How We Spent $1.5K and Got Married under a Waterfall in Georgia

Keeping it small and lush was key


kiana, flight attendant & scott, screen printer

sum-up of the wedding vibe: An intimate elopement at Cloudland Canyon State Park.

Planned budget: $2,000

Actual budget: $1,500

Number of guests: 13


Where we allocated the most funds:

Most of our budget went toward the cottages at Cloudland Canyon. We wanted to have a cottage for each of the bride’s family, the groom’s family, and the bridal party. Luckily, my bridesmaids were married or in a long-term relationship with his groomsmen, so that made planning rooms so easy! The cost really was still nothing near that of a venue, because there is no cost to get married out in nature at the park! We just weren’t able to close the area off to visitors. Hardly anyone came through during our ceremony, and those that did were wonderful additions and gave us congratulations and well wishes!


Where we allocated the least funds:

We did not use vendors of any kind, apart from our amazing photographer Bri McDaniel (who cut us a huge deal)! I did the bouquets and my crown myself. Our parents did the food, and the wedding party handled decorations and showered us with gifts! They even took care of our bachelor/ette expenses, which was a fun meet-up and overnight stay in Atlanta the day before our trip out to Cloudland Canyon! Also, I am a huge makeup junkie, and I was worried that if I hired someone to do my makeup, it wouldn’t look like me in the pictures, so I did it myself, and I love how it turned out.


What was totally worth it:

We wouldn’t do it any other way. We even watch celebrity weddings or see photos from other people’s weddings to this day, and both kind of look at each other, because we just feel like our wedding was so stress-free and just relaxed. I’m sure everyone says that, but we were able to really be with everyone. And we didn’t have to stick to a strict time frame, so that took a load off. We literally just went with the flow. And we were so happy at the dinner after the ceremony, because there was literally a two-hour stretch where every single person at the table was able to give us a toast. I will cherish that for the rest of my life. It was perfect. I wouldn’t change a single thing. Even the weather was perfect! It was a dream.

Our location was also more than worth it! It was magnificent and somehow still delicate. It was stunning and is stamped into my memory.


What was totally not worth it:

If I had to say something that I wish I could add, I might say I wish more people could have attended. At the same time, we had such a perfect dynamic of people and that is what really made the wedding perfect, so I would sacrifice that all over again. I wouldn’t change a thing.


A few things that helped us along the way:

There were so many times that we almost gave in and didn’t do what we wanted because we had hurt someone’s feelings for not letting them attend. But what we had to realize was that this wedding was about us. We had our reasons for wanting to keep it small. Both of us were still in debt from college. We were in the process of saving money to start a family, and most of all, we wanted our wedding to be a day that we could really soak in and remember for the rest of our lives. ?? We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, and that we wouldn’t be able to do it how we envisioned if we tried to please everyone.?? So we let that go and did what was right for us. Sometimes, you have to do you.


My best practical advice for my planning self:

Don’t let other people’s wants affect your wants. Be true to yourself and everything else will fall into place, and never think that something cannot be done based on money alone. Scott and I have gotten ourselves into the most amazing adventures because of budget constraints, and truth be told, those are some of my favorite memories!

Also, you can do anything with a little help from your friends. ?


anything else we should know:

When Scott and I first met, I was a bartender and he was in a band. It was only natural that eventually we would run into each other. When we finally did it was so easy. We both showed up at a bar we would never step foot in again, to support a friend who we both still meet up with regularly to this day. When we talked about the future, it was always “when” not “if.” “When we get married, when we have kids, when we buy a home of our own.”

When it was time to plan the wedding, we realized that neither of us was into the idea of a long, expensive, stressful night filled with awkward moments. One Thursday afternoon after a busy day at work, I had this idea to spend a weekend at a state park and get married. That night, I called my parents and asked what they thought. We had booked the cottages before I even hung up the phone! Everyone was thrilled, and while we weren’t able to have more than a few close friends and immediate family there, we wouldn’t trade it for the world!


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