Sometimes something as simple as a layer of paper cranes strung around a ceremony spot can make all the difference in the world. It takes this backyard affair from beautiful to seriously breathtaking upon first glimpse of those white wings. And the images from Hitch and Sparrow add a layer of beauty and emotion that brings this day full circle. See it all unfold right here.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
al fresco 2

From the Bride…Thomas and I were set up by two of our best friends. My college roommates and I had been spending the week cooking together and hanging out. That night, we were going to be making my friend’s favorite pasta recipe—Rachel Ray’s You Won’t Be Single for Long Vodka Cream Pasta. Sara and her husband were inviting a tall, dark, and handsome guy over for dinner. I scoffed a bit at the coincidence of the set up and the menu. Little did I know that a year later that man and I would be serving that very dish again … to our wedding guests!

After we got engaged, we knew that we wanted our wedding to be a way for us to share our story with our closest friends. Since we had been long distance, it would be the first time a lot of those dearest to us were all together. So, we wanted to make it an intimate celebration of 75 inspired by the day we met. We had 5 months to plan our wedding—we wanted it to be beautiful, unique, low-stress and … $10K! A tall order! But, everything came together.  We want to encourage other brides out there that you can have your dream wedding and not spend a fortune. The look of our wedding was very much styled around our story as a couple. I also chose some keywords for our aesthetic early on. This helped me make color and decor decisions and not get so bogged down by everything that COULD be done. We were able to avoid tradition-for-the-sake-of-tradition, save a lot of money, and end up with a wedding that told our story.

Here’re some of the ways we saved money/personalized our day: We had the ceremony and reception in my parents’ 3 acre yard in Racine, Wisconsin (just outside Milwaukee). I loved how personal it was hosting at my parents’ home (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) That said, there are a lot more details to cover when doing a home wedding, but we were so thankful for friends and family that helped fill in these gaps. We had our wedding over labor day weekend and so we had a little more time with our bridal party, who so generously helped us get everything together for the wedding. A HUGE thank you to our families and friends who worked so hard! Instead of using umbrellas to keep guests cool or renting a pricey tent, we planned the ceremony so it would be in the shade and had the reception at dusk when it wouldn’t be so hot. We also passed out hand fans that doubled as our wedding programs. People thought we were crazy for not renting a tent—but we loved dining under the stars and cafe lights. Thomas’ dad used lumber and cables to hang the lights.

We transformed my parents’ front yard into a cathedral feel by cascading 2,000 origami cranes from Etsy over the aisle and as the backdrop. We had a meal we love that was affordable. We’re both sentimental, and so we were delighted for our caterer to recreate the meal we had when we were set up—Rachel Ray’s magical recipe. Choosing pasta as the main dish really kept our costs down and enabled us to serve a dinner that was several courses long even on a tight budget. We skipped out on traditional favors. Instead, we used beautiful vintage canning jars as a token memento guests could keep if they liked. These also doubled as escort cards and water glasses, so that was a cost saver as well. We found inexpensive ways to quickly personalize our wedding. I’m a graphic designer so I made a wedding logo and, using brown kraft paper, put it on everything from our wine bottles to the recipe cards tucked in each guest’s napkin. This was an inexpensive way to add a touch of class.

We skipped buying a unity candle and instead our mothers added flowers to my bouquet when I walked down the aisle. I had my sash and veil handmade from a wonderful shop owner on Etsy who’s also a good friend of mine. She used my mom’s wedding gown lace on both. This helped me get more mileage out of my small dress budget. Our florist suggested in season flowers as similar alternatives to some fillers I had originally chosen. We kept the bridesmaid bouquets smaller and used that money we saved toward putting heaps of flowers on the king’s style reception tables. We didn’t have the budget for a DJ and instead hired a friend to make sure our Spotify premium music lists played for the reception and the best man announced the cake cutting and speeches. I designed our invitations, making our story as a couple a central part. Instead of using a calligrapher, Thomas did the lettering on the brown kraft envelopes using a white pen. Instead of having a cocktail hour, we saved the alcohol for dinner and had a milk and cookie hour with live music in between the ceremony and reception. We used the cookie recipe we had on the night we met. It was unique, fun and saved us a bunch! We resold as much of the materials as possible afterwards (linens, lighting, and decor especially.)

Photography: Hitch and Sparrow | Floral Design: Floral Creations by Eileen | Event Coordination: Sally Appenzel | Decor Coordination: Ellarye Boutique | Ceremony + Reception Location: Parent’s home Racine, Wisconsin | Invitations: Kathryn Duckett, printed by Uprinting | Paper goods: The Paper Source | Shoes: Lauren Conrad | Dress: David’s Bridal | Bridal Sash + Veil: Ellarye Boutique | Boutonnières: Ellarye Boutique | Caterer: Luanne Purdy | Cupcake Liners+ Straws + Bakers Twine: CakesAndKidsToo | Table Numbers: Hobby Lobby  | Wood Planter Boxes: Save-On-Crafts | Burlap Sacks: Blain’s Farm and Fleet | Sparklers: Sparklers Online | Tables + Chairs + Dinnerware: All Star Rentals | Vodka Sauce Recipe: Rachel Ray | Cupcakes + Cookies: Gifted by a Family Friend | Origami Paper Cranes: Little Sweet Cottage on Artfire | Handfans: Robyn Promotions