Josh + Cailen: 6 Tips for a Gorgeous Wedding on a Budget

I am an eternal Romantic  so it should be no surprise that I love adore weddings! When I traveled from Statesboro, Georgia to Newmarket, Ontario, Canada in January for Josh + Cailen’s forest themed wedding,  I could not wait to see what they had done! Josh is a professional squash player (for those who don’t know, that’s an indoor racket sport) and Cailen had recently graduated from college with a degree in screenwriting. I love that they are unabashedly pursuing their dreams to see where those dreams will take them (not enough people are brave enough to really do that) but I also know that did not leave them a whole lot of money to spend on a dream wedding.  Well, Josh + Cailen had an idea for a high-end winter wedding that captured the feel of a summer’s day – and they did it all while managing to stay 100% on budget. I know – they’re amazing!

So today, I’m showing you bits of their amazing wedding  and give you 6 tips of how to achieve a high-end look while still keeping to your budget.

Visit a Second Hand Bridal Boutique

Okay, y’all, I have to admit I was floored when I saw Cailen’s wedding dress.  Stu-nning! Seriously, how can you go wrong with Vera Wang Bride? But my jaw dropped to the floor when she told me she found it at Gown Go Round (a second hand bridal boutique) and that the dress had never even been worn before! So, ladies: take a look at second hand bridal boutiques in your areas for hidden gems. You never know what you’ll find!


Recruit Your Family + Friends

Josh + Cailen were not shy about asking their family + friends to pitch in and help out. I arrived to the rehearsal dinner to find all their family helping set up the reception and the ceremony areas:

  • brother and sister-in-law prepped and cooked all the food for the reception (it helps to have a chef in the family on this one);
  • bridesmaid/sister put together the floral arrangements and baked the wedding cake;
  • cousins and parents were setting up the lighting and tables for the reception;
  • friends were putting together the  evergreen arbor in the church;
  • heck, even Cailen, the bride, made the Nutella stuffed cupcakes for the guests at the reception!

It was so sweet to see an outpouring of love that night to start the love fest a day early! On the day of, her best friend ended up doing her makeup and her cousin styled her hair.  So, ask people who know you both best to help you achieve your vision. Plus, you never know: might help encourage some hidden talents!

Get Creative!

One of the advantages Josh + Cailen had was their wedding was in January, shortly after Christmas. They knew they wanted their indoor forest theme before Christmas, so when the time came for their neighbors’ trees to be taken down and placed on the curb for trash pickup, they drove by and picked up the still fresh trees and added them to their space. It was such a great way to bring the outside indoors (which was necessary because Canada in the winter is cold, y’all!) at no cost.

Also, one of the things I love to do when shooting a wedding is letting the groomsmen roam free a bit. They tend to find some great additions at the spur of the moment and add that bit extra every bride wants at her wedding. For example, at Josh + Cailen’s wedding, the groomsmen poked around the school a bit and found some amazing sombreros. So, we took them out into the snow for a little play on opposites (the wind picked up right when stepped out to do the wedding party and bridal editorials and it was beyond chilly). The bridesmaids also grabbed blankets to help them stay warm out there and I think both of those things added an element of fun and joviality to the moment.

Try to think outside of the box of buying things for your special day and see what you can come up with.

Cut Unnecessary Costs

Obviously, there are some things on your budget that absolutely must be there: venues, food, photography (that’s me!). And there are some things that will be added to the “nice to have but not necessary” column like: chair skirts/bows; guest favors; live music. Josh + Cailen kept the wedding favor simple by adding a Ferrero Rocher to each guest’s plate and cut the chair decorations, and had their brother-in-law run their music playlist for the reception. It’s a simple way to leave a little more room in the budget for things that really matter to you. Take a hard, objective look at what you’re doing and ask yourself: what absolutely must I have and what can I let go of? Each couple is different in what they think is important (you may have to cover up some really ugly chairs or really want to give your guests favors that they talk of for months afterward), so be sure to really discuss this with your partner before making the final cuts.

Don’t Buy – Rent

Yes, your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event but all those detail items don’t need to break the bank! Ask yourself: am I really going to need 20 crystal candelabras or 10 candy jars after my wedding? But you may think you need all these items to make your venue look and feel as special as you do on your wedding day. So find a great vendor that will rent you these items for your special day.

Josh + Cailen had their reception in the church’s school gymnasium but it definitely didn’t feel like it was a gym!  Josh + Cailen rented a very simple door and the outdoor lights from Country Lane Vintage Rentals and added it to their reception space behind the head table. Also, knowing the wedding party editorials would be outside, Cailen rented a beautiful cape and muff to help her keep warm (which Josh also ended up appreciating as the cold wind blew on). These small details added a cozy touch,. The door flowed beautifully with the family style tables set up in the reception and the cape and muff matched Cailen’s dress perfectly! It doesn’t take a lot to make a space cozy: rental of a key pieces can go a long way and can give your budget a bit of breathing room.

Check with Local Vendors for Discounts

Decor adds so much of the mood to your celebration but small details can definitely eat into your budget. So check with local businesses and see if they will give you a discount for using their product. Josh + Cailen went to a local vendor to see if they had any items on sale, told them they needed some supplies for their reception, and were given a truck bed full of greens and were charged a nominal fee for the wreath they ended up using. Their indoor forest theme to the reception by adding evergreen branches to their tables as table runners, and a wreath to the head table. Simple but so elegant! They also went to a local farm and asked them to provide the vegetables for the dinner. Talk about farm to table.

So don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. If you budget for the full price and they end up saying “no” to you, your budget is no worse for the wear. And if they give you a “yes” and offer a discount, you have the ability to move the money you saved on that area another area of your budget!

I hope you get some use out of these tips. For more pictures of Josh + Cailen’s wedding, head over to my Facebook page and Like for additional content.

Are you engaged and looking for a photographer? Check out my portfolio or contact me to schedule an appointment to see how I can help give you the wedding of your dreams.