A Sweet Handmade Church Wedding for 3K: Sara + Steve

bride and groom

I love this wedding for so many reasons…the couple are super adorable, majorly in love AND it is the perfect wedding to show you can have a personal + unique wedding on a limited budget. This couple did their wedding for 3k!! Way below the national average of 26k. Sara was sweet enough to share how they did it along with some tips for couples planning now also. Thanks Sara and congrats to you + Steve!

Our inspiration was to make the wedding feel as unique, comfortable, and homemade as possible! If the word “traditional” ever popped up we threw it out the window and created our own way of doing things! For example, instead of a unity candle or sand we tied a knot with rope on the wooden fence during the ceremony and had music play from that point all the way through our first kiss as man and wife and the processional. It created such a big moment!

first look

bride and groom

bride and groom

black and white bridal party

My first favorite memory of the day was actually taking our bridal party photos .There was a specific moment when I was standing in a group of my best friends singing “Chapel of Love” and I saw Steve surrounded by his best friends who were all laughing and being boys and I just knew that there was no place I’d rather be than with the man that would soon be my husband and the friends who have loved us the most.

My other favorite moment was peaking in on the wedding behind a black curtain 5 minutes before the ceremony. I saw my groom, I saw the ballet, I saw our slideshow… all things I thought I’d miss out on. To keep myself from welling up with emotion I danced along to the songs that played until I made myself laugh.

bridesmaids in black tights

Before the wedding ceremony, we had our friend dance ballet to “La Vie en Rose ” accompanied by Steve’s sister on the violin and then right before the ceremony showed a funny video of Steve singing “Marry You” by Bruno Mars to lighten the mood and bring joy to our guests.


indoor church ceremony, bunting altar

I walked down the aisle with my big brother to Ingrid Michaelsons cover of “Somewhere over the rainbow” because I thought I was Dorothy when I was little and the song meant a lot to my entire family. The bridal party walked out to “The Winner is” by Devotchka. Our processional (and tying the knot and kiss) was to “Hoppipolla” by Sigur Ros.

DIY fence altar, bunting

DIY fence altar, bunting

DIY fence altar, bunting

DIY fence altar, bunting

bottle bunting table decor

flowers in bottles table decor

One way we saved money was by having a dessert reception. I had 10 of the ladies who played significant roles in my life (mom, mother in law, past next door neighbor, aunt, godmother, sisters, etc) bake their favorite type of cookie for our dessert reception. This was very dear to me because I got to involve so many women who’ve helped get me to my wedding day… and I just really love cookies a lot.

We also had the entire bridal party share a short story about us as opposed to the traditional toasts so our guests could feel like they knew us as well as the friends we’ve grown up with did.

bride and groom exit

Our DIY projects:
• My 2 matrons of honor and I handmade each bouquet out of red and black seersucker material. It was very tedious but SO worth the unique look! It was also a great alternative to the traditional (and costly) floral bouquets.
• We also made topiary balls out of tea-dyed coffee filters and Styrofoam balls for the centerpieces and tissue paper puff balls for the aisle runner. There really isn’t anything cheaper than coffee filters and tissue paper!
• My groom made a fence for our altar that was actually constructed from wood from his parents house. It was very sentimental for us to incorporate that because that was Steve’s home for 20 years.

We were less concerned about table linens and more concerned about THE REST OF OUR LIVES. We bought a house instead of a fancy venue. We planned our entire wedding for $3,000 and had over 300 guests. Just find ways to be frugal! We borrowed décor (Steves mom had hundred of doilies!), we made practically everything ourselves, we made iPod playlists for the reception, we had a dessert reception instead of dinner, we had coffee donated, and spent time being creative. Our guests all told us it was the most unique, beautiful, and creative wedding they’d ever been to. I was so proud to tell people we only spent $3,000. IT CAN HAPPEN! AND YOU CAN DO IT! :)

photography: Tim and Jess // videography: Kyle Harbour // venue: High Desert Church // dress: Davids Bridal

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  1. Love that garland! The bride’s ombre hair made my heart skip a beat :)

  2. what a beautiful day! i love all the personal touches. lovely…

  3. love the different tights the bridesmaids wore!

  4. What a great wedding and story! Love the knot on the fence! AH!
    What a hip frugal couple.

  5. What a GORGEOUS bridal party and photos!! The ceremony looks so sweet and lovely! :)

  6. Jen!!!! Thank you SO MUCH (x10) for featuring our wedding! I adored that day and feel so blessed to share it with other planning brides!
    Thanks for letting me re-live our wedding today!!!
    xoxoxox forever and ever!

  7. You can just see the love in this wedding! I firmly believe that a less expensive wedding like this can be so much more personal and memorable than a $100k wedding!

  8. What a nice wedding! The ceremony sounds so unique and whimsical. I wish the bride had elaborated more on exactly how money was spent. Was most of it towards the venue? Photographers? Is the key simply not paying for decor? It would be more helpful for me to figure out how to save money with more detailed budget breakdowns from people who’ve succeeded at it.

  9. I promise I’ll stop looking at my own wedding in like 2 minutes… but I just wanted to share the video in case anyone was interested! :)


  10. Sarah- I’d love to share how we spent the money!
    1st of all, our BFF’s are photographers (so are we) and they so graciously shot our wedding as a gift. Huge money saver even though we believe they are worth EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD.

    Getting hitched at our church saved us thousands. The total fee was only $500. My husband is a music director at the church so we had the students in his band serve tea/cookies/desserts/lemonade etc. All the chairs came with the venue as well. Rentals add up fast!

    Making the bouquets saved us a lot too! I love me peony bouquet, but buying seersucker and muslin and the various crafting tools for 8 bouquets cost under $100. Can’t beat that! (Buy your material with coupons or on sale days!)

    We had PLENTY of decor… we just bought things at estate sales, vintage shops, and yes… garage sales! We actually used most of our wedding decor as home decor too. Talk about 2 birds with 1 stone!

    I hope that helps, Sarah! Feel free to clink my link and contact me with any questions. Really. I’d love to help!

  11. You really got great free photography! the best I’ve seen on here for awhile. The top photograph is amazing!!!!

  12. I LOVE everything about this!! The couple is adorable and creative! I can’t believe how many details they incorporated- This shows that you really can have an amazing wedding on a budget. Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. This is such a great post. I love seeing brides and grooms be thrifty and creative and be able to save so much. My husband and I pulled ours off (honeymoon INCLUDED) for around 5K and we were so incredibly happy we did so.
    Also, I am in love with the coffee filter idea!!

  14. From the looks of the photos, which are amazing, the wedding was lovely, romantic and joyous! The concept is by far the most amazing I’ve seen. Congratulations to the newly wed. Great looking couple as well.

  15. Wow looks like it was a great day and the bride looked absolutely lovely, I like the secret black stockings under the dress.

  16. I love this post so much! Firstly because the photos are gorgeous but mostly because it shows that you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have an amazing wedding! You can still have a beautiful, stylish wedding on a shoe string budget and no one will be able to tell the difference. At the end of the day a wedding is all about love, not money :)

  17. What a lovely wedding (and gorgeous bride and groom)! Usually a wedding in a location with no natural light would make me baulk, but this works so well. Lovely photos too guys, well done!

  18. I love weddings that are on a stage! Beautiful shots!

  19. Thank you so much for featuring this, Jen! It is truly a dream to have our work on your blog. I can’t get the smile off of my face =) And thank you for the sweet comments, guys!!!

  20. I’m wearing the same dress in my wedding. Love it!! Could you please tell me how you got it so poofy? Like what slip are you wearing? THANKS!!!

  21. These are fantastic photos in a truly spectacular location!!! Amazing!!!

  22. As a very lucky guest at this wedding, I can say without a doubt it was thee most beautiful and unique wedding I’ve ever been too! Just looking back at the photos makes me tear up. You could certainly see the love everywhere, and that is truly what made the wedding spectacular. Sara and Steve are such an amazing couple, and their wedding is such an inspiration for me and when that day comes.

  23. THis is AMAZING. This is exactly what we’re hoping to spend on ours!!

    What model of David’s Bridal is that? It looks really lovely and simple :)

  24. LOVE this wedding and Sara! She really is this sweet and adorable in person and I was thrilled to see her wedding on GWS! Great post, Jen!! Thank you for sharing!

  25. Waaaait a MINUTE. Weren’t these two beautiful people recently featured with Jasmine Star as well?! If not, the resemblance is remarkable!

    Also an incredibly beautiful and STYLISH wedding. LOVE.

  26. How inspirational!! We’re in the process of buying a house right now too, and I’d much rather buy the house of my dreams than splurge on a DJ playing corny reception tracks

  27. I think the gown is David’s Bridal T3039! T3185 is also a similar version!

  28. wonderful, that is all I can say

  29. Hi!! I’m so excited to see these gorgeous pictures and creative ideas. My fiancé and I are going to get married at HDC and I would love to ask you some questions I would really appreciate a response thanks a bunch :)


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