonderful to work with! Check out her website here.
Are you engaged and planning a wedding? If so, how is it going? Comment below, I would love to know!!! Also, if you have been through the wedding planning process, what are some ways you stayed within your budget? Love you all!