Jennifer Joubert-Smith doesn’t need a big, lavish wedding.
She picked up her ring pillow at the dollar store, paid $50 for her dress and shops at A.C. Moore for candles and other incidentals.
Joubert-Smith and her fiancé, Wesley Bergerson Jr., are planning a July 1 wedding at Yaddo with 25 guests.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to get married at Yaddo,” the Saratoga Springs native said.
And she’s doing it for $500 or less, including hiring a photographer who agreed to do it for $50 when she told him it’s for a challenge sponsored by the Lifetime cable TV channel.
Joubert-Smith, 25, is one of four finalists for the “Clean Start Challenge,” in which contestants set some sort of personal goal that they hoped to meet during the show; the winner will get $10,000. Goals set by other contestants include losing weight or quitting smoking.
“I’m really excited because I never really won anything,” Joubert-Smith said.
People can vote for contestants online at www.mylifetime.com, but Joubert-Smith said Lifetime makes the final decision about who wins.
Short videos about the contestants and their progress are available on the Web site. Joubert-Smith said she didn’t know whether the snippets will be shown on the cable TV channel.
The stay-at-home mom lives in Jefferson Terrace with Bergerson, also 25, and their 11-month-old daughter, Jocelyn.
The couple doesn’t have much.
“We don’t really get to spend much money on ourselves because we’re mostly spending it on our daughter, making sure she has everything first,” she said in one of the Web videos.
Joubert-Smith’s car is on its last leg, and if she wins the $10,000, she may use it to buy another one.
“It’s like a Cinderella story because they live in the terraces,” said Kristine Bellino of Brindisi’s Restaurant, where the couple is holding their wedding reception.
Jefferson Terrace is one of four housing projects in the city administered by the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority that provide housing for low- and moderate-income families.
The reception will go over the couple’s $500 budget. That may weigh against the couple when it comes to the final tally, but it shouldn’t disqualify them from participating in the contest, she said
Joubert-Smith impressed Bellino when she went to Brindisi’s to make arrangements for the reception.
“She was a very good negotiator,” Bellino said.
Bellino didn’t know about the Lifetime challenge then.
“We’re ecstatic over here,” said owner Andrew Brindisi. “We’re so pumped up about it.”
The contestants had to complete several smaller challenges in addition to working toward the big one.
Joubert-Smith organized a March of Dimes fundraiser, held a yard sale to get rid of clutter and old baby clothes and built a compost bin.
On Tuesday, she hosted a dinner at Brindisi’s in honor of the mothers in their family.
Joubert-Smith didn’t think she would be able to become a mother herself.
Because of a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome, she was told when she was 18 that she wouldn’t be able to bear children. She was prescribed birth control pills, but she experienced pain and they didn’t really help with it, so she stopped taking them.
She hopes someday to be a psychotherapist, possibly helping military veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s just sad that that happens and they really need this help,” she said.
Bergerson was in the Marines, served a tour in Iraq shortly before the two met two years ago and plans to go back into the service soon after taking a break.
He is a West Sand Lake native.
The couple got legally married in a courthouse ceremony in March; otherwise, the military would have required them to have a custody agreement before Bergerson could serve in the Marines again.
“We don’t consider that a real wedding; it was just paperwork to us,” Joubert-Smith said.
They will celebrate July 1 as their real anniversary, she said.