Beautiful Weddings on a Budget
Every couple dreams of having the perfect wedding, but the day of the bride’s parents footing the bill is slipping away. Four out of five couples now pay for their own wedding. The cost of the average wedding is $19,000, money that could be better spent on a down payment for a house, furnishings, or an extended honeymoon. Planning your own wedding will ensure that things are exactly the way you want them, without the expense of hiring a wedding planner for a “unique” wedding (which usually isn’t). Free online wedding planners are available to guide you through the necessary steps. The most lavish wedding doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage. You’ll have enough time for being broke later when you have children!
Pare Down the Guest List
This is the special day for the bride and groom, and for those nearest and dearest to you to celebrate your union, not an occasion to entertain those people you only get a Christmas card from or whom you feel obligated to invite. Keeping the guest list small creates a more meaningful and intimate wedding day, and gives the bride and groom time to mingle with all the guests. Invite only those closest to you, those whom you can’t imagine getting married without them being there.
Make Your Own Flower Arrangements
To save big money over professionally arranged flowers, do the arrangements and bouquets yourself or ask a friend who is skilled in the craft. Flower arranging supplies are available at most craft stores. Silk flowers can be as beautiful and realistic as fresh flowers, and the floral arrangements can be done weeks ahead of the wedding and stored in a dust-free environment until the wedding day. After the wedding service, ask the groomsmen to move the arrangements to the reception area, and your flowers can do double duty.
Serve Favorite Finger Foods
Skip the professionally catered buffet or sit-down luncheon in favor of finger foods and cake. Your guests came to see you get married, not eat. Ask family members if they will pitch in some of their favorite recipes, foods they know people enjoy. A good friend experienced in cake decorating will be thrilled to create your wedding cake, or look up a local cake-decorating class and ask if they have a student or teacher who would create a cake for the experience (plus the cost of supplies). If you have your heart set on a sit-down dinner, ask a group of friends want to give you a gift if they would cater the reception for you.
Make your own party favors, if you must have them. (This is a great excuse for the ladies involved in the wedding to get together for an enjoyable afternoon.) For example, purchase inexpensive clear glass votive holders and candles that match the wedding colors, cut round pieces of white net, and tie them in little bundles with matching bows. Small, inexpensive frames can be decorated with tiny silk flowers and can serve as place card holders at the reception.
Keeping Reception Costs in Line
Choose a site for your reception that includes chairs and tables, since these can be expensive to rent. Dollar stores are an excellent place to find white china, basic stemware, linens, and decorations at very reasonable prices. A CD boom box and CD’s can provide music for the wedding ceremony and reception. A karaoke machine can accompany the wedding singer and provide entertainment at the reception. Ask a friend who has a good digital camera to take wedding photographs and informal shots at the reception. Create invitations on your computer. If you don’t have any particularly talented friends, check with a local college for photographers, musicians, and printers who need experience and would provide their services so they can add them to their portfolio.
Wedding dresses can be quite expensive, but if you shop sample sales you may be able to buy a designer dress for a fraction of the original price. Consider shopping resale shops (my daughter found a gorgeous beaded gown for $75) or buying a white prom dress. Beautiful wedding dresses don’t have to break your budget. Don’t obsess over the dress, you’re only going to wear it once. Forget the penguin attire, and put the groom and groomsmen in sharp dark suits and white shirts that they can wear again for other special occasions.
Get Family and Friends Involved
Planning a memorable wedding day can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Don’t be a bridezilla and feel you need to have total control over every detail. Let friends and family take over part of the preparations, and thank them for doing so without nitpicking their choices. Be a relaxed and confident bride on your wedding day, enjoy your guests, and you will be creating wonderful memories for your friends and families!