Tips for Wedding Planning on a Budget


Last September, Matt & I got married in Sacramento in my mom’s backyard and celebrated with 125 of our closest friends and family. I originally thought we’d be able to coordinate our wedding for $10K…psych! Even having it in my parent’s yard came with its own additional costs: table rentals, linens, lighting, etc. We had to figure out absolutely everything since nothing was included with the venue. While we were able to get our budget down to under $20K, I was shocked by how fast everything adds up.

Still, we were able to come in almost $2,000 under our budget and I was quite happy about that! After months of planning, research and very meticulous attention to my budgeting sheet (I love Excel), I came up with a few tips to help my fellow brides out:

Make a budget spreadsheet. I hear a lot of people say they have no idea what they spent on their wedding. Of course, the goal should be to spend less than your max budget and the only way to know if you’ve accomplished this is to log ALL wedding-related expenses on your spreadsheet throughout the planning process.

Our budget consisted of columns for “budgeted”, “projected” and “actual” costs. “Budgeted” should have very rough estimates and the max you will spend on specific line items in order to fit within your max budget. “Projected” should have more specific estimates and the “actual” column will have the final amount spent. If you are having a DIY wedding, you likely won’t be able to fill out a portion of these until after the wedding, but at least you’ll have an idea beforehand.

Get multiple quotes and rough estimates before setting your budget. I had no idea what certain things would cost, so I collected basic info about various costs and vendors in order to create my “budgeted” column. This gave me a better understanding on what things would cost and where I would need to cut back.

List out what’s most important to least important to you. Determine a few things that are crucial and that’ll be where you splurge or focus more of your budget on. While hand carved nameplates on quartz slabs might be amazing to have at your wedding, it might not be a crucial item, which means it may need to be cut from the decor plan. For me, awesome photos, a huge cheeseboard and good music were most important, and therefore things I didn’t want to skimp on.

Find a venue that allows BYO. Many vendors require you to use their caterer or preferred partners. If you’re lucky, you can find the perfect spot that will let you bring in your own booze and/or your own food. That way, you can get quotes from various catering services and ultimately find something more affordable. To see my list of Orange County venues, what they cost and include, click here. Having more control over your wedding takes more planning, but also saves you money.

Easily find vendors within your budget. Use to set your budget for a specific need and you’ll get quotes back from a few vendors within 24 hours.

Avoid telling vendors it’s for a wedding. A lot of vendors upcharge for weddings. Sometimes you can’t get away with NOT sharing this *tiny* detail, but do your best. “Oh I’m just having a big party…for like 150 people”.

Utilize your resources! A lot of times, your friends or family will be someone or know someone who can help and will do an amazing job. If you’re willing to work with a vendor who doesn’t necessarily do their trade full-time, it’s likely to be a lot more affordable (or free!). My aunt worked on calligraphy, my coworker created our table numbers & printed graphics, my friend’s friend made our bouquets last minute, and a family friend who DJ’s for a lot of charity events became our awesome DJ!

Huge thanks to all of our amazing vendors!

Photographer: Rachelle Photography
Pizza: Paul’s Rustic Oven
Day-of Coordination: Events by Christina
Hair: Meghen Lord
Makeup: Kelli Renault
DJ: Greg Andrews
Florist: Ahnalise Draper
Calligrapher: The Lovely Hue
Graphic Designer: Joy Shows
Videography: My grandad
Dress: Isolde by Anais Anette
Dress Shop & Alterations: Love & Lace Bridal Boutique
Shoes: Betsey Johnson
Jewelry: Kendra Scott



Lavender & Rosemary Soy Candle Recipe


{Pretty in Copper Bridesmaid Gifts}

Wedding planning is off and running and what I’ve realized is that there really are so many little details to consider. Some of these details aren’t very exciting for me (figuring out how to hook up all the lighting in the backyard), but others I probably spend too much time obsessing over. I was incredibly excited to ask my bridesmaids to be bridesmaids, especially because I got to craft a cute little gift for each of them.

Simple but sweet, the goodie bags included a homemade soy candle, nail polish, and a mini bottle of rose (scent infuser for my little sisters).

Before I get into how to make a candle, I have two pieces of wisdom.

  1. Candles have a memory. A lady at the farmer’s market told me this once and it was one of the most useful things I’ve ever learned. When you first burn in a candle, you must let it burn all the way to the edges before blowing it out. Otherwise, it will remember it’s last path and burn down right where it left off. Plan to burn your candles for about 2 hours the first time around.
  2. Anyone can make a candle. It’s really fun and rewarding once you get the hang of it.

Lavender & Rosemary Soy Candle Recipe


*Creates eight 1/2 pint jars

What you’ll need:

Set up:

  1. Unscrew all jars.
  2. Hot glue the bottom of each candle wick and press down in the center of the jar. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Use two clothes pins to clip on to the middle of the candle wick and let them rest on the edges of the jar. The idea here is to keep the wick in place, as it will wilt when the hot wax is poured in. Try to get it as taut as you can so you end up with a straight wick.

Making candles:

  1. Melt the wax in the pouring pot for about 30 minutes. If you use a 10 lb bag, you’ll need a little less than half the bag.
  2. Stir in lavender scent and remove from heat immediately so the scent doesn’t evaporate.
  3. Carefully pour wax into each candle, filling it to the bottom of the opening.
  4. Place rosemary sprigs inside each candle, keeping them away from the wick.
  5. Let cool overnight at room temperature. Try to keep them on the warmer side, otherwise the wax can cave in on itself while drying.
  6. Trim wicks to about 1/4 inch.

That’s it! The best part is you can switch up scents, try adding color, or use different types of votives for a whole new candle!





DIY Framed Chalkboard

We bought a pool table and a dart board awhile back, but didn’t had anywhere to keep track of scores (and how many times I’ve beat Matt in pool). Matt suggested creating a large chalkboard right on the garage wall. Sold!

Here’s how we made it:

1. Make your frame or find a wooden frame you wish to use. To make the frame, use a 90 degree angle to outline the edges of your frame so they’ll connect.

2. Create your chalkboard space. Hold the frame up to the wall and trace inside of it. Place masking tape just outside of the lines on all four sides.

3. Sand the wall. This will help the chalkboard paint stick better.

4. Spray your square. We used chalk paint spray paint but you can always use regular chalkboard paint.

5. Let it dry.

6. Add the frame. We chose to screw it directly into the wall.

7. Voila! Start using it! We found out the hard way that liquid chalk doesn’t work very well on chalk paint, so I recommend using regular chalk.

*Check out my other DIY projects*




Summer Engagement Party Details

I’m all about DIY, so when my now-fiance proposed at the beginning of July and proceeded to tell me he wanted to have our friends over for a celebration the following weekend, I got straight to picking out some fun things to make.

I am bright-color obsessed and wanted to pick out a few that I know we won’t use for the wedding, but also didn’t want it to look like a baby shower. Blue, hot pink and yellow with a pop of copper it is!

Here are some of the details from the party:

Pomelo Cocktails

Grapefruit juice, club soda, sugar, & lime juice in a salt rim glass, topped with a lime.


Anti-Pasti Skewers

Kalamata olives, green olives, peppercini, grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, & sausages.


Copper Vases & Wild Flowers

DIY tutorial here.


Hanging Pom Poms

DIY tutorial here.