How We: DIYed Our $1,500 South Carolina Wedding

Doing what felt right for us

Kim, Legal Secretary & Jarod, Customer Service and Sales

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A very charming DIY wedding celebration that made everyone feel welcome.

Planned Budget: $1,500

Actual Budget: $1,500

Number of Guests: 40

Where we allocated the most funds

Clothing, rings, food, and flowers. I spent $300 on my dress, $30 on my hairpiece, and $50 on my shoes. Jarod spent less than $100 on his clothes from Urban Outfitters.

All of the food was vegan and done by us. We purchased most of the snacks like hummus, vegetables, fruits, pretzels, and crackers from Walmart. I purchased a nine-inch vegan cake from Whole Foods and fifty mini vegan cupcakes from a local bakery in Charleston called Cupcake. My friends and family helped to prep and set up the food outside. Our friends own a local soda company called Cannonborough Beverage Company and, as a wedding gift to us, they set up two different custom sodas that our guests could self-pour from a vintage soda spout. We also decided on one “signature” cocktail for the day—a strawberry rum punch. That definitely helped us keep the costs low since alcohol is so expensive. Our guests were excited by the unique soda and signature alcoholic drink. We spent less than $200 on food and drinks.

My budget for flowers was $100. I pre-ordered them online from a wholesale florist in town and then arranged them by myself the night before. I had already purchased the blue glass mason jars and vases from Amazon and Michaels. I kept the color palette simple: white, yellow and green. I think the Billy Balls and Mums were the most expensive flowers. I used a lot of baby’s breath and greenery to fill in. I did end up running to the local grocery store and grabbing a few extra flowers for fill for about $20.

Where we allocated the least funds

The venue. By using a friend’s property we were able to save on the location and still have a beautiful celebration outdoors. She lives on several acres of her father’s land on Johns Island. She and her husband live in one house, and her father lives in his own house. This was helpful because Jarod was able to get ready in one house and I was able to get ready in the house next door without him seeing me. The houses face a large field with pecan trees, which made for nice shade and also served as different “stations” for the wedding. For example, one tree served as the welcome station, where we set up the guestbook, our gifts to our guests, and the Yay! flags guests could pick up and wave during the ceremony. Another tree served as the area for the photobooth where we were able the hang the backdrop I made out of the 45 records. (I found over a hundred vintage 45 records at a store for one dollar!) The property was large enough that we could have the area for the ceremony tucked back in an area surrounded by trees and the reception was focused further out in the field near the different stations. Our friend also had two large six-foot tables and the supplies for the backdrop at the property already, so we saved on how many tables and chairs we needed to rent.

We reused a lot of my friend’s hand-painted wedding signs, and I made almost all of the decorations by myself. Because we both love music and have a band, a music theme started to materialize. We also chose to use records that our guests could sign instead of a traditional guestbook, that way we could frame them and have something cool and unique to remind us of our day. Finally, our wedding favors were mix CDs that had our favorite songs. We had a custom couple stamp made and stamped in on the front of the CD envelopes. Our guests loved them!

Everyone was so happy to pitch in and help to make our day easy and special. I think seeing how eager people were to help us is a big part of what made our day so special.

What was totally worth it

Being able to hang out with all of my favorite people at one place at the same time! It was such a happy day for all of us.

What was totally not worth it

Doing the flowers by myself the night before as well as building the record backdrop by myself. Those tasks were both a little overwhelming but they definitely were worth it both for the unique factor and to save money.

A few things that helped us along the way

Making a lot of the decorations myself and planning ahead. I made a lot of lists and spent a lot of time crafting after work at night. It was fun to make the details for our special wedding one by one and seeing everything come together.

My best practical advice for my planning-self

Make lots of lists, use Pinterest to your advantage, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Stop comparing your wedding to others and do what feels right for you.

Favorite thing about the wedding

Seeing Jarod for the first time and spending time taking our “first look” photos together before the ceremony. Hearing the music start and walking toward him. It was so quiet that I could hear my feet crunching the grass beneath me. Everyone was smiling and I was so excited to marry him.

Other Notes

Jarod and I are thirty-somethings who work during the day and play in a dream-pop band called Tape Waves by night. We are both fairly shy people who don’t necessarily like being in the spotlight. When we were dating we would talk about our dreams of going to Paris one day and decided that when we got married, we would elope there. When Jarod asked me to marry him on our one-year anniversary, that dream started to feel like it wasn’t right for the time being. When a friend offered to host our wedding on her property on Johns Island, we were a little reluctant. After she convinced me how easy it could be, the planning began.

While I was hesitant to have a wedding because of our tight budget, I am so glad that we did! It was such a special, happy day for us, and I had so much fun planning my wedding. In fact, I had so much fun that I am planning on starting my own wedding planning business for those who want a unique wedding on a budget.


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  • Joy

    Looks like it was a beautiful wedding! Congratulations! Not surprised you didn’t elope in Paris though. As an American who got married in France I can tell you that getting married here is extremely difficult involving lots of paperwork and expense not to mention the 40 day residence requirement. It’s always a sweet dream but not the most realistic.

  • Stella

    I’d love to learn more about how you self-catered for $200. We’re having a budget wedding for 40, but our food cost is is over $1000. Another how-we-did-it post on catering?

    • Rachel

      I’d also love to hear about this. We had a vegan wedding but had it catered. I made the rehearsal dinner desserts and almost lost my mind in the process. I’m so impressed that you DIY’d it! It looks like it was a beautiful wedding. I love the mix CDs as favors too. Great idea!

    • Kim Hart

      Hi Stella! I bought a 9″ vegan cake at whole foods for $30 and 4 dozen mini vegan cupcakes for $85. I spent $20 on one bottle of liquor for our signature punch. The soda was brought to the reception as a gift. The rest of the food was pretzels, chips, hummus, guacamole, one fruit tray and one veggie tray, water bottles and juice boxes and was purchased at Walmart. We asked our friends and family to help prepare the food and set it up right after the ceremony. We used our own trays, plates, etc… We scheduled the ceremony and reception to be relatively short (the whole thing was 2 hours) so we didn’t buy extra food or drinks. The cupcakes were definitely gone really fast! I hope this helps!

  • Molly P. Kopuru

    Looks like a gorgeous wedding!

  • Kim Hart

    Also, I had so much fun planning this wedding that I started my own planning business!!! If you’re interested in learning more how to this please check out my site:

  • Guest

    Hi – just a heads up – the photographer should say “Julia Levy”, not “Jim Levy”. :)

  • Natalie

    Beautiful! I’m impressed with the number of DIY projects you took on. That window frame backdrop is incredible.

  • oh wow i LOVE this! vegan AND Southern? hell yeah.

  • vegankitchendiaries

    Second wedding in as many weeks that shows it’s not the cashola that makes it! Very, very well done indeed. Even with a 2 hour wedding, your $1500 budget still has me scratching my head on how you did it so massive congratulations for pulling everything off so beautifully!

    Annnd…. Has to be said… Vegan brides are my FAVOURITE brides!

  • Love this post, especially because I got married at the end of June and our budget was $1k total for approximately 50+ people. I planned the entire shindig in 3 weeks, too!

    We received a lot of help and I worked out many trades (I’m a wedding photographer & graphic/web designer) for the high ticket expenses, and in the end, we ended up spending LESS than $1k with all of the support we received from folks in the community, which was pretty unbelievable!

    I think it would have been impossible to have a true DIY / budget wedding without receiving help from others. I know that everyone doesn’t have the same resources available to them but you really have to get creative to make it work when you are footing the bill yourself. Asking for help was one of my biggest hurdles but in the end it was the ONLY way we were able to make it happen!

    Congratulations, Kim & Jarod!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      ^ This

      You can’t do a budget wedding without asking for help. Let me just repeat that for clarity: You CANNOT do a budget wedding without asking for help. I figured this out wayyyyy to late but hopefully the disorganized fashion of our wedding came across as charming.

  • HannahESmith

    I am loving the super budget weddings on APW recently. This one is beautiful and so sweet! Love your dress too!

  • vegankitchendiaries


  • Ragnhild

    Such a beautiful wedding! Congratulations :) I love how you made it all come together so well, and the flowers are really cute too. Being with all my amazing people in one place was a favorite of mine too btw.

  • sayyes

    I was fortunate enough to attend this incredible wedding, and reading this and seeing the pictures made me cry all over again!!! Kim and Jarod are both such amazing people, and I can vouch for the fact that EVERYONE there had a wonderful time! (Also, giving out the mix CDs as favors was a brilliant idea—this was one of seven weddings I have attended so far in 2014, and K&J’s custom, curated mix is probably the one favor I will keep and enjoy for the rest of my life.)

  • claire

    Love this wedding. Proves you don’t have to spend years of planning and tons of money to have a gorgeous, lovely wedding.

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  • Oh, this is so delightful! Congrats you two! :)