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We Had a Perfect Boho Barn Wedding for $20K

With a little help from the #APWplanner

Amy, Clinical Laboratory Educator & Scott, Presentation Team Lead

SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: An intimate, fun, and relaxed celebration of love, reflective of who we are as a couple.
PLANNED BUDGET: $10,000
ACTUAL BUDGET: $20,000
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 70

Where we allocated the most funds:

  • Photography, including prints, albums, engagement photos, etc.: $5,500
  • All-inclusive venue, including food and beer and wine: $6,500 (Bride’s parents contributed $3,000. Venue cost $9,500 total)
  • Wedding dress: $2,400

Photography and taking care of our guests were two of our biggest priorities, and that is where we allocated the most funds. The dress… well that was a love-at-first-sight blind buy from Australia!

Where we allocated the least funds:

  • Save the dates and invitations: $80
  • Florist: $1,000
  • Decor: $150
  • Cake: $200

Because over 80 percent of our budget went to the three items above, we tried to majorly cut costs in other areas. We shelled out minimal money for invitations and save the dates… I mean as long as they tell your guests the location and when to show up haven’t they served their purpose? For flowers, we decided to go for a more minimalistic look, substitute for in-season flowers, use a single statement flower for bridesmaid bouquets, and use more greens (ferns and leaves) to cut back on costs. We cut costs on our dessert by ordering a small cake for us and feeding our guests sheet cake, which is also a much quicker serving process. Lastly, we used minimal decor because our venue provided so much natural beauty. The decor we did use, we either DIYed or found items on clearance that we could double their use in our home.

What was totally worth it:

Almost everything we did for our wedding was totally worth it, because if it wasn’t reflective of us we didn’t include it. We threw “tradition” right out the window! We wanted to thank our guests who traveled to celebrate our special day, so we made welcome baskets filled with local goodies and wine (a huge hit). We also opted for a unique cake that fit our personalities: a semi-naked funfetti cake with buttercream and strawberry filling. Also totally worth it was swapping the grilled veggies on the menu for four-cheese mac and cheese.

Of utmost importance to us was the ceremony. While wedding planning, repeating over and over in my head was the line, “I will not remember what my wedding looked like; I will remember what it felt like,” from A Practical Wedding Planner by Meg Keene. With this phrase in mind, we crafted the most meaningful, intimate, and secular ceremony that was officiated by one of our best friends. Our ceremony took place under a gazebo with our closest family and friends circled around us, and we chose to walk down the aisle together, hand-in-hand, as we took this next step in life together.

Of smaller mention, lawn games, kids goody bags, and alone time after the ceremony were also worth it!

What was totally not worth it:

Getting dance lessons was totally not worth it. We were initially worried about our lack of dancing abilities for our first dance, and after a few hours attempting to learn a slow fox-trot on YouTube in our small apartment living room, we sought professional help. Although beautiful, looking back, the dance routine felt too formal and choreographed and was not worth the cash. I wish we realized that our loved ones could have cared less if we swayed awkwardly back and forth on the dance floor for four minutes.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Our ceremony was our favorite! Being surrounded (literally) by our loved ones created such an intimate atmosphere. Our vows had the perfect mix of being personal and romantic, and they were sprinkled with humor throughout. Scott regretted that he had gotten nervous when he proposed and wasn’t able to say everything he had meant to say to me that day, so during his vows he got down on one knee again and told me that I deserved a redo and he was “going to do it right this time,” as he proceeded to profess his love for me. There wasn’t a dry eye under the gazebo! He also went into cahoots with the best man and reenacted the Airplane scene from The Wedding Singer and read the lyrics of “I want to grow old with you” to me.

A few things that helped us along the way:

The A Practical Wedding Planner was a lifesaver! It not only helped us decide what was really important to both of us, but it also provided helpful checklists and spreadsheets that helped keep us organized. Also, a huge shout out to our on-site coordinator, Sydney. She came with the venue and was worth her weight in gold. She kept everyone on time and even set up all of our decor so we could just enjoy everything the day of!

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone and tried to do absolutely everything myself. This led to unnecessary stress. Let your family and friends help with projects and take a few to-do items off your hands… for your sanity!

Anything else:

Instead of a rehearsal dinner, we opted for a backyard barbecue the day after the wedding at Amy’s parents’.

Instead of a traditional bridal shower, we had a co-ed Harry Potter–themed party at a local brewery.

Instead of a bachelorette or bachelor party, we went out with the whole wedding party and played laser tag and did an escape room!

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