BIG FUN ON A LOW BUDGET
There was nothing conventional about Allison Stelly's wedding to Ethan on March 10, 2007. But then, there's nothing conventional about this Austin couple. "I spent most of my adult life dating women, so I didn't have a tie to the 'rules,'" she explains. "I wanted it to reflect us and our relationship, rather than trying to act out some stock social roles of bride and groom. Also, we live pretty simply and frugally, and there was no way we'd spend $20,000 on a party." Their final budget: just under $3,000.
"You really can't recreate the look of the big poufy weddings on a budget without it looking tacky and cheap," Stelly notes. "So we decided to treat our reception like a party--just a little fancier than we'd have at our house. We had a huge spread of finger sandwiches, hummus, dips, cheese and crackers, veggies, fruit and pasta salad, as well as a dessert spread and a cake. All the food was made either by us, bought pre-made at Costco, or made by friends. We also got a keg of my favorite beer, a whole bunch of wine by the case, and enough Champagne for the toasts."
Almost everything else was DIY, too. Stelly made the invitations (with the help of a graphic designer friend) as well as all the decorations and her veil; arranged the flowers (including her bouquet); made a reception music play list; and did her own hair and makeup. And in lieu of an expensive wedding dress, she got an off-white bridesmaid dress for $300.
For Stelly, who's a member of Kings N Things, a local performance troupe, getting married in a theater was a natural. "We rented the Hyde Park Theater in Austin for, like, $300."
Though it may not make it into one of the big bridal magazines, Stelly's wedding had an upside that a lot of $100,000 affairs don't have: "It truly was a community effort, with a lot of help from our friends, which made us feel so loved," she says.