Liz of Chic On The Cheap

Some weddings I get all excited about because, to be frank, they are totally my style. Liz and Josh’s wedding is one of those. First of all, I’m going to be shallow and throw out there that both of her dresses are effing HOT. Second, David and I are also what Liz terms “A-typical traditionalists.” Meaning, everyone who’s traditional thinks we’re super indie, and everyone who’s hipster thinks we’re a little too traditional. So Liz’s jazz-music-pumping, formal desert reception sounds like a party I would like to be invited to, and maybe like one I’ll throw in the future. Now I give you Liz of Chic On The Cheap with her best advice:
Our wedding was crafty and DIY, not because we’re cool indie kids. Because we’re broke. Some of (all of?) my favorite parts of the wedding were the result of cut-corners to fit the budget. My mom hand-sewed my cathedral-length veil and baked the four-layer wedding cake.Not to mention we (and some really awesome friends) prepared the rest of the food. We made the invitations, programs, table numbers, and all of the décor (black and white baby photos, candle centerpieces, vases of apples, wreaths for the doors, etc) The time invested in actually making each detail made it all the more meaningful and (while maybe stressing us out sometimes) also helped us gear up and get excited for the day.The bottom line is, Josh and I are a-typical traditionalists. I know the indie-chic thing right now is the rustic wedding. But that’s so not us. We wanted to channel Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant at a lavish, jazz-music-pumpin, champagne-flowin, hot-damn-party chock full of garters and bouquet tosses and all the usual wedding junk. So, um. We did. We got married on October 11 at 3pm. Yes, that’s a Sunday. Yep, middle of the afternoon. We had a dessert reception.After trying and trying to make a dinner fit in our budget, Josh and I realized the reason we were so unwilling to stretch the budget is that we wanted a really fun party. Not a prom-style chicken dinner. So why were we going to take out a loan for something we didn’t want? Once we dropped the “must be a dinner” parameter, we had a lot more fun picking out the food and more money to go around. We ended up spending nearly double our original budget of $6,000, but were able to invite everyone we wanted (read: just about everyone we’d ever met) and take our entire extended family out to dinner that night, and we don’t regret a single dollar. I was petrified that without the open bar and DJ, noone would dance and everyone would fall asleep. But, here’s the thing. If you have fun friends, your wedding won’t be bland or boring. And if they love you, they’ll be excited just to be there (with or without free booze).Some advice I wish I’d had:

1) Avoid “wedding” things like the plague. As soon as something is specifically designated for weddings, the price skyrockets (and often the quality plummets. eg: bridesmaid dresses, videography, live bands, favors, etc)

2) If a certain detail is becoming painful to put into action, drop it. You’re going to remember those months of planning before the wedding just as much as the day itself. Don’t ruin the memory with tedious hours of steaming some tablecloths that still look wrinkled anyway. If it’s tedious and not fun, it shouldn’t be a part of a happy day.3) It’s not about you. We always hear this with regard to including the groom in the planning. Don’t limit yourself here. Make the day about your relationship, your families, your friends, anyone who has been there along the whole process that ended in your marriage (and will keep on being there through the ish that’s gonna come after). (Our guestbook was a compilation of wedding photos from both families, going all the way back to the 1900’s)4) Damn the man. NOT choosing something because everyone else does, is just as bad as choosing something because everyone else does. It’s the same thing. (This includes nixing something because your photos will look “dated.” Um. Go back to your parents’ wedding photos. My favorites are the dated ones.)5) It’s NOT “just one day.” The whole wedding planning process can be a buttload of fun, too. The key to this is to just suck it up and use your friends if they offer. It may make you feel super guilty handing over those envelopes to stuff and the hankies to fold, but damn, is it nice to have a second to breathe. Working with friends and family was the best part of our wedding. I may be exaggerating (having a husband is pretty awesome, too). But making all of the little details together brought about some of the best, most memorable moments of the wedding process. I couldn’t afford a veil, so my mom and I learned how to make one and shopped for the fabric together. We catered the reception ourselves, so I had hours of prep and set-up the day before with both families and tons of caring, awesome volunteers. Sure, we were exhausted by the end of the night. But I never knew you could laugh so much while setting up folding chairs and coffee pots. Not to mention, it makes everyone feel so involved in the day… almost take ownership of it, really. And all of those little details are made meaningful when you don’t just see cupcakes, but you see cupcakes-that-Amanda-iced and memories of flour-covered-kitchens. (sorry about the novel, Meg… I could go on and on here)

6) Have a deadline. Planning everything ourselves meant that we were building, creating, and setting up til Saturday evening. But I gave myself a cut off. After 9pm, no more wedding planning. Seriously. All that night, all the next day, no “planning” allowed. Whatever was left on the to-do list was dropped (some of it was “important”!), and I soaked my little feet and packed my suitcase for honeymoon.7) Don’t stress if you’re “late.” We didn’t have a venue until two months before the wedding. That’s after 5 months of searching and planning. I’ll be honest. I was freaking out. But the important stuff will fall into place by itself, as long as you don’t get in the way. (ps: The only important stuff= 1) you’re married by the end of the day and 2) everyone enjoys themselves. And usually, as long as you’re married by the end of the day, everyone enjoys themselves.)YAY! May you two dance your way through the rest of your lives together. And then next party you throw, I want to be invited.

(Photos are via Carina and Amanda of Love Me Do Photography. You know these guys were good because as I looked over photos of other weddings, I kept thinking, “Our guys didn’t get photos of that.” But they did. They were just so stealthy that they didn’t interrupt our enjoyment of the day. I don’t look back and remember clicks and flashes and cameras in my face. That’s a good wedding photographer.)

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  • Minta

    "It’s not about you… Make the day about your relationship, your families, your friends, anyone who has been there along the whole process that ended in your marriage…"

    Heart. I may have to send this to everyone who keeps giving me a hard time about it being my special day and how I'll wish I'd done things differently.

  • sam

    I let my family totally take over the decorating. Nothing looked the way I would have done it and I couldn't possibly be happier with the way things turned out. You won't regret it.

  • I love the appy and dessert reception idea, but after reading this, a dessert reception might be winning me over!

  • Anonymous

    Some good advice in there! The couple looks amazing.

  • Congratulations on your marriage!
    I love this post, I love your dress, and I must add that your groom is smokin'!

    That being said, I'm always a little jealous of couples like you two that are so fortunate to have families and friends willing to get their hands dirty for you.
    The general motto of my mother and the friend that I wanted to be my maid of honor is "I don't want to have to do any work".

    It SUCKS, but I realize that there is a reason for their un-willingness and that the man and I can plan a lovely wedding for our guests to sit back, relax and enjoy.

  • Awesome attitudes. A-typical traditionalists describes us to a T as well. Thanks for this!

  • YAY!
    I was married this same day!
    The bride looks stunning.
    My family was an integral part in our wedding, there is no way I could have done it without them.
    Plus, they are so important to me I could not have had it any other way.
    I love wedding gratuate posts, keep them coming!

  • This makes me think a bit of my own wedding, just three months ago. We were going for a fun reception with inspiration from the 1930's, complete with old board games like backgammon and checkers, b&w; photos as part of the decor, and a kick ass jazz band. We didn't go over the top, because we couldn't, and every single part of our wedding (seriously every single part: caterer, photographer, decorator, pastor, cake-maker, band, etc.) was done by people we knew personally. We absolutely loved our day. And A-typical traditionalists… what a great description.

  • I love this! The picture of everyone dressed up putting out desserts and decorating is great! I'm looking forward to doing that with my family and friends. My family is all about rolling up their sleeves and putting on this wedding–his family, not so much–oh well, you can't have everything, i guess! Your wedding looks fabulous–I also love your deadline–9pm the day before and you're done no matter what!!

  • LPC

    Doing something for any reason other than You Want To or someone you love Wants You To, which makes you Want To, is just fashion disguised as mores. I loved this post.

  • I love your dress!! I've been looking for something like that for months but have not been able to find it. Beautiful wedding & great advice.

  • Meg

    Indeed. And even the "people you love want to" has to be followed by "which makes you want to" which sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't.

    I learned the hard way that "people you love want to, and you don't want to, but you want to make them happy, so you pretend you want to" often ends with *everyone* unhappy. Which was a useful lesson, actually. And sometimes no matter how hard you try, you can't make yourself want to… and then as Liz suggested, ditch it.

  • What a lovely wedding! How fortunate they are to have so many family and friends who were willing and able to help out with the various projects that comprised the wedding. I have to chime in with Allison here – these folks are LUCKY! Not everyone has a community that is able to contribute that much work to the party. Our family and friends – for various reasons, including a death in the family, advanced age, a newborn baby, unemployment, geographical distance, disinterest, etc. – were unable to help with the planning and prep beyond some financial support from my folks, and day-of set up (with which they did a bang up job). My guy and I realized early in the planning process that we were very much on our own. That feeling kinda sucked. It also made us realize that we were each other's resources and we would have to support each other to make it happen. And we did! It was awesome. It is sometimes hard, however, to go against the grain of 'it takes a village to throw a wedding' – indeed, it does, if you have the kind of community that can chip in. We should all be so fortunate!


    Especially including people, making the whole process part of the wedding, and that last photo. Thanks!

  • I really admire this wedding, mainly for your honesty with it. I think my fiance and I would qualify our wedding as a-typically traditional as well. We are having a big church wedding with a big lace dress, and our reception is in a hotel, all very cliche. But we are doing it cheaply, and know that it will be unique because we are, and so are our families and friends. Thanks for posting this wedding.

  • hahaha not a funny post but every time I glance at the name of her blog, in my head I stumble over it and say "cheek on the sheep."

    anywayy great wedding! that first picture of them is amazing. I love the a-typical traditionalist thing – how many of team practical aren't one of those? and I agree not everyone has the huge support of family and community. my immediate family are definitely jumping up and down trying to help wherever and with whatever (too much sometimes haha!) but everyone else is sort of hands off. it actually works for us though, I would have a problem delegating to more people than that.

    oh and Love the dress(es).


    I'm still mad at my stylist for convincing me to grow my bangs out with that "they'll look dated" bullsh*t. Does Jane Birkin look dated???!! Only in the *best possible* way.

  • beautiful wedding, thats exactly the kind of joy i hope see in my someday-future wedding! PS i know California and Prop 8 are near and dear to you, Meg, but i just wanted to pass along my sincerest condolences to my Maine APW crowd. Growing up in Maine, I was hoping to be so proud of my home state yesterday, but am now just feeling an emmense sense of emptiness and disappointment . especially being a MA voter/resident now, I wish there was more I could do to support Mainers!

  • A-typical traditionalists – amen! I love when people smarter than me coin phrases that describe exactly what I'm thinking of.

    Liz, your dress is amazing!

  • Meg

    I totally hear you, and totally get what you're saying. I want to point out though that this "it takes a village to make a wedding" mentality is only 'the grain' in communities like this. The problem really is that it is *not how it's done* in most circles.

    We had mixed results with our village. While they were mostly wonderful, there were many times when we ran headlong into people not wanting to help, or being shocked when they figured out that helping meant hard work, not just tying ribbons and getting me drunk. I think the most frustrating bit was when people wanted to have things cost less, and be 'nice enough,' AND not have to work for it. Something had to give, and sometimes it seemed like it was our sanity.

    So. Yes. I think we must be realistic when we think that the trends on, say, APW, are the trends in the world in general. Sadly, often they are not.

    But mostly I agree with the fact that we need to remember to be grateful for the communities that support us, in whatever ways they end up doing so… even if it's not always what we hoped for, because sometimes its something surprising but even more wonderful.

  • "The only important stuff= 1) you’re married by the end of the day and 2) everyone enjoys themselves."


    I hope my wedding is half as stylish and creative as this one.

  • Oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE this wedding.

  • This wedding is awesome! It's pretty much exactly what we're aiming for with our wedding too. Does anyone know how many people were there? I think she mentioned there were pretty many… anyways, I love the idea of self-catering but I'm intimidated by the potential size of our wedding. I'm always interested to hear how other big weddings do things like that. :)

  • Liz

    lauren: nearly 200 folks. i'd love to share my tips with you! (we learned some things the hard way)

    westside: alvina valenta. i found it all over the place on ebay and used dress sites. i just asked the tailor to make it tighter (i think my exact words were "va-va-voom") and add the sweatheart neckline.

    allison, barefoot: definitely hear you here, and we had some of those folks, too. (or even better… the folks who don't want to do anything unless it's done THEIR way) i guess what i'm trying to stress is the wedding day shouldn't be "me me me" or even "flowers favors photos." it should be about something bigger. and you both seem to have that goin on.

  • Liz, love your words of wisdom. Another reason we are total bloggy sisters. It's amazing that your family/friends were so involved. That love and devotion is a wedding celebration!

  • saveroomforpi

    Being wed at the end of the day is my fiance's one goal/must-have for our wedding day. Loved this post, thanks!

  • LOVE the Cake and mini signage. Love it.

  • Liz, I would really appreciate any tips you have! Especially regarding food for 200 people (that's how many we will likely have too). I love the idea of a dessert reception. We were thinking dessert and snacks, but nothing major. Did you just set everything out for people to eat as they mingled? Did you have a bartender? So many questions :) If you have time, you can shoot me an email at Thanks!

  • I am absolutely in love with this post, because it puts into words so perfectly how my fiance and I are approaching the whole thing…it's a rather strange and fun blend of traditions we like, and whatever other crazy ideas make us happy.

    And we're also getting married on a Sunday, in the late afternoon, next January…in Chicago. It's risky, weather-wise, and may not go as planned, but it's what works for us and makes us happy, and if I need to wear boots under my dress between the chapel and the reception…then we'll have some very unique wedding pictures!

    We are having dinner, however, because our Polish and Mexican families are all about food…so we're having two buffet lines: one with Mexican food from his parents' restaurant, and one with Polish food from a local place by me.

    So congrats, you guys, and thanks for sharing this!

  • Meg

    Um. Sara?
    Consider yourself under orders to email me after your wedding, ok?


  • absolutely gorgeous and FUN!

  • Biz

    wonderful. :) love the cake. and the spirit of the whole thing!

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  • Erica

    Love this idea!! I know the wedding was at 3pm. Can you tell me what time the reception started?

  • Lisa

    Holla from a soon-to-be October 11th bride! I love that your wedding embraces the community spirit and DIY attitude that I have always enjoyed hearing about from my parents’ wedding.