How to have a beautiful wedding within a budget


No matter how small or how large your budget is, every one has a limit they’re comfortable spending on their wedding day. But is can be hard to know where to start (and when to stop) when it comes to allocating and parting with this money. We all want a beautiful wedding, so how do we achieve this while staying true to ourselves and our financial situation?

We spoke to some wedding planners and designers to ask their advice on how to create a beautiful wedding on a budget.

Determine your priorities

Created Lovely Events creative director and planner Nicole Sihlis says determining wedding priorities is the first step she takes in creating a budget with her clients.

“One of my favorite ways to start a wedding consultation is by asking a couple how they celebrate together. When something good happens in their life, what is their favorite way to embrace that moment? Their response is generally a really good indicator of where their priorities will lie within their budget.

“A response that falls along the lines of, ‘We typically go for a really nice dinner and order our favorite bottle of wine.’ will indicate that a strong caterer and nice table wine will be a budget priority. Another response might be, ‘We typically call our closest friends or family and grab drinks on a patio by the water.’ This would indicate a more laid back vibe, potentially where you want to prioritize creating a lounge feel where guests can sit and relax and enjoy a cocktail before dinner.  More of your budget may be going into creating an atmosphere over high-end drinks or food in this instance.”

Make it personal

Answering these questions, Nicole says, is a way to ensure a wedding becomes a heightened extension of how each couple lives their day-to-day lives, and not just a beautiful event.

“If clients are a little vague on how they celebrate, I dig deeper into questions such as their favorite restaurants, favorite stores, favorite places they’ve traveled, and why? Often they’ll describe the décor or details, sometimes the food. All of this information bring out a greater understanding of the vibe you’re trying to create and if the food really is the priority, or if it’s the atmosphere that’s taking precedent in the budget.”

Start allocating your budget

Going Lovely event designer and planner PJ Dunn says once you’ve determined your overall budget and priorities, you can start to allocate money to these expenses. (If you’re not using a wedding planner to help with this, consider an online budgeting tool to assist.)

“You can absolutely have a beautiful experience without a huge price tag but you’ll need to get creative,” she says.

“You may be able to ‘splurge’ more on one or two things – your priorities – but keep in mind that you’ll have to cut back in other areas. Hiring that dream photographer that will provide you with pictures you’ll have for a lifetime (totally worth it by the way) may mean you’ll want to think about budgeting less and buying a non-designer or used dress or DIY your own flowers. ”

Find areas to save

And don’t hesitate to sign up family and friends to assist!

“Is your aunt great at cupcakes? See if she’ll contribute to the dessert bar. Your cousin plays the guitar? Live music for your ceremony! It’s a great way to not only be personal but also allow others to help out and be a part of your special day.”

Photography: Lauren Kinsey | Florals: Mytrie Blue

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12.11.15 / Featured, Wedding Ideas, Wedding Ideas Blog, Wedding Planning

Organic Outdoor Fall Wedding in the Mountains

Can you imagine a setting more enchanting than this? The Lonesome Valley, set in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, in autumn: where textures and colors collide in the most breathtaking of ways. If you’re planning a fall wedding, we encourage you to look to the views around you: local orchards, copper-kissed trees, and candlelight will create a beautiful ambiance for you.

More from the photographer, Eric Kelley:

“The deep textures, delicious colors and tender vignettes of Lonesome Valley were the inspiration for this editorial. Set in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, the day unfolds in an enchanted field, wandering delicately through an apple orchard and enjoying a quiet and tender moment on the edge of a lake.

The wedding details mimic this natural beauty by incorporating locally foraged florals, simply entwined copper wire wrapped around the napkins, and muted hues of an indian summer dispersed through out the imagery.

The effortless design by Julie Bunkley from Invision events, gentle styling of Augusta Cole and dreamy florals by Laura McCarty inspire a beautiful backdrop for our couple. Our bride and groom enjoy a bit of whimsy, wrapped in organic elegance. They are playful, thoughtful and endear their guests with the blessing of nature’s beauty.”

Lonesome Valley from East West on Vimeo.

Photographer: Eric Kelley | Event Production, Concept & Design: Julie Bunkley, Invision Events | Floral Design: Laura McCarty, Marked | Styling + Collaborative Design: Artistry by Augusta Cole | Venue: Lonesome Valley | Paper Suite & Calligraphy: Laura McCarty, Marked | Hair: Molly Stilley of Irrelephant Blog | Make-up: Joanna Ballentine of Irrelephant Blog | Bride’s Dress: Monique L’Huillier from Ivory & White | Grooms Suit: The Modern Gent | Wedding Film: Caleb Jordan Lee for East West Productions | Jewels: Trumpet and Horn | Dinnerware & Glassware: Anthropologie

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12.10.15 / Featured, Real Weddings, Real Weddings Blog

Chic and Urban Surprise Wedding in San Francisco

Destination wedding? No. Elopement? No. Surprise wedding? Yes! We’re so thrilled to share Sarah and Dan’s surprise wedding with you today; the busy couple had just started their own company, and weren’t sure how to fit planning a wedding into their hectic schedules. So, a short 10 week engagement and surprise wedding with just 40 guests gathered in their favorite spots: San Francisco and Big Sur.

Says the bride, “Our number one goal was to create a meaningful escape with our friends & family to celebrate such an important day. We wanted to eliminate as many headaches as possible to keep things simple and fun.”

Read on for more of the couple’s story:
“Dan and I met in St. Louis, Mo as teenagers. We dated throughout high school, during our time at separate universities, graduate school, etc. I became an architect and Dan a graphic & web designer. After a few years of working in the real world we decided to start a product development company together. Many people who start their own businesses can trace the decision back to a pivotal moment. Ours was after a long day of hiking in Big Sur, watching the sunset on Pfeiffer Beach, coming to the realization that it was time to take the plunge. 

The vision for our wedding was a chic-urban-meets-organic juxtaposition. This inspired our venue choices: San Francisco City Hall and a private Big Sur Estate. We’ve fallen in love with San Francisco over the years traveling back and forth for work and City Hall has such a wonderful combination of intricate details while still maintaining clean lines. The historic architecture and sense of permanence seemed perfect for our ceremony. Big Sur already held such a special place in our hearts so we couldn’t think of a better spot to escape for the reception. 

As people who love spacial design we wanted awe inspiring venues for the wedding, and they did not disappoint. Especially the Wind and Sea Estate – there were whales, dolphins and sea lions off the coast. Toasts were accentuated by the magical glow of sunset and gorgeous Northern California foliage. Even the 3 hour drive from City Hall to Big Sur was an important part of our day – taking a few hours to ourselves to enjoy the scenery change, and reflect on our day together was a lot of fun. 

For the details we wanted to stay true to our minimalist aesthetic by keeping everything clean and simple. Decor consisted of greens, whites, grays and golds inspired by stones found on Pfeiffer Beach. Our guest list was small allowing us to spoil everyone with an organic, farm-to-table meal and gourmet smore’s around the bonfire. The flowers were soft and organic with white peonies and local wild greenery. We used concrete vases, gold table numbers, mod flatware and stones found on the Big Sur beaches to merge urban and organic. To apply a few personal touches, Dan and I made our invitations, signage and road trip snack packs for our guests. Believe it or not, my parents actually drove everything cross-country for the wedding and we couldn’t be more grateful for all of their help! “

Photography: Clary Pfeiffer | Reception Venue: Wind & Sea Estate | Dress: Amsale | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Earrings: Katie Waltman | Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss | Caterer: Cheri Gladstone | Floral / Styling: Celeste Green | Hair & Make-Up: Mimi & Taylor | Flatware: Frances Lane | Rentals: Alexis Party Rental | Cake: Parker-Lusseau Pastries & Cafe

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12.09.15 / Featured, Real Weddings, Real Weddings Blog

Outdoor Summer Bridal Portrait Session

We love the tradition of bridal portraits, and this summer session from the Elisa Bricker Photography Workshop is nothing short of beautiful. From the bride’s stunning Carol Hannah gown to her elegant but unfussy hair style, every image of this collection shows her simple happiness and evokes a lovely romanticism. And that bouquet? Those peach and gold hues couldn’t be more welcome in the summer.

Looking for more inspiration for your own bridal portraits? Don’t miss this session featuring a bride and her stunning lace gown, Victoria’s Secret model Britt Maren’s portraits with 2 of the most amazing bouquets you’ll ever see, and this dreamy session when the magnolias were in full bloom.

More from the photographer, Elisa Bricker:
“This bridal portrait, taken during the Elisa Bricker Photography workshop, was inspired by the light and mountain views at Pippin Hill farm and a desire to provide a clean and feminine shoot for attendees. Designed to focus to movement, the hair and makeup are unfussy and light, and the dress moves easily. Lush neutral florals, designed by Jacin Fitzgerald, with pops of color brighten the mood.”

Photography: Elisa Bricker | Design + Florals: Jacin Fitzgerald | Styling: Abby Capalbo | Venue: Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard | Hair and Makeup: Lora Kelley | Gown: Carol Hannah | Ring: Trumpet + Horn | Earrings: Kate Spade | Cameras: Contax Rental | Model: Marisa Pazik of THE Artist Agency

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12.08.15 / Featured, Wedding Ideas, Wedding Ideas Blog