Guys. Today is a random, spur of the moment post because it’s the anniversary of mine and AJ’s vow renewal! As some of you may know, AJ and I got married at City Hall in Chicago just a few weeks into dating and while it was so intimate and cozy, I still wanted that “big wedding” feel, but cheaper.
So, about a year after we officially got hitched at City Hall, we had our formal vow renewal and it was magical, simple, and inexpensive. Here’s how we had our dream wedding for 7k:
Limit the Guest List
This helped us SO much. AJ and I really only wanted close family and friends at our wedding. So, if we haven’t seen you in a year, sorry. Of course there were people that our parents wanted to invite which was cool with us, we just told them they had to pay for them! If you want them there, then you pay. Easy as that!
We had our rehearsal dinner (pizza + beer + boardgames-seriously inexpensive), ceremony, and reception all at the same resort which saved us a bunch of money because we didn’t have to outsource anything! We had it at Illinois State Beach Resort and it was perfect! The ceremony was on a beach and the reception was in a big, heated tent. Plus, the hotel is super old school with no frills, so it was less expensive than a fancy schmancy hotel in the city.
My Dress + Bridesmaids Dresses
I got my dress from Free People. It was $160. I still wear it as a sun dress. Well done, Melanie. My bridesmaids spent $60 on a dress from Akira because I wasn’t about to make my BFFs spend a few hundred on an ugly dress they would wear once.
We Made Our Own Playlist
The music we played at our wedding was EXTREMELY important to me, and I didn’t want a random DJ playing random songs. So, we hired this company called Just Press Play. They literally just send a guy with sound and light equipment to your venue and he plays YOUR Spotify playlists! It was perfect and a lot cheaper than a regular DJ!
Our decor in the tent was extremely simple and pumpkin-y. I asked my bridesmaids to bring a frame to my house a few weeks before and then I printed some of my favorite lovey dovey quotes at home and stuck them in the frames. Lots of Lana del Rey quotes TBH. As for the other decor, we made all of it! Well, my mom and sister did because they’re talented AF. We bought pumpkins and burlap and went to town! It ended up being so whimsical and Fall-ish. Just how I wanted it!
When we were looking up prices for a good photographer, I almost cried. There’s NO WAY we could (or even wanted to) spend thousands of dollars on pictures. So I went onto Columbia College’s site and asked for student photographers! Best. Decision. Ever! We hired a student for less than $500 and she drove out to the resort, photographed EVERYTHING from us getting ready, to the venue, to dancing, and more. She was so amazing and our pictures are perfect! Her name is Emily Spieler and you can find her HERE.
I did my own makeup and I got my hair blown out + curled. That’s it. No fancy up-do or veil to work with.
We chose “buffet style” for our reception and no one seemed to mind at all! Plus, it was cheaper for us because no one got their own, individual meal. For dessert, we ordered a chocolate fountain for fruit and we made the rest at home! Seriously, two nights before the wedding, I had my mom and bridesmaids come over and BAKE! We made paleo pumpkin muffins and cookies and pumpkin chocolate donuts–SO cheap and SO fun!
AJ and I both wore converse then I kicked mine off once I got on the dance floor cause mama loves to dance. Plus, we still wear them as weightlifting shoes today!