Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Cheap Wedding is Possible

I was happily married last May to a boyfriend of 6 1/2 years so to say the least, I had a lot of time to think about what type of wedding I wanted.  I knew I didn't want to spend a lot of money on my wedding b/c by then I had asked around about the amount of money people had spent.  I heard $10,000 and $15,000.  I knew other people that had spent more than that just based on what their wedding looked like.  You can tell a lot from decorations.  Location and flowers can be very expensive.  I'm not the type to spend a lot of money on anything unless I have to and knew there were cheaper ways of having weddings and still have a wonderful time.  My goal was to have a pretty wedding with blue, silver and white as my colors but mainly just to have the best time that we could possibly have.  My wedding was $6000.  I had about 100 people at my wedding and it lasted from 5:30 PM to midnight.  Many people told me that our wedding was the best wedding that they had been to so being cheap does not mean you cannot have a good time.  So here are some tips.

I went with blue and white silk flowers and made my own bouquets.  Real flowers are expensive and not very economically friendly being they usually need to be shipped in from some distant place.  You can also keep these flowers as a momento unlike real ones.  

I bought my bunches of flowers, ripped them apart so that each flower was separated from each bunch, then gathered what flowers I wanted in each bouquet, wrapped wire around each bouquet, and then wrapped and glued white ribbon and silver ribbon on to each.  I used a knife to separate all of the flowers from each other.  If you have someone to help you it will be much easier as well.  You can also buy silk boutonnieres from a craft store. 

Table Numbers
Marth Stewart's wedding website was my friend for a couple of things.  I went to her website, downloaded and printed templates for the tables numbers, and then glued them onto cardboard I had from boxes that the gifts came in.

Card Holder
I took one of the deeper boxes our presents came in, wrapped the box blue and the lid silver, cut a slit in the top so it was big enough for a card to fit in and a printed up a sign that said "Cards."

Center Pieces
One of the most expensive ways you can have a centerpiece is by doing bouquets of real flowers.  I went to the dollar store, bought some shallow bowls for a buck a piece, filled the bowls with water (you can color the water too), and put silver and white floating candles on top of the water.  I also bought fake blue petals and had them scattered on the tables.  I also saw at Micheal's some premade flower pots with fake flowers that were not too expensive.

Wedding Party Favors
I don't really have advice on how to buy these cheap but I did go to Goodwill and find gift bags for a dollar to wrap them in.

I also really wanted something personal for the those participating in the wedding b/c I feel like these are often very generic gifts so I started looking for things when we got engaged.  I bought a variety of gifts.  I knew my one bridesmaid liked turtles so when I went to New Orleans I bought her beads with turtles on them.  She loved them.  My DJ, who was a friend as well, is a volunteer firefighter so I bought him fireman beads.  I also bought him a cigarette lighter with his initials which is more of your typical wedding gift.  It's all of a matter of taste but don't restrict yourself to the typical wedding gift.

Guest Favors
These, of course, can also be expensive.  My goal for these was to have something that was not expensive, something that was not going to get thrown away afterward, and to have something that showed my appreciation for the guests.  For my wedding I had a variety of candy in blue, white, and silver.  I bought most of my candy from Candywarehouse with the exception of chocolate. 
I did not buy the chocolate from there b/c they would have had to ship it overnight thus being more expensive.  I just bought chocolate from Wal-Mart.  All of the candy was quite yummy and I had tons leftover.  You can get candy that has wrappers with your name on it or M&Ms with your name on it but I thought the price was not worth it.  Instead I decided to buy blue and white bags with blue and white ribbon with silver stamps on them that said Thank You.  

I also bought glass containers from Salvation Army, Goodwill, and the dollar store to hold some of the candy and I went to Martha Stewert's website and found a way to hold my suckers.

The one thing I kept in mind when I was looking for these was that 99% of them were going to get thrown away no matter how pretty they were.  I also knew the more color, usually the more expensive so I stuck with white invitations and black ink.  I found my invitations at Michael's on clearance and I got them printed at Wal-Mart for pretty darn cheap.  All I needed to do was write up what I wanted on the invitations and emailed it to them.  I also had a wedding website with more information (i.e. driving directions, things to do) which cut down on printing as well. 

Garter-I had two garters, one to keep and one to throw.  I made my own garter by crocheting it white, running silver ribbon and elastic through it, and putting blue beads on it.  My other garter was one I bought from Michael's.  I know everyone can't make their own garter but if you know someone that can it will mean more to you and save you money.  Mine had my colors and it had three charms on it that meant a lot to me.

Veil-Veils are a cheap piece of material so I find it ridiculous that wedding stores charge you at least $100 for them.  When I was trying on my dress they put one on me, I liked it, I asked how much and I said, "No thank you."  I made my own.  You can go to a craft store like Micheal's or JoAnne's and buy one and dazzle it up as you like for much cheaper.  I bought the veil, glued it on to the comb and beaded my veil with blue and white beads so it matched everything else all for no more than $10.  

Flower Basket-Again, I made my own.  I shopped around a bit until I found a small basket that would be easy to reach into to get petals.  I bought some white fabric and blue fabric and silver ribbon.  I put both fabrics inside the basket, estimated on how much I needed, took the fabric out, sewed them together, cut the fabric so there wasn't too much excess hanging over the basket, put the sewed fabric back into the basket, and wrapped the fabric around the top of the basket so you can see some of the fabric from the outside too.  I wrapped the silver ribbon around the basket and glued and sewed it so it would stay in place.  

Ring Bearer Pillow-I took the same fabric from the basket and sewed a pillow up.  I bought some fake rings from a craft store and sewed those on as well with a silver and blue ribbon around them.

Sand Ceremony Glasses-For some reason when you say you want a set of glasses for a certain type of ceremony, the price doubles.  Our main glass the sand was going into was actually a memorial glass and the tubed glass with the sand in it I bought for cheap at some local store. 

This is not so easy but I'll try to give you some advice.  If you are going to have your wedding at a place that only allows their food, it will likely be more expensive.  If you can get someone from the outside to cater, it will likely be cheaper.  Obviously, if you have a full-on meal with waiters coming to your table, it will be more expensive than a buffet.  If you use plasticware it will be cheaper.  I went with a buffet style.  We also had some appetizers but only enough for the guests to have one each b/c the dinner was to follow shortly afterward.  I only had the appetizers to give them something to do while we took pictures outside.

As for dessert, there really is no way to make it cheaper as far as I know.  We had a small cheese cake for the two of us and a variety of cupcakes and mini cheesecakes for everyone else.  It really wasn't cheaper than having two or three cakes for everyone.  Part of the reason we didn't go with cake for everyone is for the fact that a lot of people don't like cake.  I myself don't even like regular cake. 

At first, I wanted open bar and then I found out the prices.  We decided to have a $100 tab for the wedding party, one keg for everyone, free soft drinks for everyone and paid alcohol for everyone else.  Remember, if people need to drive, having open bar may not be the best option.

For our toasting flutes, I bought personalized plastic ones.  I could have gone cheaper with non-personalized ones or more expensive with glass so I went with the middle ground.  I wasn't too sure of the plastic but then I realized that no one but us would realize if they were plastic.  I've never been to a wedding where I noticed what type of toasting flutes the bride and groom had.

We did not hire a DJ unless you count our friend that set up the sound and pressed play for us for free.  My hubby and I took at least a couple of hours going through the music that we had in order to have fun after the wedding.  It was not easy b/c I have tons of music I like but I do not have tons of music that other people necessarily like or want to hear while they are partying.  For example, I like Evanescence, Hoobastank, and Three Doors Down.  Most of their music is not exactly the type of music you start dancing to at a party.  Every time I came across a song that I liked I had to ask myself if other people would like to start dancing to it or to start singing to it.  For example, any music by Justin Timberlake or Timbaland is probably pretty good to dance to.  The song, American Pie, by Don McLean is not a song you dance to but it is a song everyone likes to sing.  Yes, it is your wedding, but you don't want to bore the guests to death b/c then they'll start leaving early and that will make you unhappy.

I was lucky to have two family friends do all of my photos and at the end they put all of the pictures on a disc.  We do have to print them but it will still be cheaper than a professional doing it.  Anyway, at a wedding, there are so many people taking photos, you are bound to get some really good ones through them too.  A photographer is good for getting those shots that other people are unable to b/c they are sitting down in a place far from where the couple is.

My friends and family decorated.  I just needed to give them the decorations.  I was soooo happy with the results.

Wedding Coordinator
I did most of my planning which was not hard.  I just needed someone for the day of the wedding to make sure everything ran smoothly.  My friend who was trying to start her own business as a wedding coordinator did it for free as long as I gave her a testimonial.  Score!

I think this covers everything I saved money on.  So much went into the wedding I'm bound to forget something.  Remember you are not the only one trying to save money.  I told my bridesmaids that they could have any dress as long as it was the right shade of blue.  I told my ushers they could just wear their own black suits, they didn't need to rent them.  I even told my husband that he and his groomsmen could wear black suits and I wouldn't have cared.  I just wanted to be married to him and then have a wonderful celebration afterward with our friends and family.  Lastly, your friends and family can be a really good asset.  I know mine helped save me tons of money so I made sure they knew they were being appreciated.  Good luck!

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