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Vancouver Budget Bride:
Natalee + Carl

September 24th, 2012 by Jeannine

Vancouver Budget Bride: Natalee & Carl

On their sixth anniversary, Carl decided to take his high school sweetheart Natalee on a very special date. They spent some time with the animals at the Vancouver Aquarium and then it was off to Seasons in the Park for a lovely dinner. When Natalee’s dessert was served she was surprised to see a beautiful engagement ring in the middle of the strawberry flower that accompanied her sorbet. It was then that Carl got down on one knee and proposed to a teary-eyed yet very happy Natalee.

Carl and Natalee tied the knot on June 23, 2012 with 60 of their closest friends and family. Their beach-themed wedding was a modest one, having spent only $6,500, but it was a labour of love. Natalee kept herself busy with DIY projects to keep costs down and set her wedding apart from others. She relied on Craigslist to help bring her event together and created the rest by hand.

Carl and Natalee didn’t want any physical gifts, having lived together for the last 3 years. Instead, they created a “wishing well,” a type of cardbox for guests who wanted to give them monetary gifts or send them well wishes. She let the creative juices flow and made a treasure chest out of an old wooden chest from Craigslist, scrap wood from Home Depot and plastic gold and silver coins. Each coin and pearl strand was glued on one at a time until it looked how she envisioned it.

Natalee’s grandmother created a new corset tie to add a splash of colour to her dress and then sewed ties for the Best Man and the Ring Bearer with the same fabric.

Each guest received a turquoise and brown favor box with 3 chocolates, 2 blue hard candy fish and 2 chocolate pearls to keep with the beach theme. The boxes were bought off Craigslist and the chocolates, would you believe they made themselves? It’s true! They bought all the favor ingredients from a shop called Scoop-N-Save in Langley, a shop I know is popular in the local baking community.

Instead of a traditional guestbook, the couple opted for a thumbprint tree. They ordered 2 custom leaf stamps in different sizes from Etsy and had their guests stamp the tree & sign their names on it. This prevented them from using their thumbs and getting ink all over. The tree now hangs on their wall where they can admire it and remember all those who celebrated with them on their special day.

These projects were just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to all this, Natalee made their invitations, seating chart, table numbers, centerpieces (a collection of glass bowls filled with glass beads and sand), tissue pom poms for the wall, & reserved seating cards for the ceremony. Her cake topper was bought online and she painted the “bride’s” hair to match hers. Her mother & grandmother surprised her with one last DIY project. They created individual tissue packets wrapped in blue and brown ribbon with a message on the front that said, “For Your Tears Of Joy.” My favourite of the bunch though, is still yet to come… you better read on to see how she made her one of a kind bouquet!

A Few Words With Natalee…

During the planning stages, how did you imagine your wedding?  Did the final result live up to expectations?
“We imagined it to be a small, casual wedding with a ceremony on the beach. We only wanted people there that we saw on a regular basis since, to us, it’s meant to be a celebration with loved ones. The wedding was better than we could have imagined.”

Describe the theme of your wedding. What personal or unique touches did you have for your wedding?
“The wedding was beach themed and we originally had four colours to use for decorations, bright turquoise, sea foam green, chocolate brown, and a sandy colour, but ended up going with a bright turquoise and chocolate brown since most things we found fit those two colours. There were a lot of personal touches we had because we did most of our décor ourselves and made it exactly as we wanted.”

Why did you decide to create paper flower bouquets? Was it hard to do? Any reason why you used music sheets for yours?
“When I started looking at flower options, the first thing I noticed was price. Everything available is very, very pricy unless you do the bare minimum. I didn’t want a large amount of our budget going toward just flowers, so I started looking up crafty ideas for bouquets. When I found the kusadama origami flowers, I fell in love. I knew that they were exactly what I wanted. Not only were they a much less expensive option, but they were beautiful and would last forever. I chose music notes in my own bouquet because music has always been a big part of my life. One of the ideas was to use letters or emails exchanged by the bride and groom, printed out and made into the flowers, but Carl and I don’t really email each other so I went for the sheet music.

Finding the right paper for them was a pain in the butt. Scrapbooking paper is so beautiful and there are large varieties, but at $1 a page it seemed like an expensive way to go. One page made approximately four out of the five petals of one flower. I planned to have about forty flowers on the main bouquet and just over half that on each of the secondary ones.

In the end, I bought a large package of 8 ½ x 11 turquoise paper and white paper from Staples, the spotted blue/brown paper from the dollar store, and the music note paper from Precious Memories since I only needed a few pieces of it. I didn’t think of the idea until after that I could have just printed sheet music I wanted onto plain white paper and used that. Oh well! I experimented with different glues, but in the end the low heat glue gun was the best way to attach the petals and the stems together.

The bouquet holders were $4 for small and $6 for large at Just Flowers in Willowbrook mall and they ordered them in for me in about two weeks. The wire stems were floral wire from Michaels and I used about two full $6 packages.”

Which wedding traditions did you stick with and why? Which did you leave out and why?
“We stuck with most wedding traditions, I believe, other than the guest book and card box. We did a first dance, a garter and bouquet toss, and after Carl and I did our setup of things at the hall in the morning we didn’t see each other until at the ceremony. We had cake cutting, though we didn’t squish it in each other’s faces.

All the traditions we followed were because they seemed fun. I originally wasn’t going to do a garter belt toss or wear one at all, but when I exchanged my wedding shoes I had to take store credit and got one. My photographer encouraged Carl to use his mouth to get it off of me, which made for amusing pictures. I would have told him to use his hands if it were up to me, but everyone was laughing and having a good time with it. We had table assignments, but people could sit wherever they liked at the actual tables. We were going to have a ‘free for all’ seating, but worried that some guests who had issues with one another might be too close if we did that. We had speeches because my mom, at the very least, wanted to say something. She ended up singing a song and doing a slideshow that completely blew me away.

One tradition we didn’t do was have someone walk down the aisle with me. We considered my brother and step-dad, but in the end it wasn’t fair to choose between the men in my life who I care about since we had four or so that would have to walk with me. Also, as my brother pointed out, I didn’t need to be ‘given away’ since I was already living on my own with Carl. It was a day more about Carl and I pledging ourselves to one another.”

Did you have any games or extra activities for your guests?
“We provided a photobooth with silly props for the guests to take pictures with each other. Each set of four photos printed out and they got to take them home. We received a code to get all the pictures taken, online, after the wedding. Having the reception in the legion hall, the guests were able to play darts or pool if they liked. Later in the evening a lot of us went over to the pool tables and dart boards when the dancing died down.”

How did guests get you to kiss, the usual glass clink or something different?
“If anyone wanted Carl and I to kiss, their table (or at least a couple people at it) had to stand up and sing part of a song. At first it stopped people from bothering us, but once they got going we had a lot of singers. It was way more fun than being ‘clinked’ at all night.”

What did your guests think about your wedding?
“All the guests I’ve spoken to, parents and co-workers included, said they had a lot of fun and that it was nice that our wedding was about celebrating our union rather than a big, drunk party. We didn’t provide any alcohol, but had a cash bar. We provided a bottle of raspberry and apple sparkling juice on each table with special labels my aunt made for us.”

What did you splurge on and what did you save on? Why?
“We splurged on food, photography, music for the reception, and the photo booth. Food was always the most important thing to Carl and I. We wanted the meal to be delicious and for there to be a couple choices for guests. Photography was important because I wanted lots of pictures to remember the happy moments and all the people who shared them with us. We weren’t disappointed. The photo booth was something fun for our guests to do before we arrived from doing our pictures after the ceremony. Although not as many people used it as we hoped, everyone who did seemed to really like it. The cake, to us, was a splurge since it was two hundred dollars, but we didn’t want to take the risk of making it ourselves and we wanted something somewhat elegant. In the end, it looked amazing. For the music, I had the ceremony covered, but I wanted someone that was fun to do our music for dinner and dancing and that would do announcements and sort of MC the night. Michael was great at everything and even sang for us later in the night! He listened to exactly what we wanted for music and did our first dance perfectly. Hair and makeup I wanted to last all day and I knew if I did it myself it wouldn’t do that. Going to a salon for my hair and allowing my friend who’s a makeup artist do my makeup was the best decision I could have made. I felt beautiful and all my pictures were incredible all day long.

We saved on many things, including my wedding dress, by finding them on Craigslist. Not only because we had a budget, but because I refused to spend large amounts of money on items I knew weren’t really worth it. My dress was something I wanted to be beautiful and look right for my body, but I knew I was only wearing it for the one day and didn’t want to go overboard. It turned out perfect and it only cost three hundred and ninety dollars with dry cleaning.

Getting chair covers and sashes done for us was a time saver and it was a classy touch that brought all the décor together. I was so amazingly happy with the job done on our chairs and tables.”

If you could’ve done something differently, what would it be?
“If I could have done something differently, it would be to make sure that announcements were made to inform guests of certain things that didn’t happen. No notice was given to let them know the photo booth was there and to use it before it was finished at six thirty. That was the reason a few people didn’t have a chance to use it. Also, I didn’t get any pictures done of just my mother and I.”

After planning a wedding, what one advice would you give to future brides?
“Use craigslist as a resource to find inexpensive wedding décor that is being resold. Some of it is brand new! Also, look for whatever you want way ahead of time. The more time you have to search, the better deals you can wait for. I used the 40% off one item coupon at Michaels a lot that you get with each previous purchase.”

Natalee & Carl’s Wedding Vendors:

Ceremony venue: Blackie Spit Park
Reception venue: Royal Canadian Legion Hall (Crescent Branch No. 240)
Ladies at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall
Wedding Dress:
Maid of Honor dress:
Flower Girl Dress: The Children’s Place
Groom’s Suit:
Rebecca Bennett Photography
Euphoria Hair Designs
Amanda Kuiak
Chair Covers & Sashes:
Chairs With Charm
Wedding Favors:
Music for ceremony:
Michael James Entertainment
Wedding planner/coordinator:

All photos courtesy Rebecca Bennett Photography

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  • September 24th, 2012 at 4:01 pm
    Natalee Denton says:

    I didn’t realize that a lot of this would be directly quoted from what I wrote as answers to the questions Vancity Bride sent to me. I just wanted to say that all of my vendors, especially Rebecca Bennett (our fantastic photographer) were wonderful. We did our engagement photos and the wedding photos with Rebecca and she honestly made the entire day/night keeping us on track with our schedule and giving us our beautiful pictures only a few days after the event, along with a 200 picture edited album. Highly recommend her!

  • September 24th, 2012 at 5:59 pm
    Jeannine says:

    Sorry if I seemed unclear about it Natalee. It was noted on top of the Interview Questions sheet I sent you that some of your answers will be used in a Q&A but I guess for next time, I’ll update the form to state that any answer may be quoted unless otherwise specified. Thanks for your feedback!

  • September 24th, 2012 at 11:37 pm
    (aunt) Jenn"ifer" :) says:

    I thought this blog was very professional & clearly written. I think Natalee covered just about everything & gave credit where credit was due. Kudos! She certainly made the most gorgeous, seaside bride. Natalee & Carl show their love everytime they look at eachother! I was so proud & thrilled to be there to witness such a cute couple start their next episode in a lifelong journey.

  • September 25th, 2012 at 9:33 am
    Jon White says:

    I loved the pictures of my sweet Grandaughter and her new husband Carl. Love Papa


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