A Little Luck and a Lot of DIY Made Our Wedding Happen

Wait until you see her blue wedding shoes


Brandi & Matt

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A big, happy Southern backyard party with our friends and family!

Planned Budget: Between $10,000 and $15,000

Actual Budget: $5,000

Number of Guests: 102 invited, 85 attended


Where we allocated the most funds:

Food, photos, video, and invitation suites! Originally, we wanted to have our favorite local BBQ spot, but when that didn’t pan out, we chose wood-fired grill pizza and it was the best choice. I had a vision for our invitations from a photo I had seen on the Internet. I tracked down the artist and didn’t even care about the price point—I knew I had to have her hand calligraphy.


Where we allocated the least funds:

Everything else. We were so lucky in so many ways: We won a contest with our amazing photographers and only had to pay their travel fees, and my day-of coordinator is a friend who gave us a great discount. My dress was a sample from BHLDN (and a friend who works at Anthropologie gave me a discount), our friend who is a bartender offered her services for free, and my mom covered our caterers and alcohol! On top of that, Matt’s mom lives on a beautiful property that backs up to a reservoir. Immediately after we got engaged, we knew that’s where we wanted to get married.

Things I DIYed:

  • All decor—guestbook recipe card box (vintage), honeyfund/card suitcase (vintage), all cake stands (borrowed), wooden letters (craft store), and Matt’s mom put up all the baby pictures of us in frames she had
  • Drink stirrers
  • Every sign
  • Music playlists (shout-out to Spotify Premium!)
  • Guestbook “Words of Wisdom” cards
  • Paper flowers
  • Spouted drink containers (borrowed)
  • Cocktail hour cocktail (whiskey and ginger, my namesake drink)
  • All the alcohol—DIY bar (water, sweet tea, PBR, white and red wine collected from my mom’s house and Trader Joe’s)
  • Succulent table centerpieces (my wedding planner brought little vases/pots)
  • Poms in the trees
  • Our wedding website through Squarespace (we didn’t do RSVP cards, but had people RSVP via our website and request any songs they’d like to hear at the reception)


What was totally worth it:

A videographer! I tell this to all my friends who are getting married. The day flies by, and having a video of the speeches, the quiet looks, the ethereal moments that you may not even have noticed while it was all panning out are so worth being able to replay again and again. Most of the biggest “wow” reactions I get come from our highlight video. One more thing: at the very least, hire a day-of coordinator. I would have been lost without Christine!


What was totally not worth it:

The first dance. Matt hates being in the spotlight (while I quite enjoy it), but his not wanting the whole scenario made for more of an awkward few minutes than a sustainable, gratifying moment. The photos that came from it were great, but if one of you isn’t feeling this, don’t worry about opinions—this is one tradition you should throw to the side!


A few things that helped us along the way:

Our wedding party, my mom! (big shout-out), our families, and our friends. Everyone was so happy to help. Christine (my day-of coordinator) was awesome—there aren’t enough words to describe how fabulous she is!


My best practical advice for my planning self:

Stop worrying so much about the littlest of details. In the end, most of them go unnoticed by everyone but you. Everybody is there to celebrate your love and to have fun. Not one person is going to notice what container the straws are in or even if there’s a missing confetti-filled balloon (which, yes, are all thoughts I actually had). Don’t over-order so many invitations. We have a box in the closet filled with all the extras; there are so many.


Favorite thing about the wedding:

My mom walking me down the aisle/giving me away. It’s always just been me and my mom; she’s my best friend, my pillar of strength. It was a wonderful moment, getting to share this with her. Also, our hashtag (#marriedandweknowlesit)—it was a great way to see pictures from our guests all compiled for us.


Anything else to share:

You know, nobody really emphasized to us how much of a blur our wedding day would actually be! Aside from the few moments we had during our first look, and taking photos after the ceremony, I think we spent more time with family/friends than just with each other. The first look was very reinforcing for me, and needed to calm my nerves—all the jitteriness I had been feeling was gone instantly when I saw Matt.

We had a huge wedding party—seven bridesmaids + two junior bridesmaids (my sisters) + eight groomsmen—and every single one of them was so helpful and supportive throughout the process. The day of the wedding, I got all my bridesmaids to help me set up furniture and decor, and without any complaints, they were right by my side putting tables and chairs up! I cannot throw enough love and thanks to every single one of them. I was able to borrow the wooden cake slabs from a family friend, along with most of the other minimal decor items being borrowed from my mom and Matt’s mom. Matt and I have never really been “cake” people, so we decided on simple, store-bought cheesecakes for dessert. In the end, neither of us even ate any at the wedding.

It’s going to be the smallest parts you remember—like when I grabbed Matt’s wedding band out of my maid of honor’s hand without even thinking, even though in our rehearsal I knew that the officiant was going to do this and then hand it to me. This made for a notable laugh during the ceremony and some great keepsake photos. I opted for a floral crown rather than a bouquet, but I had large red paper flowers for the bridesmaids. I had my bridesmaids choose their own dresses, shoes, accessories, and overall look. My only instruction was to pick a neutral. All the gals looked so amazing, and better yet, they were comfortable in what they were wearing.

We opted to make this day really about us and having a great time with our family and friends. Instead of a lot of traditions, we opted for low-key. Our ceremony was about ten minutes (maybe shorter), we didn’t do cake-cutting, only had three toasts, and there was no veil, no formal exit, no bouquet or garter toss. Instead of customary gifts we did a honeyfund—rather than doing a registry, we asked that people donate to our honeymoon. In the end, our entire trip was paid for!

The Info:

Photographer: Christina Shaw of Shaw Photography | Wedding Location: Richmond, Virginia | Venue: Private Residence | Brandi’s Dress: BHLDN | Brandi’s Shoes: Report | Hair: Brittany Coffey | Makeup: Summer McCarley | Brandi’s Crown: Peckled | Matt’s Outfit: J. Crew | Day-of Coordinator: Christine of Wood Grain & Lace Event Planning | Videography: Chris Yeatts of CY Wedding Films | Caterer: Nota Bene | Succulent Boutonnieres: Eucca


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  • Another Meg

    The whole thing looks gorgeous and joyful. Congratulations!

  • Ashlah

    It’s not often we see weddings that come in so far below the planned budget! Good for you! Your community’s love for you (and yours for them!) shines through in all of these photos and stories.

    And I adore your dress! So unique and gorgeous.

  • idkmybffjill

    Love. this. so. much.

    Especially your glasses with that flower crown and your tats and dress….. my god just everything.

  • Brynna

    This is just perfect! It’s the kind of wedding I wish I could have, but I don’t know anyone with a big house/yard. Cheers to the two of you and thanks for sharing your lovely day!

  • JC

    That dress!!!

  • Bethany

    I’m two weeks removed from my wedding and so much of this reminds me of it! I wish I had been able to read this beforehand, it probably would have calmed my last minute nerves! We skipped a lot of the same things you did in favor of laid back and fun – veil, cake cutting, formal exit, bouquet/garter toss (plus we skipped first dance) – and while I was solid on these decisions most of the time during planning, I did have a few wavering moments where this would have been super validating. It sounds like you all had the most perfect day (I can’t think of anything better than a pizza wedding) and you look so happy in the pics! Congrats to you! :)

  • ART

    I totally drooled over this dress when I was looking! Looks great on you :)

  • Unhip in Brooklyn

    Those paper flowers are some of the best non-floral bridesmaid options I’ve ever seen! And as a fellow colored-shoe wearer for my wedding, I LOVE the blue kicks. Everything is beautiful!

  • riotgrrlonfire

    Brandi! I don’t care how hipster it is, I *must* have my drinks in mason jars at my wedding! Can I ask – how did you execute this? Did you give one jar/person or did you rent several mason jars with your bar service? I’ve done all the googling, but I can’t find a straight answer on how the one jar/person is executed without people losing their jar (I guess we could have replacement/plastic cups behind the bar), or wanting to switch their drinks (we’ll have two types of beer, wine, and two cocktails) – we don’t have access to a wet bar so washing or even rinsing between drinks seems infeasible. Were people okay with using the jar for one beer/cocktail all night? Did people use it for one drink/one type of drink and then completely abandon it for plastic/other glasses? Thanks for any advice you or the APW team can provide!

    • Anonymous

      My bestie did this at her wedding– she had one jar per person and they were the half-pint size ones. No one lost their jars (unless we all did, and were just drinking out of random jars). She might have put our names on them I can’t really remember (probably because the jars were full of alcohol?). I know for certain she drew their little wedding logo on each one. We used the jars for all the drinks: wine, beer, whiskey. We were more than happy to use the same jar for various liquids. Drunk people are pretty flexible about booze-vessels.

    • Brandi Knowles

      Hi!! So, I ordered enough jars for every guest that RSVP’d plus like one case extra just in case. I got them bulk between Home Depot, Costco, Walmart, and shopping online. We had stickers and paint pens so people could write their names on their jars. Some people took more than one jar (which was fine, we used them as the take-home as well) to use for different drinks. Others just used one jar with no issues! We had no plastic glasses except for during cocktail hour. Good luck!

  • Emily

    That dress is MADE for you. Lovely wedding!