For $15K This Couple Hosted 180 Guests at a Bohemian Fall Wedding

The bride made her dream of a dress from vintage curtains

casey & alex

SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: An event-filled day of celebrating and partying with family and friends.

LOCATION: Lynchburg, Virginia

Where we allocated the most funds:

Photography, food, booze, and transportation. Food and drinks were necessities. We were able to hire a few bartenders and buy our own alcohol. We had a few kegs of beer and cider, an assortment of wines, and a selection of spirits and mixers. The line got a little long at the bar at the beginning, but we didn’t run out of anything! For the catering, we decided to serve family style to each table so people didn’t have to get up to serve themselves, but people were able to take what they wanted and try a bit of everything—there was a variety of dishes. We wanted to make sure our vegan and vegetarian family and friends had enough options as well.

Where we allocated the least funds:

Venue, decor, and outfits. Having a fashion design background, Casey made her own dress. The lace for the bodice was made from curtains from a thrift store, along with silk charmeuse and organza bought in New York City. The total cost of materials was around $150. She, along with her sister, made her bouquet of felt flowers. The centerpieces were also flowers made of felt with cut glass glasses in the center with LED tea lights. There were no real flowers used anywhere in the wedding. Casey’s dad provided all of the sound equipment, and a good friend of ours, Andy, was our MC, so we did not pay for a DJ.

We had a large reception at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Forest, Virginia (near Lynchburg). This ended up being a great deal! It was a blank canvas. Casey’s dad is a member, so we got an amazing deal on the rental fee. Hosting Bingo each week, the hall already had enough tables and chairs for our guests. It was a big open space, which we were able to decorate and transform into exactly what we wanted. We bought the tablecloths, which was very reasonable. The only downside to buying the tablecloths, instead of renting, was having to have Alex’s mom and grandma iron them all!

What was totally worth it:

The transportation was definitely a splurge, a luxury—we, and many of our friends, had never really ridden in limos before! We provided limousine shuttles to and from the hotel. The bride and her entourage rode in the limo to the ceremony in the morning as well. We didn’t have to drive at all that day! It was really nice and made us feel extra special. And of course, our photographer was totally worth it! It was amazing to spend the whole day with her, and she truly caught some amazing moments.

What was totally not worth it:

We went a little overboard with the cake and desserts. Surprisingly, our guests did not eat as much cake as we expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing (leftovers!). However, we had a tiered cake to serve just over a hundred guests, a selection of vegan desserts, and about a hundred petits fours (from Swiss Colony—Casey’s grandma, who passed away in October, always would order them for Christmas, so it was sort of a tribute to her).

A few things that helped us along the way:

Since we had an intimate ceremony in the morning with mostly family, Alex’s mom and stepdad provided a brunch reception for us at the Peaks of Otter Lodge, a short drive from the ceremony location. We did not do a rehearsal or rehearsal dinner, so this sort of took the place of that. It was nice to be able to spend time with family before the big reception that night, where we knew we’d be pulled all over the place to see everyone.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Trust your instincts and trust your vision. We had pretty specific ideas of what we wanted, and we made it happen. Sometimes it gets crazy during planning when you get a lot of opinions involved. Thankfully, our friends and family were very helpful and supportive of our ideas, but sometimes it’s hard to express your vision to others. They’ll understand it when it all comes together!

Favorite thing about the wedding:

It was all that we hoped for and more—just a fun-filled day of spending time with people we love, celebrating. We kept it pretty simple with a little bit of glam, but we didn’t lose sight of what was most important. We wanted to create a nice atmosphere without being stuffy or too complicated.

Other things we’d like to share:

We had an intimate ceremony in the morning with family and a few close friends (about forty people). Alex wanted to get married next to a babbling brook, and Casey wanted to get married in the mountains. Both being from Lynchburg, Virginia, getting married in Bedford on the property of the Peaks of Otter Winery and Johnson’s Orchard was the perfect choice. We found a spot on the land with a picturesque tree next to a stream. It was a windy day, with clouds in the sky, which made for dramatic photos.

It was a simple ceremony with folding wooden chairs, and the tree as the backdrop. Our friend Brady played “Mood for a Day” by Yes on acoustic guitar as Casey walked down the aisle. We did not have any bridesmaids or groomsmen. Casey arrived in a limo with her sister, best friend, and cousins, pulled up at the ceremony site, and walked down the aisle with her dad. To share a piece of the ceremony with our guests at the reception, we bought jars of apple butter as favors for all of our guests. Following the ceremony, we had brunch at a nearby location and then had a big party reception that evening at the Knights of Columbus Hall back in Lynchburg.


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