Tying the knot on the beach is cheap and memorable

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We’re celebrating the month of June by sharing the success stories of a dozen savvy brides who threw the wedding of their dreams on a surprising budget.

Jessica Mumford and husband Kyle Mumford are both surfers, so when it came time to pick where they wanted to get married, the answer was obvious: on the beach.

They had the ceremony, plus a reception for 90, at a classic Jersey Shore seafood house for under $7,000 in September 2011.

"We are the type of people who would stick out like sore thumbs in a ballroom setting," Jessica says.

She's a 25-year-old bank teller. Kyle Mumford, 24, works as a carpenter, building houses on the Jersey Shore.

The cost of having a wedding on the beach was next to nothing. All they needed was a $25 permit from the city of Cape May, which is the southernmost point in New Jersey and where the couple now lives.

That's mega savings. The average ceremony venue cost $1,194 last year, according to The Wedding Report, a research company that tracks such expenses.

They specifically chose Poverty Beach because it's not along the main drag.

"We wanted to keep it as small and private as possible without excessive amounts of rubbernecking or bikini-clad wedding crashers," she says.

They skipped paying big bucks for decorations for the ceremony. Instead, Jessica's father created a wedding aisle out of driftwood.

Even though the waves were practically lapping at their feet, Jessica wore a wedding dress from David's Bridal that cost, with alterations, about $500.

But she skipped the traditional veil and wore a crown of daisies and went barefoot for the ceremony before slipping on a pair of ballet slippers for the reception.

Lisbeth Levine is co-author of
“The Wedding Book: The Big
Book for Your Big Day.”

Centerpieces can take a big chunk out of your budget, and Jessica did a beautiful job of tying hers in to her beach theme while keeping costs in line.

A budget-minded bride I know who had an autumn wedding in Chicago worked with a high-end florist but saved on centerpieces by gathering her bridesmaids to hollow out and shellac light-green pumpkins before the florist filled them with flowers, berries and apples. The bride and her mother even drove an hour to a farm stand in Michigan to get a better deal on the pumpkins.

Having a lunch instead of a dinner definitely saves money, but I’m also seeing couples hold a morning wedding and then serve breakfast. The bar bill is minimal, and who can criticize you for being cheap if it’s good enough for the British royal family?

Kyle avoided the cost of a tuxedo by opting for dark-gray dress pants with light-gray vest plus white shirt, paired with beach-friendly black Vans sneakers.

All of the flowers used for the ceremony and reception were in season and locally grown, which also saved money. They came from a small florist in Wildwood Crest, N.J., where Jessica grew up.

"There are so many gorgeous flowers out there. Unless you are really obsessed with one, you can find just as gorgeous alternatives that are in season," she says.

The couple's first choice for their reception was the Lobster House, a traditional seafood restaurant in Cape May with gorgeous wood and nautical décor where they would feel at home.

Although Jessica had feared it would be out of their price range, that didn't turn out to be the case.

"The prices were way less than anywhere else because it was lunch, not dinner," she says.

The restaurant also provided the perfect Plan B for the ceremony. If it rained, they'd move the whole thing into the Lobster House. (It turned out to be a close call. The weather was perfect for the 11 a.m. ceremony, but by 1 p.m. it was pouring and would have washed them out).

The couple doesn't drink, and some guests were recovering alcoholics, so the Mumfords opted for a cash bar and just paid for juice, soda and water.

Add up all the food, drink and venue charges, and the Mumfords spent just $3,500 at the Lobster House, far less than the average expenditure of $8,500.

Jessica and her family did the centerpieces — glass bowls with colored beach glass on the bottom, then filled with water with a daisy floating on the surface.

They did pay for a DJ, who set up at both the ceremony and the reception, and a professional photographer.

But the couple opted to make their own wedding albums.

"If you look at the [photography] packages, usually there is an option for them to take the photos, edit them and give you a disk," Jessica says. "You can then use Snapfish.com or another online photo site to make your own albums.

"They are a little labor of love. ... You get to relive every moment of your wedding, even some moments you didn't know ended up captured."

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