Let's face it — most of us don't have unlimited wedding budgets. But how do you decide what's worth the big bucks and where to cut corners? Here, 15 real couples reveal their biggest indulgence and top money-savers.
Let's face it — most of us don't have unlimited wedding budgets. But how do you decide what's worth the big bucks and where to cut corners? Here, 15 real couples reveal their biggest indulgences and top money-savers.
Jessica and Amir held their wedding at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay, California, with their ceremony on the seaside bluffs. “It reminded me of my grandmother’s stories about the coast of Ireland, where her parents grew up,” said Jessica. “It made me feel like we were having a destination wedding.” The couple even applied for special permits to close the public streets near the hotel, giving them and their guests a feeling of complete privacy. See more from this wedding ►
Not only did Kelly make the centerpieces, invitations, programs, menus, and hair accessories for her and Curtis's aviation-themed wedding , but she also made her own wedding gown! See more from this wedding ►
For their modern, glamorous celebration in downtown Atlanta, Fatimah and Jean splurged on an open bar. Here, the groom and groomsmen enjoy a toast with customized shot glasses. See more from this wedding ►
Kristen and Brad splurged on their venue — a beautiful ranch in Carmel Valley, CA — but recouped some costs by stocking the bar themselves. Brad brewed five custom beers for the wedding, and the couple toasted with beer instead of champagne. See more from this wedding ►
Like many couples, Stacy and Paul chose to splurge on photography and videography in order to capture all of their wonderful memories. They also opted for a carnival-style photo booth, where guests posed with playful props and took home copies as their favor. See more from this wedding ►
Jenna and Iván wanted a photo booth at their reception, but it simply wasn’t in the budget. Instead, they placed a Polaroid camera next to their guest book, so that guests could add their photos and well wishes to the book. See more from this wedding ►
From the hand-carved peonies in the bride’s bouquet to the massive arrangements of orchids, peonies, hydrangeas, calla lilies, and roses, Jessica and Amir’s beachside celebration was filled to the brim with purple and green flowers. See more from this wedding ►
Jenna and Iván decided to host a four-day wedding weekend on Cape Cod, where Jenna spent many summers growing up. “It’s a place that’s very dear to my heart,” she said. Since many guests came from out of town or overseas, “we wanted to treat them to the best Cape Cod had to offer.” Weekend activities included a welcome clambake, a guided nature walk of the local marshlands, a yoga session on the beach the morning of the wedding, and a morning-after brunch at the bride’s parents’ house. See more from this wedding ►
After falling in love with the luxe Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, a venue that captured Kate and Dave's passion for sprawling vineyards and rustic nature, the couple compromised by choosing a Friday for their celebration in order to save money. See more from this wedding ►
During the cocktail hour, Kelly and Curtis’s guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres of Tomato Gazpacho, Chinese Chicken in Wonton Cups, Hummus with Feta Cheese on Crostinis, Pork Mini Tacos with Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw, Baby Beets and Goat Cheese on Crostinis.
For the entree, friends and family dined on Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Burrata Cheese and Basil, Grilled Salt and Pepper Free Range Chicken, Slow-Cooked California Boneless Beef Short Ribs, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Grilled Oxnard Vegetables.
And for dessert, apple pies by Julian Pie Company were displayed on cake stands along with a customized banner. Guests also were treated to an espresso bar and coffee service. See more from this wedding ►
Jenn and Matt kept it casual with carnival-themed fare; for dinner, guests enjoyed a buffet of nachos with various toppings, buttered popcorn, and deep-fried corn dogs. For dessert, an assorted candy bar featured multicolored lollipops, licorice, jelly candy, Skittles, cotton candy, and lemon drops, in addition to the three-tier wedding cake and a layered cookie groom's cake. See more from this wedding ►
Rebecca and Anil honored the groom’s Indian heritage with a henna-inspired cake, custom-designed by Fleur de Lisa Wedding Cakes. The shimmer-fondant cake with gold accents featured vanilla poppy seed cake, layered with white chocolate cream cheese, fresh raspberry puree, and tangy lemon curd fillings. See more from this wedding ►
Photo Credit: Mike Peyzner and Natasha Valik of Choco Studio
Chera and Richard kept it simple for their wedding cake, save for a few special details: the cake was inscribed in Japanese with the words for ‘marriage’ and ‘happiness,’ as well as the couples’ initials. See more from this wedding ►
Candice and Chip enlisted the help of celebrity wedding planner Sasha Souza to make their wedding dreams a reality. The theme of the festivities was “sharing the things we love with the people we love,” which translated into a brunch reception with local organic food in a natural, outdoor setting, with philanthropic components and a slew of lawn and board games. A whimsical feel was created through the orange and blue color scheme. See more from this wedding ►
Mariel and Matt knew they wanted to have a destination wedding, where their guests could experience their big day and enjoy some fun-in-the-sun. They found their dream location in Jamaica. To help out their guests, they picked up much of the tab, in addition to organizing several activities, ranging from an ocean-view welcome cocktail hour and a sunset boat cruise to a volleyball tournament on the beach. They also stocked welcome beach bags with an itinerary and plenty of goodies. See more from this wedding ►
Kristen and Brad, who both grew up in the Bay Area, chose the lush, rolling hills of history Holman Ranch to hold their wedding. Their menu was based on fresh vegetables and meats available at the local farmers market. For the tables, the couple’s mothers planted fresh herbs in terra-cotta pots, which doubled as favors. “It was important to us that both the food and décor be eco-friendly,” said Kristen. See more from this wedding ►
Instead of sending expensive paper invites, Candice and Chip donated what they would’ve spent to UNICEF for African crises, setting the tone for their charitable wedding day. See more from this wedding ►
Both avid golfers, Chera and Richard chose an unusual venue: the 18th green at The Golf Club of Oklahoma. “It’s one of the most beautiful courses in the state,” said Chera. Richard and his groomsmen even played a round of golf during the hours leading up to the ceremony, while Chera relaxed with her mom, sister, and best friends, having their hair and makeup done together. “It was nice to have some private time with the women in my life. See more from this wedding ►
Stacy and Paul wanted their wedding to reflect their passion for reading and writing; personalized décor helped bring their vision to life. Hand-painted wooden signs with literary quotes and advice from loved ones began the vintage storybook theme. For their guest book, friends and family were asked to type up their marital advice on an old typewriter and decoupage it onto a heart-shaped print. The couple hung a clothesline of photos throughout the years to emulate a storyboard. Even the table settings included a paper runner for guests to write on, and the table numbers and place cards were embellished with Scrabble letters. See more from this wedding ►