Ahhh, so I got married last year and I am finally getting around to blogging about it because my wedding photos are finally in! As a DIYer I really wanted to DIY everything in our wedding including my wedding dress (kinda, lol) and we had a tight budget(as in still way too much to spend on a one day) for 250 people.
Now if you just got engaged a little advice – take a deep breath and everything will work out. Our wedding was two years in the making so it doesn’t happen overnight.
We picked out our venue using Wedding Wire. This was the easiest site to use to narrow down venues that would accommodate the amount of people, cost, and type of venue we were looking for. We nailed it on our first visit using this site! We also used this site to create a FREE wedding website. No need to spend any money on a website when they have tons of templates to choose from fooo freeee.
We really needed a big barn to accommodate our large family where we could get married inside or outside depending on the weather. We landed on a gold mine about an hour from where we lived called Barnes Barn . This venue is a working family farm with sprawling acres, set in the beautiful countryside of Upstate NY. I still pinch myself that we found this place! We had the entire week to come and set up, they provided tables and chairs for the reception and ceremony, and they had the best overlook of hills in the area. We also could choose our own catering! This was a huge cost savings compared to other venues as most would force you to use their overpriced catering. Lastly, the owners here are just wonderful people, they were super understanding and helpful throughout the entire process.
After we chose the venue I started looking for a florist. This was really frustrating because I had no idea how expensive flowers would be. After just about giving up altogether I decided to make my own arrangements. I Pinterested flower arrangements of what I liked and walked into JoAnn Fabrics on a mission. I spent about two hours arranging the bouquets until I landed on something I liked. In hindsight I probably should have done this last but it ended up working out. Outside of the flowers I only had to buy a couple of spools of twine, heavy duty scissors, mens pins, and women’s bracelets for accessories ($30). I basically just put the flowers together the way I wanted and wrapped twine around it with a couple of knots. No fancy stuff needed here. Also JoAnn Fabrics has 40% sales all of the time so I waited for those to come up to buy all the flowers as I finished each project. I ended up spending about $700 total on my flowers for the entire wedding (including some real flowers too). I went out the week before and bought potted flowers to decorate our ceremony and entrance way to the barn. We then repurposed these flowers in our landscape at our house, which was a double bonus.
I had to do a little problem solving that week before to try to figure out how to cover or replace the plastic bottoms of the potted flower arrangements. I ended up buying burlap fabric for super cheap at again, JoAnn Fabrics! I then cut that into large pieces to wrap around the existing pots and secured them with twine. Overall, I was very pleased with the end result and it only cost me some time and about $15 for the fabric.
I found that what helped me the most with decorating the venue was looking at what other people had done on the venues facebook page. That helped me envision what I liked and disliked. I found the whiskey/wine barrels were something I really wanted for decoration with the barn. However, finding barrels to rent became a huge headache. I had exhausted all avenues as most quotes to rent barrels were about $1000 dollars for the day (wtf?!?!?). Finally we got a reasonable quote from the The Finger Lakes Barrel Co. The owners were so sweet and even delivered our barrels an extra 50 miles total round trip for us.
The welcome sign I originally was going to buy from Etsy but then I saw the price tag for that too….are you seeing a trend here? Everything’s expensive when it says “wedding” on it. I ended up borrowing my Sister-in-laws chalk board and bought chalk pens on Amazon. I was really nervous this would ruin her chalkboard but I bought their cleaning solution and it came right off.
I also knew I really wanted drapes for the barn door openings. A bunch of other couples who had been married had them and I thought they looked so pretty. I found some sheer white curtains on Etsy that were perfect! We needed them to be a really large size as the barn doors were 15 feet high. Now I didn’t realize they came only as one piece but that was no problem in the end. We just cut them in half to make two pieces and placed the cut sides towards the doors.
One thing I regret was renting the tablecloths through the caterer. I had specifically requested floor length and certain table sizes and we definitely did not get that. At the end of the day we just rolled with it and made the best of it. I think it still ended up beautiful.
I wanted to keep the decor simple since the barn was very intricate itself.
I have broken down where I got each piece of decor above. The old apple crates were antiques my parents had that I borrowed. My in laws had brass candle sticks just laying around waiting to be used. I bought Magnolia candle sticks from Target to put in each brass candle stick holder. All of the votive candles were 10 hour candles from JoAnn fabrics. The burlap cards banner was from Amazon. The card holder was from JoAnn fabrics. My father in law cut the wood slabs for us from his backyard. The guestbook was from the dollar bins at Target. The table numbers were from JoAnn fabrics. All of the picture frames were from Marshalls ($70 dollars total and I think I had gotten 10 frames). The wine bottles were either from us or we bought some for super cheap on Ebay.
The biggest DIY undertaking went to……. the flower boxes and the seating chart!
For the seating chart I had an idea in mind from someone else but I could not find anything remotely close to that online to order. I started by finding an empty frame to match the wood of the apple crates. I would like to take a moment and say I on a personal level choose not shop at Hobby Lobby but I ran out of options of places to look and did find my frame there. Then I needed to find chicken wire. We found some at Lowes but let me tell you – be careful- this stuff is sharp and not easy to cut. At home I used a staple gun to adhere the chicken wire to the back of the frame. Then I bought stencils at JoAnn fabrics and used leftover white paint at home to color in the letters. I used some white card stock and little white clothes pins from JoAnn fabrics to pin up the table assignments and boom it was finally done!
The flower boxes I bought unfinished from Joann Fabrics and stained myself. I then took my leftover chicken wire and cut it to fit the square hole. The long part of the process was cutting and arranging the flowers how I liked them. Originally this was going to be my centerpiece idea but the boxes needed so many flowers and it was super, painstakingly difficult that I gave up after two were completed and decided to use them as another piece of decor for the wedding.
We used compostable plates and utensils because we really wanted to “Go Green” for the wedding. These were so cute and also a huge cost savings as it cost us about half the price of renting real tableware from the caterer. Our napkins were linen and the caterer supplied those. They came pre-folded which was such a relief for setting up!
Our wedding was catered by Seymour’s Catering and they were fantastic. We really liked the idea of having Barbeque and they were literally right up the road!
My neighbor, bridesmaid, and one of my best friends made our cake for us. Now she could have made extravagant cupcakes and flavors but we really wanted to keep it to simple flavors and colors. I took some of the leftover flowers and gave Danny the arrangements on each tier and it came out perfect. Ughh, she is so talented! She also made the arrangement platters for less than $20 all together! She bought the most beautiful glass plates from the salvation army and glued on glass candle stick holders from the dollar store (ahhhh they were so elegant).
One of the last priorities on our list was invitations. You can really save a lot of money by using the online sites when they have sales. We used Shutterfly but there are a ton of online sites for this stuff.
We had our rings custom made by a family friend so there is no other ring like mine and its rose gold! For pictures I put it in a vintage ring box from my grandmother and this is her handmade vintage table runner she handed down to me too. Not pictured was the rest of my wedding jewelry. I got matching rose gold earrings and a bracelet from this cute Etsy shop.
Update: I recently had my ring sauntered together so that it doesn’t move around as much! Also getting the ring handmade will save you literally thousands of dollars compared to buying it in the store. Spending a little time looking up if there are any local jewelers in your area can definitely save you money.
We started the day by getting ready in the dressing room built right into the barn! It was so cool! The ceremony was not until 4 pm so we had the entire morning to get ready at a relaxed pace. One thing I had not thought of was lunch the day of, ekkk! I was so lucky to have wonderful friends who went out of their way to bring us subs so we didn’t starve until dinner!
My hair was a main focus of mine. I tried out a couple of hairstyles but at the end of the day it just looked better down and curly. One of my coworkers where I work is a hair dresser so she came to do everyones hair for the wedding which was really lovely. I wanted my curls to be very tight and then she hand separated them instead of combing them out. I go back and forth with what I should have done because I don’t necessarily like the the uncombed out look but my hair snarls in the back easily and my curls usually fall quickly so we decided to just hand separate. I think it was the best choice as you can see by the end of the day the curls were definitely falling.
I want to take a moment to say that we did not buy any fancy outfits to get ready in (I bought myself a romper of course lol) just because everybody in my group had different styles and I just thought it was more us to just be ourselves. This also allowed me to get a meaningful gift for everybody instead. I found the cutest personalized leather clutches for my bridesmaids and matching rose gold with crystals bracelets for the moms.
Makeup was a toughie too. I was originally going to do my own makeup but then I started to panic the closer we got to the wedding. I’m glad I chose to get a makeup artist because my makeup lasted all day and was better than anything I could have done myself. You get what you pay for! I was able to do a make-up trial and I would highly recommend it – we changed a couple of things before the wedding day.
Picking out my dress was by far the longest decision I made in the whole wedding planning process. I probably tried on over 100 dresses in total. There were so many that I loved but they just didn’t feel like they fit my personality. The more I dress shopped the more I was able to define what styles I liked and what flattered my body type. Still there wasn’t a dress where I loved the top and bottom together as a whole. I also knew I really wanted a blush colored dress so that was always in the back of my mind although I was open to white or ivory. If I could have found mermaid or a trumpet style dress in blush I would have, even today, but the dress just did not exist.
What did I end up doing? I found bridal separates. Yep you heard me right. The skirt of my dress is by Martina Liana and is called the Stevie Skirt in blush. I literally could have never, ever, ever in my wildest dreams, afforded this skirt but I found one on a used wedding dress site for 1/5 of the tag price that had never been worn and snagged it. The top, made by Watters, I had been eyeing was from BHLDN (the cutest bridal site!) but I really couldn’t afford it. Then magically it went on sale for half off and I bought it! I was literally sweating bullets with every passing second trying to imagine what would happen if it arrived and didn’t match but thankfully the colors went perfectly! I paired everything up with a belt I had bought on a whim while dress shopping earlier at Davids Bridal (I don’t think they sell this anymore b/c I could not find it). For my shoes I needed a heel because my skirt could not be hemmed and a wedge just in case the ground was soft so I didn’t trip. I found a really cute, comfortable nude wedge from DSW for $35 that fit the bill (I now wear them to every wedding I attend because they go with everything). Last but not least was my veil. At first I thought I was doomed but Davids Bridal started selling plain champagne veils a couple of months before the wedding at a reasonable price of $50 dollars.
Just a quick side note. I had no idea what type of bra to wear with this top since I am large chested (34DD or 32DDD) and the back went down lower than normal. I ended up finding a really cheap option that actually worked from Target that was stick-on! I know, right?!?!?! I never thought I’d say a stick on bra worked but it did! I had to buy two of them because of trying the dress on for alterations and just saved the second one for the special day.
When we picked out the bridesmaids dress color and the suit color I had to bring the flowers and swatches just to double check they coordinated with everything. The men ended wearing a mute navy from Tuxedo Junction. They were quality material and the only place we could find where the navy that wasn’t that bright blue. The girls all chose the same dress (I originally thought they’d want to chose their own style but turns out I was wrong)! They chose a long, one shoulder dress with a cute slit on the side in the color Sangria, which was a little more pinky of a wine color, from Davids Bridal.
I learned when planning our timeline that if you have an early wedding you don’t need to do a first look but if you have a late wedding like us at 4pm there is no time for pictures after the ceremony. Therefore, we did a first look even though I really wasn’t fond of the idea. I wanted to make it more personal than just looking at each other lol so we decided to read our vows aloud to each other at our first look for a personal moment together.
We also really wanted to include our dog Birdie into the wedding but didn’t want the responsibility of actually taking care of her on our wedding day. We ended up paying a friend to drive her up to the wedding for pictures to hang for a few minutes and then return her home. We wanted to dazzle her up for the day so she got a bath in the am and a handkerchief to wear! It took me forever to pick one out on Etsy but I finally found the perfect handkerchief!
We really enjoyed our photo shoot time but we wished we had looked up poses and actually practiced a couple prior to the wedding. When it came to the day of we had no idea what to do even though I have a million pins of what I liked. Definitely would have come in handy.
One of my favorite gifts was from my Mother-in-law. I was really close to my grandparents when Kevin and I first met but they both had passed away over the years before we got married. She had charms made for my bouquet so they could be with me on our special day and I just think it was the most thoughtful gift.
Then it was finally time to get married!!!!! We had our DJ play songs for the guests as they sat down. We chose the songs for this playlist. This was definitely a fun little touch. Now I have to say I am not super emotional in public but when I heard the music I chose to walk down the aisle to start playing I was actively trying not to cry. I chose for everybody, including me, to walk down the aisle to the acoustic version of “How Long Will I Love You” cover by Ellie Goulding.
We planned our ceremony to be 10-15 minutes long total. Neither Kevin nor I like the attention on us for too long. We also wanted to make the ceremony as “us” as possible. Our best friend, groomsman, that we lived with for about a year while I was going to school married us. I had my Grandma read the St. Francis of Assisi Prayer as our one and only reading (my grandfather who passed loved that prayer and his name was Francis). Then we shared our own vows. This was really hard. We both promised to keep them short so that helped. Our best friend also put some speech stuff in before, in between, and after each of us and he blew it out of the park! I think all in all it was 10 minutes total and that was perfect!
Now our biggest regret of the day was not doing a receiving line. We thought since we had so many guests and the reception was down a big hill that we would just make our rounds during 1.5 hour cocktail party and let everyone start to get food and beverages. However, we were wrong! There were so many people to talk to that we had to split up to conquer! Just do a line…
We wanted our reception to feel laid back and fun so we included an outdoor area with lawn games and table games to play throughout the day and night. These were a big hit!
The rest of the night went pretty smoothly. We had dinner, gave speeches, and danced the night away. We skipped the cheesy stuff like cake cutting and bouquet tossing, etc. We even got to sneak off to the tip-top of the property to take some sunset pictures for 30 minutes and enjoy some time together alone. It was sincerely the best day ever.
We did get to sneek away to the edge of the owners property at sunset for a little alone time. We were floored to see almost a 360 view of the rolling hills. Definitely one of my favorite little moments of the day.
Last but not least I did change into my rehearsal dinner dress for the last hour of dancing since my skirt was big and the dance floor was steamy. I had packed it just in case! I pulled a quick hair change to a low pony and I was ready to really get low on the dance floor.
Just want to give a huge thank you to our photographer who flew half way across the country to take photos of our wedding. Her photography, Kara Gardner Photography, is out of this world and she is just a lovely human being. We were so blessed to have her there with us to document our day.