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A Personalized DIY Vintage Wedding by a Budget Savvy Bride


         After the buzz of my engagement to my boyfriend of five years wore off, the planning started. I knew two things from stage one of planning: I had a very small budget of around $6,000, I wanted no more than 100 guests, and I wanted something that expressed who me and my fiance are as a couple with a vintage flair. 

        I chose the prettiest venues I could find for my ceremony and reception, because a beautiful venue means less money on decor. I chose the Pensacola Museum of Commerce and Pensacola's Old Christ Church. The museum has a room lined with replicas of actual businesses existing in my city's downtown area throughout its history. 

Tip: While a venue can cost a pretty penny, renting a local museum or historic site sends your money back into the community—certainly a worthwhile cause! 

My ceremony venue is a small white church and one of the oldest in Florida. It has a charm all its own and doesn't require much decor, if any. 

The cost of my venues? $1,600 total for both venues, all day until about midnight. The church includes a bridal suite in the historic home behind it, and the museum includes tables and chairs and has an ice machine with caterer prep room. I looked for venues with added extras for the most bang for my buck. My money is also staying local and going back into the community, which I love.

Tip: Choose a venue that gives you the most bang for your buck. Find venues with amazing lighting features, or one that provides tables and chairs. 

This image from photographer CookImages shows one simple rose tied into a bow with ribbon, a couple pieces of greenery and some raffia, then secured to a pew. Far less expensive than pomanders! Cut costs in half by doing every other or ever third pew, or staggering them, one on the first pew on the left, then one on the second pew on the right, etc. 

I found a local specialty grocery store that also does catering. Because they are a store and do not rely on catering as their main source of income, I am saving a bundle. For under $15.00 a person I'm getting a two-entree meal served buffet style with a mashed potato bar! They are also close by so that means hot food! 

Tip: Try local or chain restaurants and grocery stores that also cater. They tend to be less expensive and sometimes the food will surprise you! Also, they tend not to be able to provide a bartender, which seems like a bad thing, but without having to pay a corkage fee, you are free to hire an off duty bartender and buy your own alcohol from a bulk warehouse! 

For my invites, I wanted something decadent and beautiful with vintage appeal, but I was quoted $10.00 per invitation for what I wanted. Instead, I purchased 50% off square pocketfold invites from Paper Source, and using spray glue, covered them with 40% off satin brocade fabric from Joann's Fabric. I added silk ribbon and gathered it in the center with a pearl brad from Michael's ($2.00 with a 40% off coupon! sign up for their e-mail list!) and a couple rhinestones. The inside I printed on linen paper from a local paper store 50% off at home on my inkjet. Total cost? $2.86 per invitation! 

Tip: Sign up for Joann's and Michael's mailing lists if you plan to DIY anything for your wedding because they send great coupons! Also, Michael's puts coupons for 20-25% off your entire purchase in many bride magazines including Martha Stewart Weddings.

Here's my digital mockup I sketched out (I don't have a good photo of the finished product yet). 

We are using a family friend who is a bartender and purchasing the alcohol at Sam's Club (like a Costco) liquor store, which accepts returns for unopened bottles! Mixers will be purchased at the grocery store. 

Instead of a lavish cocktail hour, we are supplying a bunch of vintage goodies and refreshments along with cheese, crackers, and vegetable platters we are dressing up with extra garnish. We have been hoarding vintage looking soda bottles from Big Lot's and even found Jones Soda bottles, which I used an Xyron to put our own photos on for a custom look. These will be placed in galvanized tubs with ice out front of the "gas station" in the museum, on either side of the bar. We're having caramel corn placed in pink and white candy store paper bags, folded over and stapled with custom stickers (printed out and made with my Xyron, a 40% off Michael's purchase!) stuck to the front. 

Lourdes & Craig

This photo from TheKnot  shows simple lunch bags folded over with a personalized sticker. What a great and inexpensive solution to expensive takeout containers for candybars! I plan to put popcorn in mine. 

Tip: Remember all of those lavish appetizer buffets during cocktail hours on wedding tv shows? Think about it, who really eats that much for their appetizer? Get veggies and cheese (a baked brie wheel for a little sense of an upscale appetizer) and a few snacks like nuts and crackers. No need to overstuff your guests before the meal or to waste money! 

My fiance made a lollipop tree for my favorite watermelon blow pops (bought in bulk at Sam's Club) by drilling holes at an angle into a 1 1/2" dowel and mounting it on a base. His favorite candy (gummi things!) as well as peanuts and powdered sugar covered roasted pecans made by my mother, and other little vintage inspired treats and snacks will be placed in antique crocks that my mother collects and vintage blue Ball mason jars also from her collection. Instead of a cake? Cupcakes on a DIY constructed cupcake stand! It cut our cost down by $200! We will also have sangria and a non-alcoholic teal "mocktail" in clear dispensers with submersible LED lights in the icefilled plastic core, illuminating the beverages. 

This photo from a the Wedding Bee shows vintage Coke bottles at a reception. Skip the expensive striped paper straws and go for plastic ones in vintage red or your wedding colors! 

Tip: Instead of a candy bar, just put out two candies, your favorite and your partner's favorite. People will appreciate the significance. We are placing ours out during cocktail hour along with the other treats and snacks just as a fun addition. Doing a vintage wedding? Check with relatives to borrow antique vessels like crocks and jars—my Mom's house is a shopping mall for my wedding!

My centerpieces are curly willow (40% off raincheck from Hobby Lobby) and pussy willow ($1.50 a bunch at Sam's Club!) in tall vases (set of two for $15.00 at Big Lots) filled with teal water and floral gel ($10.00 for bulk amount at floral supply shop) with submersible LED lights inside (bought at Joann's with coupon, $6.00 for 12). Around the base will be a doughnut shaped floral arrangement we will DIY ourselves. The floral foam was $1.00 for each small ring at Dollar Tree. 


Tip: Food coloring in water? Cheap, and adds an amazing punch. Can the uplighting (no pun intended, promise!) and its ridiculous cost, and add a submersible LED light (try Joanns or to your centerpieces for a glow at each table.

I am DIYing all the flowers as my mother and myself have each worked at florist before. I'm mixing seasonal bouquets bought from Publix (my aunt works there and is buying a certain amount for me when they are delivered) and incorporating roses from a local floral supply and Billy Balls for added zing! I will make my bouquet and the flowers for the centerpieces the day before and place them in the fridge for the next day. 

Tip: Don't be afraid to DIY your own flowers! From now until wedding time, start DIYing arrangements for your house or for family and friends with just seasonal bouquets bought at the grocery store! There are tons of amazing tips and tricks online, especially on Youtube! 

To save money for my bridesmaids, I've told them to wear any black knee length dress they wish, and I'm purchasing black pashminas as gifts and having them monogrammed. 

I am an experienced makeup artist and will be doing my own makeup as well as my bridesmaid's eye makeup (they will do their own face makeup) because it really relaxes me and will be calming for me before the ceremony! They are getting a simple sweep of Stila Kitten shadow, Milani's dupe of Urban Decay's Bourbon 24/7 eyeliner smudged along the lashline, and a sweep of their own waterproof mascara. 

Tip: Check out Makeupalley for product reviews and drugstore dupes for high end brands, and Youtube (I recommend makeupbytiffanyd) for tips and tricks on bridal makeup. Anyone can do their own makeup, I promise! 

I have practiced hot rolling my hair months in advance and will have the style down by the day of my wedding. I'm doing a simple but vintage inspired style that takes very little time to complete. For an added bit of glamour, I purchased a rhinestone applique that I used E6000 to affix to a headband. I blinged out my veil with swarovski crystal beads dangling from the bottom and rhinestones scattered near the bottom as well.

As for my dress? I fell in love with a gown at David's Bridal of all places, and it rang up 50% off, much to my sales assistant's surprise! I have heard horror stories about David's, so I suggest going in to just browse and interact with the SA's until you feel one is right for you, then make an appointment with them! I ended up with an amazing assistant who really helped me in the right direction. I will be wearing my own pair of Christian Louboutins that are not new for my wedding day, but are special to me. They are black satin which I think is a gorgeous contrast to my white dress and a playful nod to my bridal party's black and white attire. The men are wearing shawl lapel tuxes with black bow ties and fedoras for pictures! 

Tip: A dress, is a dress, is a dress! No one will be looking at the label on your gown when you walk down the aisle, so don't give the budget conscious bridal salons the boot, you could find your dream dress there and save a bundle. Saving money isn't being cheap, it is empowering! You can have just as glamorous, just as unique and beautiful wedding as the ones you see on television for a fraction of the cost. 

At the end of the night when our friends are done dancing to our DJ (a family friend! pool those resources!) and ready to go home, they will find a table with two of Krispe Kreme's new mini doughnuts in a clear bag with a tag that reads "Sweet Dreams from the Bride & Groom!" alongside (borrowed) coffee percolators filled with hot cocoa and paper coffee cups with lids purchased at Sam's Club and personalized with another Xyron sticker! 

So that's my crazy, DIY, vintage inspired wedding plan! The biggest tip I can give you is to relax and remember the true reason you want your wedding to look stunning, because you want your family and friends to be just as happy on your day as you will be when you walk down that aisle towards the one you love. My father saved my wedding fund just months after returning to work after being cancer he nearly died from. I cherish every single penny he worked so hard for and was so generous to give me, and I intend to spend it wisely to honor his selflessness on my wedding day. 

Last Updated: August 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm
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