Frugal Wedding Advice Needed!

victoria1December 9, 2008

I have about 9 months to save for my wedding on a very, very limited income. I had several thousand dollars saved up last year, but we fell on hard times and it is now gone; a paycheck to paycheck type situation. We both work and go to school full time and we have cut our standard of living way down, cut extra expenses wherever possible, but I still don't think we will have enough in enough time.

We have a guest list of about 150 people (that's absolutely bare minimum, we have cut all we possibly can). His family is a 14 hour drive from us, and they will have quite a trip to make, so we had to warn them far in advance about the date and stick with it.

My theme is rather simple.....but lightly accented with....well....think, "summer's eve/woodland fairy/fantasy". I'm going to use nature to do most of my decorating for me, but accent it with a few things.

We are doing a semi-outdoor "cookout" type thing, possibly a pig roast, I will have to see what is cheaper. I am going to attempt to make my own cake. I have made a 3 tiered cake before and I'm very creative, so I know it's possible for me to do. I considered making the dinner entrees myself, but my mom has warned against an undertaking like that around the wedding time.

Mom and Dad have a farm with a large (maybe 50 by 100 feet of concrete floor, fully enclosed) new outbuilding that will be used as the "hall". They have said that if their finances allow they may be able to help pay for part of the alcohol and beverages, but that was all that was promised. His family will barely be able to afford the long drive here.

Grandma has collected some pretty candle lanterns for table centerpieces ( I will likely scatter a few white lilies around the surface). I have looked online and found bolts of bulk tule for a reasonable price. She is making the favors, bless her.

The invitations will have to be simple, I simply don't have hundreds to spend on them.

I found bridesmaid dresses for around $120/each, which I guess is on the low end, but I still feel bad making the bridesmaids spend even that nowadays. I guess you can rent tuxes, but probably we will just go with suits to make it more comfortable and less expensive. My dress...either I'm about to get really good at sewing or really lucky to find a deal. I have a simple style in mind (A line, off shoulder, bell sleeves) but it's hard to find. I've considered buying a basic dress and adding on but I'm not willing to spend much more than $100 on it. I can make my veil and headpiece.

There will be no limos, DJ, engagement party, bachelorette party, shower or bridal luncheon although I am going to try and get our wedding party members a little something for standing up. As of now I do not know how we will afford a photographer.

We had set up a separate savings account where every penny of overtime I received went into, but like I said, that is gone, and I have to scrape together to stay in school, both to finish my degree and not make $500/month loan payments.

I had originally budgeted about $5000 for the whole affair, but saving up half that is going to be a real feat. Everyone else says to just put the wedding off until times are better, but honestly, we really want to be married, and if we start waiting for things like that we may end up waiting years.

Does anyone have any saving tips, ideas, experiences of pulling a decent wedding on a shoestring budget like this?

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Skip the favors completely. Most guests I know admit to throwing them out enroute home. With 150 guests, your money will be spent on food. I assume with the 14 hour drive some of your guests face, you have planned an evening wedding. The meal does not have to be fancy if it is outside. Spend your money on the food and cut back on the drinks. The point is to have a good time for everyone who attends your wedding, and that means feeding everyone and just being friendly, warm hosts.

Good luck to you both and try to enjoy the whole process.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 11:11PM
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I agree, skip the favors. I found bridesmaids dresses on Nordstrom's website for $50 each, on sale. If you look and look, you can find very inexpensive dresses that they will want to wear again.

You can find a friend or two with a camera and have them take pictures. Most photographers, unless you have thousands to spend, will only get 10-20 good shots anyway. With a good friend and a digital, you can get that many on your own.

Do punch/spritzer instead of individual drinks. You can make punch very festive. Use that for your toasts.

The main thing is you are getting married. Good for you to not put it off due to financial constraints. People spend way too much on weddings anyway, IMO.

Ask friends to bring flowers from their yards. You can make it a very nice "country/down home" wedding that everyone will feel comfortable at and no one will feel like they need to put on airs. It sounds very very lovely, just my style!!! (I know you have a lot of guests, but I'd love to come!)

Big slabs of cornbread, pasta salads, a large hunk of meat and a big pot of beans.

You can collect baby food jars and candle stubs from people, hang the jars with wire to make strings of lights. Wine jars and drippy candles.

You can make a lot of things yourself with help. If you have refrigeration and friends, the side dishes can be made a few days ahead.

Remember, it's all about the vows and you and your dear one. Everything else will just be a memory. You are making a life commitment, and that is the beauty of the day.

Get out your boom box and CD's or ask friends with musical talent to play a few songs. Make a bonfire and do marshmallows and a hot dog bar.

I'll try to think of some more stuff. You sound very creative. I'm sure your wedding will be something your guests will remember for its simplicity and honesty, and for letting the true beauty of the day shine through.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 1:07PM
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Another vote to skip the favors.

Do you have to serve a full meal? Would you be comfortable with a cake and coffee (or champagne, or whatever) reception -- which is actually a very "upper class" approach -- and then dinner just with the people who came from far away and immediate family? How would you feel about that smaller family group just going to a nice restaurant together, and everyone just paying their own way, or else you treating just the small group to a very casual, inexpensive meal? I know you want to offer more hospitality than that, but with your financial situation as tight as it is right now, I am sure everyone would understand that you are not in a position to treat a big group to an expensive meal and might even feel bad if you did.

It is nice of you to consider the cost of bridesmaid dresses. Consider just letting them wear their own favorite party dresses, or perhaps just telling them them the color scheme and dressiness and let them choose something they will be able to use again or borrow something. I see non-matching attendants' dresses very frequently (I am a clergy wife and go to a lot of weddings!), and I think it actually looks more sophisticated than when the dresses all match (they are usually nicer dresses, too).

And definitely bag the tuxes. Seems to me they would be too much for a farm wedding anyway. Just let the guys wear their own (or borrowed) suits and ties -- they do NOT have to match.

I love your comment, "I'm going to use nature to do most of my decorating for me." Great idea, and well put.

Best wishes to you! I am sure it will be great. No one is coming for the entertainment; they are coming to celebrate with YOU.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 9:02PM
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There are a number of ways to save money. I would suggest that you not forego a photographer entirely. After the wedding is over, you will have your memories and your photos. Call high schools and colleges in your area and see if one of the photography teachers does photography on the side. Many do for a reasonable price.

I agree on skipping the favors. If you really want to have something then have a candy table. They are very popular right now and you can be certain everyone will consume what they take. You place bowls of several of your favorite candies on a table along with clear cellophane bags and guests create their own favor.

I agree with your mother that you don't want to be involved in trying to prepare your own food. I would also discourage you from baking your own cake. The icing used by commercial bakers is different than typical icing used by a home baker. If it will be warm outside, your icing may melt and you won't have time on the wedding day to be assembling the cake.

Have you considered the need for tables and chairs? That can be quite an expense if you have to rent them. However, you may be able to borrow them from a church or senior citizens center.

The Christmas/New Years season is the perfect time to look for holiday party dresses for the bridesmaids. You can often find great ones at reduced prices. I agree that if you allow each bridesmaid to choose her own dress, she will be happier with it and more willing to purchase it. You might choose the color and let each one choose the style or you can choose a general style and a range of colors and let each person choose her own dress.

Good luck with your plans. With attention to detail and careful planning it will be a beautiful day.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 11:44PM
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Gellchom, I agree with the coffee and cake reception. There could be a really nice coffee bar and dessert table. People would mingle more, and there would be way less to set up and clean up.

Sweet Pea, great idea on the photography teacher idea. I was just reading about a woman who called around, got her DJ for free (he was just starting out and needed references) and got her makeup and hair done by a local salon in exchange for pictures of her style to be used in advertising, got her dress off of EBay, etc. I think with a little calling around and offers of recommendations there could be a lot of leeway in price.

Candy table is a really neat idea. If there is a local candy (regional, like salt water taffy?) perhaps a local store would be willing to cut the price if they had their name on the bags?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 9:31AM
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I saw a really pretty table decoration today, and I thought of this string because it looked inexpensive (and easy to do yourself) but very elegant. I later found out that the hostess's sister, who is a wedding planner, designed it.

Each table had a white tablecloth (long; it looks so much more elegant than just a 6 inch or whatever drop). White cloths save a LOT of money, because rental companies can wash them in hot water and bleach and use them again and again, unlike colored tablecloths, which are pretty much single-use. On top of that, each table had two long strips of shimmery pale blue ribbon, about 7" wide, almost as long as the cloth, crisscrossed on top. In the center of each table was a square glass vase with colorless glass "stones" in the bottom and a single white spider mum floating in water. Scattered around that were little rhinestones from a craft shop.

It looked spectacular! Simple but very elegant. If you could borrow the vases and get the ribbon, stones, and rhinestones on Craigslist or Ebay, or sell them there when you are finished with them, it would be really inexpensive. And you could certainly substitute different things for the various elements to use what you can get free or borrow.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 4:44PM
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Oh, for heaven's sake! Get married and be done with it. You don't owe the world some huge thing that you can't afford. IMHO if you're not grown up enough to sort out the important from the unimportant, you're not grown up enough to get married anyway.

You've got nine months. Plenty of time to do what you can and AVOID doing what you cannot. Abandon the fantasy. Marriage is VERY real. Some people get married and send announcements. Some elope. Only fools go upside down to accomplish fantasies that no one really appreciates anyway. In the greater scheme, marriage is pretty common. I encourage you to do as much as you can afford. If you don't have any money, don't be foolish. This is life. This YOUR life. How much of it do you intend to fake?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 8:55PM
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asolo, that was awfully harsh.

I agree that it isn't worth going into debt to treat everyone you know to a fancy party, and that the marriage, not the wedding, is the important thing.

But I also don't blame the OP or anyone else to want to have a lovely and memorable wedding day and to share it with family and friends (who may indeed really appreciate it). She just asked for some help in doing that on a tight budget, and that is what people are trying to help her to do. She didn't ask for a way to have a big celebrity style fantasy blow-out, and I don't see anything that I would call "fake."

Perhaps if you were in her position, you would opt for a private ceremony and use the money elsewhere, and I agree that it would be a prudent and mature choice. But it isn't the ONLY sensible choice. So please try to be gentle and respectful toward someone who simply does it differently.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 2:11PM
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Thanks for your post, Gellchom; my thoughts exactly. The OP has spent time and effort thinking through her options to create a nice, yet affordable, wedding and she doesn't deserve to be blasted for her efforts.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 3:27PM
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If you folks consider that a "blast".....well, never mind. Basically suggesting people don't go personally upside-down in order to meet others' expectations -- which appears to be precisely what OP is looking for license to do. I disagree. I said so, plus why. Didn't seem like much of a "blast" from this end.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 8:53PM
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Are you really sure you can't cut down the list even more? 150 guests is a LOT of people. I have 8 siblings myself, and I still managed to keep my wedding guest list under 50 people. You really need to limit the guest list to close family and friends only, if you're this concerned about budget. A wedding with 75 is just as enjoyable as one with 150.

I agree with everyone else -- skip the favors.

You can easily find a wedding dress online on Ebay or Craigslist for a fraction of the cost that you would pay for a new one. Or check out some thrift stores. If you don't mind wearing a used dress, that is. I think you're smart to make your veil and headpiece -- I did the same thing, and it was inexpensive, and looked just fine. It's amazing how much places charge for that stuff.

With iTunes, there's no reason you can't have a friend be your DJ (if they have a good collection of music, that is). My friends did this at their wedding -- they just had a laptop hooked up to some speakers, and a music playlist set up (no need for anyone to even sit there and pick the music), and there you go. The hotel they had the reception at had the speakers, though -- you'd probably have to rent those.

For the officiant, you can have a friend become licensed to perform weddings. At the aforementioned wedding, one of our friends become ordained in an Atheist Church (feel free to laugh at the irony), and he performed their ceremony. There are other places you can get ordained, though, besides atheist churches ;)

Personally, I'd recommend against doing the cake yourself. You're going to be horrendously stressed out the week before the wedding. Do you want to add to that stress? A simple cake shouldn't cost more than $2 a slice, and if you hunt around, you can probably find an even better deal than that.

I'd start doing some searches online for "inexpensive wedding ideas" -- there are a lot of sites out there targeted towards this very idea, and you might get some good ideas.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 4:38PM
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Have you really worked out your budget - overall living one, not just wedding? It sounds to me like you are still in the guessing how much you will be able to save, rather than looking at real specific numbers. A planned wedding with a budget you can't live up to, would likely leave you frustrated at best. It would be far better to have a $200 wedding, next month with 20 guests, than to go into meltdown because the car needs tires a month before the big do.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 6:20PM
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You know, you can skip buying a wedding gown, too. You could rent or borrow one (I think most people would be THRILLED that someone wanted to wear their wedding dresses), or just wear a wonderful outfit you love, white or not. It is only in the last century or so that brides wore some special kind of dress, or even a new one; they just wore their best. Makes sense to me.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 1:06AM
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My suggestion would be to start the planning with what you absolutely need and absolutely want. Don't start with a list from one of the bridal magazines--you will have to cut a lot of things out and just doing that might make you feel bad or poor. Make your own list of things you want in your wedding.

The absolute minimum:
2 witnesses

I'm not sure you even need a ring.

Taking that small list as a starting point, add in the things that you want. The guests, the wedding gown, the food. You can add favors if you want, but remember, they cost money and if someone is making them, time. And that is time and money that could be spent on something else for your wedding that you care about more.

You don't *need* favors. You don't *need* centerpieces. You don't *need* flowers. You don't *need* a wedding gown, a veil, a bouquet. These are all things you may want. Determine which are the most important to you, and spend your time, energy and limited budget on making sure you have the things you most want at your wedding.

Enough of the lecture. Some things to think about. If you or your family is doing the food for the wedding, will someone need to be watching the food during the ceremony? I know a father of the groom who had to keep an eye on a roasting pig and missed seeing his son make his vows. In my opinion, immediate family should not be working during the wedding.

For 150 people on a limited budget, I'd have a cake and punch type reception. Cake, punch, coffee, tea, soft drinks, mints, nuts, maybe some other salty snacks. Finger sandwiches are also good and can be made the day before. But also check out stores such as Costco and your local supermarket for deli platters and the like. Many stores will make these for you and the cost is surprisingly affordable.

If you go this route, the wedding and reception should not be at a normal meal time, as guests would expect to be fed a meal. But a wedding at 2 pm, with a reception at 2:30 or 3, would be fine. You also would not need as many tables and chairs (you would need serving tables and some chairs, as elderly or infirm guests will need to sit down). You haven't mentioned tables and chairs; can you borrow some or will you need to rent them?

You can get married with just immediate family present. Then go out to a nice restaurant for a meal. This should be within your budget, unless the immediate families are huge. Then have a wedding reception some months later. You will have had more time to save money and you can do more of the work yourself, because you won't be getting married that same day. You just wouldn't wear your wedding gown to the reception.

Friends of mine got married in June with just 12 people (their immediate families) present. They had their reception in October--formal dinner and dancing. The bride had worn a very simple white dress for her wedding and she wore the same dress in pink for the reception (she bought a bridesmaid's dress instead of a wedding gown; cost her $150 for her wedding dress).

Find someone with an Ipod and good speaker system who can do the music for you. Ask friends to take pictures.

Cut out all alcohol and you've saved a lot of money.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:14PM
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You need to rethink this big wedding for 150 guests. You say you have piles of school loans and no savings. You may not even find a job right away when you graduate.

Why do you feel the need to get married and have a big wedding while you are still in school? According to your other post in the Money Saving Tips Forum you and your fiancee are already living together, so getting married right now would not be for religious reasons so that you can "be together". I know it is none of my business and I am not really expecting an answer to that question, but I cannot fathom being in debt and broke and deciding to throw a big wedding shindig.

Have a small wedding with close friends and family - parents, siblings, grandparents - if you are close to them, and a couple of dear friends and go out to a nice restaurant afterwards. Or, have a some what larger wedding (50-80 people) with just a quiet afternoon ceremony, followed by champagne punch and appetizer reception, and then go out to eat with the parents and Maid of Honor and Best Man in the evening.

You say your parents have offered to pay for booze. Skip the booze and use the money for the important stuff.

Since you would be inviting only a small number of people you can make you own invitations and they will be much nicer.

You don't need a bunch of bridesmaids in matching dresses. You don't need favors. You don't need a band or DJ or even dancing. You don't need beer or booze. You don't need every single relative invited and every friend in your "group". They need to be mature enough to realize that they just are not invited, and you need to be mature enough to not let anyone's whining sway you into doing something that you cannot afford. If anyone tries to pressure you into going 'all out' with a band, open bar, or 500 guests, smile sweetly and "thank them" for their generous offer to pay for it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Post in Money Saving Forum

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 10:29PM
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I think your wedding can be done nice and cheap. The way my wedding was done, I had the justice of peace come to my wedding at a nice park. We had some help from family members. What you can do is find some one you know that has some skills on taking pictures, he / she might want to show off some of the work she or he doe's so they might do pictures for you free. As For the DJ, I had my sister dj for me in a after party. We did not have a huge wedding. You might know some one who or you might not - lets hope you do. Oh Another thing, pray to God for help because he is the arangement is intended for us to marry so he may bless you.
Anyway, I hope this helped you out.
I hope I am not violating any rules here.
Hope you have a nice day, and a great wedding.
Rob N.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 1:02AM
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We had the same problem, plus my husbnd has a zillion relatives and if you invite one, you must invite them all. Also we wanted to enjoy our wedding day and not have a lot of stress, so we went with two sets of friends to an island, got married on the beach,(simple dress and flowers) went to a nice restaurant later, then had a hotel room there. We did spend money on a real musician, as I did not want a boom box type of music and a photographer. It still cost over a grand because of the boat tickets for all of us, but that was not bad. We enjoyed our day, no stress, no nerves, no hard work.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 1:42AM
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While it's great that you have a building to use, as someone mentioned, you're going to have chair/table rental fees. I would look into a local VFW or rescue squad to see if they have a room you can rent.

We did this for my 2nd wedding. My brother in law was on a squad, he donated the hall to us. Usually I think they charge a donation, not sure if it's a set amount. The good thing about the squad hall was they had tables and chairs plus a small cooking area. The way it was set up, we were able to set a table right by the kitchen, so any food coming out did not have to be walked across a room. Of course it was buffet style, which also wasn't much. We had about 50 people there, think we spent $250 on the food from a local place. Did 2 hot dishes plus cold cut platter.

These days you can get deals from local food stores. We have an Albertson's, the bakery makes cakes, the deli does platters as well as foods like whole turkeys. While a turkey might not be practical, they may have something else.

I don't remember what we did for table cloths, back in the early 90's you were more able to have a budget wedding and weren't made to feel bad about it.

Me, I would find a wedding dress & try to come as close to what your vision is as you can on a budget. Back then, I went to JC Penney and found the perfect tea length bridal dress. I just did a little googling, as much as I dislike David's Bridal, there are bridal gowns on sale for $99, and there are dresses for under $100 for the bridal party. JC Penney still has bridal, not much of a selection. They have more then 10 bridal party dresses under $100. Also look at Nordstrom.

My key word for google was tea length wedding dresses, some of the hits that came up were for practical weddings here. I don't doubt you can find more blogs if you google.

If money is going to be really tight (I mean tighter then what you're posting) maybe going to the justice of the peace wearing whatever you'd like (yes you can have a gown) then do a party another time. Pictures can always be done at a studio, which is what we did, then have friends bring digital cameras.

The wedding is about you and your fiance. Make yourselves happy first. My hubby and I ended up getting married in Cypress Gardens in Florida, I had a gown ($500 off the rack sample) he had a tux. Neither of us had a real wedding (yes, 3rd time for me, 2nd for him) so we made ourselves happy. Out of my 3 weddings, this was the best since I wasn't under pressure to put on a show for anyone but us.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 12:34PM
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Remember one thing - and I think Asolo and Roselvr are also saying this: at the end of the day, it is not about a crowd of guests, flowers, dresses, stress, rhinestones on the tablecloths or anything except you and your fiance having a simple and beautiful day. All those other things detract from it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:14AM
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I helped my good friend save a lot of money by helping her make alot of the stuff ourselves.

We made beautiful invitations for 125 people for about $120. Went to the paper store and bought the paper, stamps, ink, envelopes, etc. Her sister worked somewhere with a good printer and printed the actual invitations and we put together everything else. They turned out great.

Her wedding was also outside. We made really pretty centerpieces ourselves. She bought plain clear vases at Michael's or IKEA for a couple bucks each. We filled them with pretty rocks, tied ribbon around them into pretty bows and set them on these cool plates she found on sale that were the wedding colors (green and brown). We put pine cones around the vase on each plate.

We made very cheap favors out of Jelly Bellys that matched the wedding colors, although I would skip favors altogether.

Her mom and mother-in-law made cakes. They did hire a professional photographer, but all the pics her friends took with their digital cameras turned out just as good.

I did her hair and she did her own make-up. She found a clearance dress at David's Bridal, and asked her attendants to buy any green dress they wanted to wear. All the guys wore their own suits with matching green ties.

She had a friend play the cello during the ceremony and another friend married them (also ordained on-line).

The wedding was absolutely beautiful and personal and many commented that it was the best wedding they had been to.

Round up your friends and family and have them do little jobs. People are happy to help and there is no need to spend all that money. A little bit of effort on your part will save alot of money. Round up your girlfriends with a bottle of wine and make invitations and simple, elegant centerpieces yourself! It's fun to get to spend that time with the girls too.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Remember one thing - and I think Asolo and Roselvr are also saying this: at the end of the day, it is not about a crowd of guests, flowers, dresses, stress, rhinestones on the tablecloths or anything except you and your fiance having a simple and beautiful day. All those other things detract from it.

They are the ones that will live with the memory, so they have to figure out what is important for them.

I always regretted not having a wedding gown, my hubby also had regrets.

When we married, we did a lot of talking and eventually decided that we wanted to look back years from then and have nice pictures

Not sure who's camera this is from, we had a few digitals going that day..

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 6:43AM
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Beautiful pictures, roselvr, and what makes them so is that you and your hubby look blissfully happy.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 11:29AM
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My daughter got married last fall....she wanted to get married as frugal as possible. She got her dress off of ebay and picked up her flowers at Michael's and Hobby Lobby and made her decorations. Ordered food for outdoor reception at the local catering grocery store. The grocery store supplied the coffee, buns,butter, fried chicken and they brought it in buffet/warming/serving dishes or whatever you call them. Local neighbor that does some catering made the salads and I made the potatoes. Just used the small whole potatoes that are canned and made a white, cheese sauce to put over the top of them and instead of cake my daughter wanted pie. The pies were supplied by her grandmother, me and close friends. By the way the local grocery store..... Hy-Vee also has a floral section and that is where the bouquet and corsages came from. The photographer was just a friend with a camera that took pictures and afterwards he gave me the flash card and I worked with them in photoshop and made photo story book album (you can view it at

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 10:41AM
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Also to save money you can tell people it's a potluck and that if they want to bring food instead of a gift that would be fine.
If you want have alcohol but cheaply just serve white wine and a keg of beer or two. Nobody says you have to provide a full bar.
You don't need any kind of invitation except a nicely worded peice of typing paper. Someone can make it up on the computer and go to kinkos to have them print it out for you or buy the paper and use your school or work printer. If you want to decorate them use decorative stamps or colored pencils. Envelopes and stamps and mail them off. tell people to RSVP to your cell phone or home phone.
Get your wedding dress out of the want ads or off Craigslist. We have a department store here called Von Maur's. For the bridesmaids, I have seen several sizes of the same dress on their clearence racks for 30$. After prom in April and May, I have seen them discount those dresses by 75% to get rid of them.
Have the guys wear khaki's and a nice shirt and ties in matching colors if you want.
If you want favors, you can make up a nice wedding program on the computer and use them as favors. I have a beautiful 8 page wedding program I made up for my daughter's wedding and got many kind remarks about it. Contact me privately and I'll send you a copy.
I'll try to think of other stuff.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:44PM
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Here's my email add. thought of another idea--I remember driving out in the country and seeing the ditches filled with growing flowers. To some people they look like weeds but here in Kansas they can be quite beautiful. There should be something blooming when you get married. If not find someone who is good with design to help you make decorations out of twigs or wheat or whatever grows where you are...and this also if you don't have major allergy problems. Start saving glass jars to put flowers on the tables and votives to hang in the trees, very pretty in the evening. The candles will look kind of like firefies.
And something I would highly reccomend, if you have any money to spend, I would spend it on a Master of Ceremonies. An ipod with music can only go so far. An M.C. can do so much to keep the party moving along so everybody has fun. He can announce you and your husband into the room, the first dance, the toasts....The best book I have ever seen is a book called How to Have the Best Reception Ever! It goes into a lot of detail. It was the best book I've ever read on the subject. And you don't have to buy it. If your public library doesn't have it, then have them inter library loan it for you from another library.....I'll keep thinking.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 7:17PM
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regarding food/dinner---After the ceremony, I would have some kind of a "cocktail hour"---drinks and appetizers (all cold for ease of serving) either in the hall or somewhere else. After people get up and move towards the food and drink (preferably out of sight), that will give you and hour or so to take pictures, collect yourselves, move chairs into the hall if you get married outside. At the end of that hour, you should be ready to serve dinner and start the party! I would use the internet or find a cookbook that allows you to make your whole dinner ahead of time. Since you are doing everything yourselves, you want to make it as easy as you can. Anything hot can be heated in throw away chafing pans with sterno that you can find at party stores. Instead of a pig roast, maybe you buy pork loin roasts on sale, cook them a week ahead, slice them an inch thick, freeze them and then warm them up that day. offer a couple of sides(made a day or two ahead), a salad and some great rolls, and you have dinner. Your family could be getting that together while you and your husband are having pictures taken. Have a friend take your pictures. Someone who really likes to take pictures. Let them make it your gift from them or something like that, I've seen a list of the most requested poses somewhere, they won't be professional but you may be pleasantly surprised. Your cake is dessert. You could also do chicken breasts (ahead of time)that way also if you wanted two entrees. Barbeque sauce and maybe some other kind of sauce would make it taste great but very easy to do.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:00PM
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or just full of it, if you ask my kids. I would encourage you to check out your public library. They have shelves full of wedding books, ceremony ideas, cook books, etiquette books, everything you need to plan a frugal wedding. That's where I get most of my ideas. I usually go to, find the titles that appeal to me and then go to the library, if they don't have it, they can order it from another library for no charge or very little charge. like a dollar or something like that. I have to admit I love Martha Stewart and her ideas. But you will find many many books on these subjects.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:40PM
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anything that is served hot will need to be reheated in an oven ahead of time and then KEPT warm by the chafing pans and the sterno. I reread that and it didn't make sense. I agree with someone who said the pig roast idea is fine but it's A LOT OF WORK (I know, I've done a couple) and someone or several people will not get to enjoy the ceremony and reception because they will have to stay with the grill. I would do as much ahead of time as you can, (you ARE going to be under horendous stress that day) so that family and friends just need to reheat, uncover, and set out on buffet tables, while you are taking pictures and the other guests are having appetizers(they don't have to be fancy).
And don't forget cleanup....make sure you have many large trash cans (with trash bags) even if you have to borrow some, try to enlist several people for a cleanup crew. Make sure they are responsible and will follow thru and not duck out at the end of the event. Everyone will be tired at the end of the day and it will go faster if there are many hands to help. You don't have to be there but it will be nice for your parents if you arrange something ahead of time.
A frugal wedding is doable, it just takes organization and deciding the things that are most important to you and your fiance.
A couple of more things. If it were me, I would have someone be in charge that day. Someone who everybody can go to if they have a question. You can hire a wedding planner just for the day. I didn't know this until recently. You don't have to hire someone but it's available. A family friend, anybody who doesn't mind being in charge. You would need to write out a master plan type thing for them with names, phone numbers, a schedule for the day.
To make sure you have the music you want, I would put all your music on CD's in the order you want it. For example, I would have 30 min of music while people are arriving and sitting down. Then I would have the Procession music (your bridesmaids and then you) and then any music you will have during the ceremony and then the recesional. Then I would make up an hour CD of music for the "cocktail hour" like smooth jazz. Then decide what you want for the your arrival into the hall, first dance, parents dance, etc....then dancing music if you are having a dance. Then music for the garter, bouquet toss, cake cutting and then the last dance(I would find two songs for each). All in order so that whoever is doing the music just has to push play. A list of the music can be given to the MC if you have one and he will announce it and the activity. Again, since you are doing everything yourself, you can do all of this ahead of time. The more you leave undone, the more chance you have of it falling thru or not being done well.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 10:21PM
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So in a nutshell, a frugal wedding can be done if you have the cooperation of family and friends and organization on your part. A trick I learned from an event planner--Visualize exactly what you want it to look like and then work backwards to make it happen. borrow as much as you can. Need a fridge in the barn? borrow one. Some people have extras in their garages and don't know what to do with them. A stove to warm things up? borrow. People love to help. Remember to show your appreciation. A mention at the reception or a written thank you. Put the whole thing on paper, from when you arrive at the farm to the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception. all the activities, all the cooking times, when this happens, when that happens. It will give you an idea of what you need, when and where.

Invitations--colored paper and envelopes, save the date postcards, card stock, get four out of each piece, thank you's from walmart--or make them yourself, more heartfelt.

Clothing--clearance racks, used or borrowed. For the guys, kahki pants and nice shirts and ties that match. (JC Penney) Forget the Tux or suit.

Decor--flowers from fields in your area, twigs, grasses and grocery store florists. Make it yourself, many books out there on how to do it. This might even be an idea for your boquets and boutteniers...forget the tulle or use very little. Ribbon is big now. Twinkle lights, fairy lights--I just bought 20 boxes of white Christmas lights for .60$ each after the holidays.

Reception--biggest expense. Everything make ahead. Pork loin, Chicken Breasts, a Turkey. Everything paper or plastic, good quality. Make your cake or grocery bakery. rent tables, chairs and tablecloths, you can use the chairs for the ceremony too. Boxed White Zin wine (it's what restaurants use?!, you can cover the boxes with pretty paper), beer kegs, appetizers, chips and dip from Sams or Costco. bottled water and pop. Don't forget cleanup. Maybe the Dad's can bartend? I'd find a couple to "host" the cocktail hour just to make sure things get done (music, food, make sure people are taken care of) and go like you want them to go. Remember, you will be taking pictures and the Mom's will be getting dinner out and the Dad's will be bartending, maybe....get everybody in place before the event, don't wait till the last minute. Always have a plan B for most everything. Have a little money to spend? have a square dance caller and the square dance club out to your place for entertainment and for fun. What would be more appropriate for a farm wedding? OK, these are just ideas, they can't all be solid gold. Make sure you have enough lighting in the barn and around the yard. Can you use square haybales for seating somehow outside the barn? or even inside. Not everyone is going to want to stay indoors if it's nice outside.

Music--recorded ahead of time in the order you want it played. Your fiance may like to do this but find someone who can press play and pause for you and doesn't mind doing it all night long, make sure he or she gets a break once in a while during the evening. If you can't afford an MC, maybe you have an outgoing friend who wouldn't mind getting up and announcing activities for you. Don't depend on things flowing smoothly by themselves, have someone in place to help it along.

And just a side note--I gradated from college three yrs ago and have yet to pay on my loans due to deferments. They will work with you for a long time.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 2:00PM
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Have you thought about using midis? That's how I'm doing our music. There are tons of midi files available online to download for free. I purchased only one song, Paul Anka's "Tonight, My Love, Tonight" (for our final get-away dance), only because I couldn't find it as a midi.

And herbs from a landscaping type nursery (or your own garden) and some wildflowers can make pretty bouquets that smell wonderful. Then you could put groupings of small potted herbs on the tables for centerpieces, let the guests take one home for a favor if they'd like, and what is left you can plant in your own garden for years of memories.

If you end up making your dress, buy a few extra yards of the fabric and lace, and make some padded hangers to use as gifts.

Just my two cents, (I'm a full time student working on limited budget as well).


    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 1:44AM
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frugal decorations:

fall leaves in a glass jar or vase w some around the bottom on the table
paper lanterns
baby photos of the bride and groom in small flower arrangements
carve hearts in pumpkins and put candles in them
use "found" objects from thrift stoes or garage sales. tell a story with them.
LED puck lights (at home improvment stores) put them in shallow bowls and cover them with glass floral stones or marbles, amazing at night!
do something with john deere tractor theme? mini haybales?
horse centerpieces
cut branches and hang votives in them
bowls of lemons and limes

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 10:26AM
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I saw a beautiful and inexpensive idea the other day. It was actually a bat mitzvah reception, but it would work fine for a wedding.

Each table had a regular white tablecloth, and then a small solid colored table cloth on top of that (if you have ever priced renting linens, you will know what a huge savings that is). There were 5 different colors: green, yellow, royal blue, lavender, and cherry pink. The centerpieces were simply inexpensive potted plants, one per table, that matched the tablecloths: yellow mums on the yellow tables, purple lantana on the lavender, philodendron on the green, etc. Each plant was placed in an inexpensive straw basket spray-painted to match and had a matching ribbon.

It looked really terrific, and I'm sure it didn't cost much at all. You can also do the centerpieces up way in advance and put it all together quickly and easily the day of the event.

You could get more value out of the plants by giving them away as your thank-you gifts to people who helped out, hosted guests, etc.; passing them on to someone else giving a party; or donating them to a shelter or hospital.

The multicolor look was festive for a bat mitzvah, but you could tone it down/fancy it up for a wedding by choosing only one or two colors, or white on some tables and a different color on the others. What made it look so great was the monochromatic look on each table.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 10:49AM
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You can definitely have a nice wedding on a small budget. Try to leverage your family and friends to do things for your wedding. Make it an exchange, instead of them buying you a gift. Example: do you know someone who is very interested in photography, baking, flower arranging, gardening, decorating etc.? Also, you can make your own decorations, wedding favors, invitations, even the cake or dress if you are really crafty! Don't fret, you can still have a memorable wedding without spending loads of money.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 12:10AM
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