“When we started out planning our wedding, we knew our families would graciously help us out with paying for things like my dress, the rehearsal dinner etc, but we knew the biggest chunk of the wedding expenses would be paid for by ourselves. This meant we could make the wedding ours: a simple wedding with DIY details that made us happy.”
Sometimes I cheat when it comes to being a wedding blogger. How, you ask? Well, I don’t have to always track down awesome DC, MD, and VA weddings or wait for them to be submitted my way … because I KNEW the couple and was either invited to the wedding or just forced them to be on my blog ;)
You remember Alex & Jim from their adorable Alexandria, VA engagement session, yes? You might also remember that Alex’s mom and my mom are best friends, so naturally our whole family was invited to Alex & Jim’s beautiful wedding. And what a beautiful day it was – especially since it was practically hand crafted (and paid for) by the bride and groom themselves.
Alex & Jim poured their personalities into their wedding day and it 100% showed. Just wait until you see all the beautiful images by Stephen Gosling Photography, which truly prove you do NOT have to spend a million dollars to have a classy, gorgeous wedding in the DC metro area!
Alex & Jim’s DIY, Classy Small Budget Virginia Wedding at Osprey’s Landing
Photography: Stephen Gosling Photography | Reception & Ceremony Venue: Osprey’s Landing | Bride’s Dress: Ellie’s Bridal | Bridesmaids Dresses: Ann Taylor | Cake: Fluffy Thoughts | Officiant: Rev. Laura with Divine Transformation | Submitted: Two Bright Lights
From the bride & groom, on prioritizing their wedding details and selections:
The one thing we knew that we didn’t want to skimp on was the food and the drinks. We love cooking and we love cocktails so this was a major point for us.
This we think is the most important first task when budgeting to pay for your own wedding: make a short list of things that you are willing to spend money on or that you don’t want to DIY. This helps to prioritize your budget. Want a dual plate like we had? Then be prepared to get creative with flowers and decorations.
All the flowers were DIYed by the bride & groom:
Bouts: Lavender, baby’s breath, silk bout leaves, flower wire, flower tape, twine. Voila! Rustic, simple and inexpensive.
Bouquets: Girls-Baby’s breath and lace. Myself- Dried Lavender and lace ribbon with pearl pins. All made 2 days before the wedding.
On styling the bridesmaids:
Girls dresses- Ann Taylor. No tailoring. What more can we say? I loved the eggplant color and all the girls totally rocked the dress. They all picked their own gray/charcoal shoes which I thought looked awesome.
Girls necklaces- Etsy amazingness. I knew I wanted them to wear a statement necklace and these gray ones knocked my socks off.
That stunning lace wedding dress!
Lace and not strapless. I fell in love with Jim Hjelm and the girls at Ellie’s Bridal picked this one out and made me try it on (by myself…no putting the dress on me and feeling awkward in the dressing room) LOVE.
Advice: I HATED the look of this dress online. The model was stick thin and it just didn’t suit her. Listen to the people in the shop and be open to trying on what they think might work on you.
On their beautiful venue selection:
We picked Osprey’s Landing in Belmont Bay, which was in our middle range for our budget. Their coordinator Jessica Hatter is amazing. She is SO organized and was great at keeping us on track. It was so helpful to have someone young who understood that we didn’t want a traditional wedding.
On their personalized, custom wedding ceremony:
The second thing that we knew we wanted was a great officiant would would let us do a ceremony that was COMPLETELY ours. We had two amazing friends lined up to do our wedding but Prince William county has very strict laws about non-registered officiants so after emailing Capitol Romance in a panic, Bree (ohhh heyyy) gave us some suggestions.
We loved Divine Transformation’s Web page and emailed Rev. Laura Cannon right away. Let me tell you she is straight up cool. She’s done a million weddings and is TOTALLY accommodating to every request.
Instead of meeting her in person in Maryland where she lives, she suggested we Skype with her. This made the process so easy and she helped us write an awesome, personal ceremony that took only 20 minutes.
He cried, I cried. It was a perfect, perfect day.
On their wedding ceremony music selection:
Although I knew the traditional Pachelbel Canon D was what I wanted to come down the aisle to, we decided for the rest of the music to do a twist on older music sung by current artists (which kind of went with our nontraditional but rustic theme).
Modern meets vintage wedding songs from our wedding included:
- I Can’t Help Falling In Love- Ingrid Michaelson instead of Elvis
- You and I- Michael Buble instead of Stevie Wonder
- In My Life- Sung by Bridesmaid Jessica Drennon instead of the Beatles
- Everlasting Love- Jamie Cullum
On their rustic, DIY escort card display:
I could NOT decide what I wanted to do for place cards until I was pinning one day and saw some old shutters. Here’s a hint: Shutters are best bought from antique stores but as they are so popular, they are hard to find.
The ones on save-on-crafts were a bit pricey so I went straight to eBay and found some guy who was selling pieces of an old house he was tearing down. The rustic green ones I bought were perfect. Not a thing was done to them and they’re from a real house!
Editor’s note: DC, MD & VA couples, also try Community Forklift for old shutters, doors, and windows at STEAL-worthy prices!
When planning a wedding by yourself there’s just some things you need to let go. My original idea was to do our programs and menus in lace and burlap. As much of our program was not decided until very close to the wedding, this was just going to be impossible for me to put together. The fairly cheap compromise? Zazzle.com
The couple also used their love of hockey throughout their entire wedding day – both including it in their vows, their reception entrance song, AND as their table names:
On their wedding details:
Literally done all by myself and Jim (he put together all the centerpieces after I had a last minute DIY meltdown. That’s love right there!).
The one thing we knew wanted to DIY was our flowers. We started out thinking we were gonna do all fake flowers but as we started looking at what colors we wanted (purple, white, cream, rustic grays and browns) weI realized dried lavender and fresh baby’s breath was the way to go. They are both super inexpensive and last a long time (my bouquet will last forever as it’s already dried!).
The lavender used throughout the wedding cost me $80 and I have tons left over which I am going to use in my house or give/sell to others. The baby’s breath I got 3 days before the wedding at Safeway. $35. We augmented the rest of the centerpieces with some silk flowers from Micheal’s which cost us around $45. Soooo $160 for flowers for a wedding? Yes please.
The bride’s brother made their adorable wedding sign:
The cake was amazing. Fluffy Thoughts in McLean made it for us. They took pictures of my dress and copied the lace design straight onto the front of the cake. The flavors were amazing…the top two layers were marble cake with coffee buttercream and cookie crunchies, and the middle layer was vanilla cake with blackberry buttercream and raspberry jam. YUM.
Easy, DIY coffee wedding favors:
Jim and I are OBSESSED with coffee. Obsessed. So what better giveaway than coffee beans and biscotti? These were easy to make the week of the wedding; cellophane bags filled with beans and stuffed in burlap bags tied with purple ribbon.
Advice: keep the beans away from your pets or you’ll have your dog bouncing off the walls.
Some incredible toasts were given. As evidenced by the bride’s reaction ;)
And then we DANCED THE NIGHT AWAY! And yes, that is me – doing a ridiculous dance to Rhianna … and that is my father holding a sign he stole from the putting green. Yes, you can say my family likes to have fun at weddings ;)
Also there was a kick-line … and naturally my husband just had to join in.
Congratulations Alex & Jim – your wedding was stunning and 100% you. I couldn’t be more thrilled to get to share it with my readers here on Capitol Romance :) Your wedding is 100% proof that you can be true to yourselves, not spend a million dollars, and still have a modern, gorgeous wedding day full of personalized details!