My best friend Katie would love this wedding. She’s been obsessed with all things purple since we were kids and since this little gem is purple done really well, I know it would make her smile. Plus it was done on a budget and with a heavy DIY hand which would make her even happier. Click here to see all of the gorgeous wedding photos!

charleston wedding

charleston wedding

charleston wedding

To see the entire photo gallery, click right here!

Our wedding was going to be lower budget from the time the recession hit the housing industry. Our budget was 5k. My husband and I both have a strict debt free lifestyle and I graduated college shortly after he engaged. My father owns a construction company in Atlanta, Georgia. Thankfully he raised a no frills kind of girl who likes the outdoors and found herself a man who loves the river. Enter the perfect setting.

From the time I decided I would marry Greg if he asked, I knew we’d get married on the Saluda River in Columbia. He is a white water kayaker, and his parents both paddle a white water canoe. He is not the type to care one bit about wedding details, so I wanted to incorporate that part of our family into the core of our wedding. From the conception of the river wedding, ideas bounded from rafting out to a rock, to having it at a nearby park, and having it at the children’s rafting center, until a friend of the family’s offered up his beautiful home above Stacy’s Ledge (a rapid) for (get this) free. I had never been out there before, so in the tow of future mother in law, we went. You can see how gorgeous it is.

One venue secured. Current expenditures: Nothing.

I knew that I wanted our wedding to be a relaxed, sitting by the river, eating good food, listening to music, roasting marshmallows, drinking beer and wine, eating cake, no pressure, somewhat rustic outdoors affair. I knew I wanted a ton of pictures and for it to just be fun. Neither Greg or I are dancy, so no dancing, but since photography is in our blood, we supplied instructions for a photo scavenger hunt.

I started out with this list of a thousand details that I wanted to incorporate, but as things got closer, and the budget got tighter, I had to pick and chose what I wanted and what would make the most impact. I had the advantage of a lot of natural beauty on my side, so I knew that accents of color would be my focus. Our color palette was chocolate, lavender and cream (selected by my husband dancing on various pieces of colored paper preselected by myself). We already had a lot of brown in the trees, so lavender accents were a given. I ended up focusing on using fabric and ribbon to maintain a rustic and at home feel to things and letting the flowers and sunlight carry the rest of the day.

We had our wedding catered by Shealy’s BBQ and it was DELICIOUS. Nothing better than pulled pork and baked beans and corn on the cob at your wedding! The reception flew past in a haze of greeting people, taking pictures, having drinks, cutting cake, laughing to the point of tears at my sister’s and the best man’s toasts, roasting smores, playing on the swing set, chasing the chickens, sitting on the fallen log, waving at kayaker’s paddling by, and wearing my wedding dress until every last guest was gone because that was what I bought the thing for. Our wedding felt more like a yard party, and that was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Tips for budgeting you wedding.

1. Use your resources. If your mother in law has a friend who does wedding planning on the side and can get the linen hook up. USE IT. If your friend used to work for clinique and offers to do your makeup as a gift DO IT. For tables and chairs, call the places that rent lawn mowers. You’ll be surprised. My tables were $9 a pop no matter what size. I wasn’t chair pretty obsessed (obviously) and there is a serious mark up for white chairs. I opted to save $1.25 per chair and go with off white.

2. Utilize technology. If you aren’t dancing, Ipods and wireless speakers rock. If you are dancing. Ipods and wireless speakers rock.

3. If you are on a budget and there is just that one thing you have to have, do it. You will likely regret it if you don’t. Sleep on it for a while and decide just how badly you need it.

Vendors: photography by Tomme Hilton Gallery / Gown from Evelyn’s Bridal in Lugoff, SC (My dress? $625+100 alterations. Yeah, I splurged here) / Catering by Shealy’s BBQ ($12 per plate) / Flowers by Scott Jones of American Floral / Cake by Parkland Cakes / Tables and Chairs by Aaro rental centers /  Hair was Crystal Patterson at A Color Salon in West Columbia / Hair Flowers by LoBoheme on etsy.com