Our $7K Georgia Wedding In A Bar With Aliens

Cosmic Love, Dogs, and Sea Creatures

Morgan, School social Worker & Brian, IT Specialist

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A celebration of rad cosmic love featuring dogs, sea creatures, live music, graffiti, and longtime friends.

Planned budget: $5,000
Actual budget: $6,900
Number of guests: 110
LOCATION: Athens, Georgia

Where we allocated the most funds:

We won our wedding photography in a contest but still needed to pay to get her to us. Gabby graciously traveled hundreds of miles for our wedding. She was just amazing and captured everything we wanted perfectly. At the last minute (two weeks before the wedding day), we also decided to rent a photo booth to have during the reception. They had a green screen option, which came with plenty of cosmic backgrounds. Our guests loved it, and it provided a break from the dance floor. No matter how budget savvy you are, if you have over a hundred guests, the food cost will add up. Luckily, one of our local barbecue places caters for only nine dollars a plate! The catering option came with pulled pork and three sides. We choose vegetarian sides to accommodate our veggie friends. Our guests still rave to us about the mac and cheese!

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Our venue didn’t charge a fee. We got married in a local bar with a huge patio. (Yes, there were grumbles from family about a bar wedding.) The only requirement was having a bar tab over $1000. With our friends, that was easy! Our venue was perfect as is. For starters, the patio has a “washed up” blue boat on their deck, which made for a great ceremony background. In addition, the bar had bohemian touches all around, including a vintage red camper, murals, and antique furniture. We knew from the beginning that we did not want flowers. They are a huge expense and just another vendor to coordinate with. In lieu of flowers, Brian tried his hand a wire wrapping, and made boutonnières and bouquets out of crystals. I carried a squid sculpture as my bouquet to fit the intergalactic ocean theme. Brian got an inexpensive suit from H&M. I found my BHLDN dresses at an Anthropologie/Free People outlet for fifty bucks each! Score!

What was totally worth it:

With a lower budget, we were going to just hire an amateur photographer, but we are so glad we didn’t. Working with our professional photographer was a breeze! We didn’t have to worry about the pictures or her skill level. In addition, she knew exactly how we should stand, poses, lighting, etc. She intrinsically knew the special moments, and we have beautiful pictures to treasure for it.

What was totally not worth it:

Ordering two cases of champagne for morning after mimosas at the house. I envisioned an afternoon of fun at my house playing corn hole and wishing my friends bon voyage as they journeyed home. Well, I think we drank one of the twenty-four bottles. Everyone, including me, was just too pooped.

A few things that helped us along the way:

APW! I tell every newly engaged friend about it! The guest list spreadsheet and budget spreadsheet were our biggest lifesavers. We also used the website to plan our ceremony and make many DIY decorations.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Keep to your budget at the beginning of planning. There were so many times that Brian and I could have blown the whole budget. In our early planning stages, we shopped around at many different venues until we found one that fit perfectly in our budget. Stick with your vision! If you want blow up aliens, wigs, sequins, and crystals, it can happen! We had a few family members say that we weren’t taking our wedding seriously. Our reply? Awesome! We hope you aren’t either—let’s have some fun!

Favorite thing about the wedding:

The live music! Brian was playing the drums, his brother and my brother-in-law joined in on a few songs. Our amazing friends got together and formed a wedding band (aka The Dearly Beloveds) for our wedding. They played sing-a-long covers, and it was definitely the highlight of the reception.
Also, we had a “glitterizing” table featuring flash tats, flower crowns, glow sticks, and rhinestones to get our guests in the mood. It made the pictures pop!

Something else I’d Like to Share:

We booked our honeymoon flight for the night after our wedding. I wanted to keep that aspect traditional, but I really wished we waited an extra day. We were so exhausted and had to pack and deal with a cancelled layover flight. It was just much too much. Practice Mindfulness. This past year, we have been on a mindfulness journey. About a week before the wedding, we decided to enjoy the day with a present mind. We let go of all the detailed expectations we may have had for the day. We worked hard planning it, and it was time to just enjoy each other and let the chips fall where they may. It relieved so much stress.

I don’t think any wedding can be done without help from family and friends. Someone gave me the advice early on to accept any help from family and friends that is offered. I am so glad I took that advice to heart. So many friends and family gladly helped—from the music to hair and makeup—and it without a doubt could not have happened without them. Take up your loved ones on help offered! Bring slippers or tennis shoes for the after party. My feet were wrecked after the reception from dancing so long. And I was just wearing flats!


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