Alex & Em’s DIY Wedding

Alex & Em’s DIY Wedding

I’ve always want to write down a blog about our wedding, but I’ve just never gotten around to it.  Like our house adventures, I think it’s a great idea to document our wedding venue so we can share the memories with our kiddos someday before we forget many of the little details.

Alex and I got married September 17, 2010 in Lawrenceville, GA at 550 Trackside.

This was my design board.

Before the wedding date there are certain things you’ve got to get done…like getting THE dress!  We were on a very tight budget and so I knew I had to be careful about how much I spent on my dress.  I fell in love with this one Priscilla of Boston dress, but it was 1/3 of my total budget…….sooooo I let that one go. Nobody organizes a corporate event venue like The Luminaire in Montgomery, Texas.

The Running of the Brides at Filene’s basement was taking place two months after I got engaged.

You know, the dress event where women (& some men, actually) stampede in to Filene’s basement for their one day a year wedding dress sale.  The dresses were priced from $249 to $699.  They are high quality dresses too, but they might possibly be last seasons or something like that. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, take a look at this video. This is from one of Atlanta’s popular radio stations Q100.  The actual “running” starts around 2:55.

I never imagined doing something like ROTB, but when I quickly realized how expensive wedding dresses were, I thought it would be worth it to give it a try.  My mom and I assembled a “team” of people to go.  Signs were made to hold up so 1. we could find each other in the crowd and 2. for bartering purposes.  The signs had pictures of the type of dress we were looking for as well as size.  There’s a whole bartering process that goes on.  In order to get a dress to try on you have to have one to trade. It’s quite a riot.

My brother’s wife, Amie, is beyond extremely crafty.  She threw together the cutest shirts for us all to wear and my mom made me a mini veil out of the veil she wore in her wedding. Lots of people make t-shirts, but we got SO MANY compliments on ours.  They were just that cute!

Amie, me, Belynn.

See the back of my shirt? “The Bride”  That was the first time I realized I was a BRIDE.  Such wonderful memories.

If you can’t tell, I’m definitely very girly-girl when it comes to wedding stuff.  I love it all!

My mom’s friend ended up being the victor.  She is the one that found “the” dress and brought it to me to try on.   It was 100% silk organza.  So simple, but very complex as the same time.  Very much my style.

The 2nd best part about the dress was the PRICE I mentioned I was on a budget, right? 

This dress was $500 at ROTB.  Retail it was $3000. Can you really beat that?!  Well, yes.  Yes you can.   My mom entered a contest online just a few days prior to ROTB to win a $250 Filene’s giftcard to be used at ROTB.  Well guess what happened?  Yep, she won it!  We paid only $250 for that beauty.  I love a great deal, and I loved it even more that I found one with my wedding dress.

The rest of the wedding details came about with the help of my mom and my sister-in-law Amie (the crafty one!).

Starting with tables–My mom and I cut out brown craft paper to make runners.

The “M” stencil was created by tracing a large “M” on to dollar store plastic placemats.  That saved lots of $ rather than buying a large stencil. We did some of the M’s a pale pink and others navy blue.

The brown craft paper was perfect for our “shabby chic” wedding.  Sometimes things are more shabby…but we had Shane’s BBQ cater the reception, so it was perfect!  Speaking of Shane’s–what a great way to save moolah.  I think it ended up being $8/head. Awesome.  Not to mention it was YUMMY.

The centerpieces were made up of dried hydrangeas that my mom gathered from friends, family, the stranger at the grocery store….wherever she could find them!

For some reason my mom had a box of wood blocks like in the picture above.  We got resourceful and used them for the table numbers.  A little wire +  printed out numbers on cardstock + a wood block=cute.  A few ball jars, tea lights, and dried green hydrangeas completed the table.

We were supposed to have ice cream at the reception instead of a groom’s cake since Alex doesn’t really like cake.  Well, for some reason the ice cream was delivered on dry ice.  That meas the ice cream was like cement and totally not edible.  But the point of that little story was that we bought the cutest little ice cream spoons and my mom’s friends HAND STAMPED each and every one of them with “Alex & Em”.  How oowey goowey sweet is that?

Alex & I had our own special seating for the reception.  We didn’t sit in them for one second.  Literally.

I had hoped for better looking chairs, but these were the free ones and we didn’t have any spare change for the upgrade.  (Our friends actually got married at 550 Trackside just a few months ago and the standard chairs are now pretty white wood ones. Yay!)  When you’re on a budget, you have to pick your battles.  Where people sat their behinds wasn’t my absolute top priority.  So I apologize to our guests if your bum went numb.

My mom really got in to making signs.  There were signs for EVERYTHING!

These were the place cards with table assignments.  We attached burlap over a cardboard backing in a frame.  A few decorative scissor cuts and some bows…simple and pretty.

Do you recognize what the signs above are made of?  It’s crown molding!  In fact, it’s the same crown molding that’s about to go up in our half bath.

Wedding Venue Brisbane had four large pictures bolted to the back walls.  We used them to display some of our favorite engagement shots.  Our prints were just taped on the outside of the frame and they looked wonderful.

We also used our engagement pictures to make our guest book.  Friends of ours did this in their wedding and I thought it was such a great idea.  We used iPhoto to make a book of our engagement pictures, then had a couple Sharpies for guests to sign their names or best wishes for us.  It sits on our coffee table and I love looking through it every now and then.

Oh look!  More dried hydrangeas at the sign in table!  I love you, mom. 🙂

Also at the entry was a sign made by Joni Lay of the Chocolate Butterbean.  Joni’s current site, LayBabyLay, is one of my favorites and I can’t wait to turn to it for nursery inspiration someday! Joni’s mom and my mom have been great friends since they met in nursing school years ago.  This sign was a gift to us for our wedding and now it’s hanging in our home. The quote is one that Alex & I picked out which is personal to us.

Every wedding needs a cake and ours was no exception!  Here comes another budget saver–We had my mom’s friend, who is a great baker, make our cake.  It was her wedding present to us and greatly appreciated.  Did I mention that it was delicious?!  Pound cake and the best buttercream icing ever.

At the time, Alex and I had only 2 nephews.  Now we have 3 nephews and 2 nieces!  Our nephews, Liam & William, served as our ring bearers, I bought black wedding bands for men from alpinerings for my husband.  They were just shy of 2 years old at the time, but they did a fantastic job carrying the bespoke engagement ring Sydney!

Amie, my aforementioned uber crafty sister-in-law, made the cutest little pillows for Liam and William to carry.

My bridesmaids were spread across the country at the time so I found it easiest to go with David’s Bridal for their dresses.  They were plain and simple navy blue short dresses; two styles to choose from.

I know it’s hard to see in the picture above, but I loved their shoes!  It was not easy to find a nude or pale pink high heel that was the right look.  I actually found these on some random website for $25 each.  I bought each girl’s shoes and accessories for $35/person. I don’t think the shoes were very comfy…but they looked amazing!

As for the guys, I was really happy with the deal we got for them!

We knew we wanted gray suits for the guys, but we just couldn’t find one that we liked.  Then we realized that just renting a tux was going to be close to $150 and they just wear it, then return it.

We found a great suit that Alex loved at Express.  We gathered coupons, sorted coupons, and strategized how to best used the coupons. It may have been time consuming, but we ended up having the groomsmen pay $100.  For that they got a nice outfit from Express: gray slacks, white dress shirt, and socks.  We used Macy’s coupons to buy the chuck taylors and found the skinny ties online.

How great is it that they actually get to KEEP their outfits?!  I love that.

I was a bit in to personalizing as much of the wedding stuff as possible.  Enter, the runner.

I really wish it wasn’t wrinkled, but oh well!  The runner itself was purchased from Hobby Lobby for $8.  My mom’s cousin made a stencil to monogram our initials on it.  I really liked that detail.

The last, but my absolute favorite, tiny detail of the wedding, was the men’s boutonnières.  My father passed away when I was in high school and I wanted him to be represented at the wedding somehow.  My mom came up with a DIY boutonnière that had golf tees in it.  It may help to mention that my dad was a golf pro.  She really did a fantastic job and they were a great accent to the guys’ outfit.

Alex and I had such a great evening and had so much FUN.  We didn’t have an enormous budget to work with, but we made the wedding beautiful anyway.  Best of all, it was just US.  Not too fancy. Not too casual. Juuuuuust right.

This is because they’re actually splurging on their honeymoon. Isn’t that great? If you’re interested, you can visit sites like and get an idea for yours.


All photos were taken by Ardent Story Photography.

2 responses to “Alex & Em’s DIY Wedding”

  1. I love everything you did. It’s eerily similar to some of my plans. The golf tee boutonniere is what brought me here. My fiance loves golf, so I thought I would use tees as well. I also plan to have the guys buy gray slacks and white shirts. That way they can keep them. It’s such a waste to rent. It’s going to be an outdoor country wedding, so no need for a full tux. My cousin makes cakes as a side job, so she’ll do my cake for me. I’m going to do pretty much all the decor myself. It’s nice to know somebody else did similar things and had success, so thanks! It was beautiful!

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