Danielle, Business Development Manager & Jacob, Office Manager
One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A celebration of love and unity, tucked away in the majestic Rocky Mountains.
Planned Budget: $7,000
Actual Budget: $8,100
Number of Guests: 18
Where we allocated the most funds
We wanted our wedding to be chiefly two things: intimate and beautiful. So we knew we would spend more on the right venue to set the mood, and the right photographer to capture the day. To save money, we didn’t fly out to visit venues, so I spent weeks virtually exploring every area within a two hour radius of Colorado Springs, which is where Jacob’s family is based. While perusing “Real Wedding” blogs, I came across Tina’s work, and when I reached out, she offered to help me find alternative locations that were both picturesque and budget-friendly.
After considering about thirty different lodges, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and parks, we were so excited to find Mountain Comfort. Jacob and I immediately knew it was the place for us. Seventeen miles south of Breckenridge, Mountain Comfort offered the majestic views we hoped for, lodging for our attendees (which we covered), and flexibility in choosing vendors, all for an amazing price. The owners, Ernie and Sandy, were also incredibly helpful, taking measurements, looking into vendors, and taking more photos of the space for us.
In hindsight, we realize that our investment in the venue and photographer was also an investment in Sandy, Ernie, and Tina’s tremendously helpful guidance. Our wedding day was the most perfect day of our lives due in large part to their help and alignment with our vision, which is invaluable when planning a wedding from afar.
Where we allocated the least funds
The invitations and decor. Jacob designed and hand-painted the invitations (there were only ten, so it was doable) and we sent them out in simple-yet-elegant envelopes from Paper Source, stamped with woodsy vintage postage found on eBay. Our guests were all super impressed with their one-of-a-kind invitations, and many kept them after the wedding.
We knew that we wouldn’t have to do much for decor. Part of the reason we chose Mountain Comfort was the breathtaking view of five (!) fourteen thousand-foot peaks, which could also be enjoyed from inside the lodge, thanks to its cathedral height floor-to-ceiling windows. We wanted our decorations to complement the nature around us, so simplicity was key. What I did buy, I hunted hard for—constantly comparing prices, waiting for holiday weekend sales to get a better deal, going to stoop sales and flea markets every week, and searching eBay, Etsy, and Craigslist for particular items. My favorite finds were the vintage bottles we put our floral arrangements in, and I still use them to this day!
What was totally worth it
Making the tough decision to keep our wedding small. When we decided to get married, there was no big proposal. We talked about it for years, but found ourselves in a holding pattern because we knew it would be complicated and expensive to plan something inclusive of all of our friends and family. Then one Saturday morning, I turned to Jacob and said, “Why don’t we just elope?” The idea evolved into having a very small planned wedding. We didn’t tell anyone except our immediate family and best friends for about a month, and during that time we worked out the details of the location, date, guest list, and how we would share the news with everyone else. For that entire month, there was NO PRESSURE. No one at work asking how wedding planning was coming, no one suggesting doing it one way versus the other. The result? We had the space and time to figure out what “doing it our way” meant, and to be confident in every decision we made leading up to it.
When we finally chose the date and location, we called the rest of our family and friends to share the exciting news. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bracing myself for thinly veiled disappointment, but I was amazed at how well everyone received the news that they weren’t invited, and how understanding they were about it.
We still wanted to celebrate with those who didn’t attend our wedding, so over the holidays, we had a second reception in my parents’ beautiful backyard in Florida. I wore my dress again, my parents hired a band from their church to play jazz throughout the evening, and a family friend, who is a photographer, took photos of the night for free. My dad even surprised everyone with a sweet slideshow of our respective lives, including our wedding! Everyone shared so much love, support, and happiness with us, and most touching of all—their enthusiasm, which truly made that night an extension of our wedding day.
What was totally not worth it
All the time I spent fretting over whether I could fit the original size of my dress. I picked on myself, denied myself too many delicious foods and drinks, and pouted about going without. One day, a friend finally said “Just get the damn dress taken out, and don’t worry about it anymore!” No one cared (or knew) whether my butt grew a few inches or not, and on my wedding day, I didn’t either. I felt like a goddess, and when everyone saw me, they saw their beautifully happy daughter/sister/sister-in-law/friend on the best day of her life. When Jacob laid eyes on me, he gave me the sweetest, most adoring look, and I instantly forgot I’d ever spent a second worrying about my weight.
Planning can be stressful, but it’s a journey toward a celebration of immense love. There are so many other things to think about, so do yourself a favor: Love thyself along the way.
A few things that helped us along the way
Our willingness to let go—and everyone’s eagerness to help—is what ultimately made our wedding so perfect. It was such a labor of love, and things fell into place better than we could have planned when we allowed others to step in and take some pressure off.
When searching for venues, Tina sent me links, made suggestions, and even visited some local spots in Colorado Springs for me. Jacob’s mom made the trip to Mountain Comfort to check it out for us. His dad played his guitar for our ceremony, and my dad married us. My parents were in charge of the food, and our wedding party helped us with getting the favors ready, decorating the cake, and setting up. My brother-in-law managed the reception music, and even bought a surprisingly powerful wireless speaker system for the evening.
We found our florist through a friend based in France, who paints beautiful floral paintings in the color palette of our wedding. When I asked if she could help, she just happened to have a close friend who she partnered with on floral arrangements in the US—based just miles away from our venue!
My best practical advice for my planning self
Be flexible. Some of the best things that will happen to you before, during, and immediately following your wedding will be totally serendipitous, and impossible to account for beforehand. One example (among many): Your in-laws’ babysitter will flake last minute, so they won’t able to stay the night as planned. You’ll be bummed, but you’ll take the opportunity to invite Jacob’s best friend from Austin since an extra room opened up. With a week’s notice, he’ll book his flight to your wedding. And when his flight is late, you’ll delay your ceremony two hours to make sure he is there, and you’ll be so thrilled to finally see him and how happy Jacob is to have him there. The sun will hang low on the horizon, casting awesome rays of light over your ceremony and your photos. The wind will finally stop for the day, and the temperature will settle at a balmy (for October) fifty-five degrees. It will be perfection. And there was nothing you could have done to make it that way other than to just let it happen.
Favorite thing about the wedding
It was the first time our families had met in the four years we had been together. With his family based in Colorado and mine in Florida, it was virtually impossible to get them together before then. What could have been a nerve-wracking social situation was actually full of love and acceptance, and it was truly moving how organically everyone came together to celebrate us.
Also, my dad married us, which was so beyond special and heartfelt. I still get choked up thinking about it. Our ceremony was the most emotionally charged moment in my life, and it will be forever be ingrained in my memory as my “happy place.”
Anything else You’d Like To Add
Thinking outside the box was critical in planning a wedding that was both “us” and on budget. We prioritized what we would spend on, and what we would get creative with. Our wedding favors were amber-scented candles (made by yours truly) and homemade beef jerky, which received much acclaim. We went without a caterer, and instead, my parents pre-ordered from a highly rated Italian restaurant in Colorado Springs, and picked up the meal the morning of. The cake is from Sam’s Club, which is where I got my actually very delicious birthday cakes growing up. I asked for a simple, two-tier white cake, and we decorated it with foliage from the flowers. My sister and I did our own make-up, and we rented our jewelry and her dress. Spotify allowed us to customize a playlist to set the mood during dinner, and also gave us flexibility in song choice later in the evening. These choices alone saved us at least a few thousand dollars, which we happily used afterward for adventures in the Southwest.
We couldn’t have managed such a tight budget without a detailed Excel spreadsheet of every dollar we spent against each category (flowers, venue, favors, etc.).