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My most frugal design ever...

I want to share with you the second most special day of my life. It was runner up to my beautiful son being born, but a very close second. Being an almost 30, single mother, working two jobs to get by, I wasn't exactly looking for Mr. Right after Mr. Wrong left. Little did I know, he was there all along. One of my best friends and co-workers that I used as a shoulder to cry on, a phone call to get me through the night and a reality check when I needed it would soon become my Mr. Right. As many times as I tried to push him away and make myself believe that wasn't what I wanted and/or needed at the time, it just didn't work out that way. I'm glad he's a pesky little booger! Anyway, after a while, we decided to get married and planning a wedding seemed like a super fun idea right up until Mr. Spreadsheet and his budget slapped me smack dab in the middle of the head. I knew we were going to be funding this event ourselves for the most part and all I could think was "great and grand." That actually became common words to hear around here, except for it was more like, "but that's not great OR grand!" We thought about going away and getting married on a beach somewhere bu having our family there was so important to both of us. I wasn't having it any other way. But, having a local event meant huge expenses for venue, caterers, florists, entertainment, blah, blah, blah. One day while googling event venues an ad came up for Lake Vacation Home rentals. Of course that one was about $5,000.00 over our venue budget, but I kept looking and found a perfect property for our wedding. My mom and I made the hour trip to view it and I was in love so the next weekend, D & I made another trip back up to see it again, only this time there were renters and we couldn't look. He was on board for whatever I wanted and as excited as I was about it, he would have never told me no. I called back to book the home, paid for it and the design began to flow. I had a poor notebook to keep all my ideas, lists, color swatches, quotes and all in. That poor notebook, it had a very hard life. I called a few caterers and their price was about $20.00 per person. Um, no thanks! I'm needing to spend less than $500.00 on food, cakes and all. I visited a florist and their price was about $2,000.00. Wrong again. When the harsh reality set in that to make this work I was going to have to be very frugal, cut unnoticeable corners, and do a ton of the work myself, my mind started going into overdrive. More lists. More schedules. More planning.

Since I had already booked this house...



I started on our attire. I went to David's Bridal and found the dress I loved among 12 others I tried on in my price range that I didn't love. So I came home, scoured the internet and found the exact same dress on Craigslist in California and had it shipped to me. I got the dress I wanted for $500.00 off retail and it fit like a glove and required no alterations!


I found Damon's suit at the Thrift Store. A Brooks Brothers suit that fit perfectly for $10.00. All I had to buy was his white dress shirt and the vest & tie (from Burlington for around $30.00 total).


Austin's suit very closely matched Damon's suit and it came from e-bay. A new 5 piece suit for $15.00.


After I had our attire covered, I began making food lists. Since we were expecting 75, I was trying to keep it relatively simple to keep the budget down. My mom made a wonderful pineapple chicken salad for me and my dad brought his famous pork tenderloin for me too. We served those on croissants purchased from Sam's Club. I also bought fruits and vegetables with dips, tons of different crackers and cheeses and a few other dips. To avoid spending a fortune on serving pieces, I pulled out my stash of Pampered Chef Simple Additions and a borrowed a few other matching pieces from other family and friend Pampered Chef addicts like myself. It worked perfectly. The home was so modern and clean lines that the crisp white squares were perfect.


I ordered a plain white 3 tiered wedding cake and added a cute ribbon and scroll work to dress it up a bit and added a monogram topper from Hobby Lobby. Luckily one of my friends I recruited to help me was experienced in cake making and was able to sack it for me. Damon is a lover of cheesecake so naturally we chose that for his grooms cake. Luckily for us, Sam's Club sells Cheesecake Factory Cheesecakes frozen for a fraction of the cost and all of the taste.


All along I knew I wanted a Candy Buffet. Candy is expensive though! Since we were planning a May wedding, I was able to buy clearanced Valentines Day candy in pink and white and Easter candy in green, pink and white to fill my jars with 30 pounds of candy! That in and of itself was a huge money saver because full price for all of that candy would have been through the roof. I picked up matching jars at the thrift store for months leading up to the wedding to have enough and found perfect sized tongs at Dollar Tree too. The candy buffet was my favorite and a crowd favorite too!

We had these...


and these...


on this table...


to be served in these little boxes from Dollar Tree & Labels from E-bay.


I think in total, I spent about $400.00 on food, not bad for serving 75 guests.

Then the flowers. Oh the flowers. I have never been one who was able to make an arrangement fit for anything, so I was really nervous about this part. I went to the Wholesale Flower Market and picked out tons of flowers, not knowing what I needed or how much it would take. I just went by what I liked and said a number. Luckily it all worked out with little waste. At about 2 am the morning before our wedding, my team and I were whipping out beautiful corsages, boutonnieres, a bouquet and table arrangements. They were perfect, especially considering we didn't have the foggiest idea what we were doing. Other than watching a few you tube videos online, I didn't have any idea what to do.





I made sure we didn't leave any stones uncovered to personalize the space and make someone's lake home warm an inviting for our guests. I hung a moss covered P monogram on the front door to welcome them in.


For the ceremony, we rented a few plant stands that we placed beautiful ferns in, an arch that we decorated the basin of, and my mom and I sewed our little fingers off making chair sashes to give it a little bit of color.


I was inside getting ready while everyone was setting up and when I walked out and saw this...

I was in complete aw. All our hard work had become great and grand right in front of my eyes.

We had a beautiful lakeside ceremony surrounded by our friends and family that love us most and it was really such a beautiful, special day.

After all that hard work, running on very little sleep from the night before, I needed a cool off so we decided to take a dip!



I couldn't have done it without the massive amount of help from so many people. When I think back now, it was exactly what I wanted and I am so thankful to have been able to get exactly what I wanted without breaking the bank. This just goes to show that great design, whether it be in your home or for a party or even a wedding doesn't have to cost a fortune. A little planning, thinking outside the box and using every resource possible can make anything great and grand.

Suzy  – (September 2, 2010 at 11:21 PM)  

I love the photos! I am just starting to wedding plan and would love ANY tips you have ;) Everything looked gorgeous on your big day!!!! I don't think my dollar tree has those boxes because I sure would have snatched them up asap if they did! And your candy table looks fantastic! Ah I just want to comment on every photo- i love it all! CONGRATS MRS!!

Your newest follower,
Suzy @ joyisathome.blogspot.com

Orange it Lovely  – (September 3, 2010 at 7:31 AM)  

oh wow. You really should do this for a living! Love it all of it.
My story is so similar to yours lol its strange. There they were right next to us the whole time. Thank god we got smart! :)
~Tana

Sarah  – (September 3, 2010 at 2:24 PM)  

Your photos make me want to do my wedding all over again. Every you did was just stunning!

Katie's Nesting Spot  – (September 3, 2010 at 11:12 PM)  

Your wedding sounds a lot better than most of the ultra expensive ones you read about! I love all your cost cutting strategies and I can't believe how amazing your candy buffet looked! I wanted to do one for a little party with friends and decided not to because of the cost. Can't imagine doing it for a wedding. Everything looked wonderful and I LOVE that you literally JUMPED into marriage! What a wonderful day!

Kae-la  – (September 9, 2010 at 9:47 AM)  

All your DIY looked amazing....professional I'd say! Maybe you are in the wrong business!

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