Shape & Chic


Amy Maxwell
I believe in the power of conversation & the bonds it can build, especially within women. Join the conversation as we shape our mind, body & soul into something chic.
in For Real Women - Relationships

How to plan a cheap, I mean chic wedding…

You’ve met the man or woman of your dreams, someone said “yes” and now its time to plan a wedding… Where do you start? Where will it be? What will you wear?

In honor of our anniversary month, I am here to tell you a couple of tips that I used to help plan our wedding. We recently had our anniversary, May 10th, and along with ‘Happy Anniversary’, people still tell us how much fun they had at our wedding. So I thought I would share. Now, you may already know some of this or it may part the clouds in your mind to open a brighter wedding-planning future. Either way, open your mind, close your wallet and lets plan a wedding.


The “When”

Depending on what kind of person you are and what your favorite season might be (or whether you care at all), you can save a lot of cash by doing an “off-season” wedding. Apparently May, June and September are peak wedding season months and January, February and March are not. If you can swing it, use those months to your advantage. If not, that’s ok, I didn’t… good ‘ol May wedding… right in the middle of the month, haha. Just keep reading and we’ll save you some dinero.

The “Where”

So the ‘when and where’ definitely need to be thought of as the same question… you have to think about weather and what is appropriate for whichever season you choose. The ‘where’ is how I saved the most money–

Weddings are out of control expensive… I heard a friend talking about renting a venue for their wedding for $5k and it being a good deal?? Are you serious?? I would never pay that much… you can elope to the Bahamas for that much. They will marry you, provide flowers and a cake for that much! But ok, you don’t want to elope, you want to have a wedding. Back to that—

Does you or someone you know have a nice back yard? How about just a large open space where you could pull off a great party? That is exactly what we did, we spruced up our backyard with some landscaping (HUGE thanks and props for to James Turner, Yard Beautifier), rented a tent (in case it rained- May remember), rented tables and a dance floor and threw a party. This is the part I think our guests registered with the most… being at our home, seeing where our love would continue to grow. It is pretty neat to have most of the people you love at your home, dancing the night away. We created ourself an alter under a tree with stepping stones and we still get to go stand on it any time we want. To be honest our pets play over there more than we do but the option is there, haha!


Make Something

I was never the kind of girl that imagined a fairytale wedding… I was too busy day dreaming about which country I would visit next or what adventure I could lose myself in. So, when it was my turn to actually plan a wedding I just went with my gut. I chose a natural theme to go with our backyard setting which left the decor wide open to “home-made” or “from nature” elements, aka less expensive.

Here are a few things that worked for me

  • The hubs and I collected jars and cans from every household purchase for 6 months, cleaned them and dried them; we painted some, but mostly left the plain glass to be the center pieces on the guest tables.
  • Buy some flowers, dry them, re-use them. I was able to combine dried flowers, cotton (collected from a field by my husband, after harvest don’t worry farmers!), pussy willows, eucalyptus, thyme… you name it, if it dried well, I used it. From these dried items, I made my bouquet, the bridesmaid’s bouquets, the groomsmen’s corsages, all of the table center pieces as well as wreaths and a few other decor items.
  • Mason jars with tea lights or other inexpensive candles– Tie some wire around the top to make a hanging lantern, hang them everywhere to add ambiance. We hung ours around the perimeter of the yard on the fence to frame in the space.
  • Wood slices– You can buy these on etsy or get them from most craft stores but we went the much more natural route. A friend of mine let us borrow his saw, another friend dropped off a bunch of cedar logs recently chopped and we went to town, creating log pieces to be used as a center pieces.
  • Cheap picture frames– From table numbers to fun facts about the couple, cheap picture frames can add that little extra touch to any table. I used chalk paint to give them a vintage feel but whatever you have laying around can do the trick as well.
  • Moss– Do not doubt the amazing abilities of real or store bought moss. That stuff goes a long way and really helped seal in my natural theme. Just a FYI… that stuff that found in the trees… it has mites, don’t use that, hah!
  • Wild flower seeds were what I used as party favors… I created little print-at-home packets and put my future husband to work gluing and filling. The guests attending your wedding love you, they don’t need huge prizes, just something to say thank you for coming.
  • Like rattan table runners? Me too. Bought at the store they are about $50 each… I just bought a couple yards of it, cut it and ironed the ends with no-sew sticky paper and voilà, beautiful, long lasting runners.
  • Last but not least, sparklers– you must make a good exit after all! The hubs and I simply purchased one per guest and then a few extra and placed them to the side in a big glass vase, along with a handful of the long lighters. After instructing one of the (responsible) bridesmaids to be the sparkler-go-getter, we had ourselves an exit plan. I added some sparkly paper with our names and a fun little phrase to make them fit into the “brand” of our wedding (the graphic designer in me took hold).
  • Miscellaneous decor– We made string orbs out of balloons, used clear Christmas ornament balls to add a twinkle to the trees, citronella inscents to deter bugs and add a fresh scent in the air, tree stumps to provide cocktail tables around the side of the tent, a wheelbarrow as an ice chest, a rolling cart for our beautiful bartender (my friend and model, Kim!)… Use your imagination, not everything has to be bought or be stuffy to be a part of a great wedding!


Ask For Help and If Possible, Trade For It…

You10295455_10101827562527063_1726949578058318303_o would be so surprised if you took a minute to ask your friends and family to help and to find out what amazing skills they have in their back pocket. After chatting with everyone about the wedding we had a close family friend (who was a professional wedding cake maker!!) donate a cake for our wedding present. So thankful for that beautiful and yummy addition, it was vanilla almond with cream cheese icing by the way…

I was also able to get help with wood slices from Chris’s Tree Cutting Service (who is a good friend’s brother), the table runners (a bottle of wine and girl talk with my favorite neighbor got those finished), the string orbs that hung from the trees (talked my best friend Jon into coming over to play in glue)! Everyone was more than happy to help and I also got the chance to enjoy extra bonding with my friends and family.

If you can’t find help or crafty friends, use your own skills. I am a graphic designer by trade so I was lucky to have the skills to do my own invitations, programs, seating charts, etc. I printed everything at home on a HP Photosmart printer on some thick, sparkly paper and it looked awesome!

I promised the folks that I traded with that I would keep it between us for obvious reasons, but if you have a skill-set that others need/want (I bet you do!), propose a trade! To give you an idea of things that are possible… If you are a social media expert ask the caterer if they need help online, if you are a designer, offer logo help to the lighting guy, if you are a salesman, chat with the DJ… you never know what will come of things unless you ask. Trade is a way of life and as long as both parties agree on the terms up front, it can be a beautiful partnership. Who knows it may lead to additional work as well!

The “Extras”

  • Wedding dress: I got an off-the-rack dress that needed no alterations for $250 (with a bag!) from Bridal Mart. I loved my dress and felt so good in it. (The price tag made it feel that much better!)


  • Shoes: I ordered teal wedges that I knew I would wear again from Modcloth for $35. Done and done.


  • Rings:  For my ring, my wonderful husband found a jeweler on Etsy and had my ring made for me since I didn’t want a traditional diamond. I was so happy when he asked me to marry him with a custom made, uncut diamond (much less expensive that other stones, look it up here)… I knew he really “got me”. For his ring, as with most men, he didn’t really care. We went to a few places got his size and style down and then ordered a titanium beauty from Kohls. Yes, Kohls! I used my Kohl’s cash and a coupon and got the ring for $50 haha. Check it out here. Not to mention if you’re on Ebates, Kohls does at least 6% cash back on every order, so there’s that as well 🙂 (Join Ebates, seriously, its amazing)


  • Make-Up // Hair: All the ladies had their makeup done by Meraki Beauty, owned by my gorgeous friend Tess. She made us all feel pretty and even made sure half-way through the night my lipstick was on point. She is so talented, that is obvious, but my favorite part about Tess and her team is that she listens to what you don’t say and gets to know each and every client so she can deliver “their” perfect look. For the various up-do’s and pretty hairstyles… my favorite sister-in-law, Danielle donated her services. It was such a wonderful gift to see her do her thing. She is super talented and if you are ever in the Gastonia area, hit her up at Rynnse Hair Design.
  • Bridesmaid // Groomsmen Attire: It is 2016, if you are still asking your friends to shell out $200+ for a dress or suit they will wear once, you are out of line. Pick something affordable or let the adults pick for themselves. I promise your photos will turn out just fine.
  • PhotographyShutter Werx Studios did an awesome job. The husband and wife team captured all of our special moments. We love them!
  • Bridesmaids // Groomsmen Gifts: Since we had a backyard wedding, comfort was my main concern for my ‘maids. For their gift I ordered them all Toms crochet classics (here) to wear on the big day and any day after. I got them a few other little things in a goody-bag including a Contigo waterbottle (I’m addicted), lip balms and treats. The boys got these awesome leather toiletry kits, customized with their initials and water bottles as well. That was it. I do not feel I have to bribe my friends to be in my wedding and neither did they. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on gifts, I promise the biggest gift for your real friends is each other’s friendship.


What’s Really Important

Of all the wedding advice you read out there, if you actually take any of it in, let it be this— When it comes to your wedding day whether it is on a mountain, by the ocean or in your backyard, keep it intimate. Having an intimate wedding, to me, just means being true to yourself. If that means inviting the entire town and you have the resources, sure, do that, but if it means having 10 people in your back yard do that too. Making your wedding your own is the best part.

You read so many stories of nightmare wedding days or bridezillas… For what?

A wedding is a celebration and a public promise of love and commitment, from one heart to another.

Weddings are not meant to be some extravagant party or some budget bending blowouts. As many of my friends and family plan their wedding at this very moment just remember, it is YOUR wedding and you can do whatever you want. Traditions-smissions… make it your own, skip the chocolate fountain and the red carpet your future father-in-law says you have to have… you do you.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *