There are pros of having a year or two to plan your wedding (plenty of time to gather ideas, book the vendors you want, complete do-it-yourself projects) and there are cons (lots of time to second-guess decisions comes to mind). But just because you don’t want to spend 16 months planning (that’s the average engagement length in the U.S.), doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful, meaningful wedding. Today’s budget friendly inspiration board takes this idea and applies it to a sunrise wedding on the beach with a breakfast reception at home or in a favorite local restaurant, and get friends and family to help you pull it together – if you’re an easy going couple, this might just be the way to go.

Who says…you have to spend months and months planning?

Mood: spontaneous, carefree and casual
Palette: pale blue, sand

{click image to enlarge}


Top row from left: headband from Martha Stewart Weddings, tiki torch aisle from Brides, blueberry corn muffins from Martha Stewart, driftwood photo by Sugar Love
Row 2: bouquet photo by Dana Gallagher, ric-rac invitation by Bird & Banner, dress from Watters, photo by Bella Rose
Row 3: plaid blanket, dress photo by Jude Mooney, emerald ring by Sarah Perlis, thermos photo by Nicole Hill styled by Chelsea Fuss
Row 4: driftwood and seaglass, blueberries from Martha Stewart, sunrise photo from On Site Clicks’ flickr

The Paper: Depending on how last-minute your planning is, you might skip invitations and just send out an email or make phone calls. But if you do have time to make some invitations, at 80-cents per yard, ric-rac is a nice touch and a change from ribbon. When you’re short on time, you’ll probably skip the RSVP cards and ask your guests to respond by email or phone, which is an easy way to save – and for such a casual wedding, it’s totally appropriate!

The Fashion: You can have this beachy dress by Watters for only $630. Personalize it by adding a tiny blue heart to the train – a simple detail that won’t cost much. A Swarovski vine headband for only $30 is a darling way to accessorize, and will dress up outfits even after your wedding. The groom can get away with khakis and a nice shirt that he already owns, and if he doesn’t, it’s a good excuse to buy some! For a reasonably priced and wonderfully unique ring, how about this emerald ring by Sarah Perlis for $750?

The Decor: For around $12, buy some tiki torches – or pull them out of your backyard – to create an aisle on the beach. It won’t be pitch black just before sunrise, but a little flicker of light is a nice way to walk down the aisle. Ask your guests to collect sea glass and driftwood from the beach and use the found objects to decorate the breakfast tables.

The Flowers: If there are no prohibitions against it, make an impromptu bouquet from wild grasses and flowers picked at the ceremony site, and tie them together to carry down the aisle. It definitely fits in with the casual, spontaneous feel of the wedding, and it’s certainly budget friendly.

The Food: If it’s chilly on the beach early in the morning, have thermoses full of coffee and hot chocolate to serve your guests. Follow your sunrise ceremony with an incredible breakfast – fresh seasonal fruit, a variety of (warm!) breakfast breads, eggs make for a cheaper meal than most lunches or dinners. And at an earlier hour than even brunch, you can get away with skipping cake.

Other Details: If hot chocolate isn’t enough to keep your guests warm, make sure you have blankets on hand – they don’t have to match, you can just use what you already own, or borrow some from family if you need to.

Splurges: Go for it and splurge on a photographer! A good one will be able to capture the most memorable moments of your wedding beautifully, no matter how little planning went into it. Also, by booking at the last minute, you might not be able to get exactly the photographer you want, but you might be able to get a deal – especially if your sunrise breakfast wedding happens on a Sunday.

For Free: It’s a beach wedding – go barefoot! Well, and the sunrise is free, too…

Real Wedding Inspiration: A Bodega Wedding and Jeordis & Mathias both via A Practical Wedding

Well friends, today is the last day of budget friendly wedding boards for now – I hope that you’ve enjoyed them and that you’ve been able to find some ideas here. No matter what your budget, it doesn’t hurt to save where you can, and I hope that these inspiration boards have proven that you don’t have to go into debt to have a beautiful, creative wedding!

8 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Budget Friendly, Inspiration Boards

One way to save is by choosing a venue that is all-inclusive. Many hotel ballrooms and banquet halls offer this option, but so do other venues – like the incredibly dramatic Balboa Park in San Diego, which served as the inspiration for this citrus wedding board. Citrus fruits were the other point of inspiration for today’s board, although fruit can be a great decorative option any time of year: persimmons and pomegranates (or citrus!) for winter, blueberries or apricots in spring, berries and peaches in summer, or apples and pears in fall.

Who says…you have to have floral centerpieces?

Mood: warm elegance
Palette: orange, yellow, green

{click image to enlarge}


Top row from left: Balboa Park, clementine favor and bouquet both from Martha Stewart Weddings
Row 2: citrus centerpiece by Ariella Chezar, mantilla veil photo by Anne Ruthmann, lanterns from Gathering Events, dress by Olivia Luca
Row 3: vintage orange crate label, pom pom garlands from Martha Stewart Weddings, citrus boutonniere photo by Blonde Tulip, chocolate orange cake from In Style Weddings
Row 4: potato chip paper cone from Paula LeDuc, citrus centerpieces by Artfool, envelopes from Atelier Isabey, bridesmaid from The Knot

The Paper: To give your guests a sense of the citrus theme, use an old orange crate label as your inspiration – check out these labels for a customizable template. If you want to add a little extra something to your invitations, get some friends and some movies and spend an evening (or a few) making envelope liners. It can be tedious, but it’s one of those elements that you can take on yourself to save some money – you can find an envelope liner template kit from Paper Source for $9.50.

The Fashion: For something borrowed, wear the veil of a friend, sister, aunt… My sister borrowed a mantilla veil from a family friend to wear at her wedding and looked beautiful. For a customized dress, head to Olivia Luca’s online boutique to create your own for as little as $300. Or, take a note from Julia and order a cream colored bridesmaid dress from Siri.

The Decor: Seasonal fruit is a great way to save – just think how cheap a crate of oranges or clementines are in season! Fill bowls with fruit for centerpieces, including stems and leaves if you can. Go for a single large bowl in the center of a round table or a row of smaller bowls along a banquet table – check Jamali Garden or Cost Plus World Market for interesting containers. Hang citrus colored lanterns from trees for a lot of impact at a low cost. Also, by choosing an incredible venue (like Balboa Park in this board), you really won’t have to do much decorating to pull of a dramatic look.

The Flowers: A bouquet in fiery shades of orange will look beautiful with the rest of your citrus decor. And to fit with the theme, how about boutonnieres of kumquats and a fragrant orange blossom?

The Food: Elevate simple foods like potato chips by serving them as late-night snacks in parchment paper cones, or a single clementine wrapped in parchment paper at each seat. Save by asking your baker to create a simple chocolate cake, and decorate it yourself with candied citrus fruits.

Other Details: Instead of paying for a bouquet for each bridesmaid, have them carry a fan or parasol down the aisle – it’s an unexpected look and can cost under $2 for a fan, or under $10 for a paper parasol. Another way to save is by choosing a venue where everything is included – tables and chairs, catering, cake, event coordination. While you might not have quite as many choices, it can definitely help keep costs down.

Splurges: Rent a classic car to make your getaway – it’s not a necessary element, but if you save elsewhere, it can be a fun detail, and definitely a great photo-op (especially if you decorate it with painted cans or pom pom garlands.

For Free: Customize your vows! You don’t necessarily have to re-invent the wheel, but you can use a traditional format to add your own personal touch. For some tips, check out Alison Hotchkiss’ guest post from this summer.

Real Wedding Inspiration: Julia & Burke, and Sarah & Bryan via A Practical Wedding

4 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Inspiration Boards

I sure do love the idea of a sweet afternoon tea party wedding reception. It’s sweet, delightful, and a great way to save! This wedding board is one part Alice in Wonderland, one party vintage charm. Taking a cue from Alice in Wonderland, how about a game of croquet instead of dancing if the weather is agreeable? Because really…

Who says…dancing is a must?

Mood: playful charm
Palette: fuchsia, pale pink

{click image to enlarge}


Top row from left: front lawn ceremony from The Knot, dress from Posh Girl Vintage, place setting from Martha Stewart Weddings, carnation centerpiece from Mi Mi Design
Row 2: tea sandwiches from Callahan Catering, playing card seating cards photo by Jennifer Causey, tea bag favors from Martha Stewart Weddings, croquet set from Oh How Charming!
Row 3: petits fours from Parisian Events, locket from Vintage Rehab, pink bunting from, carnation bouquet photo by Samm Blake
Row 4: RSVP slip from Stitch Rip Repeat, carnation boutonnieres, champagne photo from Martha Stewart Weddings, bubbles photo by Lisa Lefkowitz

The Paper: By skipping the RSVP cards, you’ll not only save on printing costs but also on postage. Instead, do what Beth did, and include a pretty slip of paper directing your guests to RSVP by email or phone (she also made her own invitations, if you’re feeling ambitious…). For theme-appropriate and budget friendly escort cards, mark playing cards with your guests’ names, and pin them on a bulletin board.

The Fashion: Going vintage is a great way to save. This dress from Posh Girl Vintage is only $265. Vintageous and Unique Vintage are other good places to try online. There are also designers who can create a dress for you using a pre-existing wedding dress – if you want to give new life to your mother’s wedding dress, maybe? Or, if you want something pre-owned, but not necessarily vintage, check out sites like Once Wed, Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses and Encore Bridal. Accesorize with a vintage locket for $98 and simple pearl earrings that you already own.

The Decor: You know those tissue paper pom poms that are so popular right now? Why not shrink that same pattern down and use them as napkin rings? Make bunting in a variety of fabrics and colors to hang around the reception site.

The Flowers: Carnations! I can’t think of another flower that has been more unfairly maligned than the carnation. Maybe it’s because of the tacky dyed ones? Or because they’re cheap? But pick one color, and use a copious amount of blooms, and they will look beautiful instead of cheap. You can make pomanders from them, huge dramatic centerpieces, or a ruffly bouquet, all for around 50-cents per stem.

The Food: An afternoon tea is tucked neatly in between lunch and dinner, so you won’t need as much food as you might for another type of reception. Dainty finger sandwiches and scones with jam and cream will look pretty on a tiered tea tray (which can do double-duty as a centerpiece), or you can go with a buffet. Petits fours are an appropriate, and cheaper, alternative to a formal wedding cake. If you want to offer a signature drink, why not substitute Prosecco for Champagne? It has a different taste, but is still delicious and bubbly, and significantly cheaper. And of course, you’ll want to serve several types of tea.

Other Details: If the weather permits, set up a game of croquet or bocce ball (or both!) to entertain your guests. If you’re staying indoors, how about decks of cards at each table for guests to play with? Instead of having your flower girl toss petals, fill a small vase with bubbles and tie a ribbon around it and let your flower girl blow bubbles down the aisle. For favors under $1, attach personalized tags to tea bags, and arrange them in a tray for your guests to take home.

Splurges: Why not splurge on a higher end croquet set? For $100 – a fraction of the money you’re saving by not hiring a band or DJ – you can have a set that will live to play another game.

For Free: If your mother is anything like mine, you’ve heard her say it a million times – stand up straight and smile. No amount of makeup or expensive clothes can take the place of good posture and a happy face. And they’re both free!

Real Wedding Inspiration: Brittany & Michael, Jennifer & Josh via The Bride’s Cafe part one and two

PS – Check out this pretty photo via {frolic!}.

9 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Budget Friendly, Inspiration Boards

Many couples don’t want to elope, but they also want to avoid the circus that often goes along with a big wedding. Hopefully today’s wedding inspiration board strikes a happy medium. However you decide to keep your guest list small, an intimate and chic dinner party is a great way to stay within a reasonable budget without sacrificing any style. After all…

Who says…bigger is better?

Mood: intimate, chic
Palette: green, gold

{click image to enlarge}


Top row from left: Citrus at Social restaurant via Here Comes the Guide, calligraphed favor box from Martha Stewart Weddings, ceremony photo from Martha Stewart Weddings
Row 2: Shumaq Sophia dress from Couture Candy, miniature orchid cakes from Martha Stewart Weddings, notecard by Silhouette Blue, votive photo by Jennifer Davis
Row 3: menu and mum place setting from Artfool, photo by Sean Flanigan, bouquet from Martha Stewart Weddings
Row 4: birdseed packets from La Baleine Volante’s flickr, pistachio macarons by Paulette, green tie from Martha Stewart Weddings, rose fascinator by Refined Society

The Paper: With only a handful of guests, a handwritten note is a nice way to invite them to join you for your wedding. These sweet notecards by Silhouette Blue are only $1.25 each, or you could order some personalized correspondence from your favorite stationer that you can use after you’re married for non-wedding related notes.

The Fashion: This darling dress from Couture Candy that you can definitely wear again will only set you back $216. Pair it with a unique rose fascinator from Refined Society for $65. Let the groom wear a going-out-to-dinner outfit that he already owns, but maybe buy him a new tie.

The Decor: Choose a restaurant that not only serves delicious food, but that also looks good – ambience is a huge part of any meal, and will add to the experience of your wedding celebration. If the restaurant you’ve chosen has a known menu for the week or the month, print up pretty menus to put at each guest’s seat. If the restaurant doesn’t already have them, you might light up the table with some unscented votive candles.

The Flowers: Go for a bouquet made with a variety of orchids and embellished with sparkling gold details – not having attendants means you can afford to splurge on a single bouquet. Set an individual green spider mum at each place – definitely an affordable choice when they’re in season, and when you aren’t using too many of them.

The Food: If you choose a restaurant with incredible food, you’ve pretty much got everything covered – and if it’s somewhere you’ve eaten before, then you’ll know what’s in store. You don’t need much cake, so go with one or two small ones, beautifully decorated with orchids, and let them double as your centerpieces.

Other Details: For a detail that’s both charming and cheap, sew little packets of birdseed or confetti for guests to toss as you walk back down the aisle as a married couple.

Splurges: Buy fancy cookies or chocolates to give as favors, and place them in a box calligraphed with each guest’s name. Or, make things easy and see if your favorite sweet shop has a favor option (Paulette’s mini-boxes are a splurge at $4, but for such a small number of guests, you might decide to go for it).

For Free: The after-party! After dinner, head to a local jazz club or other music hot spot (preferably one with no cover charge), and meet up with friends who might not have been invited to a family-only wedding.

Real Wedding Inspiration: Aleishall & Matthew by Mel Barlow, and Toni & Pietro by Jocelyn Filley

14 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Budget Friendly, Inspiration Boards