How We Made Our $35K, 150 Person Maryland Wedding Reflect Our Values

See also: a "pi" bar and two wrinkly dogs in flower crowns

 Carrie, School Counselor & Joseph, Commercial Real Estate Agent

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: Our wedding was a laid-back yet energetic celebration full of our favorite people, with yard games, a ceremony in a field, dancing in a barn, Moscow Mules, and wedding pies.

Planned Budget: $28,000 (We didn’t have a set number, but wanted to keep it around there)
Actual Budget: $35,000 (But honestly, we stopped keeping such good track at the end!)
Number of Guests: 150

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Where we allocated the most funds

The venue, which included catering. Totally worth it—both the fantastic spot and the incredible food!

Where we allocated the least funds

Dessert! We went to a fancy bakery to try pies and found that we liked the $25-per-pie version way less than we liked the $9-per-pie Amish Market version. So we went with the Amish Market and spent about $250 on pies for the whole crowd.

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What was totally worth it

Overall, working with vendors that were professional, creative, and talented—but also likable and kind. We opted to not go with people who left us feeling like we were there to just make them money, and went with our gut(s) about who felt right to work with. Getting a live band was totally worth it (especially the band we hired: Stonebrook Moonshine). We debated a lot on hiring a month-of coordinator, and ended up being SO happy that we did (Meagan Symes with Kari Rider Events). I think our stress levels might have been increased by about a thousand percent without Meagan and Kari helping get all the little (and big) details together. Having Meagan there the day-of really let us relax and enjoy our day! Our florist, Amanda Burnette, was just wow. Carly Romeo (Two Spoons Photography)… oh my gosh, we can’t stop looking at these pictures.

Can’t stress it enough: working with people we liked made all the difference!


What was totally not worth it

We kind of drew a blank when we first looked at this question… we felt like things really went beautifully! One thing we can say, though, is that it is absolutely not worth getting wrapped up in what you “should” have at your wedding. A few times, we had to kind of step back and wonder aloud about whether we were doing something because we really wanted it or because we felt like we were supposed to have it. Those moments of, “Oh crap, will everything be ruined if we don’t have this one thing??” were totally not worth it.


A few things that helped us along the way

Sites like APW, Green Wedding Shoes, and others that showed a variety of ways to approach planning a wedding. Frequent conversations/check-ins with vendors definitely helped, as we all felt on the same page by the time the day came along. Our parents were (are) so supportive and easy going—we had the right balance of feeling supported and in control of making our own decisions. Reminding ourselves that friends and family were coming to celebrate with us and weren’t going to keep notes on the details!


My best practical advice for my planning self

Enjoy the ride! Okay. That’s not that practical. How about: don’t stress the small stuff. Seriously, it may be a cliché, but it’s really an important thing with wedding planning. Take on the details you enjoy doing and delegate or nix the ones you don’t. Remember that it’s about celebrating, not party planning.


Favorite thing about the wedding

Oh geeze, only one?! If we had to pick one, it would be this: the clouds parting perfectly in time for us to get married outside.


Anything else

We’ve actually known each other for about fifteen years! We went to different high schools, but met when we were teenagers through mutual friends. We saw each other sporadically through high school and college, always enjoying each other’s company but never moving beyond acquaintances (though mutual crushes were later confirmed). Separately, we spent years exploring areas of interests in a wide variety of settings (and countries). Joe went off to college, living in England for two years as an Oxford student studying philosophy and music. He bounced around Maryland, Pennsylvania, and DC for a couple of years before returning to DC to get a master’s degree in real estate from Georgetown. He now works in commercial real estate. Carrie went to St. Mary’s College in southern Maryland, studying psychology and playing outside. She also bounced around for a few years, living in Maryland, Montana, and Utah, before heading back to DC to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. She now works as a counselor in an independent high school in DC.

We were re-introduced when we were both knee deep in grad school at a 2011 pre-Thanksgiving party thrown by a mutual friend (thanks, Rob!). A few years later, we bought a house together in suburbia, adopted two wrinkly dogs, and created a loving (albeit shag-carpeted) home. As we return back to life as usual after our big day, things may not seem all that different, but everything’s changed in all the best ways.



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