So, a little introduction, I’m Jackie Chapman (LeClair), Ebonni and I used to go to school together.
In 2004, I married Mike Chapman (he 18yo & I 22yo)- also an OPHS alumni. Our actual wedding was a unfortunately nothing spectacular. We went to the courthouse and wam-bam 15 minutes later I’m Mrs. Chapman. Romantic right?
But for our 5th anniversary, we planned a vow renewal. We did an actual ceremony with friends and family and cake... everything we missed out on before. Also this time everyone was happy for us. I think that’s what made it most special!
Still, as young kids with 2 kids of our own we didn’t have a lot of money so we definitely had a budget and it definitely wasn’t high. So we decided to plan our own ceremony. First thing first. A dress. This was probably where I spent the most money. I went to a bridal store and bought THE dress.
✅For my bridesmaids, I asked that they all (3) wear turquoise- they could buy from wherever.
✅Mike wanted to wear a nice Caribbean shirt with khakis and his groomsmen matched him.
✅ Next up a place. We rented the Lions Club in Orange Park. $200 for 24 hours.
✅ Food and drink next on the list. We had to feed about 60ish people, with some big eaters! We went with pasta and salads and bread and some other side dishes. Nothing crazy. We hit up Sam’s Club and literally bought everything we needed. I feel like the bill was around $300. Drinks. We had a friend who owned a restaurant and she was able to get us cases of wine- as a gift! $0!! A friend of a friend played bartender for us -for tips- but we also gave her a few bones 😝. We also had a keg $60.
✅ We bought simple decorations at Michael's for maybe around $200-300.
✅ Since I’m a baker, I attempted my very first 3 tier cake and it came out great! $30ish
✅ For an officiant, we had a good friend = $0.
So. Morning of, Mike and I and our party all gathered and got to work decorating and cooking and getting all pretty. Our ceremony was everything we wanted. We danced. We laughed. We cried a little. I was happy. Mike was happy. Our family and friends were happy and all had a great time. We had compliments on the food all night. The cake turned out amazing!! A little tilted that nobody but me noticed. All in all I would absolutely do it again. The only thing I would do differently is hire a photographer. As it was the time before all this super technology, we just had throw away cameras on tables and 1 friend taking pictures from a real camera.
Planning your own wedding is completely doable on any budget. We did ours on, I believe, around $1200. I asked Mike if we could plan another for our 20th so only 5 more years!!!