weddings

'I'm a fashion editor. Here's exactly how I styled my wedding on a budget.'

I want to start this post by acknowledging that for many brides, wedding planning is not fun. Well, not all of it.

For those of us who aren't event planners, the process can be stressful, arduous and full of seemingly innocuous decisions that supposedly determine whether or not your wedding will be a success.

But having just tied the knot after some COVID postponements, I can 100 per cent assure you that the day will FINALLY come when the hard work is worth it, you get to marry your person, and you honestly don't think about how it's all going to look in a photo when you're surrounded by love and champagne and eyeing off a robust cheese board.

Images: Supplied/Jasmine Burns. 

And while I didn't enjoy every minute of planning my big day (and that's OK), one thing I really relished in was the styling. As a fashion editor, it was important to me to reflect my personal style in what I wore - but equally important to me (and my future husband) was not blowing our entire budget on a dress. 

Although we weren't stringent about what we spent, and are extremely fortunate to have the means to celebrate with a party, we did want to do things more affordably - because everyone knows a wedding can be a total money pit.

Here's exactly how I pulled my outfit together, including where I saved and strategically splurged to land on a look I absolutely loved. Plus, a few tips for how we styled our wedding without spending a bomb.

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More of a podcast person? Listen to this episode of Mamamia's fashion podcast, What Are You Wearing?, to hear all my tips. Post continues below.

Finding inspo.

Anyone residing in Bride Land right now will know that if you search for anything remotely wedding related on Instagram, you're about to be spammed wedding content. 

Suddenly your Discover feed is full of highly aesthetic ceremonies, designer gowns worth tens of thousands, cakes with more tiers than you have gluten intolerant guests, and reels of fully choreographed first dances.

It can be overwhelming AF and distract you from the task at hand. Worst still, it can lead to a constant state of Wedding FOMO.

That said, as a visual person I still relied heavily on Instagram and the internet to help get a feel for my look - there are obviously countless real weddings to take inspiration from, and I also researched celebrity weddings from the 1960s on Google because I knew I wanted a vintage vibe.

Hot tip: Your Instagram Saved folders will be your saving grace. I started a folder for dresses, one for the event styling and one for beauty and hair to keep my references separate. You can also use Pinterest to pull together inspiration.

A glimpse of my Instagram folder devoted to The Dress. Image: Supplied. 

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And some of my beauty inspo. Image: Supplied. 

The wedding dress.

From day one, I knew I wouldn't go for a traditional bridal dress. Although I love and appreciate a great wedding gown, I could just never see myself wearing one. 

So rather than making the standard appointments at bridal boutiques, my first stop was Sydney's Paddington shopping strip with my mum to check out some of my favourite Australian designers like Camilla and Marc, Aje and Zimmermann. The brief was simply "white dresses".

Some of the dresses I tried on at (from left) Aje, Rachel Gilbert and Zimmermann. Images: Supplied. 

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Although I came close to landing on the Zimmermann frock, something was telling me to try the brand's outlet store a few suburbs over. And my instincts were right: there were several white lace dresses from previous collections, all slashed to more affordable prices. I personally don't see a problem with finding your dress on sale, off the rack, on ASOS or at the op shop. If it feels right, wear it!

When I tried on this dress, I just knew. It was comfortable, beautiful and different. It was also half price. There were a few lovely ladies in the store who complimented me and one who demanded I buy it before she did, so that was a good sign.

The One. Image: Supplied. 

Hot tip: If you're buying ready-to-wear or something pre-loved, head to a dressmaker to get it altered to perfection. I had the collar removed and made the fit tighter, but still roomy enough to feel totally relaxed.

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The dress cost around $600 with alterations.

The second dress.

It's becoming increasingly popular for brides to wear two or even three looks to their wedding. This is not essential (seriously), but it's a nice chance to show off another side of your style, or change into something more sexy/fun you can dance in for the reception.

I knew I wanted a second outfit, and it was just my luck that one of my go-to brands, Dissh, released a modern and affordable bridal collection called 'The Aisle Edit'.

I bought a tiered skirt and a top from one of their previous ranges. Our wedding was held on a rural property in our hometown on the NSW South Coast, and this linen set had the "chill but dressy" vibe I was going for. 

My second outfit, bought online from Dissh. Images: Supplied. 

The total cost was around $420 with alterations.

I didn't have bridesmaids, but did ask my sister to be the maid of honour. I wanted her to choose her own look, and she went with the Clementine pleated dress from White Runway.

The shoes.

I always knew these Loeffler Randall mules would be my wedding shoes, and I honestly built the rest of the look around them. They're a popular choice for brides for a reason, thanks to their comfortable stacked heel and the material of the shoe which flexes to your foot. I didn't buy a second pair for later because I knew they were boogie-friendly. 

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THE shoes, Loeffler Randall's "Penny" heels. Image: Supplied. 

These were a big purchase, coming in at around $500 with a small discount from The Iconic. Yes, they were spendy, but I adore them and will wear them for years to come.

The accessories.

My hairstyle on the day was a low, slicked-back bun, and I didn't opt for a veil, so I wanted a jewelled hair clip to add a little visual interest. This one came in a multi-pack from Lovisa for $20.

My accessories. Images: Supplied/Jasmine Burns. 

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I searched high and low for the perfect statement earrings, and eventually found some chunky brass hoops at Billini for 25 bucks. Didn't expect to find my wedding jewellery at a shoe store, but there you go.

As for my bag, I had precisely no vision for this and questioned whether I would need one on the day. I stumbled across this beaded box bag at a Salvos store and instantly knew it was a Lucy Folk style I'd always coveted. The strap was missing, so I carried it as a clutch - but it sat in a room for most of the night. It cost $15.

The Lucy Folk clutch, scored secondhand. Image: Supplied. 

Hot tip: There's no need to spend big on accessories unless you want to. Affordable fashion blogger Tina Abeysekara from Trash To Treasured told me she found her wedding jewellery at Lovisa too, and her heels at Target.

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The wedding styling.

Our friends kindly allowed us to hold the wedding on their gorgeous property, and it's full of rustic elements that made for photogenic props. The retro car belongs to my husband's brother and he drove us to the ceremony.

The props. Image: Supplied. 

We didn't have a professional wedding planner or event stylist, and relied on the help of my very clever girlfriends to bring the styling together on the day (shoutout to them for this epic grazing table which provided a delicious centrepiece!).

The grazing board. Image: Supplied. 

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We bought things like lace tablecloths, vases and baskets from Salvos, then did a big Kmart shop for candles, disposable cameras and signage - I hand-painted some signs for a personal touch, which took me way too long but felt like an exercise in mindfulness?

Our Salvos haul. I love the kitschy vibes! Image: Supplied.

The rugs we used for our aisle were "reclaimed" - one of them is a hand-me-down from my parents, and I found the carpet we got married on in someone's hard rubbish collection. Honestly, who throws out a perfectly good vintage rug?

A friend and local florist, who recently started her business Botanica Floral Studio, provided the stunning floral arrangements, and my sister made the cake, a glorious lemon and white chocolate naked cake. Our talented friend has his own breadmaking business, The Bread Consultant, and provided some artisanal loaves as our wedding gift!

The florals before being placed, and our delicious home-made cake. Images: Supplied. 

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The one element that was a substantial outlay was the booze, and we turned to the pros for that - local business Henry Clive, which does alcohol service for most of the weddings in the area. We knew we wanted great cocktails, and they delivered with top-notch margs and espresso martinis.

We chose not to have a photographer or videographer - instead my partner's niece, an aspiring photographer with an amazing eye, took some great snaps for us on the day.

It really does take a village, and we're so lucky to have ours!

Final thoughts.

In case it isn't obvious, this wedding was not about being showy. Ultimately, we wanted a celebration that felt like us, and I knew I wanted my outfit to feel like me.

The biggest lesson I learnt is that you can achieve an aesthetic you love without driving yourself crazy or broke in the process.

For more fashion tips from Tamara, you can follow her on Instagram.

Did you DIY any elements of your wedding or a special event? Let me know in the comments below!

Feature image: Supplied.

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