Snapshot: Why this single mom’s $300 wedding inspires me

by singlemomseeking on May 27, 2010

If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far about planning a wedding, it’s the fact that this is one mega, money-making industry. Oh, but many you knew that already, didn’t you? Quite a few of you suggested earlier that I should split town or keep it very small when I get married. (Now I know why.)

So, when I heard that Heather at Desperately Seeking Sanity — whom I got to meet in person at BlogHer 2008 in San Francisco! — had her dream wedding for less than $300, I wanted to know how this single mama did it. (And yes, this included “a wedding and reception for over 100 people, her dress, rings, cake, and everything else…”)

But before we get to the wedding, let’s back up:

Back in 2008, Heather had decided to cancel her online dating account. This single mom was done with “uneducated men who still lived at home with mom.” Yet, when she logged in to cancel her membership, there was an email in her box. She says she read it just for fun, “to see what whack job currently was interested in me.”

This guy called himself “Not a Bad Saint.” He said that he was the divorced dad of two kids, a son and a daughter (so was she!) who were “the center of my world. I am a service mechanic and and a do it yourselfer so dirty hands are normal. Would like to hear from you sometime.”

“I don’t even know why I responded,” Heather says now. “He wasn’t original, funny, or anything else that I was looking for in an initial contact. His profile was bare bones and not appealing.”  (Heather later found out that he’d emailed her via his cell phone.)

They began to email, and four days later, “we talked on the phone for the first time. I hung up on him twice while trying to get my cat off the roof.”

And get this: they realized that they lived around the corner from each other and “our kids went to the same school.  And that night, I had to take my oldest to football practice and he said he was going for a run. No more was said about location, but as I was walking the track, I realized that the man running toward me was him.  So the first time that we met in person? I was totally in big, baggy sweats, my hair pulled up, no make up and sweaty.  But I guess I made a great first impression.”

Apparently, on their first date — off the track — she told him that she was waiting for a knight in shining armor “to take me away on a white horse.” So, when they got married on May 16th, here’s how he showed up to the wedding (a surprise she didn’t know about!):

knight on a horse

Yes, that’s her man, on his sister’s horse, on which he leaned down and “told me that he may be rusty but he’d always be my knight.”

They were married at her church with their four kids, whom she describes as “perfect stair steps because they are all two and a half years apart.” (When I asked how they all get along, Heather said: “Well, to be honest, they act like brothers and sisters.  One minute they are ready to kill one another, and the next they are plotting against us. “)

Heather found her dress on eBay for $30. Their rings came from Wal-Mart. “It’s just a ring,” says Heather. “I’m fine with the plain jane silver band… because I’m a little on the plane jane side.”

The bouquets and center pieces were made from flowers from the Dollar Store. Their reception was a potluck. Every guest brought a covered dish and its recipe. Then, her church “took all of the recipes and make us a cookbook.” And they made their own cake!

And here’s the best part: It was THEIR day, and everyone had a ball! All six of them — husband, wife, and their four kids — boogied their way out of church to their recession song, “We Are Family.”


Now you see what I mean about Heather?

I’d love to know: Are any of you dating online? (And ready to give up? C’mon now!)

And if any of you have more wedding budget planning tips, I’m listening!

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

michele October 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

That is how i met my fiance. I went online yo delete my profile and i had a message from him. His profile was bare minimum and mine was filled out to the “T”. Short story is after i responded we talked online for a week. It took him another week to call me and another week to hang out. Our first date he was my biggest support at the karaoke contest i was in at a gay bar and since that first date the most we have been apart in 2 years is a week and thats not consecutive. That one day here, one day there. It took him 3 dates to kiss me and he is the best man i have ever met. I almost didnt go out with him because i was kind of friends with benefits with someone, but it was fizzing out. My sister convinced me to and im so glad i finally listened to her. I am marrying my best friend.


mommyintears October 1, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I am planning a wedding to my hunny of four years. we have three children together and sadly are working on only about a one thousand dollar budget. i am so affraid that i will have the worste wedding ever.


singlemomseeking October 1, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Really, it’s not money that makes a wedding…. it’s lots of love, planning, support from family and friends, cooperation. You can do it!! The most expensive elements are: venue and food. See if a family/friend can host in their home. Re: food — a potluck! Google “weddings under $1,000” and you’ll get lots of tips. Best to you!!


Nappy Kitchen June 19, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Great post, ame i! It just goes to show you that relationships are so personal and unique.


Melanie June 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Woo for inexpensive weddings, and I LOVE the knight on horseback surprise.

I’m thankfully no longer seeking romance online, but that’s where I finally found it. I found a wonderful man, who is sweet and caring, who loves his daughter and isn’t afraid to show it by skipping hand-in-hand and pretending to be her Prince Eric, who is intelligent and funny and makes me smile and feel all warm and cherished. We met on Plenty of Fish.

Prior to him? Let’s see. There was the guy who had just proposed to his live-in girlfriend. There was the guy who, just days after a discussion about why I don’t do pot and never will, brought some over and tried to convince me to smoke it (with my son asleep in the next room). There was the 45 year old who lied about his age (said he was 37 I think it was), and when caught, justified it by saying, “Women wear make-up, why can’t I tell a girl I’m younger than I am so she’ll be interested in me?”
.-= Melanie´s last blog ..Short and Sweet =-.


meinbabyundich June 15, 2010 at 2:50 am

Ewokmama – “Only one of them responded positively and I wasn’t even sure if we’d be a good match because he wasn’t looking for someone with a kid. We talked a lot, though, and when we met in person we just *knew* (although it took time for both of us to actually believe it). Don’t get discouraged – going through all the crap to find the right person is worth it.”

That’s like my story – it’s exactly what happened to us as well! We know we want to marry each other, too, just unsure about where and when and how. Let’s see. First we have to finish the process of him moving in with us, which is already tough enough. And he wants more kids! I’m really gonna have to make compromises here. My little girl (2.5) can easily give two adults the feeling of exhaustion every day with her strong will. No idea why he would want more of that, despite that experience, really… well, maybe I do have a slight idea. It’s just that the first childbirth nearly killed me, and that’s not exaggerating. Hope I would survive a next one and, after that, survive being a mom of two, even if not a single one then. Well, it sure is a challenge! But I guess, so is starting a new family. I wouldn’t know as I already got turned into a single woman when I was pregnant. Lots of luck to all of you lovely ladies from a transitional mom in Germany!

P.S. Of course I love my daughter more than my own life. 😉 Being in second place is tough for the new significant other, too, right…


Swati Bharteey June 4, 2010 at 7:56 am

Oh my goodness – this just made me tear up – it was SO sweet! Who cares about stuff when you have love? Seriously.

My best to the “Family” of 6!

.-= Swati Bharteey´s last blog ..When Single Parents Go On Vacation…Without Kids =-.


Naturally Single Mom June 3, 2010 at 5:47 pm

I’ve tried all of the freebies , and use eharmony on free communication weekend. I’m more frustrated with 99% of the profiles, and the couple of guys I’ve gone out on dates with, well, meh. 😉

None of my online dates have made it past the first date yet. At least 9/10 of them don’t make it to the first date. (And, of that, 9/10 of THOSE don’t even get a reply from me. Is it really that hard to send a message with punctuation, capital letters, and the word “you” spelled out in three letters instead of just one? Really?)

I’m starting to become convinced that I moved to the wrong area of the country to find my “prince”.
.-= Naturally Single Mom´s last blog ..Hell On Earth Story Hour – Guardian ad Litem =-.


Woman with Kids June 2, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I’m on a dating site, but I’ve come to realize I’m only on it so I have amusing stories to tell all my married friends. More than happy to close my account if that’s what it takes for someone sane to show up…
.-= Woman with Kids´s last blog ..How to have a great day at work!* =-.


Kristin June 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I think this is a beautiful example of knowing what one wants and then letting it be known leading to GETTING what is wanted.

If she hadn’t told him specifics about her knight desires and so forth it wouldn’t have happened I bet! I’m going to take this as a reason to really pin down what I’m seeking in life and to talk about it to everyone I meet…



Tiia Jones June 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Great story and very inspiring for all of us single moms. Thanks for sharing it. I’ve been on 279 Internet first dates so I consider myself something of a pro, but I’ve learned from each one. I’m not the same mom I was when I started, that’s for sure! I’m a whole lot better!


Lovebabz June 2, 2010 at 9:59 am

LOVE LOVE LOVE this story of love! I am so intuned with this! This is what its about, celebrating with family and friends. Being wished well and blessed with love all around. I have closed my online dating accounts. and thinking seriously about ringing ye olde wedding bells in the future 🙂
Plan & have the day that enhances your beliefs, that showcases your loveship and doesn’t stress you the hell out!


Katherine SOLO dot MOM June 2, 2010 at 5:53 am

What a wonderful love story. I’m proud to say I knew Heather before she met her knight and I have been amazed at how God has worked in unfolding this story, watching it every step of the way. It gives all us single moms a little hope… one day… our prince.. well you know. 😉
.-= Katherine SOLO dot MOM´s last blog ..She is her mother’s daughter =-.


Michele June 1, 2010 at 10:48 am

This is a great story. I think Heather is definitely the exception and not the rule. I put up a profile 5 days ago and I’m ready to take it down. I’m only giving this on-line thing three months.
.-= Michele´s last blog ..Surf Rider (Chesapeake) =-.


ame i. May 31, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Beyond great!
I’d been widowed for almost a year when I decided to try the online dating.
First, I met Mr. Hey Do You Want to Get High? He pulled out a piece of tin foil , I peeled out of the restaurant parking lot.
Second, I met Mr. Nice Guy who later informed me that he would never, NEVER!! get married again.
I then read a profile that made me laugh, made me think. We chatted for months, finally talked on the phone the day before Thanksgiving.
The day after Tgiving I picked him up from his parents’ house (his dad had his car keys for some reason) and we had dinner. The next day I met him and his parents (weird, I know) for hot wings and a movie.
He had told me he wouldn’t be back in my town (he lived 90 minutes away) until Christmas so I made up this fib about me coming to his city to Christmas shop, told him he was welcome to visit me at the hotel. He said I shouldn’t bother staying in a hotel and was welcome to stay with him.
I did stay with him. I went back for New Year since my kids were with my parents.
We married almost 3 years later and will celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary in October.
Several people told me that he would never commit to me. 44 year old, never-married-no-kids-men don’t commit to a widow with two young daughters.
Maybe some don’t, but my husband did.


Heather May 31, 2010 at 6:37 pm

The best food I have ever had at wedding where the ones that were POT LUCK. People go all out for wedding when it is pot luck!


D is for Me May 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

My first wedding was at a bar overlooking a lake…problem was none of us were old enough to drink at said bar.

If we ever do decide to get married, Honey and I will make it small for sure. Our biggest decision, do we even bother to tell anyone but the kids! I’d like it to be sweet and romantic, but I’m not sure how I picture the whole thing panning out. This was a wonderful example of a super-sweet wedding without all the fuss.
.-= D is for Me´s last blog ..More Vodka, please… =-.


Brenda May 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Does this absolutely wonderful ending work if I just fake like I am quitting my online dating accounts and then see which men surface? I am dating online and just having to laugh about the “unusual” men I am meeting including the one who failed to show on our second date because he was having a “personal crisis” – so much so that his online profile was gone from in the am!

I recently read a book entitled “He’s Not Your Type (and that’s a good thing!” and I’ve been more than willing to date outside my usual “type”……….but so far, the MAN has not come forth!

Still this gives me great hope – thank you!


heather May 31, 2010 at 1:41 pm


The guy I met on match prior to my hubs? A sex offender. Yes. You read that right. He came right after the married guy. Who came right after the alcoholic. When it comes to men, I have stories. And one of these days I’m going to write a book about it. Hang in there. Trust me. Marriage? Last thing I ever thought would happen to me.


Ewokmama June 2, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I honestly went through every single eligible guy on match that met my criteria and found TWO that I even considered worth winking at. And yeah, neither was my normal type. Only one of them responded positively and I wasn’t even sure if we’d be a good match because he wasn’t looking for someone with a kid. We talked a lot, though, and when we met in person we just *knew* (although it took time for both of us to actually believe it). Don’t get discouraged – going through all the crap to find the right person is worth it.
.-= Ewokmama´s last blog ..Maternal Instinct =-.


Crystal Monae May 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Great story! I’m not currently dating but I just had to comment on how beautiful this is. Many blessings upon their new marriage. What an awesome beginning!
.-= Crystal Monae´s last blog ..The Hookup =-.


Anna May 28, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Love this story.

Was online for about a year before I gave up. I know it works for some, but wasn’t for me. Then, a friend of my parents turned out to be The Man. You just never know.


kriz bell May 27, 2010 at 10:59 pm

just remember what it’s all about. While my own short lived love union was performed by a judge in New Orleans I have been the support for 3 friends whom I married (yes kriz bell is also the irreverent Reverend) and the one thing everybody treasured most is their photos- you may or may not remember details from the day but the pictures will say everything forever after. Let me know if you need a good referral – Katherine Bettis – I met doing a single mom photo journalism project is wonderful.


Heather {Desperately Seeking Sanity} May 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm What a great story! Even if it is about me. It’s different to read when you didn’t do the writing! You did a great job tying everything together. Off to promote! 🙂

(And I feel like I must say, we didn’t do the invitation thing… remember.. this WHOLE wedding was thrown together — thanks to the ladies at my church — in three weeks! It was an open invitation done mostly by phone and facebook… they did this for us because they said I might regret not having a wedding later… and they were right… I’m so glad i did it!)
.-= Heather {Desperately Seeking Sanity}´s last blog ..My Goodness… I AM My Mother’s Daughter =-.


Ewokmama May 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I met my fiance on I didn’t think I’d meet my soul mate there! I thought I was just going to go on a few fun dates. He turned out to be the man of my dreams.

We are getting married in September and trying to do something fairly casual and low budget. I bought my dress on sale at the Jessica McClintock outlet in SF for $93. I got my invitations custom made but inexpensively from – etsy is the BEST for wedding stuff that won’t break the bank. My engagement ring was less than $500 and came from the SF Diamond Exchange, and my wedding band is being shipped from a jewelry store in Florida that has antique-style jewelry for wholesale prices. I found a cake maker via yelp who is just starting her business so her prices are about half of what others in this charge area. Oh! And I just got my shoes from on sale for $30.

We are gathering on the beach for a quick ceremony and then having a BBQ reception in our backyard…it will be low stress and about sharing this special time with our friends and family. This is perfect as far as I am concerned – I barely remember anything from my first wedding because I was so stressed!


Single Mom Seeking May 28, 2010 at 7:33 am

OOOH, @Ewokmama, thank you for the great linkies! I’m gonna check them out. I love Etsy, too! You and I have more than a couple things in common…
.-= Single Mom Seeking´s last blog ..Why this single mom’s $300 wedding inspires me =-.


Ewokmama June 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Let me know if you’d like the name of the cake maker. She is truly awesome, uses organic ingredients as much as possible, etc. She did an SF wedding on a budget herself, so she totally understands where her customers are coming from!
.-= Ewokmama´s last blog ..Maternal Instinct =-.

Elita @ Blacktating June 2, 2010 at 7:51 am

Do you mind sharing the name of the jewelry store in Florida? Thanks!


Ewokmama June 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm

The Florida jewelry store is Dacarli:

I found t hem because I needed a notched wedding band to fit with my engagement ring. Howard there answered a billion questions from me and gave me all the measurements for the notch on the ring. They don’t show the bands from sets separately, but you can email them to find out the prices. I’m very impressed with their customer service and they have beautiful jewelry!
.-= Ewokmama´s last blog ..Maternal Instinct =-.

T May 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm

That is FAN-freakin-TASTIC!!

I love this story! That was definitely a meant to be, wasn’t it?

You’re thinking outside the box, Rachel. I love it.
.-= T´s last blog ..Going the distance =-.


Jenni May 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm

What a great story! And what a romantic groom, showing up on the white horse. That is the kind of love story I dream about. =)
.-= Jenni´s last blog ..It’s In The Genes =-.


singlemomseeking June 4, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Oh yeah, I’d love to get the name of the local cake maker! Thanks @ewokmama!


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