Planning a dream wedding on a down-to-earth budget

  • 2 min to read

A modest budget won’t necessarily put a dream wedding out of reach. It just might take a bit more legwork and some creativity.

Caitin Frauton of Duxbury owns DIY Wedding Mentor, a wedding planning service that specializes in helping couples stretch their budgets and focus on what matters most to them. Her clients generally spend between $20,000 and $30,000 to host weddings averaging 150 guests.

Caitin shares the following helpful hints for the budget-minded couple:

Find the right venue

Choosing an affordable location — from a barn to a family camp to a beautiful backyard — is the No. 1 priority. 

The Intervale Center in Burlington, the West Monitor Barn in Richmond, and Common Ground Center in Starksboro have all been popular with Frauton’s clients.

“They tend to be venues that are flexible with the vendors you bring in,” Frauton said. “You can bring in your own caterer and bar service.”


Once the venue is booked, Frauton suggests that couples choose three of four main goals to focus on, whether spending time with family, choosing a band or deejay that will have their guests dancing the night away, or planning a memorable sit-down dinner. 

“If it doesn’t fit a goal, you can spend less money,” Frauton said. “You don’t have to spend a lot in all areas.”

Serve food you love

Frauton encourages her clients to be creative when deciding on a menu. Some have hired Woodbelly Pizza to bring in its wood-fired oven and provide pizza and salad.

“You get the entertainment factor and more affordable food than a traditional sit-down dinner,” she said. “There are a lot of cool catering options. Keep an open mind. Ask, ‘What kind of food do we eat a lot?’”

A buffet with lots of great food options will generally cost less than a sit-down dinner because the caterer doesn’t have to bring as many staff, she said.

Play your own tunes 

When it comes to music, some tech-savvy couples fore go a band or deejay in favor of an iPhone programmed with their favorite songs, a set of good speakers, and a friend with a playlist to ensure the equipment is working and everything runs smoothly. Frauton estimates that 30 percent of the couples she works with choose to go this route.

However, “If you can afford to have a deejay, that’s ideal because they help with the flow of the day, making announcements and things like that,” Frauton said.

Find inspiration in nature

Decorating with natural elements is another way to save money. Couples who hold their receptions outdoors are able to spend less on decorations and flowers.

“Vermont is just stunning with so many beautiful views and spots,” Frauton said. “I don’t feel there’s a need to go crazy with the décor. Some couples work with flower farms to purchase flowers and do the arrangements themselves.

“I always tell clients when it comes to décor, it’s OK to keep it simple. If you have pinecones, you can place them on the gift table. You can use things you have at home. You don’t have to go out and buy new decorations.”

Focus on what matters

Frauton encourages couples not to feel stressed by their budget limitations. In the end, whether simple or extravagant, weddings celebrate the intangible.

“Our slogan is, ‘love, that’s what it’s all about,’” Frauton said. “Weddings are about making a commitment to another person and being surrounded by family and friends. Spending time with people you love is more important than how everything looks.”

Some of the simpler weddings Frauton has orchestrated have been among her favorites.

For instance, during a celebration held at Common Ground Center in Starksboro last summer, the bride and groom’s families and many of their 150 guests stayed at the camp.

“They didn’t have any seating at the ceremony,” Frauton said. “The guests just huddled around the couple and the officiant. There was such a strong community vibe.”

Another couple chose not to purchase flowers and instead gathered leaves and scattered them over wooden slabs on the tables. Branches placed in vases with help from friends completed the rustic décor.

“It was totally simple and everyone loved it,” Frauton said of the buffet-style reception. “The way that everyone contributed made it a community event.”

Frauton can be reached at

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