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My husband and I were single until we were thirty, so we agreed that a "full blown" wedding was not what we wanted. Instead we opted to save our money for a honeymoon trip to England, and to put together a more economical wedding. We planned a small invitation list, about 50, that included a few friends and relatives.
Were we ever surprised when many of our friends and co-workers "invited" themselves to our wedding with comments like "We thought you two would NEVER get married", and "This we gotta see! When's the date?" The guest list grew to almost 200! Well, we couldn't afford hurt feelings OR a big wedding so this is how we solved it.
We made a list of all the components : location, food, flowers, music, decorations, invitations, cake, dress, beverages, etc. Then one by one we decided what we could scale back. As we were doing this my best friend, (who was going through a nasty divorce at the time) called in tears and said she could not afford to give me a gift or even attend the wedding. Of course I was crushed, by her absence, NOT the gift! LOL. A solution came to me and it also provided the solution to our ever-expanding guest list.
My friend is an excellent seamstress and the dress I had purchased from a vintage shop needed repair. I suggested that as her gift she fit it for me and I would pay her a token sum as well so she could attend. She was thrilled, and so was I!
Next I approached other friends and made like suggestions. In place of the usual gifts or money, would they be interested in pooling together for the wine? The cake? The flowers? The response was tremendous!
One friend, a florist, supplied the flowers at wholesale and donated her talents as designer. Another did my hair. Several others bought the cake and champagne. We had opted for a champagne and dessert reception to keep food costs down and had chosen 8 p.m. for our June date.
Another close friend, who lived on a lake,very generously donated her garden for the ceremony and reception and relatives rented the tent. We got the chairs from the local Fire Auxiliary at 50 cents each, with the understanding that we would pick them up and return them ourselves.
My colors were pale yellow and white, so we covered the tables with snow white sheets that we pinned under and put wide yellow florists ribbons criss-crossing and cascading down to the grass. In the middle of the tables, to hold the ribbons and the bottles of champange, we put small Styrofoam coolers, covered in pale yellow satin and filled with ice cubes. These were surrounded by wine glasses from the dollar store. Flowers finished the festive wine tables. The dessert table was buffet style, the goodies made by a young woman starting her own catering business. She gave us a great price because we let her put cards on the tables.
Our photos were taken by my new brother-in-law, mostly candid shots, which really were so much fun to look at later. No video! The music was a student string quartet that played waltzes and hymns throughout the evening and our wedding song, The Sleeping Beauty Waltz, whenever my new husband gave me a kiss.
There were no disappointed guests, no "rubber" chicken dinner and no tacky jokes. There was a very happy party, a delicious reception and a fabulous honeymoon in England.
One of the guests had taken her own photos and sent them to a local paper with the story about our wedding. The paper ran it on a full page!
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When planning a wedding, there are ways you can be frugal. One of them is to make your invitations instead of getting them made. Buy pretty printer paper, type them up, and decorate them with your personality. People never notice the difference and it's so much cheaper.
Another thing you can do is have family members help with setting up. Your nieces and nephews think they are playing when making paper mache flowers and folding napkins.
Although these ideas may seems a little too cheap, no one notices that there is anything different and studies have shown that people like when the bride and groom use their own creativity in a wedding!
By Claire Bear from Columbus, OH
I can't vouch for the frugality of my daughter's wedding, but I do know it seemed to be a "neighborhood affair." One neighbor's wedding present was the whole hog for the pulled pork, which they served on large croissants. The rest of the food was mostly various chips, cheese cubes and a couple of kinds of hummus (which I think was the most expensive food served, except maybe for the croissants.)
In 2008, a series of events were brought to our family. Our oldest daughter decided she wanted to get married in October (the month and day they met). So, that was one wedding. Then, the next wedding was for my step-daughter in May. After that, my middle daughter got married in August of 2009. So that was 3 weddings within 10 months.
Being frugal has always been a priority to me. I knew we couldn't afford any of these weddings, but we'd do what we could. Fortunately, we did pretty good with two of the weddings but the second one was awesome.
She decided on a Spring wedding and I had enough notice for us to begin the big hunt for all the proper things. I decided to jot down what we spent in a notebook to keep track of it. Never ever did I ever think her wedding would only cost us $733.94.
The trick to this was there was enough time to find the items, make what we needed, and we were able to shop all the winter sales for the best possible prices. Winter is usually not the biggest wedding month, so that gave us even more of a chance to get everything she wanted without coming away broke.
Here is a list of the things we used the $733.94 to buy:
The manor she got married at was a wedding gift from one of the managers. The food was bought by them but it was only about $50.00 for a full banquet (simple but sweet). The cake was also a wedding gift.
If you already have a date in mind for your wedding, try to buy your items ahead of time and during the off season. Making the favors and other small items is very beneficial. I am going to put in a precaution here - do your homework. If something is cheaper to buy, then don't make it.
As I sit back and think over all of the frugal things I have done in my life I think when it comes down to money, these were the best deals we could ever find.
By Gem from VA
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Our daughter is getting married in June of '05 and we need to be careful about the amount we spend on the wedding.
When my husband and I got married, we only spent $300 out of our pockets for the entire wedding. That included the flowers, my dress, invitations and programs. You can have a great wedding for a lower price as well.
You can have a large beautiful wedding if you limit your shopping to thrift stores, Walmart, and Dollar Tree. This wedding cost under $600.
I got married in October so I used the flowers in season. This was very cost effective. I also did a small round two layer cake to cut, and did a sheet cake in the kitchen to serve to the guests.
When planning your wedding, ask the groom's family to be in charge of, and pay for any alcohol beverages served. If you aren't serving alcohol, the groom's parents can pay for another part of the reception.
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We have a small budget for our wedding and catering is so expensive. If we do it ourselves with frozen lasagna, salad and bread will it look cheap? How can we have a nice meal on a tight budget?
By Sarah from Sacramento, CA
I echo redhatterb, you can do what you'd like (and can afford!). True friends and loved ones will be there to help celebrate your union. The rest is just gravy!
My reception was buffet style. We had croissants purchased from Sam's (sliced the night before) with meat and cheese trays so guests could make their own sandwiches. We made barbequed meatballs, little mini-quiches (also purchased from Sam's), and some of my mom's Japanese friends offered to make a few dishes. It worked out just fine. But I think I had maybe 2 or 3 bites of food. You should have your maid of honor get you a plate, and please sit down and eat some food. It's a big day, and you don't want to pass out!
It's possible some close friends or relatives would be happy to help you out. Look into some finger foods and don't worry about serving a big formal meal. I hope you have a wonderful wedding (and marriage). Enjoy it!
It will not look cheap. It will look like you are a financially responsible couple with a great deal of common sense and down-home hospitality. Too many couples spend lavishly on the wedding day, robbing funds from the marriage, itself. By keeping to a budget within your means, it will be a wise and rich investment for your future. If anyone fails to notice just that, it's their problem, not yours.
*You can save money by asking friends to help (cook, serve, clean-up) as a gift.
*Serve as a quasi buffet line (people walking through) but have your server friends on the other side of the table to actually serve and control portions.
*The disposable, hard plastic dinnerware looks better than paper plates, but won't cost as much as rented china. Some of it is actually dishwasher (top rack) approved and could be reused in your home after the wedding day.
*If you offer a variety of side salads (a green salad, a meatless antipasto salad, a jello salad, veggie casserole, whatever,) and a few differently seasoned kinds of bread sticks, guests that either don't eat meat or don't like lasagna can still fill up.
*Be sure to have some individually wrapped mints at the end of the serving line so that no one gets embarrassed about "garlic breath" from such a great meal. :-)
Have a wonderful day!
I went to a wedding once where they served deviled ham sandwiches. That being said, I thought no less of the happy couple. They were staying within their budget and that is commendable. If your friends and relatives are that narrow minded, then fooey on them. I say go ahead with your lasagna idea, salad and rolls. Sounds very nice and remember presentation is everything. Set the table with a flower in a look alike crystal vase, add baloons, and of course a wedding cake. That should do it and Happy Everafter. Blessings.....
Sarah, it's your day. I say do what works best for you. My oldest son got married at the courthouse, with just a handfull of us attending. Then we all gathered at a local Mexican restaurant and paid for our own meals. That in no way detracted from our joy in the union!
What we did was, prepare a menu together, cook for 3 days together and we enlisted parents for the cake and we provided beer on tap, coffee and tea, also a lovely punch and kept our expenses low. Our reception was in our rented home and we fed 50. It was fabulous and we knew that our love would last. It has for 30 years. We still cook together too.
In addition to what has already been said, have you considered an afternoon wedding? You can just serve cake cookies, nuts, mints, and drinks. If you like, you can add fruit and finger sandwiches, or maybe a chocolate fountain. Good luck.
I'm interested in any suggestions on how to contain the cost of a wedding. For example, I need help with dresses, flowers, food, venues, etc.
If you need ideas for a frugal wedding, just plain go and get married. It is the thought between the two of you that counts, not a showy affair. Have a couple friends or relatives stand up with you and go out for a meal after the ceremony. Otherwise have the ceremony in somebody's house with just immediate family attending. Have it during a time of day that you won't be expected to serve a meal and just have a small wedding cake with coffee, tea, and punch. Have a couple relatives do the serving. As far as dresses, flowers, etc. you know better than anyone what you like.
When I got married we got married in the pastor's study, and I wore a white brocade street length dress that I had made with a white hat and shoes and a red carnation corsage. My sister wore a red dress that was a hand me down from me a couple years before and a white hat and shoes. That was it. The men wore dark suits and had boutonnieres. Back then if I had bought my dress it probably would have cost at least $100.00, ready made. I can't remember what the fabric cost but it was pricey for the early 60s. However, even now you can find really nice looking street length dresses or even really dressy suits that can be worn for other occasions.
Just look up "wedding" here & you will find lots of frugal ideas. It can be done, I have done 2 weddings for very little (Under $1,000).
My first wedding was ultra-frugal. My wedding dress came from a consignment shop, as did the groom's suit. The only people in attendance were the pastor, the best man, matron of honor, and the groom and me. I typed announcements after the fact. We bought some semi-fancy plain cards that I typed on a borrowed typewriter (this was in 1982.) His family gave us a pot-luck reception at their church's fellowship hall a couple of days later.
My current hubby and lifemate and I also had a very small wedding, although my dress was new and from Sears or Penney's. Again it was the attendants, the pastor and us. We went to a local Chinese buffet afterwards.
Our oldest son got married at the county courthouse, with a handful of folks other than hubby and me, and we went to a local Mexican restaurant afterward. I'm not sure where my daughter-in-law and her maid of honor got their outfits, but the rest of us just wore nice church clothes.
These three weddings are the most frugal I can think of. Best to you and your new spouse!
We want a super small wedding! Either just the two of us, or very few people. We live in Washington state and need some help with ideas. We don't know if we should travel somewhere to get married or just do it around home? Help!
This was exactly what hubby and I wanted 20 years ago. We were married at the Wedding Chapel in Hamilton, ON and had two of our best friends with their spouses share the special day with us. After the ceremony, the six of us went to Shakespeare's Steak House for a fine dinner. No muss, no fuss but everything done with a touch of class.
I would like some ideas for planning a wedding with the theme, soul food. Please provide thrifty ideas. Thank you.
My nephew got married in May of this year. He and his bride to be didn't have a lot of money, so she wanted to get married at her moms house, and they asked each guest to bring a covered dish. We live down south, so he asked his relatives to bring their soul food, like they have around the Holidays. They did, and it was just wonderful!
Also, my hubby & I just did finger foods at our wedding that pulled it off nicely and it was a small get together because we didn't want a huge expensive wedding. I really liked my nephew & niece's (yeap she's family now!) Idea of covered dish! Wish I'd thought of that! Hope this helps!
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People are willing to help. My family made all the food for my wedding. Pick a few good finger foods that you can make ahead of time and freeze (rolls, meatballs, cheese straws, savory puff pastry twists). You can buy ingredients while they are on sale and stock up. Instead of spending a lot on pictures, have a professional do a few, and then a friend with a good camera take a lot of posed and candid ones.
I had a friend who made her invitations on the computer using cards from an office supply store. They were very classy and you couldn't tell that they weren't professionally done. Have fun!
By Leigh Ann
For the reception, we made CD's with the music we wanted all planned out in order. One for dinner music, one for the bridal party dances and two for dance music for everyone. We borrowed some good sound equipment and put a friend in charge. People can't make music requests this way but, if you think things through, you can play a variety that your guests will appreciate while insuring that you and your new husband actually like all the music.
Make sure to include music that was popular during each generation of your guests. We included more classics and slow songs, along with a few line dances, early on to get things moving and mixed in more and more current music as the evening went on.
A relative took all the pictures for free, as a wedding gift. The food was all prepared by myself and we had family members help with the food tables and two grills going with brats and burgers. My daughter made the music CD for the wedding and reception. Everyone remarked on how beautiful it was.
Don't forget looking on e-bay, they have people on there where you can get the wedding party's essential flowers for $90.00 (buy-it-now). You can even request the colors you like. Favors are also an item that is offered a lot.
If you opt for an outdoor wedding at maybe a free park, try a picnic type reception with rolls, meat, cheeses and things to make sandwiches with maybe salad, fruit salad, potato salad and chips and dip. A great way to save money because you can basically buy this in platters at your local grocery store and make the other things in advance and easily.
We made our own invitations, and fantastic cootie catchers for every table. A friend made our cake, and we decorated our own car with ribbons to save on hiring a Rolls Royce! We had a karaoke machine at the reception so we even made our own entertainment! (Me and Hubby sang to our guests instead of having a first dance!) Sparkling wine can be bought in advance from whichever supermarket has the best offer, and simple favours can be made by dressing candy with ribbon and bows.
Enjoy the preparations, you will love it!
By Julie UK
Editor's Note: Here's a picture of the Cootie Catcher Wedding Favor: http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf977886.tip.html
Another friend took some small painted metal pieces and a romantic magnetic poetry kit and assembled random poems for all the guests. It was fun and memorable. I still have both of these favors on my refrigerator 8 years later.
For my own wedding, we wrote our own vows. I printed these up and tied them with a ribbon along with candy kisses. If you want to see more about my wedding, I have a post about it here.
Have a minimal bridal party. We had our wedding at 11:00 and served a light brunch menu. Almost everything we served came from SAM'S; quiche, deli spirals, frozen fruit, vegetable trays, cheese and crackers, pastry puffs, punch, nuts, plates, napkins, forks, cups. We spent about $250 on everything and served 100+ people.
We used bell placecard holders (off eBay) as favors and took a picture of us to Wal-Mart to copy into wallet size pictures. We then put those in the placecard holders as favors. Everyone loved them!
We also found that sticking with all red roses really cut down our budget. Fresh "in-season" flowers are more expensive than roses! They looked wonderful in pictures and very elegant. Also, don't be afraid to deal with anyone. Tell the florist what you want and what you can spend. Shop around until you find someone who will do it for your price, same thing for the photographer. Everyone we looked at was way out of our budget. But, by having the wedding in the morning, the photographer we chose could still do another wedding that afternoon so he cut us a deal.
Most importantly, make the wedding personal and don't stress. The wedding won't determine your happiness, you as a couple will.
Cake: You can have a beautiful cake for almost nothing. Bake 6-7 cakes and cut them into circles of different sizes, cover with white frosting. Use fresh rose petals matching your color) to decorate the sides of each cake. Use small buds as decoration on a few of the cakes. Place small boxes of different heights on a round table and cover with a satin table cloth (again to match). Place the cakes on the boxes. Place the smallest cake at the tallest level with a cake topper on it. This creates a beautiful cake table.
Favors/Gifts: You can purchase small frames/card holder for about .89 cents each (even less if you order a large quantity). Select a picture of you and your spouse/fiance and convert the picture to black and white. This makes a very sleek gift and table decoration. You can make the pictures on your home computer (get a couple of friends or relatives to cut and put in the frames). You can also get custom glasses printed with your name and date on them. These are great gifts and do not cost that much. Just type personalized glasses and search.
Decorations: You can buy foil and paper table coverings, and placemats, on the internet and at US Lace, that look amazing on the tables.
Just remember that you can just about type discount anything on the internet and find it. I ordered everything, including bulk candy to fill my personalized glasses, online and I did it all for a fraction of what it would have cost me. Also the more work you do, the less $ you have to pay someone.
We started looking for my sister's wedding dress at all the fancy dress shops here in town. Not only did she hate every single one of them, they were all out of her price range. We found a bridal outlet store just out of town. It was great! The people helping us were the owners and were very helpful and interested in helping us, unlike the fancy shops. She paid $300 for her dress. She spent $8 on her veil at Walmart (wedding/craft section) and splurged a little on underthings at Victoria's Secret.
For the bridesmaids we ended up at Dillard's clearance section at the last minute. Her colors were royal blue and silver. Royal blue is amazingly hard to find in the summer. Help your sis pick a color that will be in season when it's time to pick up the ladies' dresses, including the MOMS!
Everything we ordered online ended up being TOO purple (YUCK!). We payed $120 each for 2 dresses, but darn it, they didn't match her royal blue. For dresses off-the-rack, look for darker colors around Christmas and for lighter colors look at Easter!
My daughter was the flower girl and we paid $35 at a little shop in the more Hispanic part of town. Beautiful, simple, elegant, handmade! (White shoes are easiest to find at Easter!)
We downloaded all of the music and burned a CD for both before and during the service. Enya before and classical during. My DH2B (dear husband-to-be) was our "music director". She found a lovely chapel (http://www.amerryoccasion.com) whose owner was also the officiant and caterer and decorator of church and hall, with the hall in the basement of the chapel.
She had an early afternoon wedding so, instead of a dinner reception, we did a late lunch setting and had meat/cheese and fruit/veggie trays along with potato and pasta salads. There was no break between ceremony and reception. (I always hated that break anyway. What a waste of time!)
Our Aunt made the cake and we helped to decorate it. She also helped make the bouquets (fake flowers are cheaper and last longer)! Oh, and she was the hair/makeup person. She is AMAZINGLY talented. Even the photographer was a good deal. He charged $700 for 100 pics (but gave us more than that) and all the negatives! Wedding favors we just used blue tulle and silver ribbon with Hershey's Hugs and Kisses. We spent about $5000.
We are getting married on February 20th, 2010. I have almost no budget. Our colors are burgundy, champagne, and ivory. We will be doing all of the decorations, food, etc. ourselves. Please help.
I'm planning a wedding around Howard County, MD and would like any advice you can give on an inexpensive wedding.
The frugal Bride's mother has pulled off another wedding on a budget! I surpassed the $600.00 wedding for my son and Daughter-in-law, but less than $1000. . .