Ashley Furrow jokes that she called in a bunch of favors to get the wedding job done, and to an extent, it’s true. From a pal who played the double-duty role as wedding photographer and bouquet maker to a nearby farmer friend who sold hay bales on the cheap for seating at the wedding ceremony in the woods, Ashley and her husband Mark’s August 2011 wedding was a community effort.
Starting with the wedding website by Mark and the invitations by Ashley, the couple took it upon themselves to not only mastermind but also execute most of the wedding prep. Ashley gives inspiration credit where it’s due—largely Urban Outfitter’s wedding site BHLDN as well as a handful of wedding blogs—and explains how, beginning in April 2011, the couple spent every other weekend at Mark’s mom’s house outside of Kalamazoo where they got married.
“We wanted to incorporate the land itself,” Ashley says. “It used to be a horse farm, and it’s still pretty rural compared to where we live in Chicago. We wanted to capitalize on that.”
The place required a fair amount of “patching up” for hosting a wedding—namely replanting and repainting—but the makings of the perfect rustic look were all there: the barn house, the wishing well, even the multicolored Adirondack chairs by the pool.
The couple set their wedding budget at $5,000 and went to town. They sourced items normally costing at least $1,000 for far less: Ashley found a vintage-y Vera Wang on Recycled Bride for $500 and had it altered to a perfect fit with local alterations company Stitch of Bliss for $200. She asked friends and relatives to pitch in on dessert; Mark’s cousin played square-dance caller for the entertainment; and they saved on linens and table rentals by using picnic blankets and hay bales. The one aspect where they were willing to splurge: catering. “If we were going to buy that much food, I wanted to make sure they were happy chickens sourced locally.”
Was it worth it? “It was nice to do this as a couple,” Ashley says. “It was a really fun labor-of-love project to do together.”