YOUR DREAM WEDDING
The Do It Yourself Bride And
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to get startet: Take Control 4
The Invitations: Whom to invite 10
The Dress of Your Dreams 14
Make your own veil 17
What to Wear - For Him 18
What to Wear – Part 2 (Attendant Attire) 19
A Rose is a Rose - Wedding Flowers 20
Making Your Own Ceremony Flowers 23
Make Your Own Pew Bows 30
Music at the Ceremony 29
Smile Please: The Photos 33
Decorating the Reception 36
Make your own centerpiece 37
Wedding Favors 40
The Hungry Crowd: Feed Your Guests 44
The Big Moment: Cutting the Cake 53
Wedding Mint Recipe 50
Let the Party begin: The Music 55
Hair and Make Up 58
Wedding Rings 58
Attendant Gifts 60
The Honeymoon 62
He proposed and gave you the most wonderful ring.
Now you start thinking of the wedding and all of a sudden
things get complicated. You are not Paris Hilton but you still
want the wedding of your dreams. Is there a solution to this
Many brides have been dreaming about their wedding
day since childhood. These dreams come with an expensive
price tag, statistics say the average wedding costs $28,000
(2008). But although you might not have that kind of a
budget, you still can have the wedding of your dreams.
There are many possibilities to cut costs without having
to resign to your dreams. Just start planning well ahead and
follow the tips in this book. It will also provide you with
ressources and directions for wedding bargains, to give you
ideas where to look for inexpenisve wedding dresses,
invitations and wedding favor.
Costs can add up quickly. Factor in the meal, the
liquor, the music, the dress, the flowers, the photographer,
the decorations and the dream wedding can seem way out
of your league. But it doesn’t have to be.
Don´t spend your life savings on your big day. You can
have an elegant, beautiful wedding without breaking the
Let me show you how to throw a dream wedding on a
How to get startet: Take Control
When you set out to planning your wedding you might
be overwhelmed by the all the things you have think about.
But with a little step-by-step planning you can take a lot of
stress out of the process.
We’ll provide you with a wedding planner at the end of
this book for you to keep with you as you plan your dream
wedding. Planning is essential, so our checklist could be
your best friend! You may want to invest in a cheap folder
to keep all of your notes in order. Print out the checklists at
the end of this book and keep them in that folder along with
any receipts and/or quotes that you get!
Skip the Wedding Planer
Do you really need a wedding planer? It sure was fun
to watch the famous Frankh how he was driving crazy Steve
Martin as the father of the bride. But if you won’t be able to
afford live swans for the decoration of your garden anyway
(or don’t want them!), why don’t you save yourself a few
hundred dollars and invest them in something that really will
make your wedding unforgettable?
With the help of this book you will be perfectly able to do the
planning on your own! Chances are that you have been
fantasizing for years about your wedding,
Who will pay?
You need to decide who will pay for the wedding. The
typical wedding planner dictates that the bride’s parents pay
for the wedding. In reality, these days that isn’t always the
With the economy getting tighter on the day every
couple looks for a solution that will work for them, and
sometimes the parents of the bride are just not in a position
to fork out that kind of money. And if you can believe a
recent poll, around 30 out of every 100 couples contribute to
their own wedding. So find out who will be able to pay how
much and find an agreement. You can also ask your
respective parents if they are willing to pay for part of the
wedding, the meal for example, rather than asking them for
a specific sum.
Foto: Stockx.chng: therysma
Now that you know more or less what you will be able
to spend, ask yourself what are the five most important
things about your wedding? The list could include
– The Dress,
– a life band at the reception,
– beautiful wedding pictures and
– a huge guest list.
So you if you decide that you absolutely want a life
band for the party you might have to cut down on the food
and the decoration. But being on a budget doesn’t mean
that you can’t have it all, you just have to be creative!
Go to your bank and open a wedding account. Decide
between the two of you how much from your salary you and
your husband to be are going to stash away easch month.
You will be surprised how much you can save over the
period of a year or what ever time you plan to be engaged!
When deciding what kind of wedding you want to have,
keep these numbers in mind: for a formal wedding you’ll
have to pay about 100 dollars per person, for an informal
wedding it might be half that amount.
Here are some general rules that apply for the whole
- be willing to compromise. You would just love
to have these gorgeous white orchids for your
table decoration? Go for the equally beautiful
white roses that will cost you only a fraction and
create a similar impression
- go for quality not quantity: sometimes less is
more. Rather than going overboard with quantity
go for higher quality. That applies to flowers and
decoration, but also to the food. Choose a higher
quality three course meal over a lower quality
five courses. Get a good photographer for a
limited time, instead of a bad one all day.
- Ask for discounts: most businesses won’t offer
you a discount, but if you ask they will happily
oblige. Always be respectful. Know the average
prices for the service you are looking for and
don’t go too low, you will insult people.
- Go with the season: keep in mind the season
at all stages of the planning process. Choose
flowers that are in season (and therefore
cheaper) and try to set the date out of season
(that way you will be able to get discounts more
- Ask for help: most people will feel honored if
you ask them if they can help you with a special
talent and do your hair for example instead of
bringing a wedding gift. The help of friends and
family can make the difference between just
another wedding or the wedding of your dreams.
If you don’t have to shell out money for a
professional photographer, you will be able to
get the wedding cake of your dreams – and so
- Be yourself: don’t plan the wedding everybody
else think you should have – plan YOUR
wedding. Don’t compare your reception to the
ones you attended as a guest. If you like the
local park better then the Hyatt Regency – all
the better for you!
Always keep in mind, that it is your wedding. There are
hundreds of so called experts out there who will tell you,
what to do and what to avoid for the sake of wedding
etiquette. I bet there are plenty of people out there who will
not be too thrilled at facing to have to go to the fourth
wedding this season that involves a lengthly sit down dinner,
lots of more or less interesting speeches and some dancing.
You either go through these ultra formal weddings with the
routine of a seasoned wedding guest, or you are worrying
the whole time if you will do the right thing at the right time.
So why don’t you do your guests a favour and loosen
up the rules just a little?
Setting the date
So when is the big day going to be? Pay extra attention
to the date when you are on a tight budget. Avoid the
traditional dates such as Saturdays in spring! Although they
might seem the perfect moment for your perfect wedding,
they also come with a extra price tag. Bad (equals
expensive) dates are also around Christmas and Valentines
day and “pretty” dates like the 8th of August 2008. There is
usually a run on all wedding facilities and prices shoot up.
If you plan your wedding on an off-day, like Friday or
Sunday or even during the week, you might be able to get
discounts at reception halls, restaurants and caterers. Be
sure to ask for them, though!
What time of the day is best? The hour of the wedding
determines to some degree what kind of reception you will
If you plan an early afternoon wedding you can have a
tea and cake reception, or you provide some light
fingerfood. You also could plan a cake and punch reception
at this time of the day.
So it’s essential to give the right timing some thinking,
as it can save you a lot of money.
Reception Hall or Backyard?
Decide early on where you want the reception to take
place. If you you like to rent a traditional reception hall, be
sure to get it booked as soon as you know the date as they
tend to fill up fast, especially around popular wedding dates.
If you have chosen a date that is kind of out of season, be
sure to ask for a discount, as the owner won’t necessarily
offer it to you.
But there are other possibilities that might be cheaper.
If you or someone in your family is the member of a
benevolent association (The Elks, The Moose, The
American Legion), consider these as viable options. They
often give discounts to members and you will probably have
access to a huge area for your wedding reception as
opposed to Aunt Emily’s backyard. Just remember to book
Does the church were you will get married have a
parish hall? You might be able to rent it for little money.
You could also check if there are local entities that have
rooms that might be suitable for a wedding reception. Think
about the fire department, sport clubs, community centers…
Another option are public parks. Check with the
mayors office how are the rules in your city. Depending of
the time of the year a park can be wonderful and unique
setting for a wedding reception. There is one drawback
though, you will have to think of a backup in case of bad
Foto: Stockx.chng: bificus
Do you live close to the coast? If you are getting
married during the good weather season you might think of
having a beach party as a reception. It doesn’t necessarily
have to be a fancy affair with lots of white tents, just plan a
laid back buffet style celebration. Think about providing
chairs for older guests though!
If you or somebody from your family or friends own a
big house or a nice yard they might be suitable places for
Now that you know the date and the place you can
start thinking about the invitations
To invite or not to invite
Ideally, invitations should be mailed out 6-8 weeks
before the big day to give guests time to make
arrangements to attend and RSVP back to you.
It is time to sit down and make a list! Putting together
the guest list is a really tacky part of planning a wedding
and one that will have great impact on the amount of money
you have to spend. Write down all the people that you
absolutely will want to invite to your wedding and ask your
spouse to do the same. This list probably will include family
and close friends.
If you are planning a wedding on a budget, don’t invite
your lab partner from junior high school whom you haven´t
talked to in seven years, even if you had a great time back
then. The same applies for distant co-workers, the ladies
from you pottery class and the softball team of your future
husband. Just try to find out who really is important to you
and invite them. Don’t invite anybody because your parents
or your grandmother tell you to.
Often, people get sick of attending weddings of people
they barely know. Unless you talk to them every day,
chances are pretty good that they won’t give it a second
thought when your invitation doesn’t arrive. Remember,
you’re trying to save some money on your big day. Extra
people means extra expense – cut corners here.
Now you can start think¡ng about your invitations.
Wedding invitations shouldn’t be a big expense for you.
Yes, when it’s delivered all pretty in its customized envelope
and small tissue square inside, it can make an impression –
for about a minute! Most people read it once, note the date,
take out the RSVP card and throw the invite away. So why
spend a lot on them? Remember, we’re trying to save
The easiest way to save money on your wedding
inviations is to create them yourself on your computer. If
you don´t have Word for Windows, download the free but
excellent Open Office Package from the Internet, that will do
the same and more things than its Microsoft competitor for
You will find a variety of inexpensive programs that are
especially designed to create invitations of all kinds. Later on
you will be able to make your kids birthday invitations with
them, so it’s something you will be able to use for years.
Here are some helpful books and programs!
www.wedding-invitation-ideas.com: If you want to do your
invitations yourself, this site provides inspiration and free
Celebration Plus: UK-based shop for favors and other
www.do-it-yourself-invitations.com: great site with ideas
Kooky Kards: all kinds of blank cards plus other card-making
www.getpaint.net: basic but very useful graphics program
This page contains an array of suppliers of ready-made
inviations and arts and crafts material. Amazon also sells
If you like the design you created, print it out once on
plain white paper. Then find heavy card stock in the color
you like in an office supply store. Take the whole lot to a
copy shop, where there have special copiers that are able to
handle about any kind of material. That way you avoid using
a lot of expensive printer’s ink and the letters won’ run in
case somebody spills coffee on them.
Foto: Stockx.chng: xymonau
If you don’t have an extended guest list you might
even be thinking about making the entire invitation yourself.
If you like scrapebooking you can create very personal
cards, but take the time factor into consideration. It can
take you weeks to do a few hundred invitations this way!
Here is a list of suppliers for paper and everything else
you will need:
Johnson Crafts: UK based company that sells cards,
Celebrations Plus: supplies for card making, but if you
don´t feel lile getting to work with scissors and glue –
extensive range of inexpensive ready made cards.
The traditional practice for wedding invitations is to put
the invitation inside an envelope and then place that
envelope inside another envelope. Why bother? One
envelope is plenty and you’ll only need one stamp to mail if
you use one.
If you’re doing your own invitations, check with some
small local print shops for leftover envelopes they might
have. You can buy these a hugely discounted price. Don’t
get freaked out if you have several different sizes or styles.
How many people are going to ask each other at your
wedding what size envelope their invitation came in?
If you need to have RSVP’s, consider putting it on a
small postal size card. That way you eliminate an envelope
and it adds to the convenience for your guests. All they
have to do is fill it out and drop it in the mailbox. Of course,
you’ll have to provide the stamp for this card.
Consider also printing reception information directly on
the invitation itself. For an RSVP, provide a phone number
and/or e-mail address for guests to respond to. Not only
will this save you on postage, you’ll have all the information
right there for your guests to refer to before the big day
instead of them having to save a separate reception card.
One important factor when it comes to wedding invitations is
the postage. To the people you see on a regular basis you
can personally deliver the invitations. The rest you will have
One point you should consider before you start working
away with cutter and glue: it is a good idea to sit down and
evaluate carefully if it is really worth your effort and your
time to make the invitations yourself. Costs for cards, glue,
stickers, rubber stamps stencils etc. can add up and there
are very nice ready made cards on the market. Just make
sure you don´t spend more on your DIY-cards than you
would on ready made cards.
Shop for inexpensive cards here
With the inviations under way, the next point on your
list is one of the most important topics: The Dress
The Dress of Your Dreams
Unfortunately you are not Cinderella who had her dress
stiched up by mice, so unlike her you will have to think
about how you will get hodl of the dress of your dreams.
There are many of us who have been fantasizing about
their wedding dress from the age of six. And now you have
to make it reality? That sure puts pressure on your
Foto: Stockx.chng: bjearwicke
When you study all those glossy magazines for brides
to be you get the impression that you will have to spend the
money you are saving for a down payment for a house, in
order to get one of these gorgeous dresses the models are
So at this point you have to make the decision what is
more important to you: a dress you are going to wear one
day of your entire life or a house for your future family?
There are cheaper ways to get hold of a gorgeous
dress, even if it doesn’t have the name of a famous designer
Why don’t you ask your mother if she still has her (or
your grandmothers) wedding dress? She will be thrilled that
you consider wearing it. If it seems to be a bit out of date,
find a good seamstress and ask her if she can modernize it.
Think that gown is a bit out of date? If you don’t like
the style, consider hiring a seamstress to update the cut a
bit. You can often find a seamstress or tailor for around
$100 – well less than the cost of a new, off the rack wedding
Why not opt for a second-hand wedding dress? It’s
probably only been worn once anyway and you can get a
once expensive dress for half the price. Check out
consignment shops or thrift stores to see what they have to
offer. Better yet, check out ebay.com. Again, if you can get
a great deal on a gown and only need some alterations, a
seamstress will be only a fraction of the cost to buy the
Here a some adresses where you can find second hand
Go for a dress that doesn’t have the tag “Wedding
dress” attached to it. You can find gourgeous white Prom
dresses or coctail dresses at a faction of the price of “the
real thing”. Check New York Dresses for example, another
good place is Shop Dress . Another option you might want to
check are bridesmaid dresses. They cost a lot less that
wedding dresses and as long as they are white very often it
is hard to tell the difference. Go to Shop for Bridals to find
inexpensive dresses with a laid back feeling to them – they
carry everything else you will need.
You may want to look around for closing out sales or
liquidation sales at bridal shops in your area. One word of
caution: don’t drive the equivalent of halfway across the
country just to find a gown.
Sometimes bridal shop have sample sales to get rid of
the gowns they used for trying on. You will find dresses that
have been tried on only a couple of times at as much as 70
Foto: Stockx.chng: nazreth
Check if there is an outlet bridal store close to your
home. Again, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money
in gas, but if you go with your mom and all the bridesmaids
you can have a great day and a lot of fun on top of the
savings you will be making.
Another option is to rent your wedding gown. When
my brother got married, his wife rented her gown. It was a
stunning number that retailed for over $3,500. She rented
it for $75. Sure, she couldn’t keep it, but considering that
my first wedding gown is still in the vacuum sealed box
untouched for over 20 years, who really cares? I doubt my
daughter will want to wear it, although I will certainly steer
her toward this option – with a seamstress on stand-by, of
course! At www.bagborroworsteal.com you can rent the
designer accessoires that go with your dress.
Consider shopping online at a discount wedding
store or even Ebay. You won’t get the pampering you do
at a bridal shop, but you can save up to 40% by going this
route! You can have the dress altered locally if it doesn’t fit
just right. If you decide to get a dress through Ebay or a
similar place, take your measurements very carefully to
make sure it will fit you.
Finally, you can realize incredible savings on your
dream gown by picking one out and asking a local
seamstress to copy the design. This probably won’t be the
most cost-cutting measure, but you can have a designer
gown for about half the cost you would pay directly from the
designer. If you find a good seamstress, they should be
able to copy the design for a significant savings.
Here are some ressources:
House of brides: biggest online retailer for wedding gowns –
www.budgetbridalgowns.com: new and used bridal gowns
www.lilywedding.com: dresses under 200 $
www.bridalonlinestore.com: a variety of gowns starting at
www.ebridals.com Still cheaper than the above
http://hiphopboutique.com: from cheap til not so cheap
What about the veil? They are very expensive if you
consider that they are little more that a piece of fabric. In a
bridal shop they can cost you more than the dress!
A veil is not that complicated to make if you know to
sewn a little and can handle a glue gun. Here an instruction:
• Start with a base. Many stores such as Claire’s have
cheap tiaras that can serve as your base. If you’re not
quite into a tiara, just have on hand some craft wire
and some plastic combs to hold the veil in place.
• Have a glue gun on hand. Get some tulle and attach it
to whatever base you have. If it’s a tiara, just glue
directly to the headpiece. If it’s combs, you’ll need to
create a “halo” to attach the tulle to. Add the combs so
you can put it in your hair. Most tiaras come with built
• Simply glue the tulle to your base and add any
embellishments you want – flowers, baby’s breath, etc.
Add accents like ribbons and bows for a special look.
Also consider having simple flowers or baby’s breath in
your wedding coiffure. It’s a beautifully simple touch to a
beautiful day that will make you look like a goddess in the
If you choose a classy and simple wedding dress, or
you can go for a very pure veil as well. Or you decide not to
wear a veil at all and instead put a simple flower in your
hair. Once of the classics are little white orange flowers.
And The Groom?
Usually the groom wears a tuxedo. Unless you are a
musician you are unlikely to own a tux. But there is really no
need to shell out 300 to 500 Dollars at least to buy one.
There are many places that rent out tuxedos and many
grooms opt for this possibility.
Renting a tux will run anywhere from $50 to $100
typically. That rental will include everything your groom will
need to look like Prince Charming. This means cuff links,
shoes, vest, and tie. You might want to wear your own
Many places offer the grooms tux rental free when the
wedding party rents from the same store. Be sure to ask
about a perk like this.
But again: there is no law that the groom has to wear a
tux. Depending on the style of the wedding, a nice suit or
even slacks and a stylish shirt might be appropriate. Just be
sure to tell you guest the dress code of your wedding! If you
forget, you might be ending up in that really nice but
laydown hippie style wedding dress, while all your guests
wear designer dresses.
Here are some retailers, that offer formal attire for
grooms to be at very reasonable prices:
Clermont Direct: UK based company that specializes in
formal wear for men
Exact Tailor Store: UK based company that sells made
to measure shirts at incredible prices
Formally Yours: rent your wedding suit and save! (UK)
And the Wedding Party?
As a rule of thumb the bride gets to decide what the
bridesmaids have to wear and the bridesmaides have to pay.
Keeping this in mind, be considerate with your friends. Don’t
ask them to fork over big bugs while you are trying to keep
your spendings down. Ask them if your choice is acceptable
for them. Choose a style that will flatter them all, not only
the model look alike of your friends…
You might try to find a dress that will be wearable after
the wedding on other occasions. Choose a colour and a
fabric that doesn’t have “wedding” scribbled all over it. Your
bridesmaids will be much more willing to spend their hard
earned dollars on a dress they will be able to wear more
The Wedding flowers
Cheap doesn't mean that your wedding flowers can't be
beautiful. All flowers are lovely no matter what they cost.
They can cost you a bundle, but there are many ways to
save yourself a bundle as well.
The first thing you want to do is decide on a color
scheme. Picking the colours for you wedding will narrow
down the choice of flowers and will make it easier. If you
decide you want fresh flowers the easiest way is to find a
good florist. It is by mno means easy to arrange flowers, so
if you don’t know somebody who really has a hand for it you
will have to hire a professional.
In your first conversation you will want to be very
specific about your budget. That gives the florist an idea in
which direction he will stir you. The florist has possibilities to
arrange flowers in a way that they can be reused. The
bridesmaides-bouquets for example can be put into vases
and used to decorate the tables.
Ask h¡m if he has other ideas. Go for flowers that are in
season, that helps keeping the costs down. The most
expensive month when it comes to flowers is February with
Valentines day right in middle.
Foto: Stock.xchng: Ravenwood
If you want to do your own flowers, you can order
them in bulk from an online wholesaler. But keep in mind
that they are a fresh product and you will have to nurture
them up to the very moment you say “Yes I do” ind order to
keep them alive. And you will have to arrange them in the
last few days prior to the wedding, just when the stress
builds up to a maximum. But maybe there is a friend who
can lend you a hand?
Depending on the kind of reception you are planning
you can try to find a local farmer who will sell you flowers in
bulk for a very good price. Or you might even use flowers
form your own or someone else´s yard. Arranged by you
they can be as beautiful and much more personal as the
flower- arrangements from a professional florist.
If you decide to do your own wedding flower
arrangements, you might want to check out this ebook:
It’s not free but not very expensive either and shows
you gorgeous bouquets and centerpieces. They have
detailed step by step instructions that are easy to follow;
even for beginners it is quite simple to get stunning results!
It is written by a professional florist who has done his share
of wedding decorations, so he knows what he is talking
about. I really liked this book best from all the ones I’ve
read about the topic.
Here are some plant wholesalers plus some ideas and
instructional sites if you are thinking of doing the flowers
http://fiftyflowers.com: wedding-packages and all the
decoration you want ready made
www.flowerwholesale.com: a real flower wholesale, nothing
fancy and you have to buy bulk, but very good prices
www.americanfloraldistributors.com; reay made wedding
packages, good prices
www.theflowerexchange.com: wholesale and wedding packs,
very good prices but not fancy, free and fast shipping
www.bridesnblooms.com: flowers directly from the farms,
order in advance!
www.flowersgrowers.com: limited choice, very good prices,
Keep in mind that the flowers are nothing more than a
beautiful accessoire to your wedding. So don’t feel pressured
to spend too much money on them.
An easy way to go are silk flowers. As you can prepare
them weeks in advance they will save you a lot of last
minute stress. There are not for every one of course, but in
case you decide to take this potion, here are some very
Making your own ceremony flowers
There are plenty of wholesale stores who will sell silk
flowers at a greatly discounted price. Working with silk
flowers is easy and can be done by almost anyone. My
mother put together all the bouquets, boutonnières, and
corsages for both my weddings. She had no professional
training. She simply had a bunch of flowers and some florist
tape. They were utterly beautiful!
Foto: Stockx.chng: bjeanwicke
Some wholesalers for silk flowers:
www.gtdecorations.com: provides silk flowers and
accessories in UK
http://www.1888flowermall.com: huge selection of all kinds
of artificial flowers and plants (US)
http://www.silkweddingflorist.co.uk: wedding bouquets and
everything else you will need flowerwise...
Some basic equipment you’ll need are floral wire, floral
tape, wire cutters, flowers, greenery, and decorative accents
like baby’s breath or smaller flowers. These instructions are
mainly for silk flowers, but can be used with real flowers as
well. Silk flowers can be manipulated much easier than real
ones, so keep that in mind!
Tips for creating your own flowers are abundant. A
beautifully simple idea for a gorgeous bridal bouquet is to
take several white roses, bunch them together into a
bouquet, wrap the bottom with floral tape tightly, and wrap
satin ribbon around the stems. Attach long pieces of satin
ribbon to flow down as you hold the bouquet and it’ll be
You can use this technique with either silk or fresh
flowers, and it doesn’t have to be all roses. For a unique
look, try out different flowers in your wedding colors. You
can also buy plastic nosegay holders at many discount
stores that make preparing bouquets super easy!
Don’t worry if you can see the tape or wire. You can
always disguise it with ribbon or filler.
For your bridesmaids, you can have them carry the
traditional nosegay. Assemble it in the same way outlined
above for the bridal bouquet. A very elegant look is to have
each attendant carry a single flower or a few flowers put
together with greenery and ribbon that they carry cradled in
their arms. These are super easy to put together. Just take
a few flowers, greenery, and accents, gather the stems
together, wrap with floral tape and add ribbon.
For the boutonnières, simple is best, especially since
they will be worn by the men in your wedding party. Most
guys don’t want garish flowers adorning their bodies – it’s
just a guy thing!
To put together a boutonniere, take a single flower, add
a few green leaves, and maybe a sprig of baby’s breath.
Wrap the stem in floral tape tightly and voila! Your bout!
You can, if you wish, add a little bit of ribbon, but don’t go
too overboard – remember the “guy thing”!
To make corsages, use an odd number of flowers – 3 or
5 is recommended. Make it just like you would the bout,
gather the stems, and add greenery and filler. You’ll want
the corsage to be in a round shape, or a long row. Once you
have gathered all the flowers together, wrap tightly with
floral tape and adjust the stems for comfort. Be sure to add
some pretty ribbon for accents.
Many people just aren’t sure how to pin on a corsage,
so here’s a most helpful tip for anyone! The corsage should
bend slightly over the collar bone, so don’t pin too far down.
The wearer should be able to tip her head slightly to smell
Stick the pin into the fabric at the bottom left corner of
the stem. Weave the pin back out from under the fabric.
Push it through about 1 inch, laying it at an angle over the
top of the stem. Stick the tip of the pin back into the fabric
on the other side of the stem. Insure that the stem is tightly
in place with the length of the pin pushing it down. Weave
the pin back out of the fabric once more. Be sure that the
very tip of the pin does not stick out, nor does it poke under
the fabric and touch the skin.
Don’t forget the pins! Go for the straight pin with a
pretty pearl head on it. They can be found at most craft
store quite inexpensively. Have plenty on hand – just in
The flower girl basket is probably the easiest of all
wedding ceremony flowers. Just take a small basket –
preferably white – and decorate it with ribbon and some
small flowers. Many local florists will sell you rose petals for
the flower girl to strew down the aisle quite cheaply. If they
have some roses they aren’t able to sell that are going bad,
they will usually part with the petals at a low price.
Just as important could be the ring bearer pillow. Want
to know how to make your own? Read on!
The ring pillow from a wedding can become a treasured
keepsake of a very special day and a family heirloom as
well. Use high-quality materials for the pillow and be
creative. Experiment with different patterns, materials and
textures before you decide on a final design.
• Choose two pieces of fabric that each measure between
8 and 10 inches square. Use white or off-white satin,
silk or brocade. If possible, use the same fabric and
lace that is used for the wedding dress.
• Choose lace and ribbon to decorate the pillow if
desired. The amounts required will depend on how the
materials are used. About 2 to 3 yards each of ribbon
and lace will be adequate
• Use two or three pieces of polyester batting as stuffing
for the pillow. Each piece should be equal to the
dimensions of the fabric squares in step 1.
• Use a fabric cutting board, ruler and fabric marking pen
to mark and measure out two equal squares of fabric.
Make all markings on the wrong side of the fabric. Test
the pen on a scrap of the pillow fabric to make sure
that the marks will fade.
• Do any embroidery or needlework before continuing to
the next step. Add any other decoration to the face of
the fabric as well. Embellishments such as small
ribbons, charms and delicate lace can be tacked or
sewn on to the fabric by hand.
• Add a lace ruffle to the pillow by pinning the straight
edge of the ruffle to the right side of the fabric square
that will form the pillow top. Pin so that the edges line
up evenly and the right sides (if there is a right side to
the ruffle) are together.
• Pin the ruffle very loosely onto the fabric or gather the
ruffle slightly as you pin in order to create a fuller
• Pin the fabric pieces with the right sides together.
Edges should match up evenly. Pins should be placed
about 1/2 inch apart and should be at right angles to
the fabric edges. Make sure that the pinned edge of the
ruffle is caught securely between the two fabric layers.
• Use a sewing machine to stitch three sides of the
pillow, 1/2 inch from the fabric edges. Turn the pillow
right side out and stuff the batting layers inside. If you
would like a fuller pillow, insert additional batting.
• Fold the edges of the unsewn seam into the pillow 1/2
inch, and stitch closed by hand. Use a slipstitch done
by hand or carefully topstitch the edges with your
• Add a 10- or 12-inch length of 1/4-inch satin or silk
ribbon to the top of the pillow. Stitch the ribbon by
hand to the pillow at the ribbon's center point. Add a
silk or satin bow made from the same ribbon to cover
the stitching. Use the two ribbon strands to loosely tie
the wedding rings to the pillows.
If you don´t feel like getting creative, check out this page:
Le Rhee Bouquets – they have brides bouquets, but also
bows and other decoration made out of silk flowers.
Decorating the Church
As far as flowers and plants as decorations are
concerned, this can be a great enhancement to your
ceremony. Many churches already have floral adornments
on their altars. If you get married around the time of a
church celebration, you may be able to buy a few flowers
and take advantage of those that are already there.
For example, around Easter, lilies are the flower of
choice in most churches. Many people will buy Easter lilies
in remembrance of their loved ones. Offer to buy a couple
of Easter lilies to add to the existing ones, and you have a
beautiful decoration on the altar.
The same applies around Christmas. Poinsettias are the
flower of choice at this time of year. Offer up a few
poinsettia plants to add to those already there and you’ll
have some beautiful altar decorations.
Large arrangements on an altar will only be seen from
far away. Use inexpensive flowers such as carnations, or
large filling flowers such as snowball mums.
If you are getting married in a church, almost all have
some type of floral/tree decorations that they have all the
time. All you need to do in this situation is to add a few
personal touches and you’ll have a beautiful backdrop for
your ceremony. This is what we did for my second
marriage. We took the artificial fichus trees and arranged
them around our other flowers to make for a beautiful altar.
If you are getting married outside, take advantage of
nature. Cultivate what Mother Nature has to offer. When
my cousin got married, he did so at a local park overlooking
a lake. The flowers were in full bloom and it was beautiful.
His wife later told me that she had been out at that park
every day for two weeks just to make sure that the flowers
would be gorgeous -- and they were!
Talk to your venues and see if any other brides have
booked for the same day. If the two of you can coordinate
flowers and split the cost, you’ll save a lot of money. I
would imagine both of you wouldn’t turn your nose up at
saving a ton of money on church decorations and flowers!
Some party rental places will rent large potted plants
such as tropical palms or fichus. They visually fill a lot of
space, and will help frame your ceremony site or warm up
your reception. Best of all, renting a potted plant is far
cheaper than buying large flower arrangements. Also, you
may consider purchasing these large plants and using them
in your home afterwards to get more use out of them.
Almost everyone I knew owned an artificial fichus tree,
so I made several phone calls and asked if we could borrow
them for our big day. Everyone was more than happy to
offer up their trees and we used them to decorate the
reception hall. More on that later!
Don’t try to move your ceremony flowers to the
reception hall. Many churches require you leave them
anyway, but moving large arrangements can be tedious and
simply not worth the time or effort. The last thing you want
is to have your reception held up waiting for flowers!
Since Amazon is selling almost everything nowadays, it
is a great place to shop for decoration as well!
Decorating the place where you will take your vows is
just as important as how you decorate your reception. Let’s
look at how to make your ceremony picture perfect!
We’ve covered the floral decorations for a church
wedding, but what else do you need to decorate the
sanctuary. Because you’re on a budget, remember that less
is more. Most wedding ceremonies are short and sweet, so
why spend a majority of your money decorating a place
where people are most likely only going to be for a half hour
If you want pew bows, they can be made quite
inexpensively, but don’t decorate each pew. Decorate every
other one for the first 10 rows or so. Ribbon for bows can
get quite expensive, so doing every other pew is the frugal
thing to do.
Making Your Own Pew-Bows
Speaking from experience, initial bow making can be
extremely frustrating. Give yourself plenty of time and
practice when you start this craft. While it may take a few
tries to finally master it, once you do, you’ll start cranking
out the bows fairly quickly. Below are instructions for two
different types of bows that can be layered for a more
You will need approximately 4.5 feet of 1” wired
ribbon; approximately 4.5 feet of 6” tulle (more or less
depending on how long you want the tails); craft wire, wire
The Tulle Base:
1. Lay the ribbon horizontally. Find the middle of your
strip of tulle and pinch together with your left hand.
2. With your right hand, pinch the tulle on the right side
about 8” away from the middle.
3. Bring the second pinched spot to the center, moving
underneath. This should form half of a bow. Pinch
together the middle with your right hand.
4. Repeat the same thing with the left side, only this time
instead of bringing the tulle underneath to form the
bow, bring it over the top.
5. You should now have a simple bow. Secure the middle
by twisting craft wire around it. If you’d like to stop
here, hot glue a silk flower in the middle to finish this
simple project. However, if you want your bow more
ornate, follow the next set of instructions to add a
The Second Ribbon Layer:
1. Lay the wired ribbon vertically on a table or flat
surface, moving away from you. Take the end closest
to you, bring it up and then tuck it in to form a small
loop. Pinch the loop in place. This will be the middle of
2. Just after where you are now pinching, twist the longer
end of the ribbon 180 degrees. Keep the twist tight and
“hide” it underneath the middle loop. Grab the long
piece of ribbon about 6” away from the middle. Then
form a loop by bringing the ribbon underneath and
back to the center. Pinch together.
3. Twist the long piece of ribbon again just after the
center pinch. Make an equal sized loop on the other
side using the same technique.
4. Continue making equal-sized loops that rest directly
underneath each other by using the same technique.
Stop when you have three on each side.
5. Secure the middle with craft wire and leave some extra
wire in order to attach it to the tulle base.
6. Cut off any tail you might have left over from the
7. Spread out the loops to create the look you desire.
With the extra wire from the second layer, attach the ribbon
bow to the middle of the tulle base. Consider adding long
wire hooks or extra ribbon to the back for easy attachment
to the pews.
You may want to consider using simple floral swags at
the end of each pew as well. These can be found
inexpensively and made even more inexpensively!
Many churches have single candle holders that you can
use or rent for a nominal fee. If you are a member of the
church, ask! The clergy has had exposure to many
weddings. He or she might have some terrific, low-cost
ideas you may not have thought about!
What we did for my second wedding was an idea I had
never seen before. My mother went to a discount store and
found battery operated candles – the kind people put in their
windows around Christmas time – on clearance. They can
also be found at craft stores or craft warehouses pretty
Mom attached a Velcro strip to the bottom of each
candle and got permission from the church to attach a strip
to the end of each pew. We bought a huge pack of batteries
and attached one to the end of each pew. My 8 year old
cousin was responsible for twisting the base of each candle
to turn them on right before the ceremony – a job she was
quite proud of – and we had a gorgeously lit sanctuary!
If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, the scenery will
be your most dramatic decoration. Most couples opt for the
traditional gazebo or arch when getting married outdoors.
I’ve seen these on sale at a local wholesaler before at a
mere $19.99! You can also rent the archway from a party
rental place. Decorate it with flowers, Christmas lights, or
greenery to make it beautiful.
Seating at an outdoor wedding usually consists of
folding chairs. These can usually be found at a benevolent
association like The American Legion – excellent place to
find seating especially if you’re having your reception there
– churches, or community centers. Even if you have to pay
a few dollars to rent them, it will be worth it!
Decorate the ends of the chairs with greenery and
flowers to match your wedding bouquets along with
strategically placed ribbon. To set off the “important guest”
area (parents, grandparents, etc.) cover the backs of the
chairs with simple white pillowcases.
All weddings are made much more special with an
added touch contributed by music before, during, and after
Smile Please: The Photos
Unfortunately good photographers are not on the cheap
side. And while they are certainly worth their money, you
probably wont’ be able to spend several thousand dollars on
a professional photographer.
So how can you get beautiful photos of your wedding
day without breaking the bank?
If you have your heart set on professional photos, get
them! Hire a photographer for part of the wedding – go to
Wedding & Event Directory to find one in your area. You
might ask him to take pictures at the church for expample.
That way you make sure to get some great pictures of “The
Moment”. And if he stays while everybody congratulates
you, you’ll have pictures of ALL your guests as well. You will
probably have to hire him for about two hours or even less,
which will cost you a fraction of what we would charge for
being around all day.
For the rest of the day you can ask a friend or relative
to take photos of the reception and the party. If you know
somebody who really knows how to take great pictures, you
may ask him, to cover the entire wedding. But make sure he
knows what he is doing and pay him at least the expenses.
Taking pictures all day is hard work and he probably won’t
have very much time to enjoy the reception.
At the wedding of my sister we asked a student from a
well known art college who studied photography. She took
pictures all day (she was working about 14 hours from the
first shot of the church decoration before the ceremony til
the last photos of merry guests) and we payed her only
about 300 dollars, plus the prints.
So how can you find similar services? We recommend
you start with a community college. They often offer
photography classes, and the students are eager to practice
their craft for a nominal fee or even just the experience.
Talk to the instructor, however, to be sure you’re getting the
cream of the crop – the top in the class. You don’t want to
take a chance and get the beginner for your big day.
Ask friends and family to see if anyone likes to
experiment with photography as a hobby. But make sure,
the person in question knows what he or she is doing! After
all this is about your most precious memories! I personally
would put a professional photographer on my priority-list...
The wedding lens offers an interesting service: you set
up your personal site and have all your friends load up the
fotos they made at your wedding. Like this you´ll get up to
600 fotos you´d never have seen otherhwise.
Or you do it the oldfashioned way: place disposable
cameras on each table for guests to take pictures at your
reception. A word of caution here: place a note on the
table that asks the adults to please monitor the use of these
cameras. I have been to many a reception where children
have gotten hold of these cameras and the bride was left
with many, many pictures of people’s feet and – um – hind
Disposable cameras can be found – again – at bulk
warehouse stores or even online. Usually places that sell
wedding favors have them in stock. At Amazon.com they
start at about three dollars a piece.
If you don’t want to put the cameras on the table,
another idea is to place the cameras in a basket at the door
as guests enter the reception. The ones who really care
about taking pictures will take the cameras. Have your
guest book attendant monitor who takes them or even have
the attendant hand them out to adults only.
If you want a video of your wedding, again, try to find
somebody like a friend or a relative if he will cover the
ceremony and the party for you. Maybe you find two or
three people, that way they can take turns. With modern
computers somebody who knows a little afterwards can edit
the movie, put comments and music if you wish.
Decorating the reception
It makes more sense to spend effort and money in the
decoration of the place where you will have the reception, as
you will spend much more time here than in the church.
Before giving some specific suggestions for your
centerpiece, some general thoughts:
- the decoration is just that: a decoration to your
party, nothing less and nothing more. Of course
you want to give it thought and dedicate money
to get a nice decoration but don’t begin to
agonize over the price of white orchids or
centerpieces that will cost you more than your
honeymoon. It’s just not worth it.
- If you like doing things yourself you can spend a
huge amount of money that otherwise you will
have to pay for a florist.
- Go to dollar stores, see what they have and let
yourself get inspired. You will probably find
similar items than in a shop specialized in
decoration supply for a lot less money.
Think about who might be able to help you. Do you have a
friend who always has her table nicely decorated even when
she is only inviting for a barbecue? Chances are that she
loves to decorate and will gladly lend you a hand.
Think about renting (or borrowing from friends) large
green potted plants like ficus or palms. You can use them to
create a festive ambiente in an otherwise rather dull
reception hall. Or use the lights of your christmas-decoration
to decorate the hall. Go for white coloured bulbs though, if
you want a classy look.
You can create a really pretty decoration of white tulle,
gen (silk) ivy and white christmas lights.
As one element of the decoration you can put up a
table of photos. Go through your childhood albums and ask
your husband to be to do the same. Put them in nice frames
(you can use frames you already on or buy matching ones)
and place them on a small table covered with a white table
cloth. Scatter petals in between the photos for extra effect.
Use the bridesmaid’s bouquets to decorate the tables,
the head table, or the cake table. You don’t have to have
expensive floral arrangements everywhere to make a
beautiful reception hall. There are many, many alternatives
and most can be put together with supplies from the dollar
Here some ideas:
Centerpiece suggestion #1:
Get some simple glass bowls, fill them half way with
glass marbles in your wedding colours. Fill up with water and
add some swimming candles. Or skip the water and place a
big candle at the center. Use a big bowl as the centerpiece,
scatter smaller ones around the table. Later on you can use
the bowls for cereals and salads…
Centerpiece suggestion #2:
A few weeks before the wedding prepare some
terracotta plant pots with seeds or bulbs. For the centerpiece
you might get a bigger teracotta bowl and plant it with
various plants. Use your homegrown plants to decorate the
table. You might even prepare a small pot as a wedding
favor for each guest.
Centerpiece suggestion #3:
If you are planning a beach wedding, get some
sand (if you don’t live close to the beach you can get some
bird sand in a pet store). Buy some seashells and sand
dollars from a dollar store (or use the shells from your last
vacation) and arrange all to a beach scenery. It is easy to
find lovely and inexpensive wedding favors that will
contribute to the decoration.
Centerpiece suggestion #4:
Create a decoration that reflects your personality. If
you love traveling and traveled all over Asia, why don’t you
use your souvenirs to decorate your tables? Add some
matching plants like bamboo and try to get matching
Centerpiece suggestion #5:
Get some small baskets and decorate with ribbon.
Print out some index cards that say “Advice For The
Newlyweds” and lay them on the table with pens and/or
pencils. Encourage guests to write something on the cards
and place them in the baskets. Surround the baskets with
flowers, greenery or pebbles. This can be a great ice-
breaker for people who don’t know each other. Be prepared,
too, for the jokesters in the crowd who may offer up some
ridiculous and sometimes bawdy advice.
Centerpiece suggestion #6:
Take small grapevine wreaths and decorate with tulle
and ribbon. Place a bottle of champagne in the center or a
bottle of wine from a local winery. You even can get wine
with your name and the date of the wedding printed on the
Centerpiece suggestion #7:
If you are having a fall wedding and live in the country,
you probably can create a stunning decoration from what
you find in the wood and fields: Leafs in all colors, berries,
nuts, pine cones… Add some matching flowers like
sunflowers and maybe pumpkins and let your imagination
Centerpiece suggestion #8:
If you get married around christmas you can buy a small
christmas tree (or just some pine greenery) and decorate it
with nice ornaments. They can serve as wedding favors
later. Shop at the Christmas Depot for supplies.
Centerpiece suggestion #9:
Get simple glass vases, fill them half way with coffee beans
and place a candle in middle. Use a bowl with various
candles as a centerpiece. This decoration goes well with a
color scheme of cream or beige and brown.
Centerpiece suggestion #10:
For a chinese touch, get some inexpensive fans in a dollar
shop, add some chopsticks and tie custom made fortune
cookies with red ribbon to a bare branch or a bamboo plant.
Centerpiece suggestion #11:
If you still have a box with old toys (that does not only hold
broken Barbie dolls) or collect toys, you might use them to
decorate the table. Add some glass bowls filled with colorful
Centerpiece suggestion #12:
Get some pretty platters and decorate fresh fruit on them
Go for fruit in lots of different colors and try to pile them up
in pyramide. Add some simple flowers that go with the rustic
decoration, like sunflowers.
If you are thinking about doing your own flower
centerpieces, you might consider getting this inexpensive e-
book. Besides explaining the step-by-step-process of
creating floral centerpieces it also lets you make your own
Go with the Decoration: Wedding Favors
There are many specialized places where you can get
wedding favors. You can buy stylish wedding favor, funny
wedding favors, elegant wedding favor, simple but
expensive wedding favor: there is something on the marked
for every taste and budget.
If you already are under a lot of stress, it might be
worth it just to buy them as you can get very nice wedding
favor for little money. You save yourself the hassle without
spending too much money. If you have to decide for
expample between doing the decoration of the reception hall
and the tables yourself or making your own wedding favor,
go for the decoration, as you can save substantially more
money here. Use the (bought) wedding favor to complement
There is no obligation to give wedding favor to your
guests, so you might skip them all together. But it’s a fun
part of the party and you are expressing your gratitude for
attending on the wedding with them.
And if you still have time left and like creating things,
you of course can make your very own personal wedding
favor. Here are some suggestions:
• Regular candles are nice for cheap wedding favors.
Wrap in tulle and tie with ribbon. Stick a small flower in
the ribbon. You also can add a stick of cinnamon
• Tree seedlings, such as citrus or any kind of tree, are
something everybody would love. They will always
remember your wedding with this unique wedding favor
idea. You can prepare them yourself if you have
enough time left. Wrap the plastic pot with a nice
wrapping paper or a piece of material.
• Flower seedlings or seed packets are a nice wedding
favors. Wrap in anyway that is appropriate for your
wedding. Tie with ribbon, raffia or paper ribbon.
Amazon has a wide array of seeds and everything else
• Sachets made from lavender. Make a small bag from
lace. Sew up three sides, put the lavender in and sew
up fourth side. Attach a small silk flower. Potpourris in
drawstring bags made of lace or tulle are pretty. You
can use any kind of bag that's easy for you to make.
• Everybody loves herbs. Buy small ones or grow them
yourself and place plastic container right into a small
terracotta pot. Put some moss around the top to
disguise the plastic planter. Include a pretty tag with
instructions for care and attach to a ribbon tied around
• Candies, such as M&Ms in your wedding colors, Kisses
or Hugs, mints, a wonderful piece of chocolate or any
kind that you would like, look great in a cupcake liner.
They come in different sizes and colors. Edible Gifts lets
you chose froma a variety of treats. Whimsy Wraps
provides personalized candy wrappers.
• Make your own CD using your favorite songs. Include
the First Dance song, the cake-cutting song and all the
traditional songs. Make CD covers with your picture on
it and gave all your guests a copy of the CD.
• For a Christmas wedding, give each guest a Christmas
ornament. Take a plain ball type ornament and use a
paint pen to personalize with your name and the date
of your wedding. Go to Christmas Depot for supplies.
• Do you and your intended share a love of something
unique? Are you big Nascar fans? Love to golf? Rabid
about a sports team? Gear your favors around these
unique characteristics that are you.
Even if you choose an inexpensive wedding favor, with the
right presentation it can be unique and add class to your
decoration. There are several options:
o tie the prettily wrapped up little gifts to a large
potted plant and pace it close to the entrance.
Towards the end of the reception remind people
to get one before they leave.
o Create a breakaway centerpiece from the
wedding favors. The most commonly used item
for this kind of decoration are several small
vases with a single flower, that are placed
together in the center of the table. But you can
also use little gift boxes and stack them in
middle of the table.
o Arrange prettily wrapped favors in a flat basket
and use as a centerpiece
o Mark each favor with a name and use them
instead of place cards
Also, unless you have your heart set on taking home
your table decorations, consider giving them away to guests.
A fun way to do this is to take a hint from most class
reunions. Give one to the guests that traveled the farthest,
the ones who have married the longest, married the
shortest, etc. This helps bring people into your reception
and make them feel like a bigger part of your special day!
Where can you get inexpensive wedding favor?
Here you have an entire page with suppliers of favors of all
Hanson and Ellis: all kind of theme favors
Celebrations Plus: favors and some do-it-yourself-supplies
Chocolate Buttons: who doesn´t like it sweet? (UK)
www.save-on-crafts.com: huge selection of material and
very nice ideas on do-it-yourself- wedding favor (check
“projects and inspiration”)
www.creative-bride.com: huge selection of wedding favor,
they carry inexpensive bridesmaides gifts etc. as well
Love Hearts: Fun and inexpensive sweet wedding favor
Miniature Gifts: very original, miniature beers, wiskeys, soft
drinks – plus other neat ideas for giveaways
Practical Presents Want something different? Why not buy a
herd of goat for a family in Bangladesh in the name of your
wedding guests? Give them a little card that explaines the
good cause you contributed to in their name and everybody
delighted! Choices range from chicken to rescue boats to a
small scale hydro power plant... Moku Gifts is another
option, they let you plant trees and are a partner of the UN.
www.tiptopweddingshop.co.uk: nice things in Great Britain
www.diyfavourboxes.co.uk: provides material to make your
www.ukweddingfavor.com: not so cheap but nice selection
Perhaps the largest expense of your reception is food.
Let’s look at some viable options for feeding you and your
guests without having to mortgage your house.
The Hungry Crowd: Feed Your Guests
Deciding what kind of food you will serve on your
wedding reception is tacky, especially when you are on a
tight wedding. The good news is, that almost everything is
acceptable nowadays. You don’t have to have a full blown sit
down dinner reception if your budget doesn’t allow it.
If you are having your reception at a hall that offers
food service as part of the package, choose your menu
wisely. A buffet usually is not the most inexpensive
solution. If people are allowed to refill their plates as often
as they like, they tend to eat more, so you will need more
food. With a served menu you will be better off most of the
times, so be sure to ask your caterer about both
Foto: Pixelio, Rainer Sturm
There’s nothing wrong with an elegantly prepared
chicken breast for your wedding meal. Perhaps offer a
vegetarian alternative like fish as well. Beef tends to be
more expensive than poultry or fish, so be completely
committed if you must have steak, you’ll pay for it!
Here are some approximate prices (per person), but
beware, they can vary widely, depending on where you live:
Dinner: 100 USD
Brunch: 75 USD
Lunch: 75 USD
Coctails: 60 USD
Tea: 50 USD
Dessert: 12 USD
So the amount you will have to spend, depends very
much on the time of the day you will have the reception. If
you really want to keep the bill small, opt for an after lunch
wedding and invite your guests for a dessert only reception.
Here are some possibilities if you want to get around a
Cake and Punch Reception - The most common time of
day that this type of reception is held is early afternoon
(approximately 2:00 p.m.), but it can also occur in mid-
morning (approximately 10:00 a.m.). A cake and punch
reception generally consists of the wedding cake and
refreshments. Refreshments can include: punch, coffee, tea,
champagne, etc. You can also supplement the wedding cake
with other types of cake in different flavors and textures.
Dessert Reception - This type of reception is one in which
desserts are served. Desserts can include pies, cakes,
doughnuts, cookies, pastries, brownies, etc. Another option,
which can be combined with a normal dessert reception if
you'd like, is a sundae bar.
In this type of reception, you serve bowls of ice cream
(usually vanilla) and let your guests choose their topping.
Toppings can include chocolate or fudge sauce, shredded
coconut, chocolate chips, crushed walnuts, whipped cream,
fruit toppings, etc. Basically, the same things you'd find in
any sundae bar. Summer is the most common time of year
for a sundae bar. A normal dessert bar can be used year
round though as there are desserts specific to season. For
example, pumpkin pie and apple pie would be a great choice
for fall weddings. This type of reception is also an example
of an inexpensive choice if you purchase the items on your
Foto: Stockx.chng: kerrynd
Hors D'ouevres Reception - There are actually two
distinct types of hors d'ouevres receptions. The first is light
hors d'ouerves and consists of a lighter fare than the second
which is a heavy hors d'ouerves menu.
A light menu often includes items such as: crackers,
vegetable platters with dip, fruit, cheese, etc. A heavy hors
d'ouerves often includes these as well as items such as:
meat and cheese trays, chicken fingers, egg rolls, etc.
These types of receptions are also (casually) called "finger-
food receptions" in some areas. In order to save money on
this type of reception, check your local grocery store deli for
prices on "meat and cheese" trays as well as "vegetable"
and "cracker and cheese" platters. Their prices are often
very reasonable. Another option is to buy the ingredients
Tea (or Coffee) Reception - This type of reception is a
relict from a bygone era. Originally, tea receptions were
meant to reflect the mood of an "afternoon tea." An
authentic tea reception will include items such as petit fours,
watercress sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, scones
(biscuits), etc. Be sure to cut the crusts off the sandwiches
and cut in a diagonal cross (X shape) for an authentic look.
If you're looking for a more modern approach...you can
serve coffee with (or in place of) the tea. You can also
serve: bite-size pieces of cake (such as carrot), any manner
of sandwich which is easy to cut, cinnamon rolls, etc. This
type of reception is relatively inexpensive (depending on the
items you decide to serve) and can be relaxing for both the
couple and the guests.
There is some debate on whether it's a good idea to
add a line on your invitation stating what type of reception is
occurring. Some examples of this are: "Cake and Punch
Reception to Follow Ceremony", "Light hors d'ouevres
reception to follow at two o'clock" and "Dessert Reception
My personal opinion is that it makes it easier--not only
for the couple,but for the guests as well. It's a clear way for
the couple to inform guests that a full meal should not be
expected,and guests have the option of eating a meal (if
needed) prior to or after the wedding.
If you are thinking about using a caterer, check out if
there is a catering college in your town. Ask them if they
would do the food – you usually can save a lot of money this
way. And the food will be comparable to a “real” caterer.
Another possibility is to ask an inexpensive restaurant
you know and like, if they will do the catering. They are
equipped to prepare meals for large groups of people and
might be more flexible when it comes to planning a not too
expensive meal. I know a couple who worked with a BBQ
restaurant, they payed less then six dollars per person for a
sit down meal.
The Potluck Reception
While your caterer will offer you a variety of possibilities if
you are willing to pay big bucks, there is considerably less to
choose from when you are on a tight budget. So why don’t
you skip this commercialized approach to a wedding and
plan a potluck reception?
It is a very traditional way to celebrate and a personal too.
Simply slip an added note with the invitation. Put
~Our reception will be a Traditional Celebration with a
____. Please check here if you would like to bring a
dish for the reception in place of a wedding gift. Call
with dish suggestions please.
Have them call to get or offer suggestions on a dish so
you have control over the menu. No one is obligated to
participate, but I'm sure you will be surprised at how many
guests will opt for this.
You can be sure that you will have an exquisite
wedding meal, as everybody will pride themselves by
bringing only their best dishes to such a special occasion.
How about preparing the food for your wedding
reception yourself? If you just jumped out of your chair: it
can be done! Just make sure to enlist the help of friends and
family, especially for the day of your wedding, as you
certainly don’t want to be serving food as the bride! Why
don’t you ask some friends of your little sister, who is in her
freshmen year at college, if they will do the serving? It will
be certainly worth the expense. Remember to have someone
As for the food: plan very carefully. You will need
dishes that can be prepared the day before the wedding, or
better yet, days or weeks in advance (ask your friends if
they will store food for you in their freezers).
You definitely want to try out the dishes you are
planning for your wedding. You don’t want to take the risk
and use your wedding guests as guinnea pigs for your
Foto: Pixelio, Rainer Sturm
When planning what to serve, consider cheap dishes
like coleslaw or baked beans, that are easy to prepare in big
rations. Th amount of money you will be spending on
groceries depends very much on which kind of meat you will
be serving. One of the cheapest and most versatil choices is
chicken. You can do a lot of dishes with chicken and there is
hardly anyone who doesn´t like it.
Here are some suggestion on how to enfoque your
- serve cold and warm appetizers. There are
some great recipes on www.foodnetwork.com.
Ask your family to help with the preparations,
because there is some work involved…
Appetizers work best for an afternoon reception
between lunch and dinner.
- Prepare a buffet of salads; include the classics
like pasta and potato salad and coleslaw, but get
some more exotic varieties as well to make it
more interesting. Add some cold meat and bread
like baguette and little rolls to complete the
- For a summer wedding choose light foods like
a tray of veggies with dips, a fruit tray, complete
with a baked ham or some other big chunk of
meat that can be cut into slices. Or you add a
tray of different kind of cheese and baskets with
small rolls and different kinds of bread – this
variation adds a sophisticated touch
- Prepare a greek buffet: buy souflaki (Pieces of
marinated pork on wooden skewers, you can buy
them ready made); complete with pita bread, a
greek salad from lettuce, onions, olives and feta
cheese and baked potatoes
- An italian style buffet could be made up of
stuffed mushrooms, mixed antipasti (marinated
vegetables, dried tomatoes) different kind of
olives, a tray of cheese and lots of bread. If you
have the possibility to serve warm food, you
might warm up previously prepared small pizzas
(can be bought ready made or prepared well in
advance and stored in the freezer).
- A great dish to prepare in advance are quiches.
They come in many varieties, can be prepared
the day before the wedding and served cold.
They are not too expensive and very filling!
- How about a soup bar? Make four or five
different kind of soups: they can be easily
prepared in advance and since one of the most
important ingrediences is water, you can make a
little food go a long way. Do an international
soup buffet: a Tom Ka Ghai from Thailand, an
Avocado Soup from Jamaica, an African Peanut
Soup... Serve with bread and crackers
- Plan a seafood BBQ. You might be able to get
some big filets in bulk. You can prepare them
well in advance: place each filet on top of some
tin foil, rub rosemary or garlic on the fish,
sprinkle with lemon and add butter or olive oil.
Close the packages and store in the freezer.
Remember to take out the day before the
wedding, the fish will be deliciously marinated!
You can put it on the hot grill with the foil.
- You can also prepare frozen oysters on the grill:
just put on and wait til they pop open. Serve
with bread and garlic sauce. If you do a seafood
BBQ you should prepare an alternative for
people who don’t like seafood, like chicken
breast or Hamburgers.
- Do a french buffet: Onion soup, omelettes,
salads, a cheese platter, baguette, and crepes
- Everybody loves pasta: prepare different sauces
(tomato, bolognese, cream and blue cheese…)
complement with green salad
An important point to take into consideration are the
drinks. The most expensive route to take is to offer an open
bar to your guests. It is perfectly acceptable to serve only
beer and wine with dinner and skip the bar though. If you
will have a breakfast- or brunch reception, your guests will
have considerably less drinks than at an evening reception.
If you decide to have an open bar, it doesn’t have to be
open for the entire reception. Just limit it to two hours and
serve beer and wine the rest of the time. You can also limit
the number of different drinks you make available. Like this
you don’t have to buy lots of different bottles of alcohol. If
you plan to have a bar, by the booze yourself, if possible
from a wholesaler. If you get it through your caterer or the
reception hall, they will add a hefty charge to every drop
As the alcohol tab can make up an important part of
your overall bill, give this point thorough thought!
The big moment: Cutting the Cake
The wedding cake is an important part of every
reception: cutting the cake together with your husband is a
symbolic moment and the wedding cake is the perfect
dessert for any wedding meal.
Wedding cakes are not cheap. If you want one of those
fancy wedding cakes featured in movies or bridal magazines,
prepare yourself to pay 15 dollars or more per slice.
But even if you have en extended guest list, you won’t
need a four story wedding cake. Get a nicely decorated two
story cake so you will have something to cut with your
spouse. Have sheet cake of the same flavor hidden in the
kitchen: this way the cake won’t be too expensive and your
guests won’t notice the difference.
You can even rent a styrofoam cake. Look for a local venue
though the Internet or go to www.cakerental.com. Those
artificial cakes even have a real piece hidden, so you will be
able to cut (and eat) your wedding cake together.
If you are preparing the entire wedding meal yourself
and want to do the cake as well, but don’t feel your
experience is sufficient to create a real wedding tarte, why
don’t you make cupcakes? They are easy to make, you can
add delicious and pretty icings (think about a white icing
with little silver pearls for expample ) and if you get a
tiered rack you can create the impression of a wedding cake,
especially if you put a little bride and groom on top.
Foto: Stock.xchng: bjearwicke
Many couples want to have mints and nuts to go along
with the cake. This is fine, but you should buy the nuts in
bulk from a warehouse store, and make the mints yourself.
Homemade mints can be frozen well in advance and still
taste delicious when they’re thawed out.
Try this delicious recipe:
WEDDING CREAM MINTS
1 three-ounce package cream cheese softened
3 cups powdered sugar
Food coloring (in your wedding colors)
Flavoring (available at most grocery stores) – peppermint
Mix cheese, flavoring, and coloring till well blended. Slowly
add sugar. Knead in with fingers as mixture thickens. Roll
into small balls then into granulated sugar. Press flat with a
spoon. Refrigerate or freeze. If freezing, thaw in refrigerator
1-2 days prior to serving.
This makes 50-75 mints. Plan 2 mints per person.
Let the Party Begin: The Music
The music at your wedding reception is important, as it
sets the mood for the whole celebration. What are your
options when you’re on a budget? Varied!
Who will know better which kind of music they want to
listen to at their wedding than you and your husband to be?
If you can’t afford to pay for the band of your dreams or
that hip DJ, don’t compromise on a cheap replacement that
will distract you from enjoying the evening, because the
music is just about to pull out your teeth. Do it yourself is
Choose your favorite songs and put them on a CD or an
Ipod. Mix fast and slow pieces and remember that your
grandmother and Aunt Betty are going to be there as well,
so get something for their taste. When picking out music,
make sure you take into consideration the guests. An all-
rap repertoire probably isn’t appropriate, but all big band
music isn’t either. Make sure there’s a mix of both to please
both young and old.
You might also want to make different CDs for different
parts of the reception. Choose slower and more discrete
music for dinner (so your guests won’t have to shout in
order to have a conversation) and go upbeat for the dancing
part. Label the different CDs clearly, to make things easier
for your music helper.
To be honest, a very small percentage of the human race
really enjoys the Chicken Dance, Macarena, and Electric
Slide. Know your guests, and if you know this will be
uncomfortable for them, make sure your DJ does not include
them. They can be embarrassing, but they can be great fun
as well. It’s truly a matter of preference!
If your hearts are set on live music, look for bands that
have day jobs and "jam" for fun. Don't rule out high school-
aged bands. Or hire a child violin virtuoso to perform for the
ceremony -- there won't be a dry eye in the place.
You will want somebody to be in charge of the stereo,
so you don’t want to have to worry about it. Ask one of your
friends, to do you this favor. Or even better, ask a few
friends who then can take turns. Although you provide the
mixed CDs, somebody has to turn the music down when a
speech or toast is coming up and put on that special song
for the fist dance.
What’s left: Miscancellous
Hair and Make Up
There seems to be a law that although you have been doing
your make up every single day since you turned fourteen,
the day of your wedding you have to pay somebody to do it
for you. Well, there is not!
If you are comfortable with doing your make up, do it. You
might know somebody who´s hair and make up always
looks stunning – ask her for help. She is going to be
flattered and you are getting the make up and hairdo you
want. Or you have someone on your guest list who is a hair
desser or make up artist: maybe they will give their services
as a wedding gift.
If you do your make up yourself don’t overdo it. You want to
feel comfortable at the most important day in your life and
that probably won’t happen, if you can’t move your face
muscles because you caked on so much foundation that it is
coming off like the icing of a five day old cake.
Wedding rings symbolize the union of two people joined
by the ring finger. Some people say the ring finger has an
artery that leads straight to the heart. I don't know if that's
true but it is romantic.
Once married most people don't take off their wedding
bands, as a sign of their faithfulness to each other. It's also
a good idea to leave them on because it is surprisingly easy
to lose your rings.
Here is the buzz on saving a few bucks on your
• Simple gold bands are the cheapest. They can run $125
to $400 each. They are also classic and elegant.
• Silver bands are modern and cheap.
• Don't buy the designer version of gold bands. That will
save you a bunch.
• If you want white metal, opt for white gold. Platinum is
almost double the price.
• You'll save almost half if you buy a coordinating set or
trio (engagement ring, your wedding band and his
• If you want a ring with a stone, don't forget semi-
precious stones are beautiful. You don't have to have
diamonds in your wedding rings.
• Family wedding bands are a romantic heirloom and
• Shopping online can save you money. Make sure you
pick a secure site with great customer service.
• Check out local pawn shops too.
• Consider stones other than diamonds. Princess Diana
had a sapphire ring, you could too!
• If you really want something more-make a plan-start
saving now and decide to upgrade your wedding rings
on your fifth anniversary or your tenth anniversary.
Maybe you could plan to renew your vows then too!
On this page you´ll find the ring for every taste and every
You asked your best friends to support you through the
wedding process as your bridesmaides. It is a nice tradition
to give them a gift to thank you for their commitment, but it
also adds another item to your list of wedding related
expenses. So you want top find something that is special but
not too expensive.
The classic is some jewellery that goes with the
bridesmaides dress. It doesn’t have to be the real thing if
you are on a tight budget. Choose something they can wear
to the wedding, but that works on other occasions as well.
Or give them something practical they will use in their every
day life. How about a personalized make up bag, a duffel
bag for the gym, a beach towel, a nice luggage tag…
Why don’t you go for some fancy soap, a lotion or some
other skin care product? If you are into these kind of things
you can even make them yourself.
There are many possibilities. If you don’t have too
much money to spend, rather get a small, but good quality
gift but something big, that will come apart too soon.
If you have some dollars left, spend them to get some
personal words engraved in whatever you are giving. Put
your names (yours and the bridesmaides, not the grooms)+
and the occasion, you might to add some quote about
friendship ore something that refers to something you
shared in the past.
Foto: Stockx.chng: bjearwicke
If you can’t spend big bucks you also can make a personal
gift yourself. How about a little album with fotos that show
you and your bridesmaid? You can buy really cheap albums
at dollar stores and decorate them yourself. Put in all the
memories you share and decorate with scrape book
For the guys, a money clip can run from $5.00 to
$10.00 depending on where you look. You can even start
them off with a dollar bill in it if you get them cheap enough.
If your bestmen like to drink wine once in a while, a
professional corkscrew would make a perfect gift. Another
inexpensive but original gift is a dozen different bottles of
beer in a cooler: the guys sure will love it!
To make the flower girl and the ring bearer happy, will
be easy: depending on their age you can get them a stuffed
animal or some other toy, why don’t you chose something
they can play with at the reception and keep themselves
The cheapest honeymoon is the one that you’re
skipping. Don’t consider this option! You probably still will
tell your grandchildren about your honeymoon, even if you
just went camping. If camping is all you can afford, then go
One possibility to have a special honeymoon is to ask your
guests to contribute rather than giving you a wedding gift.
You can actually list for a honeymoon, there are several
sites on the net that let you pick the details. So your guests
instead of giving you a piece of china they contribute to the
hotel or give you a special dinner.
Consider local travel. Stay at a bed and breakfast.
What about a theme park honeymoon? Why don’t you just
get in the car and start driving? Where ever you end up at
night, find a cheap hotel and enjoy the adventourus part of
If you want even more adventure, fly last minute. Just
go to the airport and see what they have got at the last
minute counter. You don’t know if you will end up at the
Seychelles or at Cuba, but you sure will have to tell
something to your grandchildren!
Your nearest airport doesn’t have a last minute
counter? Check out
A lot of conventional travel sites have a last minute section
Why don’t you swap houses with someone? There are
several organizations who bring together people who would
like to spend their vacations at the house of somebody else
and don’t mind leaving those people live in their house
during the same time.
Here are some directions:
If you can get away for your honeymoon, be sure to
plan early. The earlier you book your trip, the better chance
you have of getting a good rate. Consider an all-inclusive
vacation or a cruise. These can be relatively low-cost and
Some sites you might find helpful:
www.essortment.com: cheap honeymoon destinations
www.honeymoonersreviewguide.com: destinations and
www.about.com: information about EVERYTHING, great
information for honeymooners
Here are the checklists we promised! Print them out
and refer to them often. They can help keep you organized
and insure that you have a beautiful wedding with no detail
Here’s a table to keep track of your budget to make
sure you don’t overspend. (In brakes we put an estimate
percentage of what you should plan to pay for each factor.
Identify points where you will be able to cut back!)
Budget Sheet Budgeted Actual Done
Wedding gown and
grooms attire plus
Ceremony: Location and
church, guests shuttle
Inviations, thank you
notes and postage fees
Food, Drink and cake,
Rental reception hall (48
Reception Décor (4 %)
Attendant Gifts (3%)
Reception Guest Favors
Rings and engravings
The Honeymoon goes extra!
Use this checklist to keep track of the important things!
Action Timeframe Done!
Let people know about your 12 months prior
engagement, have a party! to wedding
Set your budget 12 months prior
Decide who is paying for what 12 months prior
Get as much information as possible 12 months prior
about budget weddings to wedding
Set a date 12 months prior
Reserve the church 12 months prior
Book Recreption hall of find 12 months prior
alternative to wedding
Find a wedding planner if you 12 months prior
choose to have one to wedding
Choose bridesmaides and bestmen 12 months prior
Start to check out caterers 12 months prior
Choose the dress, get it altered 9 months prior to
Book florist 9 months prior to
Book caterer 9 months prior to
Book Musicians or Band 9 months prior to
Choose and book photographer 9 months prior to
Start making wwedding favor 9 months prior to
Plan the honeymoon, check 9 months prior to
passports, apply for visa wedding
Look for wedding cake designer and 9 months prior to
arrange tasting wedding
Let our of town guesst know about 5 months prior to
the wedding wedding
Pick out or plan church decoration 5 months prior to
Pick out or plan reception 5 months prior to
Order the wedding cake 5 months prior to
Register for gifts 5 months prior to
Arrange for wedding transportation 5 months prior to
Organize rehearsal dinner 5 months prior to
Reserve or buy grooms and bets 5 months prior to
men attire wedding
Buy wedding rings 5 months prior to
Book hotels for out of town guests 5 months prior to
Decide, where you want to spend 5 months prior to
your wedding night wedding
Prepare gifts for each other and 5 months prior to
wedding attendants wedding
Find out which papers you will need, 5 months prior to
arrange to get them (wedding wedding
Talk to the caterer about wedding 2-3 months prior
menu, plan your menu if you are to wedding
doing it yourself, try out dishes
Book hair stylist and makeup artist, 2-3 months prior
or fiend friend who will help you to wedding
Prepare directions to an from 2-3 months prior
church, reception hall to wedding
Mail the wedding invitations 2-3 months prior
Plan wedding rehearsal and 2-3 months prior
rehearsal dinner to wedding
Put wedding announcement in your 2-3 months prior
local paper to wedding
Write your vows 2-3 months prior
Apply for the marriage license 2-3 months prior
Confirm with caterer, musicians, 1 montht prior to
hair stylist, florist etc. wedding
Check back with guests who haven 1 montht prior to
´t answered wedding
Plan the seating, write place cards 1 montht prior to
Prepare toasts for rehearsal dinner 1 montht prior to
and wedding reception wedding
Pick up dress and other attire 2 weeks prior to
Break in your wedding shoes inside 2 weeks prior to
the house wedding
Confirm transportation 2 weeks prior to
Give gifts to the wedding party 1 day before
Meet out of town guests 1 day before
Have manicure/pedicure 1 day before
Rehearse the wedding 1 day before
Attend rehearsal dinner 1 day before
Relax and have a great wedding! Wedding day
Weddings should reflect the individual personalities and
priorities of the couple getting married. The focus of this
special day shouldn´t be about how much was spent or
saved. It should be about the event itself and the couple’s
commitment to each other.
Remember, it's not the price of the wedding that
determines the quality of your marriage or that dictates a
good time for all involved!
A successful wedding does not have to be an expensive
wedding. Success should be determined by whether the
bride, groom and the guests enjoyed themselves.
Having a wedding on a tight budget does not mean
having to give up style or the fond memories. It just takes
some planning and shopping around.
No matter how much money you spend, if your
wedding is cookie cutter and seems rehearsed no one will
remember it and most will not enjoy it. Make it your own,
make it part of you both, not part of a book you read, or do
things you think you "have" to do! Share with your guests
part of who you both are!
Weddings are expensive if you want them to be. But if
you want to keep money aside for a deposit on a house or a
honeymoon to remember, then there are many cost cutting
ideas. All you need is a little imagination, and some help
from friends and family and you too can have a luxury
wedding with all the trimmings.
Getting married should not be expensive. After all, the
essence of marriage is in the union and not in the
celebration. You shouldn't also try too hard to please the
guests. Your family and friends are there to rejoice this
wonderful event with you and not to criticize your wedding.
Think of your wedding as a collaboration of loving
hands coming together to form the perfect day. Follow
these tips and you’ll have a beautiful wedding and reception
and you won’t have to start out married life in debt. You’ll
have a gorgeous and memorable ceremony to remember for
years to come!
More Great Sites:
www.do-it-yourself-weddings.com: covers absolutely everything you
need to know if you want to do as much as you can yourself
www.cheap-wedding-success.co.uk: Lots fo ideas for all aspects of
www.guidesforbrides.co.uk: Lots of information plus directory of UK
www.weddingchannel.com: one of the most important sites for brides
and grooms to be
www.wedalert.com: very complete, they even have an overview of the
marriage laws of all 50 states
www.frugalbride.com: lots of ideas from Canada
www.usabride.com: inspirational articles and shopping
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