My winter wedding will be held on January 1, 2011 at the very place my fiance and I met: the beautiful Berry College in Rome, GA. As a soon to be college graduate (I graduate a mere three weeks before our wedding date), my recent college graduate fiance and I have met our match planning a wedding that we're paying for mostly ourselves. My family contributed all they had ($3,000) which leaves John and I to make the ends meet before the big day.
Our mission to cut corners begins with our venues. We will be wed at the breathtaking Frost Chapel, situated directly on campus.
Frost Chapel - Berry College
Inside of Frost Chapel - Berry College
What makes this venue even more breathtaking is that because I work in the Chaplain's office on campus, I get a 50% discount for using the facility. Instead of paying $600 as many students do, I only had to pay $300 and had the $100 cleaning deposit waived.
In addition, we knew we should also hold our reception on campus to cut the cost of transportation to and from our reception site. Berry presents two options for students getting married on campus:
The beautiful, yet pricey Ford Dining Hall ($1,500 rental fee)
Ford Dining Hall - Berry College
or the much less glamorous, or as John and I like to call it, "rustic" Hill Dining Hall.
Hill Dining Hall - Berry College
By telling our situation to the operators on campus, we managed to snag Hill for FREE! Although much less glamorous, Hill Dining Hall will set the mood for our warm winter wedding. Typically used as a "cafeteria" for the private elementary school on campus, Hill's hardwood floors, old wooden tables and fireplace will easily set the mood for our intimate reception.
As far as decoration for the ceremony goes, we are blessed in the fact that Frost is so beautiful there is no need for a lot of decorating. We will be accenting the winter weather with lots of inexpensive candles for the altar and front of the church, instead of going all out with a lot of flowers.
Inexpensive votive candles can easily have a more dramatic effect than flowers.
We are planning to line the pews with pomanders made of carnations, instead of roses, to cut costs drastically in the flower department.
Another way we're planning to cut costs is by saving the flowers from the rehearsal dinner the night before at our reception. Our caterer is awesome and because we're using her for both events, she is working with us to help us get the most "bang for our buck!"
To echo that, my bridesmaids' bouquets made of white hydrangeas that will be put directly in water in a collection of the caterer's mismatched white milk jugs and vases on the dessert table at the reception. This will eliminate the waste of tossing the bouquets immediately following the reception.
Utilizing less expensive flowers, like carnations, and borrowing hardware like vases from other people is an area that you can easily cut costs drastically.
Food & Drink
As far as food goes, my fiance and I are having a dessert reception, complete with a full candy bar, to avoid costs. I am going with a "white on white" theme for the reception decor, to keep things clean and simple. I envision our full-on, white dessert bar to look something like the photos below. This will avoid the hefty cost of a wedding cake, an instead feature dessert options that please every tastebud.
Options for an easy, DIY dessert bar
Another area that my fiance and I lucked out in is alcohol. Berry is a dry campus, which completely eliminated the worry of having to pay for alcohol for 125 people!
We are aiming on serving water, tea, and warm brewed drinks like apple cider, hot cocoa and coffee.
Save the Dates & Invitations
This was the cost I was definitely most intimidated by. As a self-proclaimed "stationary snob," I was very anxious as to what we could afford that would meet my expectations.
Once again, this is where it helped out to be a college student. I simply took a leap of faith and emailed a classmate and fellow communication major. Enter, Lauren Wright Design.
Within a two week time table, Lauren met with us, created a design and printed 175 save the dates. Our final result may not be up to Crane & Co. standard, but my fiance and I are very proud to have a save the date the incorporates us on a personal level.
Although we are still in the process of ordering invitations, we are excited to incorporate a personal feel to the final result.
By having a classmate design our save the dates herself, we were able to save money and incorporate a design that was unique to me and John.
My fiance's family has passed down a recipe for BBQ sauce for generations. It's become so popular that his family has begun selling it in local meat markets thoughout Georgia! We plan on taking advantage of its success by giving it away as favors to each guest.
To personalize each bottle, we are planning on incorporating a white ribbon and if costs allow, a custom label with our wedding date.
Through word of mouth in the Berry community, my fiance and I were able to find an award-winning photographer who we could not be happier with! Katherine Birkbeck is a Berry alumna, and despite her talent, she charges half as much as what other photographers in the Atlanta area charge. In addition, John and I are fortunate in the fact that his family is helping cover the costs of photography, something that is very important to the both of us.
Photos from our engagement session
Wedding dress and Accessories
Because my family is 500 miles away from Berry, once I got engaged I was ready to knock out buying my wedding dress because I knew I would have to go without them. I ventured into Atlanta one Saturday morning with no hope of finding anything. Man, was I ever wrong!
I walked into Bridals by Lori, a high-end salon in Sandy Springs, GA thinking I wouldn't be able to afford anything. Instead, my consultant showed me the sample sale going on and encouraged me to look around. I was skeptic, but I ended up finding the dress in a matter of 30 minutes!
In addition, I received an extra 10% off of the sale price just for purchasing my dress on my first visit to the salon. To cut costs even more, I had my dress shipped out of state to my home in North Carolina to avoid Georgia sales tax. Needless to say, I was very thrilled about my dress!
As far as accessories go, I always knew I never wanted to wear a veil. This has led me to scope through Etsy.com and other "vintage" websites for the perfect brooch to match the beading on my dress. Although I haven't ordered anything yet, when I find pieces like the one below I know I am in the right direction to find a budget-savvy option.
$39 Rhinestone hair comb
Because most of my attendants are college students, I naturally gravitated towards a store that my bridesmaids would like and be able to afford.
J.Crew offers a 10% discount to all students who have a valid college email address, which applies to 4 out of my 6 bridesmaids. Because each bridesmaid as a different body type, I have chosen three black dresses from J.Crew that they can choose from.
J.Crew silk taffeta Lorelei dress J.Crew silk tricotine Cecelia dress
J.Crew silk tricotine Sophia short dress
Although John and I are months away from being married, I get more and more excited on finding deals and steals each day. Our budget has, in a way, created a fun challenge for us!