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Emily Henderson

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by Velinda Hellen
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Today, my wife and I have been married for a year. So, we’re marriage experts obviously…no. But the EHD team was impressed by the fact we had a 70-person wedding for $10K when the current average cost of a wedding in California is $32K(!?!). To celebrate LGBTQ Pride month, I’m sharing my wedding (with a few of our budget-friendly tips that Emily is obsessed with), so today, I’m a wedding blogger who’s never read a wedding blog. “The big day” just wasn’t on the list of daydreams for my wife or I growing up. Despite marching and voting for the right since 2003 (thank you fighters who came before me), I never really “needed” marriage myself. Then there was Katie.

I married an old friend. The details (and the relationships-turned friendships-turned new relationships-turned friendships that only queers seem to pull off that surrounded us and brought us together…then back together) are enough to fill another post (or two), but a clip: In 2013, I bonded instantly with this quick-witted, unconventional thinker over the invisibility of bisexuality, a joint love of camping and a shared, life-long crush on the X-Files’ Gillian Anderson. We double-dated, camped and rang in 2014 together. Then we lost touch. Two years later, she missed an exit on the freeway near my house and ended up turning around on my street. She texted. When we met up to grab a drink a week later, I felt nervous, despite easy and unlimited conversation. I suddenly noticed the crease in her bottom lip and the freckle in her eye. She’d later confess to a 3-year-long crush. But until we reunited, I was clueless. Now, I had to escape to bathrooms when she was around, fearing I might actually vomit. What was happening to me? So much fear preempted shifting from friendship to…more…I didn’t want to lose my friend again. But I also knew if she felt the same, I was done. For good. And I’m a pragmatist. So again, what was happening to me???

My. God. If kissing a friend always went like it did for us, I’d advise everyone to go kiss a friend (bad advice). The weeks that followed that first kiss, we were smitten. It was hard to form words when together. Katie spilled soy sauce all over the table every time we went for sushi. I was gushing to a journal and any friend willing to listen. “I’ve lost my heart and sanity to my friend. Send help.” It was disgustingly adorable and we just belonged. Then, three weeks later, my mom got diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. And shit got real.

Avoiding the ins and outs of cancer (always fun to include in a wedding blog), I’ll say this: Katie’s embrace, dry-morbid-ish-humor and ability to ground me by sitting outside, playing Gin Rummy (and other such retirement home-appropriate entertainment) kept me laughing through a dark year. She was my vessel (term of endearment from a stylist!). And as my mom said when she met Katie for the first time, in a hospital room upon getting diagnosed, “I knew instantly she was family.” At the end of that year, I proposed fireside in our backyard. And a year and a half-long engagement brings us to the point of this post: The budget wedding.

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Having never really dreamed of a wedding, it was time to plan one. Neither of us had a family with funds or a church affiliation to provide a venue. What we had was a lot of friends and a house with enough yard space for 60ish people…we thought. We really hoped.

Without unlimited resources, we homed in on what mattered to us and where we wanted to spend. And when it was all said and done, we looked back on what worked, what was necessary/paid off…and what didn’t. And now, I can form the list of “budget-wedding advice” I needed then—and maybe you need now. Having done this once (or at least that’s the story I tell Katie), here is my expert advice, given the hindsight:

1. Invest in What Matters and Lasts*

(*like, dog tutus)

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Your guests won’t leave a bad Yelp review if they don’t get monogrammed napkins (which end up in the trash). Splurge only on a few limited details that last and keep the rest simple. For us, it was our bar sign, which now hangs on our wall and a Polaroid book for guest memories ($280 total for book and film, we had the camera).

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Prioritizing what lasts, we spent most of our flower budget on potted plants. Our jasmine/bougainvillea wedding “backdrop,” the table succulent boxes and the plant walls (which we made with wooly pockets) are all flowers we’re still enjoying today. Plus, we filled in slightly-neglected window boxes and hanging planters since some needed home improvement with florals. These lasting plants cost $570 and completely transformed our yard…still! Only $350 spent on “fleeting flowers” that were used for bouquets (gorgeously designed as a gift from our friend Melissa). That’s still a lot for something that doesn’t last, and you could consider some sort of wooden flower instead.

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2. Rethink the Sit-Down Dinner

This was obvious for us because we had zero room for lots of tables/simultaneous eating and are the proud owners of the tiniest, galley kitchen ever! We didn’t even have space for a catered setup. Our solution: a food truck! They provided several hours of food, starting with “tray-pass apps,” which THEY SERVED, and ending with really great tacos/side options. It cost us $2,500. For 70 people! And this is LA.

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photo by Laura Spencer

Instead of a cake, we opted for donuts (Pinnable trend of the year, I know, but we’re obsessed with our local vegan donut place and Katie is severely allergic to dairy).

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Donuts have the added bonus that they’re easy to grab and require less plating/utensils. As avid campers, we opted for s’mores for late night treats. Any excuse to be fireside…and there ain’t nothing cheaper than a marshmallow.

3. Forego Gifts and Opt for Favors/Services

Hands down the reason our budget was low (and our wedding even possible) was that we have insanely talented friends! We made a list of roles our friends could fill based on skillsets and then made calls (okay, texts) asking, “instead of a gift, would you help us…DJ (Mike Kopelow)… do our hair and makeup (Kelly and my sister, Paige)?” Honestly, many friends came out of the woodwork to help and it was just a matter of delegating.

(Side note, we almost forewent having a DJ but were advised to not skip that role and would pass along that advice!)

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Y’know how everyone you know seems to get married in the same year? It’s the perfect opportunity to BORROW. No shame. Our Yelp rating remains intact despite being the third wedding that year to use the same sign stands.

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…and the second within the month to feature these collected goblets:

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The “year of weddings” is also a chance to trade services. Darci, who served as our day-of coordinator (required!) and handled everything bar-related asked us to do design/floral arrangements for her wedding the year prior as an exchange. Boy did we come out ahead on that one…suckahhh!

(Bonus budget bar tip from her to us to you: Pick 1 or 2 signature cocktails and otherwise stick to beer/wine, which is to be purchased during Bevmo’s 5 cent wine sale!)

4. Choose a Location Where You Can BYOB & Caterer

Avoiding a venue’s upcharge on catering and bar services/alcohol can save hundreds to thousands. Many venues mandate such services, but more flexible locations can definitely be found. OR, avoid the venue fee entirely ($$$$$) and find a backyard. We were lucky to have that piece in place, though it meant being a slave to our yard/house projects for the entire lead-up year (we built this deck!).

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If you opt for the route of a backyard wedding, don’t forget you’ll need host insurance, possibly a permit, and patient neighbors. We groomed ours by dropping a bottle of wine/note on each porch within immediate proximity. The note gave an end time, several phone numbers to call instead of the cops, and a preemptive “thank you!”

5. Keep It Small

This is hard to do! But more people = more money. Mind-blowing, I know.

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This tip is so obvious, I almost nixed it, but one of my very favorite things about our wedding was how intimate it felt. We not only easily engaged with every guest there, but Katie and I were also able to stay present with each other because there was no need to “divide and conquer” to cover ground. “Controlling the flow” was easy, too, due to limited space and people, so the night remained a sequence of group activities (ceremony, toasts, Bingo!, dancing). No risk of the party spreading out too much and, therefore, dying early. It was a night of intimate, shared experience from beginning to end, from pre-bar to the last dance. (New Rule #1: Opening the bar early—required!) If you can endure the pain of cutting that list down, I’m here to say it’s worth it.

6. Avoid the Rack for the Dress(es)

But…don’t miss the fitting experience. I had two best friends (and soon-to-be brides) by my side for several appointments as we did some dress research. We did the shopping. We drank the champagne. But ultimately, there wasn’t a single dress that looked good on me below $1,250. And yet, I discovered through this process what style I was drawn to (and realized, to my surprise, I had a desire for a two-piece). Ultimately, both my and Katie’s dresses came out of our friends’ closets (insert obvious gay joke).

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Katie’s friend had changed her mind about a dress during her own wedding process, so Katie bought it at half price ($600). One of the two friends I was shopping with, Autumn, who happens to be a stylist, MADE my dress from one she already owned, a designer dress SHE had found SECOND HAND (final design sewn by her go-to seamstress Faith). Total cost: $100. My backup plan was to shop vintage or get a pretty non-wedding dress. If you’re on a budget, don’t pay for the “wedding” part of the term “wedding dress”!

7. Pick (& Plan) Your Pics

Photographers, videographers and photo booths are each SO expensive. $1-7K each, easily. On a truly snug budget, you can’t have it all…okay, sorta. But you’ll definitely have to assess your priorities. Ours fell in this order:

1. We wanted the best-quality photos we could afford since we planned to frame them/would “have” to look at them every day. Katie found The Dream Choice through a Facebook group. Siouxzen was highly reviewed and fit within our budget ($1,300) because she was doing a summer sale. And she made us so, so happy! BUT, we couldn’t afford her the whole night, so we also had a couple incredibly talented “amateur” photographer friends bring their cameras as their gift to us. (Thank you Steve Agee and Laura Spencer.)

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2. We wanted the experience of a photo booth as an activity for our guests, but were happy to make a homemade backdrop/iPad setup suffice. We asked our cinematographer friend Mike and muralist friend Eve (clearly, make a lot of talented friends before planning a budget wedding) to be in charge of this D.I.Y—okay, They.I.Y—and they went above and BEYOND…like, WTF, this shouldn’t be what DIY looks like?!:

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3. We decided we could totally forego a professional, edited video. BUT we wanted someone (anyone) to at least record the ceremony. In 20 years, a video will look dated no matter the camera chosen today, so we were okay with something basic. We weren’t okay missing the record/something to watch/rewatch for years. Katie called on an old college friend who owned a decent camera and we paid him ($300), not expecting too much. Yet somewhere between college and wedding, he’d apparently become a professional. I mean we got footage edited…raw…we had it all. Regardless of budget, assign someone to video. You’ll want it.

We opted to do all professional photos before guests arrived so that we never had to “kill” the party once it got rolling, but I don’t care how and when you decide to do pics, PLAN them. Make a list of all the shots that are important to capture. Which we did. AND think through where you want them to be. Which we did not. After an entire year, there was one dumb project we didn’t find time for…cutting down an ugly, old partial retaining wall in our carport/driveway. “Ah well, nobody will notice it.” Well, guess what made it into every. single. family. photo that. day?

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8. Limit Paper (Save the Date… and The Trees)

We put together a Paperless Post save the date announcement AND a Paperless Post invitation for almost everyone and it cost $12 instead of a few hundred for printing/mailing. We did this for everyone we thought might open, enjoy for 2 seconds, then toss. Anyone we assumed would want to save the commemoration, (or who we assumed didn’t understand the digital world/had a 0% digital signature)…got a hard copy. Regardless, it was all the same design and homemade. The save the date, I pulled together with my at-the-time new Illustrator/Photoshop skills. And the invitation was our gift from graphic designer friend, Jen.

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9. Pick Your DIY Moments

The DIY trap! Guys, Pinterest helps wedding planning so much…but it can also hurt. Don’t buy into believing you need to show your creative genius around every corner! We kept asking ourselves, “does this enhance the experience for all?” For the most part, we did a solid job of being super selective/asking for help. My main advice would be don’t save a single ounce of DIY for the “day-of.” It’s too late and/or you’ll be distracted from what’s important by that time.

The DIY I think paid off the most for us was hanging our own (permanent) heavy-duty string lights in both the front and back yard from $4 electrical conduit pipes! It took one afternoon. I wish I could take credit for the idea, but it all came from here.

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photo by Steve Agee

The DIY I still question:

Aiming to “only invest in what lasts,” we decided to forego renting anything. So instead of renting any chairs/tables, we found (via Craigslist) a restaurant that was closing down and selling their tables. We kept some intact and cut others in half, throwing on $25 hairpin legs to turn them into benches. They looked cooler than the cheapest chair/table setups (to which the price would’ve equated), BUT we weren’t able to resell them as we had hoped. And, while we’ve enjoyed them outside for the last year, they’re wearing down now. Worth it? Can’t decide. But definitely still grateful to our friends (Maura and John for embarking on this DIY venture with us).

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10. SPEND A TON…of Time

Like in design, with a wedding, you can’t have good, fast and cheap. You pick two. So, if you want “good” and “cheap,” you’re looking at sacrificing some “time.” But doesn’t time mean the most?

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We put in lots of time thinking through personal details that were 100% free. For instance, as Bingo prizes, we pulled together “gift bags” from random things nobody would want that we found around our house. It either meant something or was attempted hilarity for the people that knew us best. Example, one gift bag included a “survival kit” complete with items such as half a box of bandages and a flashlight and another was a “Badass Bag,” which included a Ruth Bader Ginsberg coloring book (already half colored in) and a “Future is Female” Christmas ornament.

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photo by Laura Spencer

We also spent a lot of time deciding ceremony details. My brother officiated, my mom ‘gave me away’, our friend Allie and a sister, Meg, sang us down the aisle both ways and a best friend re-read the Andrea Gibson poem that I had read when I proposed… the same one she had read to me the night we first kissed. (Thanks, Laura!)

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I’ll say the two time investments I would NEVER undo. We wrote our vows early. I mean, it’s what everyone came for, right? Yet, it’s so easy to postpone. AND we planned a moment immediately after the ceremony to be alone. I like to think of it as our “holy shit!” moment. While everyone else herded into the backyard for toasts/got a second drink, we stowed away to take in the fact we were married.

I have to go back to #1 on the list…invest in what lasts and what matters. I got really overwhelmed as a bride who never hoped to be a bride. This woman meant so much to me, yet I found myself caring about things I hoped to never care about…table runners! Try to remember it’s not about the table runner…

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In January, my mom passed. Just seven months after one of the best days! My WIFE got/is getting me through. And because of the simplicity of our wedding and all the support we had, that celebratory day wasn’t consumed by utensils and balloons. We got to truly invest in/experience what mattered.

For me: the dichotomy of fear and trust; utter vulnerability in my wife’s face as she heard my vows:

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The friends who are family and made the whole thing possible:

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And my mom’s dance face:

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photo by Steve Agee

Having done this wedding-thing once, I’m now the EHD trusted expert. And I’m here to tell you, your budget doesn’t matter. NBD!!!! What matters costs more than paper. So, keep fighting the fight…and then go dance!

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photo by Laura Spencer

***unless otherwise noted, photography by The Dream Choice

  1. Everything about this is perfect! Congratulations to you both <3

  2. Ah! This is the best post. Congratulations on your anniversary. I’m on my second marriage (two DIY weddings) and I can say that your advice is sososososo spot on. All of it.

  3. Beautiful couple, beautiful party, beautiful day. Congrats on all fronts!

    The food truck idea is GENIUS!!!

  4. Thank you for this! I’m planning a wedding now and really just want it to be a joyful/personal celebration with friends and family. I love how much love that’s happening at this wedding!

    1. best.post.ever

  5. That was so lovely to read! And full of great tips on how to make a highly personal and unique wedding day event by simply not going overboard and needlessly spending too much money! Thanks!

  6. What a lovely day you created. Thanks for sharing the process and the thought behind it. I also imagine your guests had way more fun with a food truck and donut menu than they would have with a sit down meal!

  7. Love this! What a beautiful wedding and so many great ideas! Could you share/update link to the bar sign? Getting a “page not found” from Etsy. Thanks!

    1. Ditto on the updated link to the bar sign 🙂 Thanks for sharing the details of a truly beautiful day. Everything was beyond gorgeous!!!

  8. Such a beautiful post. It made me teary. I feel the love.

    1. Exactly!!!

    2. Thank you, Carol!

  9. This is incredibly beautiful, thank you so much for this story! And the tips are actually really good – I could have used some when I got married almost seven years ago.

    1. Thank you, Sarolta!

  10. Absolutely lovely!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this! Such a beautiful post!

  12. Congrats on your first anniversary! Your wedding and love is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Absolutely amazing!!! So impressed with how great it looks on that budget. Side note—Curious how you chose the new last name Hellen?

    1. Melissa, thanks so much! Katie and I wanted a shared last name and a family name… and we wanted to pass along names from the women who raised us as we were both raised mostly by single moms. So, we settled on Hellen because we both had grandmas with the first name Helen. The name checked all our boxes!

  14. Your wedding day was beautiful! Love the food truck idea and your flowers were amazing! I’m so glad your mom was with you for that special day. Wishing you healing and happiness!

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa.

  15. What a beautiful, beautiful post!
    I love this blog but never comment. This is such a sweet insight to the amazing people behind EHD. Congratulations and well done!

  16. Congrats on a beautiful wedding!
    My daughter and my SIL had 10K to spend on their wedding last year for 100 people.
    You echoed a lot of their sentiments, too-and table flowers were peonies from Costco!
    Here’s the link from when GreenWeddingShoes featured them:

    https://greenweddingshoes.com/pink-gingham-wedding-dress/

    1. That sounds like a great wedding! Thanks for sharing the feature.

  17. Beautifully written. Beautiful story. Excellent tips!

  18. I got married 5 years ago and all of this advice rings so true! I wish I’d had your tips to help my small budget align with the things that were most important to me!

  19. This all looks so much more fun, meaningful and beautiful than those $30,000 and above weddings I’ve seen. The pics are gorgeous, you two are beauties PLUS you got to spend the money you saved on something else. Congrats!

    1. Thanks so much for that, Erika. Having money for other adventures is 100% the goal!

  20. So beautiful! Thank you for sharing your day and your awesome photos. Happy anniversary!

  21. Beautiful. My favorite things were your dresses and the FLOWERS. Those were the most beautiful arrangements of flowers I’ve ever seen.
    When my friend got married, she requested arrangements in PASTEL shades of blue, yellow, pink…what she got were BRIGHT red and yellow flowers. Later she told me, “I almost lost my mind when I saw those horrible McDonald-land flowers. It was the day of the wedding and I had to use them, I had no choice!” I took that as a cautionary tale and just ordered a bunch of red roses (my wedding was in January) and made little bouquets (our bridesmaids wore dark red and black).
    I also made the invitations myself. Our wedding was small–about 50 guests. I downloaded a font of my choice (I had to buy it)…it was a Chinese themed invitation, red and white with gold thread. (My husband is from China.) It was personal and far more beautiful that anything you could order.
    We also had a family member take the photos. I later used Photoshop to edit out electric cords and wall sockets, and to bump up contrast, etc.
    It’s hard to believe it was 14 years ago! It was before the age of Pinterest!!

    1. Sounds like you made great, personal choices for your wedding, Susie. Congrats on the 14 years so far!

  22. Frequent reader, but first-time commenter! Just had to say how much I adored this post! What a lovely couple and beautiful celebration! I loved hearing about your focus on what matters most at the end of the day. One slightly off-top question: Did you two pick a new last name to adopt together going forward? I love that idea, and would love to hear more from Velinda about that in the future.

    1. Yes! I was curious too! I loved this post but was left wondering about the new last name 🙂

    2. How gorgeous! I had a similar sized wedding on similar budget 5 years ago, and loved every moment of it. We chose 3 aspects to really care about, gladly accepted friends’ help, and picked the easy route for the rest. I do wish we’d gotten a friend to video the toasts (this was a bit before Instagram was so ubiquitous) – my family are mostly pretty introverted but my brother gave the most incredible, mesmerizing toast. It didn’t need to be pro quality but I do wish we had that family moment on film.

      A small silly thing to focus on out of a giant beautiful day – but can you tell us more about Katie’s beautiful earrings?

  23. Beautiful wives, beautiful wedding, beautiful post!

  24. All the info about the wedding was great but the story about life and love was beyond beautiful❤️ as are the two of you. Wishing you both a lifetime of love and happiness.

  25. Having done a low budget wedding for 80 for my daughter a few years ago, I agree with every one of your suggestions. Except for paying for a venue we did pretty much what you did and it was beautiful, fun, intimate, memorable and a dance party filled with love. Everything she wanted it to be.

  26. This is one of my favorite posts ever. Velinda, you are a great writer! And your wedding so beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much, Patricia. That’s very sweet.

  27. Loved this post! Thank you!

  28. Velinda, I love your “dress.” LOVE.

    1. Thank you so much, Paula!

  29. This made me cry! Your wedding looks like it was an absolutely beautiful, intimate event, and I love how you incorporated your community of friends to help you pull it off. How special is that?! Congratulations on your marriage — I’m so glad your mom could be there for it. <3

    I have a quick question about your last name — how did you two decide to call yourself the Hellen's? It looks like that's not one of your last names, so I'm curious! I ask because I don't love the idea of taking my husband's last name one day (the patriarchy!), but I also DO love the idea of us sharing a last name. Creating a new one together has been on my mind, so I'm curious if that's what you did. 🙂

    1. My partner and I made up a new last name that’s a combination of both our former names! It was the only fair way we could come up with (other than making up a totally new name), and we do like that we and our kids all have the same name.

    2. Hi, Melyssa. We actually wanted a shared name and a family name, so we opted to carry on the legacy of the matriarchy! We both had grandmas named Helen, so we adapted that into a last name. I love that you’re also really considering the power of a name and are questioning the tradition/standing ‘rule’ of last names! Best of luck for your future adventure!

  30. All great tips! I wanted to add this trick that I think is helpful when determining your guest list… my sister suggested it was weird that I wasn’t inviting my mom’s ex husband’s daughter (my former step-sister), whom I hadn’t spoken to in at least 10 years… I said “I feel like it would be weird if I called/texted her and asked her to join me to watch a movie… why on Earth would I invite her to my wedding?”… so, that became the benchmark: if I felt it didn’t feel natural to send a text to a potential guest on a Sunday afternoon that said “hey, do you wanna watch the lastest blockbuster this afternoon?” they didn’t make the list (coworkers, friends of friends). There were only a couple of exceptions (friends of my parents and some family members), and five years later I can go through our wedding photos without any “why did I invite that person” thoughts 🙂

    1. That’s a great way to think about it!

    2. I’ve heard the rule, “if you wouldn’t invite them over for dinner, you shouldn’t invite them to your wedding.” Same idea.

    3. Heck, my husband and I had to institute a rule that if BOTH members of the couple had not met the person, they weren’t invited. For instance, he had a few cousins that in 7 years of dating (and attending many family events and weddings together) I still hadn’t met, and despite his parents protests, we both insisted that there was no point inviting someone to our wedding who clearly didn’t show up to family events anyway. Ditto for neighbors from our childhood houses that we never really saw or friends of our parents from college that were not really in either of our lives. His mom’s hairdresser – NO. My dad’s work contacts I’d never met – NO. It’s insanity.

      1. Seems like a reasonable standard to set and a great way to whittle down that invite list.

    4. This is great advice, Jeannie! Thanks so much for sharing.

  31. Absolutely beautiful post and a beautiful relationship. Great advice for all people getting married no matter the budget.

  32. I got married 31 years ago and generally glance right over wedding stuff other than maybe looking at pics, but THIS WAS SO BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN that by the the time I got to the end I had tears in my eyes. THANK YOU for sharing this and here’s to a lifetime of great moments for “The Hellens”

    1. Thanks so much for the well-wishes, Kathy!

  33. I love everything about this post. Your wedding looks absolutely stunning. Thank you for sharing!

  34. Absolutely loved this post. Congratulations!!

  35. This was such a beautiful post! My mother in law was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer before our wedding (she passed away just before the birth our first son and her first grandchild which was heart breaking) She had such an amazing time at our wedding and I have a similar dance floor photo of her with her “party hair” (wig) having a blast! I’m so glad those moments were captured. <3

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Purdy. Such photos bring such special memories, don’t they?

  36. Your photographer was clearly amazing, because these are such great pics (although a beautiful couple always helps!). What a great post, wish I had read it before my wedding 😂

  37. I have been following your blog for a couple of years now. I really enjoy the ideas, suggestions, and ideas. I love the storytelling. Yet this was the best post ever. Such love.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Melissa!

  38. This made me tear up. The obvious love and joy you share, the beauty of the setting and the warmth of the guests, and that pic of your MOM. Glad you created some precious memories and a fun experience for your guests and most importantly – you got married. That’s the whole purpose of a wedding. Having gotten married back in 91, I’m sometimes shocked how expensive and what elaborate productions weddings have become. I think people are feeling undue pressure about the BIG DAY when the whole idea is the LOVE and commitment being declared. We did a similar thing with potted flowers on the tables that people could take home and the only thing I regret was the budget photographer we hired because we didn’t get great pics. But I just comfort myself when I regret that is that the biggest gift is getting to be with my beloved every single day and share our life together. In the end the wedding is just a DAY and if we are lucky the relationship can be a LIFETIME.

  39. LOVE LOVE LOVE

  40. Oh my god this is so lovely and I’m totally tearing up! Mazel tov! Those photos are gorgeous; I’m in AWE.

    I am now also obsessed with your badgering ideas. Especially the backyard and potted plants! ❤️💕❤️

  41. So lovely! What a wonderfully inspiring post on so many levels. Happy Anniversary.

  42. My budget wedding was almost 12 years ago and cost $8,000 for 125 people (we both have big close families and friend groups). I think your advice is spot on. Accepting the help of talented friends, judicious DIY and a venue that didn’t upcharge when this word “wedding” came up were key to our success.

    I’d also pass along my favorite phrase that we developed during our planking process: “If it stresses is out, we don’t have to do it. At the end of the day, we’ll still be married!”

    1. My husband and i has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. I felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Email: Robinson.buckler @y ah oo. com can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a Love spell for me. 28 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before, All thanks to Robinson.buckler he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that Robinson.buckler real and powerful spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact………..*************************************************************

  43. Amazing post! I wish I had read it before my wedding nine years ago;-)

  44. Loved all their ideas, esp. having it at home and ‘investing’ in their garden & having their friends provide many of ‘the services’.
    All the best to them.
    Also, my deepest condolences to Ms. Godfrey, on the loss of her mom. May she RIP.

  45. Wonderful!

  46. Love this post! Thank you for sharing.

  47. So much joy here! Congratulations! What a special, beautiful day. Married to my bff 15 years now. Our DIY wedding wasn’t great. It was fine. We didn’t get a video (don’t miss it actually). We were spread too thin and tried to pull off too much. your advice is GREAT. But looking back now, even if the day didn’t turn out so good, all the days since have been pretty magical. Even the ugly days. I’m happy for you both that you have your person and for helping me remember that the marriage is so much better/important than the wedding xo

  48. Hello! I just wanted to comment to say this is absolutely beautiful, both in aesthetics and soul behind it, thank you for sharing your special day and amazing tips Velinda! I’m long-ago married (under $2k but we eloped!) but now am going to send to anyone I know who may be getting married in the next decade!

  49. Stunning, joyful, personal, filled with love. Thank you for sharing your amazing wedding, and may you have many happy decades together.

  50. This is so sweet. I wrote a few articles for a bridal magazine and when I interviewed a videographer, she talked about how some people decide to not budget for a videographer. She said to me, “How much would you pay to see a video of your grandparents taking their vows?”

    I decided then I would never get married without a videographer.

    Happy anniversary!

    1. Oh wow, I would pay so much for that video! Really great way to think of it. Thanks, Katy.

  51. I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING. Who cut all these damn onions?!

    1. Hahaha! Thanks for the laugh, Anna.

  52. Velinda, thank you so much for sharing this gorgeous, creative, magical, and quite clearly love-splashed day with us (and thank you Emily for highlighting!). I loved every word and picture, and there is nothing like the emotion captured by the smiles and kisses you and Katie share in these photos. Every time I go to a wedding, I always think back and only remember two things: was it FUN? and did it feel full of love? This so evidently and loudly announces itself as being way high on both!!! Happy anniversary, and congratulations on a beautiful life and wedding.

  53. I wish I had this wonderful advice 28 years ago! Totally agree with everything!!! You both are beautiful and sexy as all get out, obviously so in love!! Blessings for a wonderful continued future together ♥️♥️♥️
    I’m really sorry about your Mom! Love the picture of her dancing ♥️

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle

  54. Yes! Doggie tutu’s are VERY important!!!

    1. Hahaha. Priorities!

  55. Beautiful post and wedding! Congrats on your anniversary, Velinda (lovely name) and Katie! Years ago when I witnessed the “commitment ceremony” my aunts had to have because marriage equality wasn’t yet legal, I was angry that they couldn’t marry like I could. I’d always been close to my aunt Betsy and knew she deserved to legally marry the love of her life. That led me to volunteering for different organizations’ here in CA, the work of which eventually became the “No On 8” campaign. I did it in my aunts’ and friends’ honor. When we initially lost in 2008 I was devastated; I felt I’d let my aunts (who live in FL, but still) down. I wasn’t sure when our nation would change. And then 2015 and the Supreme Court happened. Now my aunts are married, which I had longed for them to be able to do. And here you and your wife are, one year in on your journey through life together. That makes me so happy to see. Congrats again. 🙂

    1. Wow, that’s so amazing. Thanks so much for your work in the fight for equality. It’s so amazing to be alive to witness decades and century of work finally paying off, isn’t it?

  56. What a gorgeous wedding. The love shines through the pictures and the text. I especially loved your mom’s dance face and I wish you’d had so much more time with her.

  57. Love love love this.

  58. what a beautiful wedding! I am looking for ways to string up lights, but the link you posted doesn’t link to anything. Can you fix that? thanks.

  59. This is so beautiful! As a lover of names, hetero who wants to change both of our surnames when we get married and nosey person, I’d love to hear the story behind your chosen last name!

  60. Congratulations to Katie and Velinda! It’s quite a feat to make me well up and think “well that’s clever” in on post, but you did it! Are you sure you aren’t a wedding blogger?

    1. Hahahah. Thanks, Lindsay!

  61. It seems like Velinda and Katie already know the secret to life. xoxo

  62. Just over here, ugly crying at work. Certainly an unexpected topic from EHD, but so, so happy you shared it!!!

  63. Everything looks amazing and the photography is so BEAUTIFUL! Congratulations and thank you for sharing.

  64. Such a wonderful post, and such a beautiful couple! Happy Anniversary!!

  65. I love this! What a lovely couple, and joyful day!! I must ask- what was the name of the food truck!? (Planning our LA wedding as we speak…!) (Thanks in advance!)

    1. Hi Emelia,

      It was called The Lime Truck and the food was really pretty great. Better than the tasting we did with them, actually!

      1. Thank you so much!! And congrats again on a loving marriage! 🙂

  66. Happy Anniversary to you both! This was a gorgeous, lovely wedding. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  67. This is a “how to live a life grounded in love, gratitude, and connection” post disguised as a “how to have a budget wedding” post. Thank you so very much for sharing your beautiful, inspirational day and story with us.

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