How We Planned a 160-Person Handcrafted Pennsylvania Wedding for $24K

ATTN: Bonus food truck photos included, because a food truck is always awesome

bride and groom standing together and smiling at camera

Laura & Jeremy

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: An epic DIY, handcrafted, family-friendly, backyard wedding

Planned Budget: $18,000

Actual Budget: $24,000

Number of guests: 160

bride putting on flower crown before wedding

Where we allocated the most funds

We dedicated most of our funds toward great food, photography, and a photobooth. It was really important to us that we provided our guests with food that was delicious and made people happy. We chose a food truck that made the most amazing wood-fired pizzas, which allowed us to cater to all dietary needs and gave our guests a fun and unique wedding dinner experience.

Photography was high on our list of priorities when we first began planning our wedding. We knew we wanted to have photos we’d love forever of our closest family and friends. Emily Wren was wonderful in helping organize both the photography and photobooth for our special day. We opted to have one of her most trusted second photographers, Gabby, shoot our wedding to save a little bit of money. We also choose to use The Little Picture Booth photobooth from her husband, Gregg, to save even more by booking them together. The whole team was so lovely and amazing to work with. I could not thank them enough. The photobooth turned out to be one of the greatest hits of the night—especially amongst the younger kids!
bride and groom smiling at camera wedding party with bride and groom

Where we allocated the least funds

The least amount of money was spent on the decor of our wedding, but the most amount of time was invested in it. The whole wedding was a collaboration of the talents of my friends and closest family members. My best friend and I painted banners and hand dyed paper lanterns. We purchased plain tiered cakes from one of our favorite bakeries and decorated them with flowers. My mom spent the three days before the wedding hand sewing rabbit cake toppers in the likeness of us. We were lucky to have access to a floral wholesaler to purchase seeded and flowering eucalyptus, cocculus, and podocarpus to weave almost 150 feet of garlands for our tables. (A huge task which I am forever thankful to my aunt and closest friends for working so hard on them the night before the wedding.) When my silk flower crowns failed, my bridesmaid (and ex-florist) saved the day by running to Whole Foods last minute and making the most beautiful flower crowns for us all.

shot of wedding venue from outside indoor wedding ceremony bride and groom standing in confetti

What was totally worth it

Having our friends and family involved with the planning of the wedding. We really felt loved and cherished by having them use their talents in making our wedding so nice. My aunt can make weeds from the garden look like million dollar centerpieces. (We actually gathered fall grasses and plants transitioning into winter mode to make arrangements.) The flower crown Steph made for me made me feel more beautiful than any of the brides in the wedding blogs I read. Our good friend, PJ, brought his old-style karaoke machine he made from a vintage radio for everyone to sing with. (I could go on about how amazing our friends are, but it would take a long time.) It was truly a labor of love from everyone.

Also—the photobooth! Those silk flower crowns I made and hated? We used them as props in our photobooth and everyone got to share in the flower crown love. We could see how much fun everyone really had in all of their photobooth pictures. My friends and I learned some new poses for the camera from all the kids that night.

wedding cakes and pie on dessert table bride and bridesmaids in front of food truck wedding details on dinner table wedding guests outside food truck

What was totally not worth it

Stressing out about the little details. Since our wedding was mostly DIY, we were all working on setting things up till the last minute. We never got to put out our little illustrated “reserved for bride and groom” cards. Not every gift for our guests was tied with twine and cute thank you notes. The thirty boxes of crackers we had purchased never went out with the cheese. Everything was perfect once the wedding started, we were happy to be there with everyone, and everyone was happy to be there with us.

bride and groom dancing in sparklers bride and groom cutting their wedding cake bride eating wedding cake

A few things that helped us along the way

Our parents were extremely helpful in making our wedding extra special and helped us in unexpected costs. From last minute dance floors to realizing we forgot to put champagne glasses on our rental list and finding plastic ones the night before the wedding—we cannot thank them enough for all of their help!!

wedding guests holding champagne bottles wedding guests talking over drinks bride and groom dancing

My best practical advice for my planning self

Time management! Although I had planned to get things finished by certain times, it never happened. I always turn to working under last minute pressure, which is never fun. It leads to exhaustion and spending more money than you thought you would.

bride dancing with her father wedding guests dancing at reception bride and groom blowing out sparklers

Favorite thing about the wedding

We had planned our wedding to take place in the late afternoon so everyone could bring their young children and travel back home if they had a semi-long distance to drive. We were a little surprised when most of our family had left by 8:30, but we were still surrounded by our close friends and family who love to dance. We were finally able to let loose, turn up the music, and play early ’00s hip-hop jams we wouldn’t have played earlier. Dancing the choreography to “Wuthering Heights” (by Kate Bush) at midnight with our best friends was a dream come true!

bride and groom speaking at wedding reception


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