See What’s So Sweet about This $11K Southern Brunch Wedding

Realization: DIY weddings rarely involve just yourself


Molly, freelance writer & Chris, Surface Mining Reclamation Specialist

sum-up of the wedding vibe: A laid-back Catholic wedding at a historic venue in Nashville.

Planned budget: $10,000

Actual budget: $11,000

Number of guests: 90



Getting married in a Catholic church was non-negotiable for me, and since the church I loved the most was also the most expensive, most of our budget went toward that. Serving delicious food was also important to us. Monell’s, a traditional Southern restaurant, sat directly behind our reception venue (which was conveniently right across the street from the church), so it was a no-brainer asking them to cater. Although we shelled out more money than we wanted to for catering, it was worth it to not have to cook and set-up food ourselves. We also ordered a variety of bagel sandwiches from Mitchell’s Deli and doughnuts from a Nashville institution, Fox’s Donut Den. We provided our own alcohol—beer, champagne, wine.


Where we allocated the least funds:

We skipped Save the Dates and RSVP cards in lieu of a wedding website with an RSVP form. We used picture frames, vases, candleholders, and other decorative items from my aunt’s, my mom’s, and my house to create beautiful, personalized reception decor. A family friend arranged flowers in vases for the tables. My bridesmaids and I made the photo booth backdrop on site. My aunts and cousins hung signs and laid tablecloths. I hung childhood pictures of Chris and me on strings across the windows.

Tip: Visit a wholesale flower shop for great deals on seasonal blooms. Greenery, like eucalyptus and olive branches, are cheap and gorgeous.


What was totally worth it:

Splurging (sort-of) on fantastic, local, catered food. People still compliment us on it! Choosing local restaurants allowed out-of-town guests to get a “taste” of authentic Nashville fare and made our reception feel even more personal. Plus, it was so helpful having caterers there to replenish the food, top off drinks, etc. We chose a buffet style brunch since our wedding was at 11 a.m. and we did not want a sit-down meal.

What was totally not worth it:

Stressing over RSVPs and small decorative details, because it all came together in the end.


A few things that helped us along the way:

FAMILY AND FRIENDS! Hands-down none of our wedding details would have come together had it not been for the talents and involvement of our family and friends. It’s impossible to throw a DIY wedding by yourself. I cannot express how vital our loving families and friends were to making our dream wedding a reality.


My best practical advice for my planning self:

Breathe, and enjoy this moment. Planning a wedding on a budget is no small task. I frequently got caught up in small details (like finding a specific flower for table decorations or the font on our programs), which threatened to take away from the big picture. The wedding planning period of my life was such a short blip on the timeline. I tried to remind myself to take it one day at a time and remember the ultimate goal: marrying my favorite person in the world.

If I could offer engaged couples one piece of advice it would be this: don’t let other people dictate YOUR wedding. They will try, believe me. Stay true to your style, budget, vision, etc. Sure, feelings may be hurt, but when everyone gathers for your ceremony and you walk down the aisle, all of those previous disagreements fade. Make your wedding the best day of your life and ignore the rest.


Favorite thing about the wedding:

All of the personal touches and wonderful people who celebrated with us. Seeing my wedding vision realized was the most tremendous experience of my young life. Also, our wonderful priest, who was close with my grandmother and a dear family friend, officiated the wedding. He had all the guests laughing and smiling with his free-spirited dance moves and spot-on homily.


Anything else:

Short of catering the wedding ourselves, everything was designed, planned, and executed by my mom and me. Sure, we were crazy busy for most of the six-month planning period, but ask us both if we’d do it again and we’d say “yes” in a heartbeat. I cherish those moments laying out tablescapes with my mom, discussing sign designs with my aunt, and creating bouquets with my bridesmaids. All of the decorating and DIYing were the parts I enjoyed most about the planning process. It was also important to Chris and me that we honor our deceased grandparents. I carried my grandmother’s blue handkerchief during the ceremony, and we used her and my grandfather’s pink wedding crystal for a toast.


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