We featured McKenzie and Todd’s wedding earlier today and seem to have sparked off a bit of a controversy that we’d like to lay to rest!

McKenzie and Todd wanted a small intimate wedding and they had a budget of $20,000. {We’re not saying they had a low budget wedding. We’re saying they had a budget of $20,000.) They approached First Coast Weddings and Events to help them orchestrate their plans and made it clear that they didn’t want to exceed this figure.  Additionally, they are a very environmentally conscious couple and wanted their wedding to be as eco-friendly as possible.

Now … the point of the story is that sometimes it’s very difficult to stay within your set wedding budget … no matter what that number is (!) … and most couples planning their wedding can attest to that!  There are so many extras that become so tempting, but it CAN be done.

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McKenzie and Todd were married in March 2008 at the Oldest House in America! Seriously … according to the St. Augustine Historical Society

“The González-Alvarez House has been occupied since the 1600s with the present house dating to the early 1700s.”

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from Danielle

McKenzie and Todd met while attending Saint Johns College, a unique college that bases its curriculum on the works of the most influential minds throughout history. Here, they cultivated their love for history, anthropology, and one another. Their leisure time was spent biking and playing trivia. With college behind them and opportunities and new careers awaiting in Seattle, they wanted to plan this one last hoorah – full of their closest friends and family to bid them farewell.

When I first met with McKenzie and Todd, they were at the very beginning stages of their planning and had several guidelines set in stone.

1. The wedding would cost no more than $20,000. (note: this is where the staying within your set budget comes in!)

2. They wanted the wedding to be reflective of their personalities

3. The wedding needed to be intimate- 50 guests to be exact

4. They wanted it to be as low-key and green as possible, with respect to environmental and socially aware planning.

We chose the location of the ceremony for its strong history which was quite important to the couple. They wanted a space that felt warm and rich while still being able to not overwhelm their intimate ceremony. In keeping with their eco-consciousness, the guests and couple walked the three blocks to the ceremony at The Oldest House. They chose to have no attendants, rather they selected only their immediate family and closest friends to witness their vows. They each walked in solo as a string trio played the works of Bach and Mozart. In all my years of planning, I have never felt so engaged- just the two of them opening up their hearts to one another.

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They wrote their own ceremony, with borrowed traditions from several cultures throughout time. Their very talented friends offered up their services to assist with the bread and honey ceremony, with one having a 250 year old starter for sourdough and another who owns a bee farm! We kept the decor simple, with a chuppah wrapped in a garland adorned with fresh locally-grown citrus fruits and a bouquet of hydrangeas. Adorning the entrance to the Oldest House were two topiaries adorned with mini citrus fruits.

Who says that no bridal party means no bridal party fashion? I loved that McKenzie’s mother and sisters all chose to wear dresses from a bridesmaid’s line. They were sophisticated selections that reflected each personality but definitely distinguished them as guests of honor!

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In order to maximize the budget, we chose to hold the reception at the gorgeous Casa Monica Hotel’s Sultan’s Pool Deck. The space was discounted because it was a chilly off-season, but included space heaters. What I love most about this space is the stationery cabanas and amazing styling! It means that there is no worrying about tent, table, and lighting rentals. They also have an iPod dock that goes into their PA system, which we used for cocktail hour and background dinner music. Because the space is already highly-styled, there was little need to add more than a few hydrangeas and citrus fruits.

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Guests were treated to a polaroid guest book and an extension of the bread and honey ceremony. Their friends made the cutest orange blossom honey escort cards. I thought that the most clever part about them was that the shade of green on the leaves denoted the guest’s dinner selection (fish/meat) which was a subtle way to help Casa Monica’s staff.

McKenzie and Todd announced early on that they were not the tiny dancers… not even close. Thus, they opted to skip dancing all together. Instead, they allocated those funds to a great menu and wine list. And, they employed the help of a friend that they had made over the last few years of trivia night. That’s right, they had a full-on trivia challenge! Designed to match their Dauphine letterpress invitations, these trivia menus were by far the most chic that I had ever seen! I loved that the guests were able to interact and have wonderful food and conversation.

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At the end of the evening, we cut the cake. And oh what a cake it was! McKenzie and Todd worked with Sweet Weddings to create a lovely cake which had their college crest on top. Afterward, there was the crowning of the Trivia winners, a sparkler exit (followed by an impromptu dance off by their guests) and the couple was off to their honeymoon (biking all the way up the East Coast!)

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In the end, we were able to stay within their budget by determining what was most important to the couple … the food, photography, and ambiance. And then, we found cost-conscious alternatives for the rest … the flowers and entertainment. Last, but certainly not least … they accepted help from their friends. We were able to achieve an intimate affair that was environmentally and socially aware, and completely reflective of the couple’s personality.

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It would not have been possible without this amazing team: Coordinated by Danielle Bamba of First Coast Weddings and Events, Flowers by Riverside Event Design, Ceremony Venue – The Oldest House, Reception Venue and Catering – The Casa Monica Hotel, Photography by Leah Powell Photography, Cake – Sweet Weddings, Ceremony Music by Wehners Weddings Entertainment, Details by The Couple’s Talented Friends!

Thanks so much to Danielle for helping McKenzie and Todd achieve their dream wedding! Our congratulations to McKenzie and Todd!!

ps … the original post has been updated in response to our readers comments!

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