In March 2012, Los Angeles couple Rebecca O’Grady, 23, and Orion Kirkpatrick, 26, had a wedding that rivaled the ones we spend hours drooling over on Style Me Pretty. But unlike most of the breathtaking -- and bank-breaking -- nuptials showcased on that site, the couple’s wedding, held in O’Grady’s parents’ backyard, was far from extravagant. Below, O’Grady shares how she and her now husband, who both work in book publishing, got hitched in style for only $5,000 –- and a whole lot of DIY-ing. (As told to Natasha Burton).
We got engaged in October 2012, so we didn’t have a lot of time to plan. But, we also felt that a wedding was definitely not something worth going in debt for. We decided that, if we got creative enough, we could throw one hell of a wedding without spending much money.
One thing we knew for sure is that we wanted our wedding to be incredibly easygoing without a lot of structure. We didn't do the traditional timeline -- a cocktail hour and bouquet toss, for example. The event was free-flowing, which allowed us to enjoy ourselves after the ceremony as opposed to worrying about following a set schedule.
To make our wedding happen, we did just about everything ourselves. My sister, Allison, served as my maid of honor and wedding planner. My parents’ backyard created a gorgeous backdrop, so we didn’t have to pay a site fee. We also had tons of dishware and servingware, eliminating the need for rentals. The dishware was a combination of things my mom had in her china cabinet. We figured, as long as each person’s place setting is nice, who cares if they have the same plate as the person two tables away?
We were quite happy with how scrappy we were being during the planning process. The yarn signs we made for the bar as well as for the dessert table were one of my favorite touches. Making the signs was very simple and they added a fun element to both areas. Another favorite project of mine was making the votive candles on the tables. We wrapped them in paper for a pop of color.
Friends and family pitched in by making all the food -- from appetizers to dinner. My bridesmaids and I got together the night before and baked all the goodies for the dessert table. We got really into it and ended up making all sorts of different treats. We put some of the desserts in open drawers in the dessert table vanity, which I really loved. I borrowed the vanity from my sister, who got it at an antique store last year.
Friends and family also helped in other ways by choosing the playlists for each piece of the wedding, designing programs, spray painting the gold vases for the reception tables and making the chevron bags that went on the place settings.
Having everyone pitch in was actually a great bonding experience. By the time the wedding rolled around, most people felt like they had a special part in making the day happen.
We also cut costs by skipping a lot of the “traditional” aspects of a wedding, like escort cards, and had simple invitations as opposed to overly elaborate ones. One thing we did spend money on, however, was our cake. It was a simple two-tier white cake that was pink inside from a local baker in the area, I Do Wedding Cakes. It cost $300. Sure, it wasn’t a huge monetary splurge, but when you are doing so much yourself you think, why spend money on the cake? But we never would have been able to pull off a cake that awesome ourselves. Other than the cake, our two biggest expenses were my dress and the photographer.
One of the drawbacks to doing everything ourselves is that I don’t think we were able to enjoy the morning of our wedding quite the same way. We didn’t have a wedding coordinator, and we had to do everything ourselves the day of. Things were getting a little hectic toward the end with setting up while it was pouring rain. We were planning on having both the ceremony and the dinner after outside, but due to the rain we had to try to remedy the situation by moving both inside. I had really wanted an outdoor ceremony so I was stressed.
But, when the photographers came, my sister asked them to take my husband-to-be and I away from the havoc so we could do our pre-ceremony “first look” photo session in a field several blocks away. This was followed by some “us” time before we had to get back to the house.
By the time we got there, everything was set up. It had stopped raining about a half hour before the ceremony so at the last minute, all the guests scrambled to set everything up so the ceremony could at least be held outdoors.
My main advice for couples wanting to throw a great wedding on a budget is to spend money where it counts, and not bother with the other stuff. There really are no rules when it comes to planning your wedding, so if you are going to splurge, do it on something that matters to you, not just something you feel you have to do.
In that same vein, I don’t think everyone should have the kind of wedding we had –- it really is a personal decision to have a low-key wedding and what made us happy might not be what makes another couple happy. Heck, if I had a lot of money lying around, our wedding might have been a different story. But, in choosing to do things how we did, we ended up spending more quality time together instead of money.
Click through the slideshow below for photos of O’Grady and Kirkpatrick’s wedding