March 10 2010, 4:15 PM
Sara Cotner did something that seems impossible: She put on a summer wedding---on a Saturday night, no less---for $2,000. (And she did it in seven months.) Cotner, an education consultant and schoolteacher, planned her wedding the same way she approaches her lesson plans: by thinking of the outcome first. With her groom, she lined out nine goals for their wedding, including a family-reunion vibe, a pledge to not spend too much money on the affair, and a commitment that all decisions would be made solely by the two of them. Staying under $2,000 meant making some different decisions. Cotner bought her wedding dress for $15 on Target's Web site and spruced it up with some of her own embroidery. She and her fiancé bought more than 60 avocados at Sam's Club and made guacamole (with the help of friends) on their wedding day. They also asked friends and family to donate old gold, which was melted down and made into wedding rings. (Which ended up costing just $109.) Since her wedding, Cotner has been fielding questions from other budgeting brides in need of advice via her Web site (linked above), where you'll find an honest discussion for those of us who are nervously watching the numbers add up. Best of all, unlike many newlyweds, Cotner and her husband get to start their lives without any debt.