Danielle Castleman and Jacob Bales married last winter in an evening wedding ceremony at Mellwood Arts Center followed by a reception in the same location for more than 450 guests. They spent about 10 months planning the wedding and were able to add some personal touches even on a budget.

Bride’s Favorite Memory: My favorite memory is just simply looking around all day. It was so amazing to know how happy people were for us, and how much they were rooting for us.

Advice to Others: Stick with your budget. Let the guy help plan, he cares about it a lot more than you might think and guys have great ideas. Do pre-marital counseling with a couple that you look up to.

Best Planning Tip: Set a budget first and work from there. Use the people who want to help as much as they will help. Be open and honest with your parents during the planning process — everyone should be able to openly share their opinions and discuss them.

Photos by Jess Register 

Best Money Saving Tip: Use fake flowers versus real flowers; purchase suits rather than renting tuxes; pick a venue with an open catering policy; decide on your budget before you start planning and stick to that budget no matter what; have the ceremony and the reception in the same place.

Location of Ceremony: Our ceremony was at Mellwood Arts Center in the Van Gogh room. It was the best option for us because it holds 650 people. We set up chairs on the dance floor, had a center aisle, and had the ceremony up on a stage. Jacob and I and the minister stood up on the stage, and the bridal party stood on the floor right by the stage. It worked out really well so that everyone could see. When the ceremony was over we had half of the tables already set up with chairs so we dismissed half of the room to go to those tables, and then had a team of about 15 men take the other chairs and fill the other tables up. Parking was great because they have an overflow lot across the street.

I Would Have Changed: I wish that more chairs would have been available so that we could’ve had all the tables filled with chairs already, but it wasn’t a huge issue because we had an awesome group of people who stepped up to help and get it done quickly.

Location of Reception: We loved having our ceremony and reception in the same room so we didn’t have to worry about travel for anyone during our winter wedding. Mellwood also has a huge dance floor that was perfect for us because we wanted our wedding to be a big party!

Photographer: Jess Register

Favorite Photo: My favorite photo is the photo of us dancing at our reception. I simply love it because it has all of my favorite people in it, all in the same place, on my favorite day.

Special Choices: All first look photos were taken at Lapping Park in Clarksville, Indiana and the rest of the photos were taken at Mellwood Arts Center. Jess Register was our photographer, she is from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dress: I had a hard time finding my dress, but once I did I was thankful that I didn’t settle. Jessa Seewald (Duggar) had just recently gotten married, and I wanted a dress similar to hers. I knew the designer, the style, everything about the dress, but I couldn’t find anywhere that sold it. I finally found Splendid Bridal in Cincinnati, Ohio and ordered the dress in Bridal Ivory!

Bridesmaids Dresses: The bridesmaids dresses were such a blessing! Each bridesmaid dress was made to fit by the online retailer. We also ordered an extra dress for back up that my grandma helped incorporate into the flower girl dress.

Tuxes: We chose suits from JCPenney. It was cheaper for the guys to buy suits from there than it was for them to rent suits or tuxes from anywhere. We got their ties from The Tie Bar.

Video: We actually had a friend, Byron Graham, do our videography as a wedding gift. All we really wanted was to make sure that our ceremony was recorded so that we could watch it in the future, but Byron went above and beyond this expectation and put together a video of our entire night.

Food: Mellwood has an open catering policy that allowed us to work with Custom Foods Catering who accommodated the size of our wedding without costing an arm and a leg. We had appetizers available before dinner which was a good idea while people waited for the room to be flipped, and for my dress to be bustled. We also had a kids table which had chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, and fresh fruit. We had a lot of kids at our wedding so we loved adding this touch.

I Would Have Changed: Providing more food for the kids because a lot of the adults ate what we had planned for the children.

Drinks: Coffee bar

Why it Worked: For our main drinks we had tea, lemonade, Coke products, and water. Then our special touch was a coffee bar. Mellwood has a super nice bar in the back of the room where we had the wedding and reception, and we used this as a coffee bar. We worked with Village House Coffee in Georgetown, Indiana to create a menu for the evening. It seemed to be a really big hit especially since it was very cold outside.

Cake:We got a three tier cake from Sweet Stuff Bakery that was absolutely gorgeous. This was our display cake, and also the cake we cut into, and then it was taken to the back to be cut up. We ordered seven sheet cakes all in different flavors to feed our guests. This worked really well because they were already cut up, so the cake was served very quickly. Sweet Stuff was super easy to work with, and worked with our ideas and taught us things that would make the day go smoother. I even had them at the last minute make a cupcake for a friend whose birthday happened to be on our wedding day. My Mamaw also makes this amazing chess cake and we had that available for guests as well!

Flowers: We bought all flowers from Hobby Lobby. They are 50 percent off every other week, so if we needed more we would just go back and get more when they were on sale again. My mom’s cousin made all the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres. He did an amazing job! He lives two hours away so we delivered flowers to him, I sent photos to him of what I wanted, and he would send photos back and forth of the progress. It was easier to have fake flowers rather than real flowers because we didn’t have to worry about keeping them in water all day, and it also was a big price difference.

Music: For our ceremony, we had all of the songs, but the last song played live by some friends of ours Sam and Shane. We loved having live music especially performed by people who are close to us. We had I Won’t Give Up by Jason Miraz, This Is Living (acoustic) by Hillsong Young and Free, and Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin played by the live musicians/singers. Marry You by Bruno Mars was played as we walked out by our DJ.

Why It Worked: We liked the live music for the songs during the ceremony. This made it personal and intimate. The reception music was done by our DJ, Sounds Unlimited Productions and Simeon was our MC for the night.

Décor: I rented navy table cloths, gold/sequined table cloths, large/medium/small candle holders for the aisle way, and flower petals for the aisle and tables. I bought picture frames from Dollar General, spray-painted them, and then put an engagement photo each one. I bought milk glass vases from Etsy. We borrowed oil lanterns from my cousin, and we bought candle holders and square votives from Amazon.

Why It Worked: Breanna from Luxe Design and Event Rentals was really great to work with. She delivered all of the items to us on the morning of the wedding, and she picked all of them up after the wedding which was a huge help.

Planner: Betsy Lange

Why It Worked: Betsy Lange was our wedding coordinator, but she came in about three to four weeks before the big day and helped us pull everything together. She listened to my ideas and somehow pulled it all together. She was around all day during the wedding, and if anything went wrong, I never heard of it because she took care of everything.

I Would Have Changed: I wish we would’ve had Betsy involved in the process way before we had her join. She was incredible!

Rings: Koerber’s Fine Jewelry 

Why It Worked: Sarah at Koerber’s Fine Jewelry helped us, and she is still helping us when we buy other jewelry. My engagement ring is everything I could’ve wanted and more. My center diamond is the first diamond that my dad gave my mom, so when Jacob asked my dad for his blessing, my dad gave him that diamond to have put on my engagement ring. Around my ring, I have two gold bands that I adore. Jacob’s ring is all rose gold, and he loves it.

Invitations: My invitations were designed by my friend Brittany Elliott. She created invites, RSVP cards, and a small card with our registry and website information. We printed them through Vistaprint and it worked wonderfully.

I Would Have Changed: The only thing that went wrong with our invites was that a lot of them for some unknown reason got lost in the mail, so some of our guests received Save the Dates, but never received invitations. It was very frustrating.

Makeup/Hair: Tangled Salon & Spa 

Why It Worked: Makeup and hair went so smoothly. Hair was done by Kate Holliday and makeup was done by Casey Hodskins, both from Tangled Salon and Spa. Kate and Casey worked with me to make a very specific timeline for who was getting their hair/makeup done at what time, and they also had received photos of what each member of the bridal party wanted.

Rehearsal Dinner: Rehearsal dinner was held at Northside Christian Church. We had two rooms to use, one to rehearse and one to have dinner and hang out.

Length of Planning Time: Around 9-10 months

Cost Per Person (Meal): $15/person (included appetizers)