Real Wedding: Matthew & Alwyn’s $600 DIY Wedding

$600. That’s all Matthew and Alwyn paid for their 30-guest, Texas backyard wedding.

How did they pull it off? DIY .

“We had our family and friends bring or contribute something for our wedding instead of them buying us wedding gifts,” says Alwyn. “Many of our family members and friends brought something for dinner, especially my mom who cooked a lot of the main dishes. My friend bought us our wedding cake. My mother-in-law and I found a really inexpensive dress from David’s Bridal – it was one of my great finds! Wholesale party supplies and sales saved us a lot of money with the decorations.”

Photographer Kimberly Chau, a friend of the couple, also donated her services as wedding photographer.

Not only did they save money by having friends pitch in, they opted for a backyard wedding which helped them save money on a wedding venue. The location had special meaning to the couple: years before, Matt’s parents were married in the same backyard.

Thanks to Kimberly Chau Photography for the beautiful photos from this budget wedding!

 

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

Matthew, 21 & Alywn, 22

Sugar Land, Texas

Wedding Date: January 14, 2012

Number of Guests: 30

Wedding Cost: $600

Wedding Ceremony Location: The backyard of Matt’s parent’s house.

Wedding Reception Location: Inside the house. It was just perfect for the amount of guests we had!

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

DIY wedding decorations

baby's breath wedding flowers

baby's breath updo

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We had been dating since my senior year of high school; however, starting college we had a long distance relationship and I think that made us grow a lot with each other. A small wedding sounded like a good idea because we could celebrate our commitment with the people who had been there for us a lot during our growth as a couple. We have been talking about getting married for quite some time and wanted to have a large wedding, but our current budget constraints would not allow it. We then thought that an intimate wedding would be more personal because we could tend to all of our guests that we hold very dear to us.

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

intimate at-home wedding reception

pink rose and baby's breath centerpiece

pink rose and baby's breath centerpiece

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

The main challenge was cutting down guests, especially close relatives. We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or turn them away.

peach rose wedding bouquet

engagement ring

swan wedding decor

DIY paper pom wedding decor

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Very. Alwyn wanted to include all of her relatives and more friends since she know that everyone would help us out from the budget to even small details such as decoration. However, it was still not feasible within our limitations.

white satin wedding shoes

pearl wedding accessories

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

Alwyn’s Filipino family in Houston is very huge (and that’s just her father’s side) compared to Matt’s and it would cause problems for us if we invited one family, but not the others (since her mother’s side of the family was still in the Philippines and Matt’s relatives are all scattered throughout the US). So we decided to just have a wedding with the immediate families and close friends and family friends. During Christmas when all of Alwyn’s family in Houston gathered to celebrate, we told them our plans for marriage. At first, everyone thought that they are going to be invited so they started offering to help out with food, decorations, and venue. It was really tough for us to tell them that it would only be the immediate family and a few close friends. We also told them that when we have the budget ready for a large reception, we for sure will invite everyone. We were very relieved on how understanding they were and that they still supported our decision.

white satin wedding shoes

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

elegant understated bride

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

Alwyn:  Definitely the reciting of the personal vows, as Matt will explain. However, the one thing that always comes into my mind was the lighting of the unity candle. It holds such great meaning even though it’s such a small part of the ceremony or even though other people may think of it as just a ritual. It was a very windy day outside and about 63 degrees the afternoon of our wedding. When it was about time for us to light the unity candle it became a challenge to keep it lit due to the wind. I love the symbolism of uniting the two families into one with the use of the unity candle. So with that said, when it was our turn to light the middle candle, our parents and the pastor helped block the wind for us and we all were able to light the candle together. It’s funny how that symbolism worked out.

Matthew: For me, the highlight of the ceremony had to be the recital of our vows. We took the time beforehand to write them down together, and when it came time to recite them, Alwyn began to cry. As the vows went on, the crying spread until very few (myself included) were left. I love that it was a touching moment for everyone who was there and it felt much more personal. Everyone who was there had meant a lot to us, so for them to be just as emotional during the ceremony meant a lot.

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

What were the highlights of the reception?

We really enjoyed the reception. For us the highlight of the reception was the intimate dinner that we had where everyone was seated at a table where they knew almost everyone. We think everyone had a great time eating, drinking, and laughing together. When it came time to make speeches we were very happy because we were able to personally address almost everyone there and had a small story about every family friend that was there with us.

rose topped wedding cake

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

The best part was the ability to make sure that everyone felt that they were a part of the wedding. All of Matt’s good friends helped set up early, while Alwyn’s friends helped her prepare with makeup, hair, and decorations. The rest of the people brought food and drinks, which helped to significantly reduce our food budget. Everything we could do ourselves we did and I feel that it helped to make our wedding that much more personal. No wedding planner, no crazy schedule, just everyone helping to try and make it a great occasion. We appreciate everyone who was there and to have them each pitch in a little bit for our wedding just as each of them had helped us in life, I feel was great symbolism.

$600 Texas Backyard Wedding

intimate at-home wedding reception

intimate at-home wedding reception

intimate at-home wedding reception

intimate at-home wedding reception

white and pink rose centerpiece

intimate at-home wedding reception

intimate at-home wedding reception

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Matthew: Try and do as much of it yourself as you can, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. All of the decorations were done within the two families, but many of the smaller tasks such as the coordination of music during the ceremony was done with the help of our friends. We loved our wedding and I feel that the intimate setting made everyone feel much closer and realize just how connected they all were. Feel free to customize your wedding to your heart’s content; because we had a much smaller group of people at the wedding we could make our wedding that much more special with our own personal touches to be seen throughout. Things that may be difficult to do for 200 people are significantly easier when it’s only catering to 30. Try to reuse and repurpose; the main reason we were able to keep such a tight budget was by reducing the amount of things that we had to buy. By choosing to use our own tables instead of renting, for example, we were able to reduce our rental cost and it made it easier to transport back and forth.

Alwyn: A DIY wedding is the way to go with a tight budget. I have a lot of scrapbooking stuff that I used for the decorations. The chinaware, glasses, and silverware was all from Matthew’s mom. I arranged, paired, and decorated each of the tables with them, along with different tablecloths, thinking about each group that’s going to be seated at each table. Matthew’s mom arranged the flowers the night before the wedding. My mom cooked a lot of the main dishes and prepared the desserts. The guys helped us with the lifting and heavy work. My girl friends are very artsy and good with makeup. One of my friends helped me with decorations and another helped me with my hair and makeup. Also, we recommend choosing a really great photographer. Kim was one of our close friends and we were really glad that Kim could photograph our wedding day. Photos last a lifetime and we can always look back to it and remember the emotions, laughs, smiles, and details. We believe that the photos captured by her were timeless and truly genuine. Overall, what I’m trying to say is that incorporating our family and friends with the wedding preparations helped us a lot. It also made us closer to each other by working together and planning things together. Everyone had a part in the wedding preparations and I feel very blessed to have them in our lives.

intimate at-home wedding reception

intimate at-home wedding reception

intimate at-home wedding reception

DIY wedding decor

Vendors:

Bouquets and Boutonnieres: Conroy wholesale florist

Table Florals/Centerpieces: Arranged by Matt’s mom, flowers from Fannin Flowers and Rose Wood Flowery

Chairs: ACME rental

Decorations: DIY Materials from Arne’s and Michael’s

Photographer: Kimberly Chau Photography

Officiant: Craig Bradley

Hair and Makeup: Two of Alwyn’s bridesmaids

Wedding Dress and Shoes: David’s Bridal

Groom’s Suit: Dillards

Wedding Cake: Sweet Boutique (given to us by our friend)

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21 Comments  |  Filed Under: At-Home Weddings, Budget Weddings ($10,000 or less), Handmade Weddings, Real Weddings

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Comments

  1. Posted by Angela on April 9th, 2012 at 11:56am

    Stunning DYI wedding! Very genuine & creative!
  2. Posted by sara on April 9th, 2012 at 6:40pm

    This bride is precious! And wow on the budget - it certainly looks more expensive than that! ?
  3. Posted by Jorja on April 10th, 2012 at 3:07pm

    This is such a fun wedding! Great examples of how a little can go a long way. Thanks for sharing!
  4. Posted by Nina on April 10th, 2012 at 5:12pm

    Very charming.....this looks like it was a very heartfelt and intimate celebration.

    However, I find the $600 claim misleading. Surely that doesn't include the work of the professional photographer, since according to the website packages begin at $3000.
  5. Posted by Kimberly Chau on April 10th, 2012 at 7:02pm

    Thanks for your kind words!

    Since Alwyn is a family member of mine, my services and photography were my wedding gift to her and Matthew.
  6. Posted by Christina on April 10th, 2012 at 9:29pm

    Thanks for weighing in on this Kim. What a great wedding gift!
  7. Posted by Crystal on April 12th, 2012 at 5:29am

    Thanks for sharing! It's great inspiration for budget wedding!
  8. Posted by Kelly on April 13th, 2012 at 12:34am

    I just want to say Alwyn has one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen! She just glows.
    This wedding is touching. It's a good reminder of what a wedding is all about!
  9. Posted by Sarah on April 15th, 2012 at 5:20am

    This is lovely, but quite misleading. It should say: "How did they pull it off? DIY and DONATIONS." It is not possible that the cost of food/alcohol donated by guests is included in that $600 tally. Did the ring also fit in the $600 budget? That is hard to believe. This couple is truly blessed to have such family and friends to pay for the lions share and do a lot of work for their wedding. For the quality of what is shown here, I would say the VALUE of everything would average around $50-100 per guest, making it more like a $1500-$3000 wedding, which is still pretty darn good. Your family and friends are very generous. Many weddings also have family members dividing up the costs, but you can't take that out of the equation for the total cost of making an event happen that looks like this. You lead readers to believe they could do the same for only $600. Congratulations for what they did, but keep it real please.
  10. Posted by Redlocks on April 17th, 2012 at 6:19pm

    I agree with Sarah. I think that this couple made excellent use of $600 and of their community resources. It is really a wonderful thing to have so much community behind a couple! My comment is not directed at this gorgeous couple, but the management for this site. I believe it would be more accurate to characterize the $600 as "Actual Out of Pocket Expense" rather than "Budget." Adding a section for "Gifted Services or Items" would be a great way to acknowledge what family and friends contributed. I have noticed on so many blogs (not just this one) that a wedding is featured as low budget and when you click on the various links, you find that the numbers do not jive. The vendors basic packages far exceed the amount listed as the "Budget." As a bookkeeper, that is bothersome - if numbers are going to be listed, categorize them properly.
  11. Posted by Christina on April 17th, 2012 at 7:24pm

    Sarah and Redlocks, thanks for your input on this.

    Even though some of the wedding expenses were gifted to them, the couple kept their budget down because they DIYed just about everything. They had no venue expense because they opted for a backyard wedding. They didn't have to hire a caterer because friends and family cooked dinner and desserts. The bridemaids did the brides hair and make up. The couple also made all of their own decorations. The tables, linens and tableware were borrowed from family. The bride's mother-in-law made the floral arrangements. I don't think you can get any more DIY than that!!!

    They were also very frugal with the things they had to purchase. As the bride mentioned, she got a great deal on a dress as well as wholesale party supplies.

    The thing that wasn't clear was that the photography was gifted to them.I didn't know this until after the post was published. I don't think that the bride meant at all to mislead anyone.. she just didn't mention it.

    RE: Redlocks comments about blogs not showing accurate budget numbers ... We're actually one of the only blogs out there that include the wedding cost with our real weddings. I'm proud of that.
  12. Posted by Nicola on April 21st, 2012 at 4:15am

    Hi,

    I love the brides dress, could she let me know the make?

    Great wedding and I love this site, always so different and inspiring, thanks for taking the time to include all the detail you do.

    A grateful reader :)
  13. Posted by Christina on April 21st, 2012 at 2:26pm

    Nicola, thanks for the kind words about the site. I will email the bride to find out about the dress.
  14. Posted by Christina on April 21st, 2012 at 3:58pm

    Nicola, I heard back from the bride. The dress is from David's Bridal. Here's what she said.

    "The fabric is chiffon with an emperor waist line silhouette but I altered it to cinch on the waist to give me some curves. :)"
  15. Posted by Nicola on April 22nd, 2012 at 9:28pm

    Thanks for that Christina :)
  16. Posted by gisel on June 27th, 2012 at 8:11pm

    Where is the ring from? It looks like rose gold which I love!
  17. Posted by Carla on January 29th, 2013 at 5:01am

    Very beautiful wedding! I love simplicity with the focus being on the couple and not the "bling". With that said, I do have similar concerns with the real cost and the fact that they did have a great deal of donations. I will be planning a wedding for myself in the near future and $600 would be great but unrealistic for us. He doesn't have living family (that could help), we don't have access to a spacious home with a yard (we're apartment dwellers) and so on.

    It would be nice to see a budgeted wedding with a more realistic scenario.
  18. Posted by crystal on December 28th, 2013 at 7:27pm

    First of all...whether the total cost of the whole wedding was $600 or that was just what you paid...who cares?! :) $600 is awesome! it looks like such a beautiful and perfect wedding! this is what my fiancé and i are looking for. just a couple questions... how much did you pay for your dress and Matt's suit? and what was the meal? (just wondering about costs and servings)
    Thank you SO much for sharing! this gives me hope for my cheap and small intimate wedding. :)
  19. Posted by Tamara on January 4th, 2014 at 12:06am

    The whole point is that the numbers projected on this site are only as valuable as they are accurate. When one reads "$600 DIY Wedding" one would most likely believe that everything for the ceremony and reception was done on only $600. While I agree that this is a very beautiful budget wedding, it was not done for a mere $600. I would be applauding even if the headline read that $4000 was actually spent to put this wedding together, because everyone did such a beautiful job for the couple. I think readers would also appreciate the transparency.
  20. Posted by Andrea on January 26th, 2014 at 4:39pm

    I absolutely love this! its a fantastic wedding, perfect in size AND budget, and so so close to the heart! also such an inspiration. congratulations on your marriage!
  21. Posted by Raelynn on January 30th, 2014 at 11:40am

    This is awesome! I'm helping my mom with planning her's and her soon-to-be husband's wedding, and this is great inspiration, since they want a low-budget, backyard wedding! :)
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