Throwing a Wedding on a Dime


They saw each other across a busy room.


He smiled.


She dropped her chin, and the corners of her youthful mouth pulled up ever so slightly.


His uniform made the walk even more enticing.


She began to part her lips.


His voice was pleasant.


Her hair smelled like a spring morning.


They danced.


And it was done.



Now, let’s skip forward a year, and tell the unicorns with rainbow farts to get out of your house, and discuss how the hell to pull together a wedding on a dime, because seriously, unless you’ve just hit the lotto, or have a mother named Bunny with old money- this is going to cost the fortune you do not have.

Ready Ladies? Grab your children… 


  • Dream, but be realistic. John Legend is probably not in your budget.

  • HAVE a ‘Budget’ and don’t be afraid to say it out loud. Keeping people in the dark about what you can truly afford just causes confusion and dashed hopes. If it’s only $500 (or nothing-nada-zip) so be it. Get it ‘out there’. Let it sink in. Have a cry. Yell. Take your punches. Belittle yourself. Whateva.. then DEAL.

  • Wouldn’t we all have loved to be married in a newly sprouted wildflower field, on a hilltop, with a babbling brook? Of course so, but it’s gonna rain. I promise.

  • Who do you know? And what do they HAVE? Use your contacts. A yard? A house? A fancy car? A musician? An artist? A cook? A fireworks specialist? Ask them to join in with their talents as a gift. It may not be wrapped in a Tiffany blue box, but it will have a lot more meaning. Tiffany’s can come later- after you both get jobs.

  • Use what’s ‘at hand’. In our case, we cut flowers from surrounding fields and used birch tree branches to construct an arbor. We also rearranged the potted annuals that were already present around the cabin to stage a more dynamic entry to the reception. Of course, it didn’t hurt that a little digging in the back room turned-up some discarded table linens that we used to create the backdrop for the ‘photo booth’ (Where two cast-off picture frames had been repurposed with a little glitter). Thank God for staple guns- and glue.

  • Bring a little something from home. In my sister’s case, she brought a box full of objects that had deep meaning for her and her daughter. They were displayed in the powder room, making this often times overlooked space seem like home. You know it’s true.

  • Make your own signage. My sister had me create several: “Just Married’, ‘Sparklers’ (for a night time display), ‘Ching Ching’ (a salutation used by the groom’s family), ‘Brew for the Crew’. etc. They weren’t perfect but they looked like love. So perfect, after all.

  • Music was provided by an ipod playlist. MJ showed up. He’d have been pricey- and he’s dead, so it was a win-win.

  • Photography doesn’t need to come with a down payment. Place disposable camera’s around. This generation KNOWS HOW to take pic’s. Have you been on Facebook?

  • You do not need a football team standing up with you at the alter. Most of these people will fall off of your radar over time, and think of the pay-back. Oh, dear God. How many bridesmaid dresses do you really want to have to purchase over the next few years?

  • Lovely, white clothing can be purchased anywhere, even on sale. I know we all dream of looking like Princess Di on the Big Day, but you are only going to wear ‘The Dress’ one time, and your future daughter will not want to wear it again- trust me. She thinks you’re a big dork. Even though she’s not born yet.

  • Food. Yes, you should have some, but it doesn’t need to be gourmet and served by gloved men in dark suits. It can be seasonal. It can be room temp. It can be family style or buffet. Just make sure it’s varied and plentiful and on clean plates. And make sure to provide extra napkins for when your awesome Aunt laughs out loud with her mouth full. Just sayin’…

  • But for the Love Of Everything That’s Holy, have an open bar. You’ll need it. And your Uncle just might sing Man In The Mirror…


  • Who knew?

Such a Happy Day. And, why do I ALWAYS cry at weddings? PINIMAGE

Such a Happy Day. And, why do I ALWAYS cry at weddings?



Simple. Elegant. Clean. PINIMAGE

Simple. Elegant. Clean.



Work it! In a log cabin, the pot bellied stove is a focal point. Fresh flowers spruce it up- and they were FREE!PINIMAGE

Work it! In a log cabin, the pot bellied stove is a focal point. Fresh flowers spruce it up- and they were FREE!



The Photo Booth. Hung from the ceiling and glitter bombed. My sister brought a box full of fun hats. PINIMAGE

The Photo Booth. Hung from the ceiling and glitter bombed. My sister brought a box full of fun hats.



The Bar. Dear God- the BAR!PINIMAGE

The Bar. Dear God- the BAR!




I’m going to cry again…

  • Jan Ross - I will never forget that my wedding dress cost $50 at a moonlight madness sale at a local department store. It was beautiful – and, for heaven’s sake, you are wearing it once!!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Exactly! My mother made mine- and it was stolen from the drycleaners- it was THAT good. -sigh-ReplyCancel

  • noel - Wow, beautiful post, yes being original and making something unique is the best experience along with a great bar!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Hey Noel! Nice to see a new face!!! I’ll met you at the bar. -wink-ReplyCancel

  • Betsy Towns - Cheryl,
    I just got so choked up!! I am so worried about how I will put on weddings for my girls. This looked absolutely perfect! All the best to the bride and groom!!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - It was wonderful Betsy!!! Very simple but meaningful. Nothing over-the-top, but all the right things in the right places. And EVERYONE chipped-in in some way. Not with $ but with time/effort/skill. I truly meaningful event. Melissa never looked more beautiful. I couldn’t stop crying!!!! And THANKS for stopping by and leaving a comment- finally! -wink-ReplyCancel

  • Betsy Wuebker - Awww, sweet photos! Looks like a lovely day. We did our wedding on a small budget, too, and I believe they are way better than the extravaganzas. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Hodor Greenthal - Love that photo booth – and you both look gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Gary Sidley - Great post. There’s nothing quite like a family wedding. I’m still trying to get my head around your “unicorns with rainbow farts” quip. ReplyCancel

  • Running Mama - Beautiful. I especially love you saying just say the budget and accept it. I got married at City Hall. Of course a party with loved ones would hav2 been great. But I have so many friends and family who did that and are divorced. Glad we were realists. Still married 12 yrs later…ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Wonderful! !2 years is an awesome number!!! Sometimes the best things come in small, simply wrapped packages- Oui? I’m feeling very French tonight….ReplyCancel

  • Diane Tolley - Perfect! I still say the best fun is the kind that doesn’t cost anything! My wedding cost my parents less than $200.00!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne Fluhr - My wedding dress cost $35 at Loehmanns. There were less than 20 people at the ceremony which was followed by deli sandwiches in my parents’ small back yard—-but we went to Peru for our honeymoon. Fast forward 31 years. We gave our son and his fiance a substantial cash gift for their engagement to use for whatever–house, travel, savings, whatever. They added to it and had an elegant, upscale wedding—all the bells and whistles. All we had to do was dress up and show up.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Now, that sounds good! I’d love to just ‘show-up’ at our kids weddings, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. They are both counting on me to ‘make it happen’ though I’ll advise them to keep it intimate. Problem is, the hubby has a slew of people he wants to invite! The HUBBY! HahaaaaaaReplyCancel

  • Rena McDaniel-The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver - I bought a gourgeous dress, hoop, veil and shoes for$120. Originally $2700. The girl had just divorced the cheating husband after 3 months. I catered my own wedding. Never recommend this I was so exhausted we didn’t ah…consummate our marriage for three days. Did have the open bar…bringing my maid of honor home with us after a big fight…priceless…wedding $1000 bucks we paid for not our parents. Donated the dress to Goodwill everybody needs to feel pretty on that one day. I had actually just put a pic of it/me and my MOH (now deceased) on FB yesterday! 23 years ago!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Oh, I LOVE the idea of donating the dress!!!! What a wonderful gesture! ANd you catered it? Smashing! (not so much the three day recovery- hahahaa). Now, I’m off to your FB page to take a look! Thanks for stopping by Rena!ReplyCancel

  • Alyson Shitastrophy Herzig - Cheryl – you could make anything look fantastic. I have seen the amazing photos of your table scapes before. This looks absolutely amazing. How wonderful for all you – oh and yes on open bar. ReplyCancel

  • Mari Collier - LOL I still have my mother’s list for the cost of my wedding. Including everything it hit an amazing $15,00. She even counted the cost of my wedding dress (she made it). One reason your daughter won’t wear your gown is the simply fact, she would never fit into it. I still have the dress (hat and veil are gone), but even my granddaughters are far too large to consider it.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Janke - What a lovely setting for a wedding. I love the photo booth.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - It was so fun! Everyone put on different hats and masks and had their pic taken. Such a clever idea! My sister just found some old picture frames, glittered them, and we hung them!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin Henning - haha! My son’s wedding is coming up next month, and he+bride are going low key and doing fairly well staying in budget. The number in attendance grows, however, and the hosted bar is a given. (Moderation for Mom, so I can stay on me feet ’til the wee hours. That’s what I keep telling myself.)ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - It’s funny how no matter how much I imbibe at a wedding I never get crazy or get a hang-over. I think it’s the adrenaline. As for the growing guest list- I think that’s a given. Kids. Thanks for stopping by Kristin!ReplyCancel

  • Pam Hermanson - Oh our dear Cheryl! Only you could master the words to paint a perfect picture of this perfect union!!! So many of us who knew you Haddocks remember your talents are endless (I’m older…don’t make me print your jr pic) What a beautiful day, full of love, coolness, creativity and a bar! So happy for Marty and Leah.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - HAHAHAAAAA. Spoken like a true friend! It WAS so cool! Everything went off w/o a hitch. I swear Melissa and I could stage an inauguration! HAHAAAAAA. Love ya gal!ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn Jones - Your ideas are great and the photos tell the story — with imagination you can make any venue romantic and grand!!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Yes! It just takes a little imagination, elbow grease, and two very dedicated sisters working in harmony! Hahahaaa Thanks for stopping by Marilyn! I appreciate it!!ReplyCancel

  • Cary Vaughn - Wow. You do some pretty amazing work. And these are fantastic ideas. I bet my former father-in-law wished he thought of these before he dropped $25,000 on a wedding that lasted only 4 years.ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen O'Donnell - What a gorgeous setting. Makes me want to throw a wedding….not…but you know what I mean.ReplyCancel

  • Carole Terwilliger Meyers - I think people spend way too much money on weddings. And I think this trend came about to fill a lot of people’s pockets–which isn’t a bad thing unless the person having the wedding doesn’t also have the money. Totally agree about the bar; splurge there. And use any money saved towards a house down payment.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - There you go! Or pay off college loans. EeGads.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - What a gorgeous wedding! I know people who have spent a great deal on weddings that aren’t as nice as this one. Everyone should read this post 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thank you Michelle! You really don’t need to spend a fortune to have a ‘good’ anything don’t ya think? People can get so caught up in the price tag- when it’s the LOVE that matters- and the bar! Ha!ReplyCancel

  • How To Throw A Wedding For Next To Nothing - What The Flicka? - […] This post was originally featured on Cheryl’s blog, A Pleasant House. […]ReplyCancel

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