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Photo by Kurt Boomer Photo
Ready to start planning your wedding? First things first, it’s time to lay out your budget. It’s not the most fun task, but it’s necessary to figure out how much you can spend on your wedding day before you choose a venue, meet with vendors, and buy your dress. If you’re looking for ways to save money, check out a few of our favorite ideas.
Be Flexible on Date, Time and Season: A Saturday night in September or May is probably the most expensive wedding date you can choose. Vendors will sometimes charge less to couples who get married in the off-season or on off-days. So consider getting married on a Friday, Sunday, and even Saturday morning or early afternoon in January, February or March.
Be Honest: Be upfront with potential vendors. Tell them the amount that you’ve budgeted for his or her services and see if he or she can work with that, instead of asking for a proposal and trying to bring the cost down. Vendors will appreciate your honesty, and in many cases, try their best to accommodate you if there’s any wiggle room.
Cut the Guest List: Many venues and caterers charge on a per-person basis, so the fewer guests you invite, the less you pay.
Get a Planner: This may sound confusing – how can hiring an additional vendor help you save money? Well, wedding planners often have great connections with other vendors and can help you get the best deals.
DIY Wisely: Yes, creating items for your wedding yourself can help you save money. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by trying to do too much. Instead, pick one area of your wedding that you can DIY – whether it be your favors, ceremony programs, escort cards, or something else – and focus on doing a great job on that project. Check out our DIY Editor for lots of great ideas!
Enlist Friends: Got talented friends and/or family members? Enlist them to help where they can – but only if they’re truly skilled in that area. Friends and family can also donate their time in helping you with DIY projects, or even with set up on the big day. You can even have a friend or family member officiate your ceremony!
Turn Bouquets into Centerpieces: Floral arrangements can be quite expensive, but if you use them wisely, you can save a bundle. See if any of your ceremony flowers (bouquets, altar arrangements, etc.) can be used as centerpieces at the reception. This can help you avoid paying for floral décor that you don’t need.
Shop Sample Sales: When shopping for your wedding dress, check out sample sales at area salons. However, don’t purchase a dress that completely doesn’t fit, thinking that altering the dress will be inexpensive. If a dress needs a complete overhaul, the alterations can more than double the original cost of the gown!
Think Drinks: Alcohol can be a huge budget buster. Some venues allow you to purchase your alcohol yourself, which can help you save some cash. Also, you can simply serve wine and beer, along with a signature drink or two instead of offering a fully-stocked top-shelf bar.
Something Borrowed: Instead of purchasing lots of expensive jewelry and accessories to add some sparkle to your wedding day look, look to family members and friends to help accessorize. Your grandmother’s veil, your mom’s earrings, your great aunt’s necklace, your sister’s shoes – it’s so special to wear a family heirloom on your wedding day.
In this project, Mary Swenson extended the life of a pre-packaged paper flower centerpiece kit by turning the blooms into favors and centerpieces as well. Love it!
View the Full Tutorial
Available at The Green Vase
10 DIY and ready-made ways to bring paper flowers in to your wedding.
Want your wedding bouquet to last longer than a season? Consider investing in a beautiful paper alternative from The Green Vase ($325). This multi-talented NY-based floral design shop also offers single paper blooms, cake toppers, and cake decorating kits.
Available at Frances & Francis
We love the idea of topping a reception table with a single romantic stem in a vintage glass bottle—and then repurposing the centerpiece as bookshelf decor in your new home! These romantic blooms from Frances & Francis ($14 to $60) are perfect for that.
West Elm Paper Flower Shop
Several national chains are hopping on the paper flower trend. For example: Furniture store West Elm, which offers several pretty pre-made sets ($7.99 to $36).
Available at House That Lars Built
Handcrafted in Copenhagen, these gold-stemmed paper roses ($14 each) will look beautiful gathered in a vase or laid upon individual place settings. Designer Brittany Watson Jespen also creates jumbo-sized versions of these blooms, as well as paper flower hats—email her for custom projects!
Crepe Paper Flower Bouquet DIY
You won't believe how easy (and inexpensive!) it is to whip up these colorful crepe flowers—it takes just three simple steps.
Available at Paper Source
Looking for a little guidance while you construct your paper blooms? Consider a pre-packaged kits from The Paper Source your new best friend ($10.95 - $19.95).
The Crafting Book
Paper to Petal, Available at Barnes & Noble
Husband and wife duo Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell are very good at what they do (which includes photography, design, and, yes, plenty of paper crafts). Releasing late this August, their new book ($16.29) will show you how to make 75 paper blooms yourself. With a forward authored by Martha Stewart herself, it's clear the couple knows what they're doing.
The Perfect Prop
Large Paper Rose, Available at BHLDN
This extra-large paper rose ($68) is almost five feet tall! At that size, it's the perfect addition to any wedding photo booth. It's also, as the website suggests, a whimsical alternative to a basket of petals for the flower girl.
Paper Posy Escort Cards
Easy-to-make crepe flowers will add a joyful touch of color to any spring wedding! This tutorial offers step-by-step instructions for making these cheerful escort cards out of streamer ribbon. It's a great way to save money on a fun but lower priority item on your decor list.
See the Full Wedding
If you're still on the fence about paper flower decor, you have to check out Liz and Josh's color-infused Minnesota wedding. They created some of the most unique centerpieces we've ever seen!
Idea By: Sarah Zlotnick
This inexpensive material is more versatile than you think.
By: Sarah Zlotnick
1. Ring Pillow
A simple, rustic way for the ring bearer to present the rings. View this rustic country wedding.
2. Centerpiece Cover
Save on renting vases and other flower vessels by using old tins and covering them in burlap instead. View this yellow garden wedding.
3. Silverware Holder
A simple burlap packet holds the silverware for Heather and David's charming Annapolis nuptials.
4. Bouquet Wrap
A strip of sturdy burlap will hold all your flowers in place—and look sweet while doing it! View this rustic whimsical California wedding.
5. Favor Bags
You could hide any kind of sweet treat in one of these adorable burlap sacks. View this fun fall wedding.
We love this simple wedding sign. View this Texas ranch wedding.
7. Candle Accent
A mossy green candle collection gets a little texture from a simple burlap wrap. View this country chic wedding.
8. Table Number
Such a sweetly country table marker. Burlap wine bag table numbers, $150 for 10 at Lil Missi Etsy Shop.
9. Table Runner
Thinking about using a burlap table runner? Be sure to strech and distress the fabric a bit before you lay it down. This creates dimension by allowing some of your tablecloth color to peek through. It also gives the fabric a little more grip.
You Might Also Like: 9 Wine Wedding Decor Ideas
One of the trends we love about rustic weddings is the do-it-yourself projects even the least crafty brides create with wood. Here's what to display for every part of your big day:
Photo by JK Photography
Photo by Stacey Kokes Photography
Photo by Twin Hearts Photography
Photo by Athena Pelton Photography
A Short Wedding Dress
Show off those legs! Bonnie stayed cool in a custom knee-length frock by Nina Dinh of Susan European Dressmaker for her Los Angeles wedding.
Related: 16 Short Wedding Dresses
Bright Bridesmaid Dresses
Sun-kissed skin looks best against bold colors, so let your girls stand out in saccharine shades. We love the bright orange and coral looks from Katie and Jacob's Menlo Park wedding.
Katie & Jacob's Colorful Summer Wedding
Mint Honey Favors
Place a vial of mint-infused honey at each place setting—the easy-to-make favor tastes yummy when drizzled on all sorts of desserts.
Mint Honey Favor DIY
Nothing brings us back to childhood summers quite like freezy pops. This nostalgia-inducing treat will be a big hit at any hot weather reception, guaranteed.
Tara & Harris's Crafty Summer Wedding
One of our favorite summer wedding hacks is also one of the easiest to create. Amy and Kenn attached popsicle sticks to their card stock ceremony programs, and voila! Instant fan for each guest, which was absolutely necessary for their hot Virgin Islands nuptials.
Amy & Kenn's Tropical Wedding
Picnic Rehearsal Dinner
Daisies and gingham are always appropriate additions to a picnic bench meal. See more tips for decorating a rehearsal dinner in the park in our full tutorial.
Summertime Picnic Decor Tutorial
Infused Water Table Numbers
Indoors or out, warm-weather weddings call for plenty of liquids for your guests. Keep everyone hydrated by placing bottles of flavor-infused water (we like mint, strawberry, and cucumber) at each table. They can also double as your table numbers!
View the Complete DIY
Floating floral arrangements are a great way to extend a decor theme into the parts of your reception venue that may be otherwise untouchable. We love the arrangements Petal Flower Design created for Lindsay and Luke's private residence wedding in Massachusetts.
Lindsay & Luke's Backyard Wedding
Miniature versions of this griller's favorite make the perfect passed appetizer for a summertime cocktail reception.
Zoe & John's Preppy Summer Wedding
A Drink Stand
Who doesn't love lemonade and sweet tea on a hot summer day? Set up a table exclusively dedicated to cold drinks, and designate someone to make sure the containers are always full. Everyone working up a sweat on the dance floor will be grateful!
More Drink Photos
Idea By: Sarah Zlotnick
Cookouts are the best part of summer, especially on the 4th of July with family and friends. Who doesn't love hot dogs, hamburgers, and fireworks? Bring that laid-back vibe to your rehearsal dinner. Here's how to do it:
1. Big-Batch Chilled Beverages
Photo by Katelyn James Photography
Mix up big batchees of flavored water, lemonade, or sweet tea and let guests serve themselves! Use mason jars as glasses for an extra picnic-y feel.
2. Gingham & Sunflower Decor
Photo by (from left to right) Chelsea Fuss and Nami Dadlani Photography
Set your wooden banquet tables with checkered linens or napkins and use bright yellow sunflowers in your centerpieces. Here's our step-by-step guide to styling a summer table.
3. Finger Foods
Photo by Jose Villa
Pass around bite-size burgers, BBQ sliders, pigs in a blanket, french fry shooters, and corn on the cob halves as appetizers.
4. Strawberry Shortcake
Photo by Chelsea Fuss
We all scream for ice cream! As much as it would coof off guests, it would also quickly melt in the heat. Instead, try a strawberry shortcake. Light and sweet, it will leave guests feeling satisfied but not heavy. Here's a complete step-by-step receipe for creating the one pictured above.
5. Lawn Games
Photo by Orange in Bloom
Entertain your guests with lawn games such as cornhole, croquet, hula hoops, bocce ball, and badminton.
6. Outdoor Lounge
Photo by Katelyn James Photography
Countrify your backyard with an outdoor lounge of hay bales, quilts, and wooden barrels.
7. Bonfire Desserts
Photo by MaryBeth Clouser Photography
S'mores kits are an edible favor that your guests can enjoy while keeping warm by the fire.
Start saving those bottles!
By: Sarah Zlotnick
1. As a table number
This DIY table marker from Tara and Harris's Virginia Winery wedding is super easy to make—simply print out colorful numbers and glue them on! Photo by Aaron Watson Photography.
2. As a table number holder
We'd recreate this sweet idea from Christie and David's winery wedding by cutting table numbers out of foam board and painting them. From there you could use chicken wire or glue to attach them to the wine bottle. Photo by Michelle Warren.
3. Use corks as escort card holders
Stole this idea from Paige and Zach's Austin wedding—Cut a slit down the long side of a cork, slice a section off the bottom, and voila! The perfect escort card holder for a vineyard wedding costs almsot nothing to make. Photo by Q Weddings.
4. Let it be the backdrop
Who needs to build a fancy photo backdrop when your reception is at a winery? We love the way Jen and Loreal threaded a string light through wine barrels—the effect is simple yet stunning. Photo by Andrew Pielage Photography.
5. As whimsical centerpieces
All it takes is some paint and a sponge to create these whimsical flower vases. Photos by Danyelle Matthews.
6. Create a cork monogram!
In her DIY winery wedding, Tara's uncle used hudreds of corks gathered from friends, family, local wine bars, and even Whole Foods to create a commemorative "M", which stands for the couple's shared last name and now sits in their new home. Talk about wedding decor that will last a lifetime—we love it! Photo by Aaron Watson Photography.
7. As unique window decor
We love the way Rachel and Craig covered each of these empty wine bottles in a special design. The collection looks especially charming with the hot Texas sun streaming through. Photo by Taylor Lord Photography.
8. As the wedding favor
Print custom wine labels that match your wedding decor and hand out the bottles as favors at the end of the night. Guests will remember the good times they had when they're drinking from them later on!
9. As Lighting
Fill empty wine bottles with bunched up string lights for a romantic effect. This Wit + Whistle DIY project teaches you how to do it safely. Photos by Amanda Wright.
Once you have finally booked your venue, its time to pick your color scheme! You may think the colors are completely up to you; however, you should take into account the setting of your venue, the time of year your wedding is taking place and how formal or informal your ceremony and reception will be. Remember, not only do you want your color scheme to set the vibe for your wedding but also complement the venue. Here are our favorite color scheme combinations to inspire you:
Historic Home = Yellow + Gray
Photo by Onelove Photography
Garden = Mint + Blush
Photo by Stacey Windsor Photography
Ballroom = Ivory + White
Photo by Lane Dittoe
Beach = Navy Blue + Emerald
Photo by Katie Stoops Photography
Barn = Purple + Orange
Photo by Dave Richards Photography
Which color scheme did you choose? Let us know in the comments below! For more color scheme inspiration, browse our real wedding boards.
You've spent so much time and energy making sure that your engagement photos came out beautifully - picked the right photographer, agonized over your outfit, found the right location - so why let your photos just sit in an album? Check out some of our favorite ways to display your engagement photos at your wedding.
1. Your Save-the-Dates
Photo by Sharon Elizabeth Photography
Make your save-the-date cards uniquely yours by adding a few of your favorite engagement photos. We love how the couple pictured used both full portraits and detail shots in their save-the-dates to create a visually interesting finished product.
2. Your Guestbook
Photo by Onelove Photography
Create a bound album of your photos and allow your guests to write their well wishes inside. Your guests will love perusing your gorgeous engagement photos!
3. On a Clothesline
Photo by The Nichols
Pin your favorite engagement photos to a clothesline to create a display of your photos at your cocktail hour. It will be a beautiful focal point for your guests to enjoy as they mix and mingle.
4. Art Installation
Photo by Nadia D Photography
As your guests walk from ceremony to reception, line the walkway with a museum-worthy "installation" of blown-up engagement photos.
5. On a Tree
Photo by Stacey Bishop Photography
If you're hosting a garden-style wedding, hang engagement photos and other mementos on a large tree, which can sit on your escort card table. It's a visually interesting way to show off your photos.
Photo by Brett Arthur Photography
Planning a cold-weather wedding? Consider these little touches to help keep your guests warm and cozy during your wedding celebration.
1. Blankets Provide each guest with a snuggly blanket during the ceremony or at the reception. It’s a totally useful favor, plus will help fight off the chill in the air.
Photo by Michelle Warren Photography
2. Bonfire and S’mores A crackling fire just screams cozy romance, and delicious s’mores provide both a fun end-of-the-night activity and a sweet treat!
Photo by Alixann Loosle
3. Pashminas and Shawls They make a great bridesmaid gift, or you can go all-out and provide inexpensive shawls for all of your guests as favors.
Photo by Allison Davis Photography
4. Candles Everywhere! Not only do they look totally romantic, but an abundance of candles provides added warmth to your ceremony or reception space.
Photo by Aaron Watson Photography
5. Warm Drinks As you guests head out into the chilly night air, provide them with hot coffee, cider, or hot cocoa to help warm their hands and bellies.
Photo by Gerber + Scarpelli Photography
Looking for more winter wedding ideas? Check out these winter real wedding photos!