A couple started planning their winery wedding without a set budget. Here's how their $73,000 day came together, from a pricey venue to DIY decor.

A bride and groom walk together arm in arm.
Mark and Julia Baugh on their wedding day.Amber Dawn Photography
  • High-school sweethearts Julia and Mark Baugh got married on September 3, 2023.

  • Julia broke down their $73,405 wedding day for Business Insider.

  • The venue cost $41,000, and the couple DIYed some of their decor.

When Julia and Mark Baugh got engaged, they didn't know much about the cost of a wedding.

They were the first of their friends to get married, meaning they had no real idea of venue prices, how much a floral arch would cost, or what they could expect to pay a videographer.

Julia spoke to Business Insider about how their wedding came together, breaking down the cost of their day.

Julia and Mark Baugh have been together since they were teenagers.

A bride and groom hold hands in front of white hydrangea bushes.
The Baughs are high-school sweethearts. Amber Dawn Photography

Julia was best friends with Mark's cousin throughout her childhood, but she didn't meet her now-husband until they were teenagers, she told Business Insider.

They finally met when Mark took the duo to get ice cream when Julia was 16 and he was 17. Their connection was instant.

"We've been best friends and dating ever since," Julia said.

Today, the Baughs live in New Jersey, where Julia, now 24, works for a mortgage company, and Mark, 25, works for a health company. Julia also creates content on TikTok.

When they got engaged in 2021, the Baughs didn't know much about weddings.

A bride and groom embrace under her veil.
They got engaged in 2021.Amber Dawn Photography

Mark popped the question in 2021 when he and Julia were 23 and 22.

Julia told BI they were the first of their friends to get engaged, so they didn't know much about weddings as they started planning their day.

"I was never one of those people that was like, 'I can't wait to get married,'" Julia said. "I never really thought about it. So honestly, planning a wedding was kind of a shell shock for me because of how overwhelming and expensive it was."

They set the wedding for September 3, 2023, giving them ample planning time.

As they started planning, Julia and Mark weren't sure how much to budget for their wedding.

A bride and groom kiss in front of a floral arch. They hold a parasol in front of them.
The Baughs didn't know much about wedding costs before they got engaged.Amber Dawn Photography

Julia and Mark are savers, but they weren't financially planning for their wedding when he popped the question.

"We were actually trying to buy a house when he proposed," Julia said. "So that was really what we were saving for, and then we were like, 'Crap, now we have to save for a wedding.'"

Because they knew so little about the cost of weddings, the Baughs didn't set a budget as they started looking at vendors. Instead, they decided to find a venue that fit their needs, planning to select affordable vendors to complement it.

They fell in love with a winery.

A white winery surrounded by greenery.
They liked that their venue was a one-stop shop. Amber Dawn Photography

When Julia saw photos of the Renault Winery & Resort in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, online, she was pretty certain she would get married there.

"When I first saw it, I was like, 'This is it.' But just to appease everyone else, I checked out other ones," Julia said. "But as soon as we got there, my husband and I were like, 'Yep, let's just book it. This is our dream venue.'"

The outdoor space at the property particularly appealed to Julia, as she thought the winery would be the perfect backdrop for their ceremony.

Julia also liked that the venue provided catering and bar services as part of its wedding package.

Waitstaff fills up a champagne wall.
The venue was the costliest element of the wedding.Amber Dawn Photography

The venue booking included alcohol, catering, tableware, and linens for the event, so the Baughs didn't have to outsource those services. Julia didn't want to have to worry about additional vendors on the wedding day, so the all-inclusive nature of Renault Winery & Resort appealed to her. It even included the cost of the cake.

"I didn't really want to set up anything on our wedding day," Julia said. "I didn't want to have to worry about bringing alcohol. I didn't want to have to worry about finding caterers."

"I just wanted to be able to enjoy getting ready and not have to worry about setting up, so it made it really easy," she added.

The venue was the priciest aspect of the wedding for the Baughs, and their parents ended up paying for it.

"Our parents split the venue price, which was awesome because we weren't even expecting to have help," Julia said.

Venue cost: $41,000

Julia wanted to invest in florals for the wedding.

An outdoor wedding in front of a vineyard with a floral arch at the aisle.
The wedding had a plethora of flowers.Amber Dawn Photography

Julia decided to go with a garden party theme for the nuptials, which meant flowers would be essential to the decor.

She tapped Bespoke Floral & Event Design to create floral displays with white flowers and a plethora of greenery, choosing the colors based on how photos of the event would look down the road.

"I picked our flower colors because I thought it would always match our home decor," she said. "If I picked pink flowers or whatever color, I would not want to hang the photos if I changed my home decor."

The ceremony included a floral arch, as well as arrangements lining the aisle.

But the Baughs reused the flowers that made a statement at their ceremony to get the most bang for their buck.

A sweetheart table at a wedding.
The flowers helped to create the aesthetic. Amber Dawn Photography

In terms of their budget, the Baughs spent a large portion on flowers.

"Flowers were definitely a splurge," Julia said. "I wanted that to be the main focus of the whole day."

However, they were able to get the most out of their investment by reusing flowers throughout the day. For instance, the arch at the altar was repurposed to accent Julia and Mark's sweetheart table, as were several bouquets lining the aisle.

Florals: $12,000

The Baughs also rented furniture to add more seating for their guests.

A white couch and chair with a glass table in front of it. Flowers sit on the table and next to the couch.
They added additional furniture to the reception space.Amber Dawn Photography

The Baughs wanted to add more furniture to the venue, specifically a couch and chairs for guests to lounge on throughout the event. Julia said they were particularly useful during cocktail hour.

They chose white couches and chairs with gold accents, as well as a glass coffee table, from Vision Furniture Event Rentals, placing flowers near them so they fit with the event's aesthetic.

"They were just another place to hang out and sit down," she said. "We actually took photos in front of it, which was really fun."

Furniture rentals: $800

To make the day run smoothly, the couple hired a coordinator for the wedding.

A wedding ballroom with high centerpieces.
Hiring a coordinator made the wedding day easier.Amber Dawn Photography

The Baughs didn't hire a full wedding planner, as Julia planned much of the day. But they did hire Tutti Belle Events to help them in the final stretch of wedding planning and on the day of the event.

"I pretty much planned the whole thing, and then two months before, she took over and did everything, which was so helpful," Julia said. "I was having a nervous breakdown two months before because I was so nervous, so it worked out."

Looking back at the day, Julia told BI that hiring a day-of coordinator for the wedding was one of the best investments she made in the wedding.

"She did so many things I did not even think of that needed to be done," Julia said.

Coordinator: $2,000

The Baughs added DIY touches to their wedding, which saved them money and brought their vision to life.

A rounded sign that says "find your seat" with flowers and cards on it.
The groom made the seating chart.Amber Dawn Photography

For instance, Mark made their welcome sign and brought Julia's vision for the seating chart to life.

"I found two pictures of a seating chart that I wanted to combine," she told BI. "My husband's very handy. He loves doing projects, and he's done a ton of stuff around the house."

So when he offered to make the seating chart for the day using materials they already had at home — making it essentially free — Julia was thrilled. The white, arched board had shelving with seat assignments and small bud vases of flowers. A "find your seat" decal written in cursive completed the sign.

Mark used materials they already had for the welcome sign as well.

"We always say I'm the brains behind the operation, and he does everything," Julia said of herself and her husband.

Seating chart and welcome sign: $100

Julia also designed their menu cards.

A table set for a wedding.
The bride made the menu cards.Amber Dawn Photography

Julia made the menu cards herself, working with a printer to bring them to life. She even added a wax seal to the top of them.

Menu cards: $50

The Baughs also added an ice cream cart to their day.

A "churn cart" ice cream cart with flowers on it.
Guests got to enjoy ice cream sandwiches.Amber Dawn Photography

Churn House is a local New Jersey ice cream shop with a churn cart for mobile events that provides ice cream sandwiches.

The brand reached out to Julia about including one of its carts at her wedding after seeing some of her TikTok content.

"Everybody loved it," Julia said of the cart. "The ice cream sandwiches were gone."

"They were such a hit, especially because it was 95 degrees on the day of the wedding," she added.

Churn cart: $650

Julia and Mark's wedding was documented in several ways.

A bride and groom look at each other on their wedding day.
Pictures were an important part of the day.Amber Dawn Photography

Julia wanted "bright, airy photos" for the wedding, and Amber Dawn Photography was the perfect fit for her vision.

"She was so friendly," Julia said of Amber. "She took the best photos. When we got them back, I was like, 'I could not even imagine them looking this good.'"

Photographer: $5,200

They also hired a videographer.

A bride and groom walk together arm in arm.
They chose to have a videographer as well.Amber Dawn Photography

The Baughs struggled to find a videographer, as many of them were out of their price range.

But then they found Forever Filmworks, which was perfect for their needs.

"I'm so glad we did it because we have the audio," Julia said. "We have the vows. We have all the speeches."

Videographer: $1,900

The Baughs had a content coordinator to document candid moments from the day, too.

A bride and groom embrace at their wedding.
They hired a content coordinator.Amber Dawn Photography

In recent years, couples have started hiring people to create content for their weddings, capturing shorter and more behind-the-scenes moments than traditional photographers or videographers often do.

The Baughs tapped Salt Air Socials for the job, so their wedding was covered from as many angles as possible.

Content creator: $475

Music played a big role in the couple's wedding.

A bride looks over her shoulder as her groom has his back to her.
They had strings at the ceremony and a DJ at the reception.Amber Dawn Photography

The Baughs had live music at their ceremony, hiring Ceremonious Strings for $650 to accompany them.

But their reception had more of a party feel thanks to DJ Treble & Bass Productions, whose services cost $3,000.

Music: $3,650

Julia's wedding dress was a gift, but she paid for her hair and makeup for the nuptials.

A bride poses in her wedding dress and veil holding a veil.
The bride in her full glam.Amber Dawn Photography

Julia's mother bought her a $4,000 Badgley Mischka Bride wedding dress and a $400 veil.

But Julia paid for her hair and makeup herself. Prostyled Bride styled her hair, which cost $250, and her makeup services were provided by Makeup By Brielle for $350.

Mark chose to rent a tuxedo for the wedding, which cost $180.

Dress and veil: $4,400

Hair and makeup: $600

Groom's attire: $180

Julia and Mark hired an officiant, but they said private vows, too.

A bride and groom hold hands at their wedding altar.
They hired an officiant.Amber Dawn Photography

Mark DeMuro officiated their wedding. Julia told BI he "wrote something cute" for them to say during the ceremony.

But they exchanged more personal vows privately during their first look ahead of the ceremony.

"We are both very shy, so we were very nervous to say vows in front of everyone," Julia said. "So it was really sweet to do it by ourselves."

Officiant: $400

In total, the couple's wedding cost over $73,000.

A bride and groom walk down stairs covered in flowers together.
The wedding cost $73,405.Amber Dawn Photography

Though Julia and Mark's parents helped cover some of the costs, the couple still spent $28,000 of their own money on the wedding.

Julia thinks it's important for couples to know the real cost of weddings before they get engaged, which is why she's been open about her budget breakdown on TikTok.

"I feel like a lot of people don't really understand how much of an investment a wedding is," she said. "If you're going to have a big wedding with 150 people, it's going to be a lot of money, and you have to figure out whether that's worth spending the money for you."

"Once you sign those contracts, you can't get out of it," Julia said. "You'll lose a ton of money. So, I think that's my biggest advice for couples. Really just figure out what you want."

"Don't let social media or family members or anything pressure you into doing something because you feel obligated to," she added.

Total: $73,405

  • Venue cost: $41,000

  • Florals: $12,000

  • Furniture rentals: $800

  • Coordinator: $2,000

  • Seating chart and welcome sign: $100

  • Menu cards: $50

  • Churn cart: $650

  • Photographer: $5,200

  • Videographer: $1,900

  • Content creator: $475

  • Music: $3,650

  • Dress: $4,000

  • Veil: $400

  • Hair and makeup: $600

  • Groom's tuxedo: $180

  • Officiant: $400

Six months into their marriage, Julia and Mark are closer than ever.

A groom carries his bride on their wedding day.
The couple on their wedding day.Amber Dawn Photography

"That's my best friend," Julia said of her husband. "If I don't want to hang out with anybody, we can sit on the sofa together in silence and still just enjoy each other's company."

"He's always been my best friend," she added.

If you want to share the real cost of your wedding with Business Insider for a story, get in touch at sgrindell@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider