Planning Your Dream Wedding on a Budget

“A wedding is hands down one of the most expensive life events.”

You’ll never fully understand the truth of this sentence until you plan your own wedding. Even when planning the smallest of weddings, it’s easy to get carried away when it comes to turning your dream wedding into a reality. But there are some couples (not us) who are able to rein themselves in, ensuring at all times that they stay within budget.

Meet Nicole and Jason who managed to flawlessly execute their fairy tale wedding without busting their budget. Nicole has been my longtime friend, since high school, and I was super impressed with how adamant she was that they would remain within budget come hell or high water. Admittedly, sometimes even I went off on her, “Spend the damn money!” I would scream (well, really type in uppercase) when she would gripe about how expensive flowers or some other item was.

What may come as a surprise to many of you is that even though Nicole is a close friend and was at my wedding, I wasn’t at hers, and it didn’t bother me one bit. I think it’s important to say this because one of the biggest challenges of planning a wedding is managing the guest list. It’s so easy to bust your budget trying to invite everyone to whom you may feel obligated. I’ve seen brides-to-be cry and couples agonize over how to tell close friends and even family members that they are not invited to the wedding, not because they don’t want them there, but because it’s simply not within the budget.

So, knowing that Nicole’s ability to stay within budget was nothing short of a miraculous feat, I had to get her to share her strategy with you.

Here’s is what she had to say:

Many  people start off saying they want a small wedding, but then it gets really difficult when you have to cut close friends and sometimes even family from the list. How did you manage to stick to your guns and keep the guest list at the number you wanted?

Well, everyone knows that Jason and I have an entourage of friends, so having a small wedding was a surprise to many. However, we thought that planning a small destination wedding would have been more ideal at the time, especially since we have plans of having a bigger celebration in the future with more family and friends. We were able to stick to our list as our guests consisted mostly of close family members and a few friends.

Did you have budget and did you stay within budget?

We did have a budget and I am happy to say we were able to execute our wedding as planned and we stayed within the budget or as close to it as possible. We really wanted to eliminate the post wedding stress of overspending. Believe it or not, there were times when I got carried away with some ideas, but I was able to stay on track, thanks to Jason.

Wedding theme

Tell us about the theme of your wedding and how did you make it come alive?

Our wedding had a wine theme. Initially, we only knew for sure we wanted an outdoor wedding. Our first thought was a beach wedding, until one night over dinner, I thought, well, as a couple we have had some of our most romantic moments relaxing and having wine (or rather any alcoholic beverage) Lol! I suggested the wine theme to Jason and he immediately said, yes!! (I would have been very surprised if he had objected☺). We also wanted our wedding to be original and so a wine themed wedding was ideal.


So, tell us more about how you brought the concept to life?

A wine themed wedding is not very popular in the Caribbean and is actually quite unique in Jamaica.  In fact, many of our guests witnessed the execution of this theme for the first time at our wedding. I knew that in order to fully execute the theme, we would have to pay keen attention to our décor and the finer details such as our invitations, wedding programmes, and guest book, etc. Of course, I took charge of this.

The cocktail hour was set up like a vineyard. I requested wine barrels and cocktail tables and used a wine rack with personalized wines. We bought wine labels and I printed these at home. I also printed and cut out our dinner menu. The template for the wine menu was taken from This saved us a lot of money. We also used personalized water bottles which were also printed at home on wraparound waterproof labels. Instead of using table numbers, we used wine names. Instead of the traditional guest book our guests were invited to sign wine corks and placed them in a personalized shadow box.

Basically, we tried to stay true to our theme right down to every last detail.


Wine ceremony

I can safely say I’ve never heard of a wine ceremony. So tell us about your wine ceremony and its significance.

Like you Lecia, I have never heard about a wine ceremony. It came to mind one night when Jason and I were out having a dinner. He was having red wine and I was having white wine. I immediately visualized wine shaped wedding programmes, tables named after our favourite wines, guests signing wine corks instead of a book, a vineyard theme cocktail hour, etc. The ideas kept coming. I immediately got excited. Jason was on board with the idea and we decided we would have it no other way.

The wine ceremony was meant to represent the deep richness of our love. The red wine signifies our robust energy which keeps our loving relationship going and the white wine represents the strength of a loving marriage and a lingering taste in our soul for the love we feel for each other.

Wine ceremony

DIY Projects

You had a lot of DIY projects, but there is one super special project that was done in memory of the groom’s dad. Tell us about this?

Jason’s dad played a vital role in his life and since he is deceased I thought that it would have been a great idea to reserve a seat at our wedding with his photograph and a note that saying:

Because someone we love is in heaven, there is a little bit of heaven at our wedding today.

This was actually a surprise for our guests and most importantly, for Jason and his mom. I must add that when Jason saw it he got a bit teary-eyed. He took pictures with his dad’s photograph and his mom hugged that chair throughout the entire ceremony… I felt fulfilled.

Jason with the photo of his dad.

Jason with the photo of his dad.

 Wedding dress

The dress is probably the thing the bride obsesses most about. It’s easy to get carried away when spending on a wedding dress. I personally tell every bride-to-be to rent her dress.  No one can convince me of the merits of spending a fortune on a dress you’ll only wear once…unless of course you snag that dress within the same rental budget and at a steal. How did go about choosing your dress?

I must say I had no (emphasis on the no) intentions whatsoever of spending a fortune on a wedding dress that I would only wear once. Actually, the budget for my dress was US$500. Well, happily, I spent less than that, thanks to you! You referred me to a website that was previously used by a friend. The best news is that the dresses were inexpensive and of good quality! I ordered one size up and did the necessary alterations. I chose a mermaid wedding dress with detachable sleeve. I absolutely loved it!

Bride and Groom

 Flower girl

As you know, no children were allowed at my wedding, but I must say, my favourite photo from your wedding is Jade sprawled on the sofa after a hectic day of flower girl duties. For couples who may have a child (or children) prior to getting married, tell us how you got Jade involved in the planning process and in your wedding?

Let me start by saying that Jade’s involvement in our wedding was not a mutual decision between Jason and me. We tied the knot at an adults’ only resort in my hometown, and needless to say NO KIDS were allowed. Jason insisted that we should adhere to this policy, which meant no Jade or our nephews. I thought to myself, there is no way on earth we can get married and not have our only child participate in our wedding. And so with much negotiation, I eventually got my way.

Jade before and after Flower Girl duties

Jade before and after Flower Girl duties

Jade was indeed the most cooperative two-year-old flower girl you could ask for. She marched up the isle with my nephew Jordan, and she fell asleep as soon as she completed her duties☺. In addition to Jade, there were four other children (my two nephews and Jason’s two nephews). The manager of the resort was very accommodating and made preparations for them to be escorted on property. They were all well behaved.

Pre-wedding stress

No one understands how stressful a wedding is until they are planning their own wedding. So tell me, how did you de-stress? What helped you to keep it together?

I am convinced that only brides-to-be experience this! Lol! My biggest stress was getting all the wine themed details together and of course the weather because it was an outdoor wedding. Two weeks prior to our wedding the number one thing on my to-do list was to check the weather forecast. Noting that February 6th was due to be partly cloudy was by no means comforting. However, my husband was unbothered and kept insisting, “It’s our day and we are going to make it the best and happiest day, come rain or shine!”  Also to de-stress, I abided by our wedding motto “Eat and drink”…. the “Be married” part would come later on Feb 6th.

What’s the most ridiculous question, comment or experience you had before the wedding or since.

We booked into the hotel two nights before our wedding (Yes, very untraditional to many).  My sister was appalled. She said “That’s crazy, who does that? You are supposed to stay away from your husband and not sleep with him until your honeymoon!” I responded, “Really now? After living together for four years and having a child together, you think spending two nights together prior to our wedding is going to reveal something he has not yet discovered?!” Lol!

 The groom

As you know, Garfield was very hands-on in our wedding planning, so how involved was Jason in the planning and execution of the wedding?

Jason was very hands-on and very involved in the planning. He really kept me in line as there are a few things I wanted to go over the top with. He was also very instrumental in supporting and comforting me when I was having my bridezilla moments. However, the décor and details he solely left to me… wise groom☺. I must say that even after the wedding he told me how proud he was of me and how all the details were creatively executed.

The wedding

Like an exam, when you do a postmortem (poor choice of words) on your wedding there’s almost always something you would change even when everyone else thinks it was perfect.  Is there anything you would have changed or done differently?

Most things went according as planned. The only thing I would have done differently was to order more items online and order them earlier. I arrived in Jamaica a week early and instead of relaxing as my husband-to-be would have wanted, I spent a lot time putting the final pieces together.

Wedding programme done by the bride herself

Wedding programme done by the bride herself


Did you write your own vows or did you use the traditional vows or both?

We thought about doing our own vows, but then opted to use the traditional vows. We honestly thought our vows would have been quite lengthy. Moreover, we just wanted to be announced as husband and wife and get the party started!

 Wedding night

The world by now knows that we did not have sex on our wedding night, so I ask every new bride this question: did you do this deed on your wedding night?

Well, I must say we have something in common… Noooooo!!! Hahaha… We were too exhausted. Lol! That’s why we checked into the hotel two days prior to our wedding☺.


Where did you honeymoon and how did you decide where to go?

We had a mini honeymoon at Breezes Paradise Cove (former Hedonism III). Our official honeymoon is still pending… Brazil and France are high on our list.


Now that you are married, how have things changed, if they have changed at all?

Well, I tell people the only two things that have changed are my name and the fact that our union is now legal. As Jason puts it, “We have stopped fornicating.”☺ Nothing else has really changed because we were living together prior to our marriage. And I must say that most people thought we were already married. As it relates to me, I am learning to be more submissive☺.

What are you most looking forward to as a couple?

Spending the rest of our lives together, being soulmates, raising our daughter and travelling to exotic locations ☺.

Finish this sentence. Happiness is…

Happiness is being comfortable with who you are and with. For me, it’s knowing that I have my own family and a lifetime partner who I still miss whenever he leaves home and who I can’t wait to return. It’s living a blissful and contented life.

Jade fast asleep...contentment

Jade fast asleep...contentment

14 Responses

  1. Mal

    Awesome read

  2. Hello! I’m getting married in a few months. I wanted to buy my dress from one of those affordable online stores but I’m so scared. I’m worried about the quality, the fit, the timeliness of arrival, etc. I was happy to see she got her dress online n it’s beautiful. Is DHGates highly recommended? Where else is a good idea?

    • Lecia-Gaye Taylor

      DHGates is great because they offer a money back guarantee. Most other places, aside from David’s Bridal, and the authentic sites, etc. are unfortunately are a gamble.

  3. Congratulations on your marriage and I wish you all the best. I was just wondering what site you bought your dress because I haven’t found one yet.

  4. Love this! That darn list! Kmt. Biggest stress?

  5. Congratulations guys! This is an awesome piece and knowing Jason after working with him for some time, he is amazing…….congratulations again guys!

  6. Very insightful and well written! Just what I needed to hear or better yet, read… I’m planning my wedding as well and is having all these issues and more – The various costs, guest list, wedding type, tradition and the list goes on. Really liked the idea of a wine themed wedding, I certainly wasn’t thinking that at all. This has definitely have me thinking out the box now…… Good job Lecia!

    • Lecia-Gaye Taylor

      Congratulations and I’m happy you are inspired Stajah!

  7. Lecia-Gaye Taylor

    Thank you Rhonda! I’m happy you enjoyed. Please share!

  8. Very good read….all made sense. Can you inform me of the website she made mention of where she got her wedding gown…thankies 🙂

    • Lecia-Gaye Taylor

      Lee Kay, thanks for reading and please share!! She got the dress from DHGates!

  9. This was excellent. Enjoyed every piece. The bride/groom/daughter looked beautiful on their special day. You can see the details were well planned out and flawlessly executed. Congratulations to the couple and may you celebrate many years of marital bliss. Thanks for sharing. Well written Lecia

  10. Love this post! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Ahhh the list. But I admire the discipline and the hands-on approach.
    I’m team rent-a-dress too. You’re never gonna wear it again! Anyway. Lots of blessings to the newly-weds 🙂

    • Lecia-Gaye Taylor

      I’m glad you enjoyed Zuri! Please share!