SHOW FILTERS
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Planning Wedding Ideas

  • Sure, you could assign each of your reception tables a number - it's clear, traditional, and easy for your guests to follow. However, if you want to be a little more creative, you could name your tables based on a theme. While this is certainly a cute and clever idea, we only recommend doing it if you can find a "naming theme" that truly resonates with you and suits your wedding style and venue. Check out a few of our favorite ideas here:

    Travel Themed
    Love to travel? Name your tables after places where you and your spouse have visited, or plan to visit. Your sweetheart table can be named for your honeymoon destination for a cute touch!


    Photo by Joel Bedford Photography
     

    Your Pets
    If you and your spouse are truly best buddies with your family pets, why not name your tables after them? You can name the tables after important animals in your life - from your dog, your grandmother's cat, a horse you grew up riding - the options are endless!


    Photo by Jillian Mitchell Photography

    Sports Lovers
    For couples who love watching or playing sports, name your reception tables after your favorite teams or, as this couple did, your favorite players.


    Photo by Genesa Richards Photography
     

    College Pride
    If you and your honey are college sweethearts, you might name your tables after buildings or landmarks at your alma mater.


    Photo by Shannon Cronin Photography

    Wines
    Getting married at a vineyard (or just loooove wine)? Naming your tables after your favorite wine varietals is fun and totally works with a vineyard theme!


    Photo by Shelly Kroeger Photography

    Your Jobs
    If you and your future spouse met at work, you could find creative ways to use your careers in your table names. For example, this lawyer couple named their tables after Supreme Court Justices. Just make sure that your guests can understand the references.


    Photo by Abby Jiu Photography

    Music Lovers
    Are you and your future spouse huge music buffs? Name tables after your favorite artists or songs - even your the music venues you frequent!


    Photo by Tia & Claire Studio

    Seasonal and Venue-Focused
    Think about the season when your wedding is taking place, as well as the venue. This couple named their tables after apple varieties for a fall wedding at an orchard. But for spring weddings you could name tables after your favorite flowers, or your favorite beaches at summer weddings.


    Photo by Jagger Photography

    Looking for more table number sign ideas? Check out these beautiful ideas!
     


     

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  • While it is technically your day, your wedding is also an important moment for your and your future spouse's families. If you're so inclined, it's often a nice idea to remember the other important weddings in your family's history on your own special day. While you don't have to make any grand statements at the actual event, there are a few small ways you can add a sense of nostalgia to your wedding. 


    Photo by Cramer Photo 

    Wear Your Mother's Veil
    Sure, you could go all out and wear your mother or grandmother's gown on your wedding day, but there's a likelihood (especially if your parents got married in the 80s) that her gown is just not your style. A veil is less of a committment and most classic heirloom veils will look beautiful with a variety of more modern gowns.

     
    Photo by Vivian Chen Photography 

    Don Some Heirloom Jewelry
    A delicate bracelet, necklace, or earrings previously worn by a relative on their wedding day can be a lovely symbol of your family's history. 


    Photo by onelove photography 

    Add Some Heirloom Quality to Your Bouquet
    Wrap your bouquet with lace from your mother's wedding gown or attach a locket or handkerchief to the stems. 


    Photo by Laura Elaine Photography 

    Give Your Ceremony a Personal Touch
    There are lots of ways you can incorporate your family's history into your ceremony. Walk down the aisle to the same song your mother did, incorporate a reading or other musical selection that was performed at your parents' wedding, or use acutal items like wine glasses, unity candles or religious elements from your parents' wedding during the proceedings. 


    Photo by Ten 2 Ten Photography 
     

    Wear Heirloom Rings
    Wedding bands are often passed down from generation to generation, and it's a beautiful way to honor those who came before you. 


    Photo by j.woodbery photography 

    Display Family Wedding Photos
    You can display family wedding photos near the guest book, on the escort card table, or simply on their own table or mantle at the reception. Your guests may chuckle at your relatives' fashion decisions, but it's a nice way to showcase your family history.


    Photo by Katie Slater Photography

    Pick the Same First Dance Song
    Classic first dance songs are making a big comeback! Share a first dance song with one set of parents - if the tune suits your musical tastes as well. 


    Photo by Earthmuse Photography 

    Share a Cake Topper
    Vintage cake toppers are all the rage, so why not use the same one your parents did on their big day? It's a subtle, but nostalgic touch. 

    Looking for more vintage wedding ideas? Visit our Flowers & Decor editors for lots of gorgeous inspiration!

     

     

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  • Favors are a thoughtful way to express gratitude to your guests on your wedding day. Don’t hesitate to be creative and offer a parting gift that lasts beyond its time at the reception. We have compiled a list of unique and stunning favors that will have your guests abuzz.

     


    Photo by Blaine Photography 

     
    Potted Plants
    Far superior to fresh blooms that eventually wither to expiration, potted plants offer a great keepsake. Succulents work best, with sturdy and elegant blooms that take very little gardening knowledge to keep alive. These potted plants breathe life into the reception space while offering a parting gift to your guests that continues to grow.
     
    Seed Cards
    As a creative solution to favors that never get used, cards that are embedded with seeds are the perfect favor for travelers, gardeners and green-minded guests alike. Light and practical, seed cards can easily slide into your guests’ suitcases or purses and then be planted later at the guests’ leisure. Further, the seed cards can be personalized with your wedding date, your names, a photo or your favorite quote, inspiring your guests to let love bloom.

     

    Gift Boxes
    Glossy gift boxes with an embellished top present a classic Tiffany’s take on presentation that will have your guests wowing. Dress up the boxes with personalized gift tags or shiny ribbons, and place truffles, cookies or some other sweet treats inside.
     
    Use a bigger, triangular box to give your guests a slice of wedding cake to take home as a delicious parting gift. If you’re opting for a candy buffet for dessert in lieu of or in addition to cake, give your guests a beautifully decorated bag or box to take their goodies home in.

     

    Ingredients of Love
    Pay homage to a lost loved one’s recipe or introduce your guests to a family favorite with the ingredients of your favorite banana bread or sugar cookies. Using old-fashioned mason jars, layer the dry ingredients in a pretty pattern of varying colors. Tie a ribbon or jute rope around the lid with an attractive tag that lists the remaining ingredients and the recipe. For an added touch, include a mini-tin for your guests to bake the ingredients in.

     

     

    Topiary Place-Card Holders
    Place-card holders are a lovely way to dress up a reception, but miniature topiaries offer a stately touch to the table. Enchanting guests with the freshness of nature, most place-card topiaries come with a card clip tucked discreetly in the foliage. A charming favor to take home, the tiny tree can be displayed on a guest’s desk to hold photos or postcards or in the kitchen or bathroom for an elegant effect.

     

    Mini-Lantern Tealight Holder
    An evening outdoor reception can be set aglow with the ambiance of candlelight. With windproof miniature lanterns, the tealight holders can be hung from branches, grouped in different levels on the reception tables and staircases, or gathered for a dramatic centerpiece. Illuminating your special evening with candlelight adds a romantic and stylish setting as well as allows your guests to take a lantern home for dark nights.

     

    Napkin Rings

    As a practical and tasteful favor, stylish napkin rings can be embossed and polished with the words or finish of your choice. Have them personalized with traditional advice of “Live, Laugh, Love” or “Eat, Drink and Be Merry,” a heartfelt line from your vows, or your own words of wisdom. The tone of the reception will be graciously set, and guests will enjoy the rings on their own tables.

     

    A Chance to Win Big

    Giving out scratch lottery tickets is a fun favor that your guests will be more than happy to open. Affix a lucky penny to each ticket so that people can start scratching right away. Place the tickets in envelopes and guests can grab theirs on the way out the door, or attach them to a tree or large plant with decorative ribbon or a pretty string.  

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  • Photos by This Love of Yours... Photography

    PRESENTATION

    Use a color scheme that matches your wedding palette:  wedding colors aren’t just for the flowers and bridesmaids dresses!   Taking advantage of the colors you’ve already established can enhance your candy table’s presence, and bring cohesion to your entire reception. Create depth and height in your display:  with simple boxes or even phone books, you can sculpt a beautiful landscape on your table.  You can wrap the boxes in decorative paper, or even leave them bare and covered with matching linens for a refined, free-flowing cascade. Take advantage of your centerpieces: whether they be flowers, candles, or tiny little goldfish, using an extra centerpiece or two will not only tie into the rest of your reception, but it can also add life and freshness to your candy table. Don’t be afraid to use trimmings: details like good quality linens, ribbons, and paper can add nice touches to your overall display. Less is more:  trimmings are definitely your friends, but don’t go overboard!  Too many space fillers can potentially clutter your table and cause sensory overload! Consider the table: where will it be located?  Will there be a nice backdrop or wall behind it for pictures?  Or will it be open so people can access it from all sides?  Will it even have sides, or will it be round?  These are all good questions to ask yourself before deciding on a set-up design.

    CANDY

    Color is key:  as mentioned before, having a specific color scheme can really make your table pop.  Monochromatic palettes can also be striking and elegant.  Make sure to consider different hues and shades – for example, if your colors are red and brown, don’t be afraid of using different shades of reds and pinks.  If using primarily dark colors, try to use trimmings in lighter shades to bring energy to your table.  Check the weather:  Will it be hot or sunny?  Will the table be indoors or outdoors?  If indoor, will there be AC?  If you’re worried about warmth, save the stress and avoid candies that could easily melt (unfortunately this includes most chocolates)! Fruit seasons:  if you’re planning to use fresh fruit on your table (e.g. chocolate dipped strawberries), make sure you consider if they are even in season.  Strawberries in the winter might not be as sweet as when they’re at their peak in the summer! Not just candy:  if you’re open to treats in other forms, consider mini cookies, kettle corn, or spiced nuts as sweet additions.  Placing the wedding cake or groom's cake on the same table can add visual diversity. Be creative:  candy isn’t just made to be eaten, but also to play with!  Bundle large lollipops together like a bouquet of flowers, or skewer some marshmallows to simulate kabobs – the possibilities are endless. Keep it simple: having a variety of flavors and different types of candy can be satisfying to everyone, but don’t be afraid to go with a specific flavor profile.  Whether it be a gummy bear bar or a chocolate truffle tribute, your guests will definitely enjoy the sugar rush! Don’t buy too much!  It’s easy to worry about not having enough for everyone, but if you’re planning to include a meal and cake in your reception, guests probably won’t be stuffing themselves with extra sugar.  A small portion of ½ cup (4 oz) or less is a good estimate per person.  If you want to buy in bulk for a visual effect, save large containers for popular candies so you won’t have too many leftovers.

    CONTAINERS AND SUPPLIES

    More than jars:  apothecary jars and similar containers tend to be the standard, but don’t miss out on other shapes and sizes you can find elsewhere!  Vases are fabulously inexpensive alternatives, and are easy to find.  If you’re going for opaque containers, small pails can give a rustic vibe, and wicker baskets can be cute and lighthearted.   Don’t be afraid to use cake stands, flat platters, and other serving ware to give your guests a variety of ways to choose their sweets! Scoops and things:  when choosing containers, make sure you keep in mind how your guests are going to get the candy out!  Scoops, tongs, and other serving ware should be small enough to get the goods! Individual containers:  if your table is set up as a DIY favor station, little bags or mini boxes can be great take-homes.  Dress them up with a little label and ribbon and your guests have a tasty treat for later.  Clear plastic cups or even napkins are an inexpensive option if you prefer the candy to be eaten on the spot.

    WHERE TO BUY SUPPLIES

    Project Wedding – the forums have a great Classified Section where you can buy gently used items from the community. 

    Online Candy Stores:
    -    http://www.candywarehouse.com/
    -    http://www.candyfavorites.com/
    -    http://www.bulkcandystore.com/
    -    http://www.metrocandy.com/home.asp
    -    http://www.candydirect.com/
    -    http://www.blaircandy.com/
    -    http://www.hometownfavorites.com/shop/candy_store.asp
    -    http://www.oldtimecandy.com/
    -    http://www.groovycandies.com/
    -    http://www.sweetnostalgia.com/
    -    http://www.nutsonline.com/gifts/weddingfavors/

    Local stores for candy:
    -    Your neighborhood grocery store: Safeway, Lucky, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc.
    -    Bulk stores like Costco
    -    Michael’s: they have a special selection of wedding candies
    -    Ethnic grocers may also carry unique treats that can give your table a broader range of flavors.

    Containers and things:
    -    Restaurant supply stores, like Kamei or East Bay Restaurant Supply
    -    Save On Crafts
    -    CB2
    -    Michael’s
    -    Furniture stores like Ikea, Crate & Barrel
    -    Thrift or second-hand shops
    -    Cost-saving stores like Target, Ross, or the Dollar Store
    -    Scoops and more scoops

     

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  • Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now before the fun of planning the wedding starts, you’ll need to decide how much you can spend on the event. Whether you dream of a lavish ballroom affair or an intimate backyard fête, the first thing you’ll need to do is come up with a realistic budget to work from. You won’t want any regrets about your wedding, so you’ll need to figure out what you can and can’t afford before the bills arrive.

    “Once couples have figured out how much they can comfortably afford in total, they then need to prioritize what is most important to them to determine what percentage of their total budget should be allocated to each element,” says San Francisco wedding planner Carrie Topoian. “From there, couples can build their wedding toward the budget they have predetermined.”

    Carrie says some of the pitfalls in creating a wedding budget are that the couple may not realize how much each vendor will cost, whether there are any hidden fees at the venue, or they simply forget to build in tax and gratuity to their budget.  

    Couples can estimate to spend 50 percent of a budget on catering and venue. This includes food, beverages, staffing, taxes and tip. The ambiance portion of your budget—flowers, decorations and lighting—should only be 10 percent.

    Another 10 percent should be set aside for music, and an additional 10 percent for photography. For favors and gifts, which include your attendants’ presents, stick to small items with a personal touch and don’t spend over 3 percent of the wedding’s total price tag. If the ceremony site is different from the rehearsal venue, set aside an additional 3 percent.

    Invitations, save-the-date cards and programs should be priced at around 3 percent. And any transportation needed—will you arrive in a limo? Will guests need to be shuttled?—should cost around 1 percent of the total budget.

    Dreaming of a designer dress? Carrie says most brides set aside 10 percent for wedding attire, but that includes the groom’s tuxedo too! Don’t forget to factor in the unexpected items like postage for the RSVP cards and marriage license fees, and avoid overtime—an extra hour on the dance floor can cost dearly.

    Now that you have a budget you will want to stick with it. Put all your money you’ll be using for your wedding in one separate bank account, so you can keep track of the funds. If you’re paying for expenses with a credit card, find one with a low rate with mileage benefits that you can put toward your honeymoon airfare.

    It is important to remember that every couple’s budget may vary depending on their vendor preferences and that each couple may have different priorities when it comes to their wedding.  If you can stick to the budget, you can start your new life together without unexpected debt.

    Photo by Union Photography

     

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  • You asked and now he's answered! Read on for Celebrity Wedding Planner David Tutera's thoughtful suggestions and advice for the lovely ladies of Project Wedding. Don't miss him on WeTV's "My Fair Wedding," airing Sundays at 10 p.m.!

    Q: David,

    My friend Amy is engaged right now and is in a terrible situation with her parents. Her parents had a really nasty divorce about 10 years ago and absolutely HATE each other! Their wedding will be the first time they have seen each other since the divorce, and Amy is really stressing about them getting into a huge fight at the ceremony or reception. Have you encountered a situation like this before? Do you have any tips on how to handle this?  - Kelly

    A: Kelly,

    Feuding parents are a common problem in the bridal world. For your friend's situation, I would recommend that she set up a private meeting over coffee and tea to sit with her parents (together or separately - whichever she feels will be the most helpful) and talk about the wedding and any concerns or expectations she has. If her parents have any special requests, such as the need to be seated at separate tables (or separate corners), this will be a good time for them to bring up those concerns as well and set the ground rules. This way everything is out in the open, the air is clear and your friend can focus on herself and her new husband instead of her parents' feud on her wedding day!  Her parents should want the same thing for her as well.

     

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    Q: David,

    How would you word invitations where the bride's parents are divorced and her father and his wife are paying for the wedding (mother is not remarried) ... the groom's parents are both deceased but he has a step-mother? Thank you! Alison

    A: Allison,

    To show that while the bride's father and stepmother are paying for the wedding but she is only Mr. X's daughter, the invite should be worded as: Mr. and Mrs. Thompson request the honor of your presence at the marriage of Mr. Thompson's daughter X to __________etc.

     

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    Q: David,

    What advice do you have for those of us who are done with our own wedding planning, but still addicted to the whole thing? Since my wedding I have wanted nothing more than to become a wedding planner. However, I'm being told by friends and family that it's a big mistake. What are the pros and cons of actually becoming a wedding planner?

    -LaVitaBella

    A: LaVitaBella,

    If you have finished your own happily ever after but still have wedding fever, start or join a wedding blog! Wedding blogs are so popular right now and there are hundreds of sites dedicated to giving brides-to-be planning tips, tricks and advice.  If you are looking into becoming a planner, do your research on what it takes to plan and execute someone else's big day; it is very different than planning your own! Dealing with clients and the behind the scenes work can be difficult and often very stressful but I love being able to create and share in the most special day of someone's life. It is a very time consuming profession but if you love it, you are sure to succeed. Start small and see if this industry is for you, good luck!  You can also try to get an internship with a wedding planning company so that you can get the feel and see if it's right for you. 

     

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    Q: David,

    My fiance and I made a rule because most of his family members just "date" around and have a new girl/guy every week, so do you think its rude that if they haven't been "seriously" dating for over 4 months that they don't get a "plus 1"? This rule goes for everyone on our guest list, not just his side and keep in mind that this mostly goes towards the people that are between 20-27 years of age. We can't afford to pay for their weekly fling ;) -BlingBride22

    A: BlingBride22,

    Deciding who will receive the coveted "plus one" is a tricky situation. Many guests look forward to bringing a date to a wedding and many guests won't feel comfortable dancing or mingling by themselves. For the bride and groom however, this means having a potential stranger at a very personal event and for brides on a budget it can be tough to swallow.

     

    The best thing to do is to be as generous as you can but create a blanket rule, as you have done, and stick to it. You want your loved ones to relax and enjoy themselves, but it is important to draw the line somewhere.  Remember, you know your guests best of all and you need to feel comfortable.

     

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    Q: David,

    Who should be invited to the rehearsal dinner? We have a bridal party of 10, plus us, our parents, grandparents ... that makes 17 total. Then are we supposed to invite spouses or significant others of the BP, out of towners, the priest? This is going to total upwards of 30 people! Then to do it again the next night with even more people = lots of $$!! ---FSUKristi

    A: FSUKristi,

    Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom's parents. The bride, groom and both sets of parents and grandparents attend, as do any immediate family members and their partners or spouses. The officiant and his or her spouse are invited, as are the wedding party members and their spouses.
    Beyond that, the guest list for the rehearsal dinner is up to the host and hostess.

    It is nice to invite out of towners as they have traveled a long way to attend your event and should be welcomed to the wedding with a dinner. If you want to keep the guest list a little smaller, host a cocktail party for out-of-towners and keep the rehearsal dinner to just those actually appearing in the wedding (and their spouses of course). 

     

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    Q: David,

    What do brides need to know about having a destination wedding outside of the country, and what are the best ways to save money on a DW? (ie - getting hitched in the states the day before and having a "vow" ceremony) -Crystal from Houston, Texas

    A: Crystal,

    Destination weddings are a great way to have a personal and unique wedding where the emphasis is on relaxation, celebration and shared experiences. Brides should be aware that due to all the transportation, guests will likely need to take off of work and spend a considerable amount of money to attend your event so understand if guests are not able to make the trip.

    The easiest way to plan a destination wedding is to select a location like a hotel or resort that includes an event coordinator in your package. These professionals are extremely helpful in finding local vendors and helping you plan your travels, so take advantage of them! To help cut costs, choose an over the top location like an Oceanside ceremony or an ornate ballroom; this will save you money on expensive decorations!

     

     

     

     

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  • After you've selected and ordered the dress, you will need to prepare for your first fitting.  It's very important that you schedule this fitting, because it will identify any changes or alterations which need to be made to the dress.  Below, you will find some important things to consider when preparing for your first fitting.

    Setting Up the Appointment
    After you've ordered your first dress, set up the appointment for your first fitting with the bridal boutique or shop.  The appointment should be at least 6 to 8 weeks before your wedding day.  Of course, your first fitting should be timed to the day or week your wedding dress is supposed to arrive at the boutique (unless they had your size available at the shop.)  Call the day before your first fitting to confirm that the dress has arrived and that it's your correct size.

    The Day of Your First Fitting
    In order to prepare for your first fitting, you should wear the undergarments and shoes that you will be wearing on the day of your wedding.  The undergarments you've chosen can make a big difference in the way your wedding dress fits and looks on your body.  The shoes will help you identify whether the length is correct or needs to be adjusted.  In a perfect world, the dress would fit perfectly on this day, however many brides need to have a round of alterations done to ensure that the dress fits correctly.

    You may also want to try on the accessories with your wedding dress on this day to ensure that nothing needs to be changed.  Is your veil the perfect length?  If you'll be wearing a headpiece, does it coordinate well?  Determining these things will help your entire look come together for the wedding day.

    Things to Think About
    For your first fitting, you should make a note of all changes which need to be made.  Make sure the boutique owner or salesperson understands which alterations need to be made and what your desires are.  Consider how the dress feels; walk around with the dress on, sit down with the dress on and raise your arms above your head.  Does the dress stay in place, feel too tight or just perfect?  Will the undergarments you've chosen work well with the dress?

    Once you've made a note of all changes which need to be made, find out how long those changes will take and schedule a second fitting.   By knowing how to prepare for your first fitting, you can ensure that the dress is perfect for your wedding day.

     

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  •  

    {inspiration board found at ataleof2monkeys}

    {found at budgetsaavybride, photos by Boutwell Studio}

    {found at Toastandtables, images from Martha Stewart (top row) and The Knot (bottom row)}

    {found at Stylemepretty.com}

    {found at tiffanyadelinowedding.blogspot.com}

    {photography by Lucida photography}

     

    {photo by Boutswell photographer}

    Bridal Party Attire:

     

     

    Tables/Decoration:

     

     

     

     

    {Photos credited to Knottie dapotato}

     

     

    {totallytabletops.blogspot.com}

     

     

    {Table by In Awe Weddings}

    Invitations:

     

    {invitation set by Lucky Paperie}

     

    {invitation by Bellafigura}

    {Invitation by Etsy seller Michelle Brusegaard}

    {Invitation by Athenaeum Press}

    Other Inspiration:

    {Tote bag by Fat Orange Cat}

    {Purse by Laura Bee Designs}

     

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  • My sister got married last year when she was just 21. Having not attended many weddings herself, she needed a little help with the planning. We ended up having the best time working on it together, and it was an amazing bonding experience. She was sweet and relaxed and not terribly interested in the minutiae, so we put together a very simple, family and friend oriented afternoon ceremony, followed by a dessert and champagne reception in his parent's backyard.

    We had about 125 people attending, and the we came in well under $5000, even with the high cost of the private chapel ($1200). No need for wedding insurance for this one!  Scroll down to the bottom to see a detailed budget breakdown.

    Clothes: My sister wore a gorgeously simple cream colored lace sheath dress that she got at Macy*s (not in the wedding section) for less than $200 - no alterations, but my mom added a little band of black velvet ribbon under the bustline. I was her only attendant and I wore one of my favorite J. Crew dresses and my mom made a cummerbund in the same silvery grey as the flower girls' skirts (also made by mom). Sis wore barely any jewelery - just a delicate cameo necklace (we have matching ones from when our parents traveled through Italy after they first got married!).

     

     

     

     



    Food: Food is a huge part of the wedding budget. Rena was having an afternoon wedding, so we decided to keep things simple and stick with a dessert buffet, and offer champagne, cider and coffee to drink. You save money a couple ways. Obviously, you don't have to pay for full meals. You also don't have to rent forks, and you can just get small plates and cocktail napkins. Note: You need two plates for every guest, plus forks for the cake serving, unless you want to ask people to bring back their dessert plates so you can serve them cake. Trust me, you don't. It would back the cake line up significantly, unless your wedding is really small.

    We used favorite family recipes to make tons and tons (seriously, tons) of cookies, adhering to the basic color scheme of black and white. I also made hundreds of mini cupcakes. We had copious amounts of champagne and sparkling cider. I wish I had another picture of the dessert tables, because this one is low res and it was taken after people had already started stuffing their faces. Tip: We didn't have a professional photographer at the reception and we got gorgeous photos from family and friends, but they don't usually think to take any detail pictures. If you want detail pictures, make sure to ask (kindly) someone specific to take them.

    Making cookies is fun. Making thousands of cookies while living in an apartment is logistically difficult.


    The freezer is your best bet, unless you are an actual baker by profession and have an industrial kitchen and lots of time. I looked for cookies that could be either baked and frozen, or doughs that could be rolled into logs, frozen, and then sliced and baked the day before. The goal here is to avoid getting stuck shaping cookies (even drop cookies take time) in the midst of pre-wedding madness.


    I made an Excel spreadsheet for myself (UPDATE - I finally have the spreadsheet information up and you can see it here - http://heart-of-light.blogspot.com/2010/08/cookie-spreadsheet-explained.html), listing all the recipes I was going to use, and the number of batches of each, and then had it calculate the total pounds of flour, butter, etc. I needed to buy. I did one or two major shopping trips at Smart and Final and bought supplies in bulk. Knowing my entire list ahead of time saved time and money.

    I made one or two different types of cookies per week, mixing up two double batches of each to save time, for the month and a half prior to the wedding. Of course, this meant our entire freezer (and my parents' entire freezer) was filled with cookies and cookie dough.

    A few days before the wedding, I made hundreds of mini cupcakes. I cheated and used boxed mix that I picked up when it was on sale for $1 a box but I did make real frosting. The easy way to dole out cupcake batter? Get a gallon size ziploc bag, scrape the entire bowl of batter into it, seal the bag, cut a small bit of one of the corners out and then just use it to neatly dispense cupcake batter into the cups. You wouldn't believe how much time this saves, compared to spooning batter into each cup. You get approximately 75 mini cupcakes per box of cake mix, which makes these really cost effective.

    The single, sadly diminished (and incredibly low res) shot

    We also picked out classic cookies in black and white (oreos, vanilla sandwich cookies and mini meringues) and put them in huge hurricane vases scattered around the dessert tables. It was cute and not very expensive.

    Tips for doing a massive dessert buffet:

    1. Unless you are a control freak (I freely admit I have a problem), please get other people to help. I've heard that in the midwest, cookie buffets are a wedding tradition, with family members bringing cookies to share. I think this is a great idea, if you provide the plating set up.

    2. Tables look better with lots of height layers. I used my own stash of vintage cake platters and borrowed stands from people, trying to make sure we ended up with a variety of heights. I also bought (from a flower supplier) inexpensive hurricane vases in various sizes, to add a little contrast.

    3. Buy little bags or boxes. We had tons of leftovers at the end of the night, and we set out little brown lunch bags, so that people could pack up cookies to take home.

    4. Get someone to take pictures! I am still so sad that we don't have any good pictures of the tables, because they were really pretty when they were all set up.


    Location: The ceremony was held in a little chapel up the street from the groom's parents' home (the one my sister always wanted to get married in). We all grew up in the same neighborhood, so it was a mere mile from my parents' house, making logistics much easier. The reception was held in the groom's parents' (thankfully large) backyard.

    We rented tables and plain white tablecloths from a local rental company. A florist friend helped us pick out flowers (vast amounts of white hydrangeas, with dusty miller and other accents plucked from my mom's yard) and make simple clusters of them in low vases for the tables. Between the vases, we spread trails of glossy black river rocks (from Home Depot).

    Halfway through setting up, the morning of the wedding   father-daughter dance on the patio

     

      The cake:  My sister picked a recipe from Martha Stewart and my mom and I made it the day before the wedding (and iced it the day of). Luckily, this cake was super forgiving and easy to work with, besides being delicious.

    My mom and stepdad kindly transported the cake to the reception while we finished up taking pictures at the chapel. Can I just say I am so glad that I wasn't there to witness this moment? I think I would have had a heart attack watching the cake get moved. That sucker was heavy.

    Here I am cutting the cake, after the top tier had been whisked away for storage. I have no idea why I look so concerned. I think I was trying to figure out how big to make the slices.

    I know that making a wedding cake sounds intimidating, but here's the thing - it's all about your recipe. And your decorating taste. If my sister had wanted a fancy fondant tower with sugar crafted birds hovering over it, I would have immediately declined, because I am not a cake decorator and I am not insane. But how can you resist this?

    Photo from Martha Stewart Weddings, found here.

     

    We had a copy of the actual magazine (since lost, much to my dismay - if anyone has it, I would love a scan of those pages!), and it provided amazingly detailed, easy instructions on how to assemble the cake. Luckily, they still have the basic recipes up on the site. Meyer lemon pound cake, coconut swiss meringue buttercream and meyer lemon curd filling recipes can be found here, here and here.


     

     

    The mini anniversary cake

     

     

    We saved the top of the cake for their one year anniversary, but I was nervous about how it might taste, so I made another little cake to give to them. Making one batch of cake is much more fun than making ten, by the way. If you want to make a smaller cake, just make one batch of the cake and a half batch of the frosting - it will be plenty. I made three little cakes from one batch, each six inches in diameter and three inches in height.

    Things to think about, if you want to make a giant wedding cake:

    1. Pick a recipe you are comfortable with - I highly recommend pound cake if you aren't experienced with making large cakes, because airier cakes are more likely to crack and cause major frustration.

    2. Go to a cake store well in advance, because you are going to need large pans (some cake stores will rent pans to you for a fraction of the cost of buying them) and specialty ingredients.

    3. Don't rely on your decorating skills too much, unless you are actually a cake decorator. This cake was a dream because I just slathered the frosting on for an amazing, stucco-esque finish and then added some candied lemon peels and flowers for decoration.

     

     

     

     

    The invitations: On a tight budget, letterpress simply wasn't an option, so we decided to go super simple instead. I designed the invitations to maximize efficient use of paper and shopped around online for envelopes.

    I designed the invitations in Illustrator and printed them on nicely textured white paper, four to a page. An ink jet printer works just fine, especially if you set the print quality to "best." A thick black paper with lightly embossed columns provided the backing, and I added a couple tiny rhinestones to the fly aways because I am a sucker for sparkles.

    The RSVP cards were very similar, but I backed them on thick black cardstock, so that they would hold up to the mailing process. D designed a super simple map for the details card.

     

     

     

     


    Tips if you are thinking about making your own invitations:

    1. Try to maximize everything - I started with common paper sizes and then figured out what size to make the final invitations.

    2. Research postal rules. We originally thought square invitations sounded fun, but oddly sized envelopes mean extra postage, which adds up quickly. We made the postcard RSVPs, which saves money on postage, but they have minimum and maximum sizes.

    3. Invest in a paper cutter and some spare blades - trust me, you cannot do this with scissors.

    4. Spray adhesive is a million times less messy than actual glue. We would lay several invitations out face down on a large piece of cardboard, spray them all (outside!) and then quickly lay them down on the backing.

    5. Buy a test sheet of paper and print the invite on it before you commit to a bulk quantity. I made the mistake of not doing this and ended up with two unusable reams of paper, because the texture was just too smooth and I couldn't live with it.

    ***  BUDGET BREAKDOWN: ***

    Approximately 125 people attended. I'm always curious about how these things break down, so here's what we spent.

    Rentals: $917 (included tables, linens, chairs, coffee cups + saucers, champagne glasses, plates, forks, delivery charge and tax)
    Food: $400 (includes ingredients for thousands of home made cookies, plus all the stuff for making the cake, including cake pans)
    Drink: $450 (we ordered 70 bottles of decent champagne ($7.50 per bottle) at BevMo. They have great prices and they allow you to return unopened bottles, which was great because we ended up only using 60 bottles)
    Flowers, etc: $250 (for bulk hydrangeas, plus buying the vases, the ribbon for the bouquets and the river rocks)
    Invitations: $300 (including invitation, inserts, envelopes and postage for 150 invites. We designed our own invitations, shopped around for nice paper, and printed them on our printer - this would have been even cheaper if I had more experience, because I messed up a few times and bought stuff we didn't need)
    Dress: $200, plus another $50 for the material for the flower girl skirts, my cummerbund, and the boys' ties, all made by mom. Oh, and $50 for an adorable pair of black Mary Janes that went perfectly with the sweet little wedding dress.

    This is one of my favorite photos of them that day, taken candidly right before they walked into the reception. She just looks so quiet and contemplative (and lovely).

    There were other random incidentals that came up, so I don't know the real total, just that it clocked in under $5000, including the exorbitant cost of the private chapel ($1200 for just 2 hours of use time, but it was my sis's dream location) and the vintage rings they found for each other at an antique dealer in our hometown.

    Of course, we did all the work ourselves, so I don't really know how to come up with a cost for that. I loved planning this wedding, but it convinced me that wedding planners more than earn their money. This took major planning, thinking ahead, researching, dozens of my nerdy organizational spreadsheets, plus a scale drawing of the backyard layout in AutoCad. We had three families and innumerable friends helping out, which was amazing, and fun, and more than a little crazy. Everything was simple and a true labor of love. No one seemed to mind not having plated service or a wedding band. We forgot to toss the bouquet. No one cared. After we saw off the happy couple (they camped out on the beach for their honeymoon), lots of people stayed to help clean up a bit and someone ran out and ordered massive amounts of In'n'Out burgers and fries and we all sprawled around and finished off more champagne.

     

     

     

    3
  • My husband and I got married on August 16, 2008, and I was dumbfounded at the various costs of a wedding. Even after planning large events in my professional life for years, nothing had prepared me for the costs of adding the label "wedding" to anything you might need to buy or rent.

    I'm here with some encouraging news, though. You can have that special wedding that you've dreamed about even on the minutest of budgets without having to sacrifice on elegance. The key is to go handmade on as much as you can. My whole wedding, including all of the homemade items shown below, cost only $8,000, which is less than half the national average of $21,814, according to The Wedding Report.

    The best part of going handmade is that you end up with a highly personalized and unique wedding that welcomes your guests to get to know your joint personality as a couple for perhaps the very first time. To me, that's even better than the money you'll save.   Here are some of my handmade, money-saving wedding tips: Don't skimp on the wedding theme
    Before you purchase anything, spend some extra time thinking about the elements you want to define your wedding experience, and then let these elements guide you through all of your wedding arrangements. This can be your colors, flower choices, personality (fun, sophisticated, etc.), or lifestyle (outdoorsy, beachy, etc.) in any combination.


    For our wedding, I chose hydrangeas because the blooms are so large that you basically get a bouquet-sized arrangement for the price of one flower. I love the look of blue hydrangeas, so I picked two shades of light blue for my overall wedding colors. I also wanted to play off the idea of love birds for our reception and show our fun and laid-back personalities. This combination of hydrangeas, blue, love birds, and fun/laid-back style gave me plenty of detailed elements to work with as I started to make handmade items to carry out this theme. As I shopped for wedding bargains and craft supplies, I always asked myself if the item(s) up for consideration tied in with the theme, and if they didn't, then they weren't a good deal. This will greatly simplify decision making and help your wedding achieve a consistent feel.
    Try not to purchase "wedding" items
    Like I mentioned earlier, the word "wedding" comes at a premium price. Just about anything for your wedding except maybe your apparel can be created with a little out-of-the-box thinking. Consider your ring-bearer pillow. It's just a pillow with rings tied to it. I made the pillow below by hand sewing (I'm not very good with a sewing machine) two pieces of felt together embellished with a few blue buttons - items that I happened to have lying around.


    How about your guest book? You want to record your guests' attendance, but those little books are so pricey, especially if you only need a few pages like I did. Instead, I used a well-wishes tree. I cut out little squares of paper with blue birds printed on them and attached a string of ribbon to the top. Guests were encouraged to write a little message on the cards and tie them on the tree. This tree created an interesting centerpiece for my welcome table, too, saving me money on my florist bill, which brings me to my next tip.



    Let wedding items serve multiple purposes
    You can't beat a two-for-one deal. Just like the well-wishes tree was able to be both the wedding guest book and a large table arrangement, there are plenty of other ways to let items serve double duty. For example, my wedding favors doubled as placecards. I found little nests and oval soaps online. Then I printed the guests' names on little strips of paper with blue birds in the background and secured them around the nests.


    The one area where I splurged on professional printing was my invitations. I needed a way for guests to RSVP and also include a map to the venues. Instead of having two coordinating cards printed, I simply had one tiny card printed with a URL for guests to RSVP and print custom directions. The Wedding Channel has a great interface for letting you set up a custom website for free with RSVP functionality, uploading maps, etc. I was able to let one card serve as the map and RSVP card, saving me on printing, extra envelopes, and postage. Plus, many of my guests commented on how much more convenient the website was for them, and I thought this method fit in with our laid-back style perfectly.


    Use what you already have in new ways
    There's no better way to add personal flair to your wedding and save money than by using items you already own and love. Run around your house and try to look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes, keeping your wedding theme in mind. After speaking with florists, I found that I could save quite a bit by providing my own containers for flower arrangements. My mom had given me these cute cream-colored fluted bowls years ago as a gift, and my friend Brandi decorated a bridal shower she threw for me with large birds' nests and graciously gave them to me afterwards. I was able to take these to my florist, and he created some one-of-a-kind arrangements with my own containers that perfectly fit my theme. If you do this, it's a good idea to put labels on the bottoms of your containers letting guests know they should be returned to you. Sometimes, wedding guests like to take centerpieces as a souvenirs, which is fine, as long as you get them back once the flowers are past their prime.


    My reception seating chart was also made from found items at my house. Instead of a fancy printed chart, I mounted slips of paper with table numbers and guest names to a basket-weave tray with pearl-embellished hat pins. I happened to have a little easel to hold it up, too.

    I know these tips can help you have a beautifully coordinated and personalized wedding, no matter how large or small your wedding budget is.

    About the Author: Betsy Pruitt

    After the wedding, I missed planning an event from start to finish and thinking about all of the little details that make a party shine.  It inspired me to create my own business, Belly Feathers, to help others have highly personalized events with lots of handmade love.  I plan special events remotely from start to finish and design one-of-a-kind invitations, decorations, party favors, and more.

     

    In addition to running Belly Feathers, my true passion, I work as a marketing communications manager focused on event planning, writing, and graphic design for a software company in high-tech Huntsville, AL. I bring over 10 years experience planning corporate and special events, both large and intimate, to my Belly Feathers friends (aka clients).

    Photos courtesy of B. Good Designs in Huntsville, AL, and K&R Photography of Leesburg, GA

     

    0
  • Sure, you could assign each of your reception tables a number - it's clear, traditional, and easy for your guests to follow. However, if you want to be a little more creative, you could name your tables based on a theme. While this is certainly a cute and clever idea, we only recommend doing it if you can find a "naming theme" that truly resonates with you and suits your wedding style and venue. Check out a few of our favorite ideas here:

    Travel Themed
    Love to travel? Name your tables after places where you and your spouse have visited, or plan to visit. Your sweetheart table can be named for your honeymoon destination for a cute touch!


    Photo by Joel Bedford Photography
     

    Your Pets
    If you and your spouse are truly best buddies with your family pets, why not name your tables after them? You can name the tables after important animals in your life - from your dog, your grandmother's cat, a horse you grew up riding - the options are endless!


    Photo by Jillian Mitchell Photography

    Sports Lovers
    For couples who love watching or playing sports, name your reception tables after your favorite teams or, as this couple did, your favorite players.


    Photo by Genesa Richards Photography
     

    College Pride
    If you and your honey are college sweethearts, you might name your tables after buildings or landmarks at your alma mater.


    Photo by Shannon Cronin Photography

    Wines
    Getting married at a vineyard (or just loooove wine)? Naming your tables after your favorite wine varietals is fun and totally works with a vineyard theme!


    Photo by Shelly Kroeger Photography

    Your Jobs
    If you and your future spouse met at work, you could find creative ways to use your careers in your table names. For example, this lawyer couple named their tables after Supreme Court Justices. Just make sure that your guests can understand the references.


    Photo by Abby Jiu Photography

    Music Lovers
    Are you and your future spouse huge music buffs? Name tables after your favorite artists or songs - even your the music venues you frequent!


    Photo by Tia & Claire Studio

    Seasonal and Venue-Focused
    Think about the season when your wedding is taking place, as well as the venue. This couple named their tables after apple varieties for a fall wedding at an orchard. But for spring weddings you could name tables after your favorite flowers, or your favorite beaches at summer weddings.


    Photo by Jagger Photography

    Looking for more table number sign ideas? Check out these beautiful ideas!
     


     

    1
  • While it is technically your day, your wedding is also an important moment for your and your future spouse's families. If you're so inclined, it's often a nice idea to remember the other important weddings in your family's history on your own special day. While you don't have to make any grand statements at the actual event, there are a few small ways you can add a sense of nostalgia to your wedding. 


    Photo by Cramer Photo 

    Wear Your Mother's Veil
    Sure, you could go all out and wear your mother or grandmother's gown on your wedding day, but there's a likelihood (especially if your parents got married in the 80s) that her gown is just not your style. A veil is less of a committment and most classic heirloom veils will look beautiful with a variety of more modern gowns.

     
    Photo by Vivian Chen Photography 

    Don Some Heirloom Jewelry
    A delicate bracelet, necklace, or earrings previously worn by a relative on their wedding day can be a lovely symbol of your family's history. 


    Photo by onelove photography 

    Add Some Heirloom Quality to Your Bouquet
    Wrap your bouquet with lace from your mother's wedding gown or attach a locket or handkerchief to the stems. 


    Photo by Laura Elaine Photography 

    Give Your Ceremony a Personal Touch
    There are lots of ways you can incorporate your family's history into your ceremony. Walk down the aisle to the same song your mother did, incorporate a reading or other musical selection that was performed at your parents' wedding, or use acutal items like wine glasses, unity candles or religious elements from your parents' wedding during the proceedings. 


    Photo by Ten 2 Ten Photography 
     

    Wear Heirloom Rings
    Wedding bands are often passed down from generation to generation, and it's a beautiful way to honor those who came before you. 


    Photo by j.woodbery photography 

    Display Family Wedding Photos
    You can display family wedding photos near the guest book, on the escort card table, or simply on their own table or mantle at the reception. Your guests may chuckle at your relatives' fashion decisions, but it's a nice way to showcase your family history.


    Photo by Katie Slater Photography

    Pick the Same First Dance Song
    Classic first dance songs are making a big comeback! Share a first dance song with one set of parents - if the tune suits your musical tastes as well. 


    Photo by Earthmuse Photography 

    Share a Cake Topper
    Vintage cake toppers are all the rage, so why not use the same one your parents did on their big day? It's a subtle, but nostalgic touch. 

    Looking for more vintage wedding ideas? Visit our Flowers & Decor editors for lots of gorgeous inspiration!

     

     

    1
  • Favors are a thoughtful way to express gratitude to your guests on your wedding day. Don’t hesitate to be creative and offer a parting gift that lasts beyond its time at the reception. We have compiled a list of unique and stunning favors that will have your guests abuzz.

     


    Photo by Blaine Photography 

     
    Potted Plants
    Far superior to fresh blooms that eventually wither to expiration, potted plants offer a great keepsake. Succulents work best, with sturdy and elegant blooms that take very little gardening knowledge to keep alive. These potted plants breathe life into the reception space while offering a parting gift to your guests that continues to grow.
     
    Seed Cards
    As a creative solution to favors that never get used, cards that are embedded with seeds are the perfect favor for travelers, gardeners and green-minded guests alike. Light and practical, seed cards can easily slide into your guests’ suitcases or purses and then be planted later at the guests’ leisure. Further, the seed cards can be personalized with your wedding date, your names, a photo or your favorite quote, inspiring your guests to let love bloom.

     

    Gift Boxes
    Glossy gift boxes with an embellished top present a classic Tiffany’s take on presentation that will have your guests wowing. Dress up the boxes with personalized gift tags or shiny ribbons, and place truffles, cookies or some other sweet treats inside.
     
    Use a bigger, triangular box to give your guests a slice of wedding cake to take home as a delicious parting gift. If you’re opting for a candy buffet for dessert in lieu of or in addition to cake, give your guests a beautifully decorated bag or box to take their goodies home in.

     

    Ingredients of Love
    Pay homage to a lost loved one’s recipe or introduce your guests to a family favorite with the ingredients of your favorite banana bread or sugar cookies. Using old-fashioned mason jars, layer the dry ingredients in a pretty pattern of varying colors. Tie a ribbon or jute rope around the lid with an attractive tag that lists the remaining ingredients and the recipe. For an added touch, include a mini-tin for your guests to bake the ingredients in.

     

     

    Topiary Place-Card Holders
    Place-card holders are a lovely way to dress up a reception, but miniature topiaries offer a stately touch to the table. Enchanting guests with the freshness of nature, most place-card topiaries come with a card clip tucked discreetly in the foliage. A charming favor to take home, the tiny tree can be displayed on a guest’s desk to hold photos or postcards or in the kitchen or bathroom for an elegant effect.

     

    Mini-Lantern Tealight Holder
    An evening outdoor reception can be set aglow with the ambiance of candlelight. With windproof miniature lanterns, the tealight holders can be hung from branches, grouped in different levels on the reception tables and staircases, or gathered for a dramatic centerpiece. Illuminating your special evening with candlelight adds a romantic and stylish setting as well as allows your guests to take a lantern home for dark nights.

     

    Napkin Rings

    As a practical and tasteful favor, stylish napkin rings can be embossed and polished with the words or finish of your choice. Have them personalized with traditional advice of “Live, Laugh, Love” or “Eat, Drink and Be Merry,” a heartfelt line from your vows, or your own words of wisdom. The tone of the reception will be graciously set, and guests will enjoy the rings on their own tables.

     

    A Chance to Win Big

    Giving out scratch lottery tickets is a fun favor that your guests will be more than happy to open. Affix a lucky penny to each ticket so that people can start scratching right away. Place the tickets in envelopes and guests can grab theirs on the way out the door, or attach them to a tree or large plant with decorative ribbon or a pretty string.  

    3

  • Photos by This Love of Yours... Photography

    PRESENTATION

    Use a color scheme that matches your wedding palette:  wedding colors aren’t just for the flowers and bridesmaids dresses!   Taking advantage of the colors you’ve already established can enhance your candy table’s presence, and bring cohesion to your entire reception. Create depth and height in your display:  with simple boxes or even phone books, you can sculpt a beautiful landscape on your table.  You can wrap the boxes in decorative paper, or even leave them bare and covered with matching linens for a refined, free-flowing cascade. Take advantage of your centerpieces: whether they be flowers, candles, or tiny little goldfish, using an extra centerpiece or two will not only tie into the rest of your reception, but it can also add life and freshness to your candy table. Don’t be afraid to use trimmings: details like good quality linens, ribbons, and paper can add nice touches to your overall display. Less is more:  trimmings are definitely your friends, but don’t go overboard!  Too many space fillers can potentially clutter your table and cause sensory overload! Consider the table: where will it be located?  Will there be a nice backdrop or wall behind it for pictures?  Or will it be open so people can access it from all sides?  Will it even have sides, or will it be round?  These are all good questions to ask yourself before deciding on a set-up design.

    CANDY

    Color is key:  as mentioned before, having a specific color scheme can really make your table pop.  Monochromatic palettes can also be striking and elegant.  Make sure to consider different hues and shades – for example, if your colors are red and brown, don’t be afraid of using different shades of reds and pinks.  If using primarily dark colors, try to use trimmings in lighter shades to bring energy to your table.  Check the weather:  Will it be hot or sunny?  Will the table be indoors or outdoors?  If indoor, will there be AC?  If you’re worried about warmth, save the stress and avoid candies that could easily melt (unfortunately this includes most chocolates)! Fruit seasons:  if you’re planning to use fresh fruit on your table (e.g. chocolate dipped strawberries), make sure you consider if they are even in season.  Strawberries in the winter might not be as sweet as when they’re at their peak in the summer! Not just candy:  if you’re open to treats in other forms, consider mini cookies, kettle corn, or spiced nuts as sweet additions.  Placing the wedding cake or groom's cake on the same table can add visual diversity. Be creative:  candy isn’t just made to be eaten, but also to play with!  Bundle large lollipops together like a bouquet of flowers, or skewer some marshmallows to simulate kabobs – the possibilities are endless. Keep it simple: having a variety of flavors and different types of candy can be satisfying to everyone, but don’t be afraid to go with a specific flavor profile.  Whether it be a gummy bear bar or a chocolate truffle tribute, your guests will definitely enjoy the sugar rush! Don’t buy too much!  It’s easy to worry about not having enough for everyone, but if you’re planning to include a meal and cake in your reception, guests probably won’t be stuffing themselves with extra sugar.  A small portion of ½ cup (4 oz) or less is a good estimate per person.  If you want to buy in bulk for a visual effect, save large containers for popular candies so you won’t have too many leftovers.

    CONTAINERS AND SUPPLIES

    More than jars:  apothecary jars and similar containers tend to be the standard, but don’t miss out on other shapes and sizes you can find elsewhere!  Vases are fabulously inexpensive alternatives, and are easy to find.  If you’re going for opaque containers, small pails can give a rustic vibe, and wicker baskets can be cute and lighthearted.   Don’t be afraid to use cake stands, flat platters, and other serving ware to give your guests a variety of ways to choose their sweets! Scoops and things:  when choosing containers, make sure you keep in mind how your guests are going to get the candy out!  Scoops, tongs, and other serving ware should be small enough to get the goods! Individual containers:  if your table is set up as a DIY favor station, little bags or mini boxes can be great take-homes.  Dress them up with a little label and ribbon and your guests have a tasty treat for later.  Clear plastic cups or even napkins are an inexpensive option if you prefer the candy to be eaten on the spot.

    WHERE TO BUY SUPPLIES

    Project Wedding – the forums have a great Classified Section where you can buy gently used items from the community. 

    Online Candy Stores:
    -    http://www.candywarehouse.com/
    -    http://www.candyfavorites.com/
    -    http://www.bulkcandystore.com/
    -    http://www.metrocandy.com/home.asp
    -    http://www.candydirect.com/
    -    http://www.blaircandy.com/
    -    http://www.hometownfavorites.com/shop/candy_store.asp
    -    http://www.oldtimecandy.com/
    -    http://www.groovycandies.com/
    -    http://www.sweetnostalgia.com/
    -    http://www.nutsonline.com/gifts/weddingfavors/

    Local stores for candy:
    -    Your neighborhood grocery store: Safeway, Lucky, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc.
    -    Bulk stores like Costco
    -    Michael’s: they have a special selection of wedding candies
    -    Ethnic grocers may also carry unique treats that can give your table a broader range of flavors.

    Containers and things:
    -    Restaurant supply stores, like Kamei or East Bay Restaurant Supply
    -    Save On Crafts
    -    CB2
    -    Michael’s
    -    Furniture stores like Ikea, Crate & Barrel
    -    Thrift or second-hand shops
    -    Cost-saving stores like Target, Ross, or the Dollar Store
    -    Scoops and more scoops

     

    15
  • Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now before the fun of planning the wedding starts, you’ll need to decide how much you can spend on the event. Whether you dream of a lavish ballroom affair or an intimate backyard fête, the first thing you’ll need to do is come up with a realistic budget to work from. You won’t want any regrets about your wedding, so you’ll need to figure out what you can and can’t afford before the bills arrive.

    “Once couples have figured out how much they can comfortably afford in total, they then need to prioritize what is most important to them to determine what percentage of their total budget should be allocated to each element,” says San Francisco wedding planner Carrie Topoian. “From there, couples can build their wedding toward the budget they have predetermined.”

    Carrie says some of the pitfalls in creating a wedding budget are that the couple may not realize how much each vendor will cost, whether there are any hidden fees at the venue, or they simply forget to build in tax and gratuity to their budget.  

    Couples can estimate to spend 50 percent of a budget on catering and venue. This includes food, beverages, staffing, taxes and tip. The ambiance portion of your budget—flowers, decorations and lighting—should only be 10 percent.

    Another 10 percent should be set aside for music, and an additional 10 percent for photography. For favors and gifts, which include your attendants’ presents, stick to small items with a personal touch and don’t spend over 3 percent of the wedding’s total price tag. If the ceremony site is different from the rehearsal venue, set aside an additional 3 percent.

    Invitations, save-the-date cards and programs should be priced at around 3 percent. And any transportation needed—will you arrive in a limo? Will guests need to be shuttled?—should cost around 1 percent of the total budget.

    Dreaming of a designer dress? Carrie says most brides set aside 10 percent for wedding attire, but that includes the groom’s tuxedo too! Don’t forget to factor in the unexpected items like postage for the RSVP cards and marriage license fees, and avoid overtime—an extra hour on the dance floor can cost dearly.

    Now that you have a budget you will want to stick with it. Put all your money you’ll be using for your wedding in one separate bank account, so you can keep track of the funds. If you’re paying for expenses with a credit card, find one with a low rate with mileage benefits that you can put toward your honeymoon airfare.

    It is important to remember that every couple’s budget may vary depending on their vendor preferences and that each couple may have different priorities when it comes to their wedding.  If you can stick to the budget, you can start your new life together without unexpected debt.

    Photo by Union Photography

     

    5
  • You asked and now he's answered! Read on for Celebrity Wedding Planner David Tutera's thoughtful suggestions and advice for the lovely ladies of Project Wedding. Don't miss him on WeTV's "My Fair Wedding," airing Sundays at 10 p.m.!

    Q: David,

    My friend Amy is engaged right now and is in a terrible situation with her parents. Her parents had a really nasty divorce about 10 years ago and absolutely HATE each other! Their wedding will be the first time they have seen each other since the divorce, and Amy is really stressing about them getting into a huge fight at the ceremony or reception. Have you encountered a situation like this before? Do you have any tips on how to handle this?  - Kelly

    A: Kelly,

    Feuding parents are a common problem in the bridal world. For your friend's situation, I would recommend that she set up a private meeting over coffee and tea to sit with her parents (together or separately - whichever she feels will be the most helpful) and talk about the wedding and any concerns or expectations she has. If her parents have any special requests, such as the need to be seated at separate tables (or separate corners), this will be a good time for them to bring up those concerns as well and set the ground rules. This way everything is out in the open, the air is clear and your friend can focus on herself and her new husband instead of her parents' feud on her wedding day!  Her parents should want the same thing for her as well.

     

    ~

    Q: David,

    How would you word invitations where the bride's parents are divorced and her father and his wife are paying for the wedding (mother is not remarried) ... the groom's parents are both deceased but he has a step-mother? Thank you! Alison

    A: Allison,

    To show that while the bride's father and stepmother are paying for the wedding but she is only Mr. X's daughter, the invite should be worded as: Mr. and Mrs. Thompson request the honor of your presence at the marriage of Mr. Thompson's daughter X to __________etc.

     

    ~

    Q: David,

    What advice do you have for those of us who are done with our own wedding planning, but still addicted to the whole thing? Since my wedding I have wanted nothing more than to become a wedding planner. However, I'm being told by friends and family that it's a big mistake. What are the pros and cons of actually becoming a wedding planner?

    -LaVitaBella

    A: LaVitaBella,

    If you have finished your own happily ever after but still have wedding fever, start or join a wedding blog! Wedding blogs are so popular right now and there are hundreds of sites dedicated to giving brides-to-be planning tips, tricks and advice.  If you are looking into becoming a planner, do your research on what it takes to plan and execute someone else's big day; it is very different than planning your own! Dealing with clients and the behind the scenes work can be difficult and often very stressful but I love being able to create and share in the most special day of someone's life. It is a very time consuming profession but if you love it, you are sure to succeed. Start small and see if this industry is for you, good luck!  You can also try to get an internship with a wedding planning company so that you can get the feel and see if it's right for you. 

     

    ~

    Q: David,

    My fiance and I made a rule because most of his family members just "date" around and have a new girl/guy every week, so do you think its rude that if they haven't been "seriously" dating for over 4 months that they don't get a "plus 1"? This rule goes for everyone on our guest list, not just his side and keep in mind that this mostly goes towards the people that are between 20-27 years of age. We can't afford to pay for their weekly fling ;) -BlingBride22

    A: BlingBride22,

    Deciding who will receive the coveted "plus one" is a tricky situation. Many guests look forward to bringing a date to a wedding and many guests won't feel comfortable dancing or mingling by themselves. For the bride and groom however, this means having a potential stranger at a very personal event and for brides on a budget it can be tough to swallow.

     

    The best thing to do is to be as generous as you can but create a blanket rule, as you have done, and stick to it. You want your loved ones to relax and enjoy themselves, but it is important to draw the line somewhere.  Remember, you know your guests best of all and you need to feel comfortable.

     

    ~

    Q: David,

    Who should be invited to the rehearsal dinner? We have a bridal party of 10, plus us, our parents, grandparents ... that makes 17 total. Then are we supposed to invite spouses or significant others of the BP, out of towners, the priest? This is going to total upwards of 30 people! Then to do it again the next night with even more people = lots of $$!! ---FSUKristi

    A: FSUKristi,

    Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom's parents. The bride, groom and both sets of parents and grandparents attend, as do any immediate family members and their partners or spouses. The officiant and his or her spouse are invited, as are the wedding party members and their spouses.
    Beyond that, the guest list for the rehearsal dinner is up to the host and hostess.

    It is nice to invite out of towners as they have traveled a long way to attend your event and should be welcomed to the wedding with a dinner. If you want to keep the guest list a little smaller, host a cocktail party for out-of-towners and keep the rehearsal dinner to just those actually appearing in the wedding (and their spouses of course). 

     

    ~

    Q: David,

    What do brides need to know about having a destination wedding outside of the country, and what are the best ways to save money on a DW? (ie - getting hitched in the states the day before and having a "vow" ceremony) -Crystal from Houston, Texas

    A: Crystal,

    Destination weddings are a great way to have a personal and unique wedding where the emphasis is on relaxation, celebration and shared experiences. Brides should be aware that due to all the transportation, guests will likely need to take off of work and spend a considerable amount of money to attend your event so understand if guests are not able to make the trip.

    The easiest way to plan a destination wedding is to select a location like a hotel or resort that includes an event coordinator in your package. These professionals are extremely helpful in finding local vendors and helping you plan your travels, so take advantage of them! To help cut costs, choose an over the top location like an Oceanside ceremony or an ornate ballroom; this will save you money on expensive decorations!

     

     

     

     

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  • After you've selected and ordered the dress, you will need to prepare for your first fitting.  It's very important that you schedule this fitting, because it will identify any changes or alterations which need to be made to the dress.  Below, you will find some important things to consider when preparing for your first fitting.

    Setting Up the Appointment
    After you've ordered your first dress, set up the appointment for your first fitting with the bridal boutique or shop.  The appointment should be at least 6 to 8 weeks before your wedding day.  Of course, your first fitting should be timed to the day or week your wedding dress is supposed to arrive at the boutique (unless they had your size available at the shop.)  Call the day before your first fitting to confirm that the dress has arrived and that it's your correct size.

    The Day of Your First Fitting
    In order to prepare for your first fitting, you should wear the undergarments and shoes that you will be wearing on the day of your wedding.  The undergarments you've chosen can make a big difference in the way your wedding dress fits and looks on your body.  The shoes will help you identify whether the length is correct or needs to be adjusted.  In a perfect world, the dress would fit perfectly on this day, however many brides need to have a round of alterations done to ensure that the dress fits correctly.

    You may also want to try on the accessories with your wedding dress on this day to ensure that nothing needs to be changed.  Is your veil the perfect length?  If you'll be wearing a headpiece, does it coordinate well?  Determining these things will help your entire look come together for the wedding day.

    Things to Think About
    For your first fitting, you should make a note of all changes which need to be made.  Make sure the boutique owner or salesperson understands which alterations need to be made and what your desires are.  Consider how the dress feels; walk around with the dress on, sit down with the dress on and raise your arms above your head.  Does the dress stay in place, feel too tight or just perfect?  Will the undergarments you've chosen work well with the dress?

    Once you've made a note of all changes which need to be made, find out how long those changes will take and schedule a second fitting.   By knowing how to prepare for your first fitting, you can ensure that the dress is perfect for your wedding day.

     

    1
  •  

    {inspiration board found at ataleof2monkeys}

    {found at budgetsaavybride, photos by Boutwell Studio}

    {found at Toastandtables, images from Martha Stewart (top row) and The Knot (bottom row)}

    {found at Stylemepretty.com}

    {found at tiffanyadelinowedding.blogspot.com}

    {photography by Lucida photography}

     

    {photo by Boutswell photographer}

    Bridal Party Attire:

     

     

    Tables/Decoration:

     

     

     

     

    {Photos credited to Knottie dapotato}

     

     

    {totallytabletops.blogspot.com}

     

     

    {Table by In Awe Weddings}

    Invitations:

     

    {invitation set by Lucky Paperie}

     

    {invitation by Bellafigura}

    {Invitation by Etsy seller Michelle Brusegaard}

    {Invitation by Athenaeum Press}

    Other Inspiration:

    {Tote bag by Fat Orange Cat}

    {Purse by Laura Bee Designs}

     

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  • My sister got married last year when she was just 21. Having not attended many weddings herself, she needed a little help with the planning. We ended up having the best time working on it together, and it was an amazing bonding experience. She was sweet and relaxed and not terribly interested in the minutiae, so we put together a very simple, family and friend oriented afternoon ceremony, followed by a dessert and champagne reception in his parent's backyard.

    We had about 125 people attending, and the we came in well under $5000, even with the high cost of the private chapel ($1200). No need for wedding insurance for this one!  Scroll down to the bottom to see a detailed budget breakdown.

    Clothes: My sister wore a gorgeously simple cream colored lace sheath dress that she got at Macy*s (not in the wedding section) for less than $200 - no alterations, but my mom added a little band of black velvet ribbon under the bustline. I was her only attendant and I wore one of my favorite J. Crew dresses and my mom made a cummerbund in the same silvery grey as the flower girls' skirts (also made by mom). Sis wore barely any jewelery - just a delicate cameo necklace (we have matching ones from when our parents traveled through Italy after they first got married!).

     

     

     

     



    Food: Food is a huge part of the wedding budget. Rena was having an afternoon wedding, so we decided to keep things simple and stick with a dessert buffet, and offer champagne, cider and coffee to drink. You save money a couple ways. Obviously, you don't have to pay for full meals. You also don't have to rent forks, and you can just get small plates and cocktail napkins. Note: You need two plates for every guest, plus forks for the cake serving, unless you want to ask people to bring back their dessert plates so you can serve them cake. Trust me, you don't. It would back the cake line up significantly, unless your wedding is really small.

    We used favorite family recipes to make tons and tons (seriously, tons) of cookies, adhering to the basic color scheme of black and white. I also made hundreds of mini cupcakes. We had copious amounts of champagne and sparkling cider. I wish I had another picture of the dessert tables, because this one is low res and it was taken after people had already started stuffing their faces. Tip: We didn't have a professional photographer at the reception and we got gorgeous photos from family and friends, but they don't usually think to take any detail pictures. If you want detail pictures, make sure to ask (kindly) someone specific to take them.

    Making cookies is fun. Making thousands of cookies while living in an apartment is logistically difficult.


    The freezer is your best bet, unless you are an actual baker by profession and have an industrial kitchen and lots of time. I looked for cookies that could be either baked and frozen, or doughs that could be rolled into logs, frozen, and then sliced and baked the day before. The goal here is to avoid getting stuck shaping cookies (even drop cookies take time) in the midst of pre-wedding madness.


    I made an Excel spreadsheet for myself (UPDATE - I finally have the spreadsheet information up and you can see it here - http://heart-of-light.blogspot.com/2010/08/cookie-spreadsheet-explained.html), listing all the recipes I was going to use, and the number of batches of each, and then had it calculate the total pounds of flour, butter, etc. I needed to buy. I did one or two major shopping trips at Smart and Final and bought supplies in bulk. Knowing my entire list ahead of time saved time and money.

    I made one or two different types of cookies per week, mixing up two double batches of each to save time, for the month and a half prior to the wedding. Of course, this meant our entire freezer (and my parents' entire freezer) was filled with cookies and cookie dough.

    A few days before the wedding, I made hundreds of mini cupcakes. I cheated and used boxed mix that I picked up when it was on sale for $1 a box but I did make real frosting. The easy way to dole out cupcake batter? Get a gallon size ziploc bag, scrape the entire bowl of batter into it, seal the bag, cut a small bit of one of the corners out and then just use it to neatly dispense cupcake batter into the cups. You wouldn't believe how much time this saves, compared to spooning batter into each cup. You get approximately 75 mini cupcakes per box of cake mix, which makes these really cost effective.

    The single, sadly diminished (and incredibly low res) shot

    We also picked out classic cookies in black and white (oreos, vanilla sandwich cookies and mini meringues) and put them in huge hurricane vases scattered around the dessert tables. It was cute and not very expensive.

    Tips for doing a massive dessert buffet:

    1. Unless you are a control freak (I freely admit I have a problem), please get other people to help. I've heard that in the midwest, cookie buffets are a wedding tradition, with family members bringing cookies to share. I think this is a great idea, if you provide the plating set up.

    2. Tables look better with lots of height layers. I used my own stash of vintage cake platters and borrowed stands from people, trying to make sure we ended up with a variety of heights. I also bought (from a flower supplier) inexpensive hurricane vases in various sizes, to add a little contrast.

    3. Buy little bags or boxes. We had tons of leftovers at the end of the night, and we set out little brown lunch bags, so that people could pack up cookies to take home.

    4. Get someone to take pictures! I am still so sad that we don't have any good pictures of the tables, because they were really pretty when they were all set up.


    Location: The ceremony was held in a little chapel up the street from the groom's parents' home (the one my sister always wanted to get married in). We all grew up in the same neighborhood, so it was a mere mile from my parents' house, making logistics much easier. The reception was held in the groom's parents' (thankfully large) backyard.

    We rented tables and plain white tablecloths from a local rental company. A florist friend helped us pick out flowers (vast amounts of white hydrangeas, with dusty miller and other accents plucked from my mom's yard) and make simple clusters of them in low vases for the tables. Between the vases, we spread trails of glossy black river rocks (from Home Depot).

    Halfway through setting up, the morning of the wedding   father-daughter dance on the patio

     

      The cake:  My sister picked a recipe from Martha Stewart and my mom and I made it the day before the wedding (and iced it the day of). Luckily, this cake was super forgiving and easy to work with, besides being delicious.

    My mom and stepdad kindly transported the cake to the reception while we finished up taking pictures at the chapel. Can I just say I am so glad that I wasn't there to witness this moment? I think I would have had a heart attack watching the cake get moved. That sucker was heavy.

    Here I am cutting the cake, after the top tier had been whisked away for storage. I have no idea why I look so concerned. I think I was trying to figure out how big to make the slices.

    I know that making a wedding cake sounds intimidating, but here's the thing - it's all about your recipe. And your decorating taste. If my sister had wanted a fancy fondant tower with sugar crafted birds hovering over it, I would have immediately declined, because I am not a cake decorator and I am not insane. But how can you resist this?

    Photo from Martha Stewart Weddings, found here.

     

    We had a copy of the actual magazine (since lost, much to my dismay - if anyone has it, I would love a scan of those pages!), and it provided amazingly detailed, easy instructions on how to assemble the cake. Luckily, they still have the basic recipes up on the site. Meyer lemon pound cake, coconut swiss meringue buttercream and meyer lemon curd filling recipes can be found here, here and here.


     

     

    The mini anniversary cake

     

     

    We saved the top of the cake for their one year anniversary, but I was nervous about how it might taste, so I made another little cake to give to them. Making one batch of cake is much more fun than making ten, by the way. If you want to make a smaller cake, just make one batch of the cake and a half batch of the frosting - it will be plenty. I made three little cakes from one batch, each six inches in diameter and three inches in height.

    Things to think about, if you want to make a giant wedding cake:

    1. Pick a recipe you are comfortable with - I highly recommend pound cake if you aren't experienced with making large cakes, because airier cakes are more likely to crack and cause major frustration.

    2. Go to a cake store well in advance, because you are going to need large pans (some cake stores will rent pans to you for a fraction of the cost of buying them) and specialty ingredients.

    3. Don't rely on your decorating skills too much, unless you are actually a cake decorator. This cake was a dream because I just slathered the frosting on for an amazing, stucco-esque finish and then added some candied lemon peels and flowers for decoration.

     

     

     

     

    The invitations: On a tight budget, letterpress simply wasn't an option, so we decided to go super simple instead. I designed the invitations to maximize efficient use of paper and shopped around online for envelopes.

    I designed the invitations in Illustrator and printed them on nicely textured white paper, four to a page. An ink jet printer works just fine, especially if you set the print quality to "best." A thick black paper with lightly embossed columns provided the backing, and I added a couple tiny rhinestones to the fly aways because I am a sucker for sparkles.

    The RSVP cards were very similar, but I backed them on thick black cardstock, so that they would hold up to the mailing process. D designed a super simple map for the details card.

     

     

     

     


    Tips if you are thinking about making your own invitations:

    1. Try to maximize everything - I started with common paper sizes and then figured out what size to make the final invitations.

    2. Research postal rules. We originally thought square invitations sounded fun, but oddly sized envelopes mean extra postage, which adds up quickly. We made the postcard RSVPs, which saves money on postage, but they have minimum and maximum sizes.

    3. Invest in a paper cutter and some spare blades - trust me, you cannot do this with scissors.

    4. Spray adhesive is a million times less messy than actual glue. We would lay several invitations out face down on a large piece of cardboard, spray them all (outside!) and then quickly lay them down on the backing.

    5. Buy a test sheet of paper and print the invite on it before you commit to a bulk quantity. I made the mistake of not doing this and ended up with two unusable reams of paper, because the texture was just too smooth and I couldn't live with it.

    ***  BUDGET BREAKDOWN: ***

    Approximately 125 people attended. I'm always curious about how these things break down, so here's what we spent.

    Rentals: $917 (included tables, linens, chairs, coffee cups + saucers, champagne glasses, plates, forks, delivery charge and tax)
    Food: $400 (includes ingredients for thousands of home made cookies, plus all the stuff for making the cake, including cake pans)
    Drink: $450 (we ordered 70 bottles of decent champagne ($7.50 per bottle) at BevMo. They have great prices and they allow you to return unopened bottles, which was great because we ended up only using 60 bottles)
    Flowers, etc: $250 (for bulk hydrangeas, plus buying the vases, the ribbon for the bouquets and the river rocks)
    Invitations: $300 (including invitation, inserts, envelopes and postage for 150 invites. We designed our own invitations, shopped around for nice paper, and printed them on our printer - this would have been even cheaper if I had more experience, because I messed up a few times and bought stuff we didn't need)
    Dress: $200, plus another $50 for the material for the flower girl skirts, my cummerbund, and the boys' ties, all made by mom. Oh, and $50 for an adorable pair of black Mary Janes that went perfectly with the sweet little wedding dress.

    This is one of my favorite photos of them that day, taken candidly right before they walked into the reception. She just looks so quiet and contemplative (and lovely).

    There were other random incidentals that came up, so I don't know the real total, just that it clocked in under $5000, including the exorbitant cost of the private chapel ($1200 for just 2 hours of use time, but it was my sis's dream location) and the vintage rings they found for each other at an antique dealer in our hometown.

    Of course, we did all the work ourselves, so I don't really know how to come up with a cost for that. I loved planning this wedding, but it convinced me that wedding planners more than earn their money. This took major planning, thinking ahead, researching, dozens of my nerdy organizational spreadsheets, plus a scale drawing of the backyard layout in AutoCad. We had three families and innumerable friends helping out, which was amazing, and fun, and more than a little crazy. Everything was simple and a true labor of love. No one seemed to mind not having plated service or a wedding band. We forgot to toss the bouquet. No one cared. After we saw off the happy couple (they camped out on the beach for their honeymoon), lots of people stayed to help clean up a bit and someone ran out and ordered massive amounts of In'n'Out burgers and fries and we all sprawled around and finished off more champagne.

     

     

     

    3
  • My husband and I got married on August 16, 2008, and I was dumbfounded at the various costs of a wedding. Even after planning large events in my professional life for years, nothing had prepared me for the costs of adding the label "wedding" to anything you might need to buy or rent.

    I'm here with some encouraging news, though. You can have that special wedding that you've dreamed about even on the minutest of budgets without having to sacrifice on elegance. The key is to go handmade on as much as you can. My whole wedding, including all of the homemade items shown below, cost only $8,000, which is less than half the national average of $21,814, according to The Wedding Report.

    The best part of going handmade is that you end up with a highly personalized and unique wedding that welcomes your guests to get to know your joint personality as a couple for perhaps the very first time. To me, that's even better than the money you'll save.   Here are some of my handmade, money-saving wedding tips: Don't skimp on the wedding theme
    Before you purchase anything, spend some extra time thinking about the elements you want to define your wedding experience, and then let these elements guide you through all of your wedding arrangements. This can be your colors, flower choices, personality (fun, sophisticated, etc.), or lifestyle (outdoorsy, beachy, etc.) in any combination.


    For our wedding, I chose hydrangeas because the blooms are so large that you basically get a bouquet-sized arrangement for the price of one flower. I love the look of blue hydrangeas, so I picked two shades of light blue for my overall wedding colors. I also wanted to play off the idea of love birds for our reception and show our fun and laid-back personalities. This combination of hydrangeas, blue, love birds, and fun/laid-back style gave me plenty of detailed elements to work with as I started to make handmade items to carry out this theme. As I shopped for wedding bargains and craft supplies, I always asked myself if the item(s) up for consideration tied in with the theme, and if they didn't, then they weren't a good deal. This will greatly simplify decision making and help your wedding achieve a consistent feel.
    Try not to purchase "wedding" items
    Like I mentioned earlier, the word "wedding" comes at a premium price. Just about anything for your wedding except maybe your apparel can be created with a little out-of-the-box thinking. Consider your ring-bearer pillow. It's just a pillow with rings tied to it. I made the pillow below by hand sewing (I'm not very good with a sewing machine) two pieces of felt together embellished with a few blue buttons - items that I happened to have lying around.


    How about your guest book? You want to record your guests' attendance, but those little books are so pricey, especially if you only need a few pages like I did. Instead, I used a well-wishes tree. I cut out little squares of paper with blue birds printed on them and attached a string of ribbon to the top. Guests were encouraged to write a little message on the cards and tie them on the tree. This tree created an interesting centerpiece for my welcome table, too, saving me money on my florist bill, which brings me to my next tip.



    Let wedding items serve multiple purposes
    You can't beat a two-for-one deal. Just like the well-wishes tree was able to be both the wedding guest book and a large table arrangement, there are plenty of other ways to let items serve double duty. For example, my wedding favors doubled as placecards. I found little nests and oval soaps online. Then I printed the guests' names on little strips of paper with blue birds in the background and secured them around the nests.


    The one area where I splurged on professional printing was my invitations. I needed a way for guests to RSVP and also include a map to the venues. Instead of having two coordinating cards printed, I simply had one tiny card printed with a URL for guests to RSVP and print custom directions. The Wedding Channel has a great interface for letting you set up a custom website for free with RSVP functionality, uploading maps, etc. I was able to let one card serve as the map and RSVP card, saving me on printing, extra envelopes, and postage. Plus, many of my guests commented on how much more convenient the website was for them, and I thought this method fit in with our laid-back style perfectly.


    Use what you already have in new ways
    There's no better way to add personal flair to your wedding and save money than by using items you already own and love. Run around your house and try to look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes, keeping your wedding theme in mind. After speaking with florists, I found that I could save quite a bit by providing my own containers for flower arrangements. My mom had given me these cute cream-colored fluted bowls years ago as a gift, and my friend Brandi decorated a bridal shower she threw for me with large birds' nests and graciously gave them to me afterwards. I was able to take these to my florist, and he created some one-of-a-kind arrangements with my own containers that perfectly fit my theme. If you do this, it's a good idea to put labels on the bottoms of your containers letting guests know they should be returned to you. Sometimes, wedding guests like to take centerpieces as a souvenirs, which is fine, as long as you get them back once the flowers are past their prime.


    My reception seating chart was also made from found items at my house. Instead of a fancy printed chart, I mounted slips of paper with table numbers and guest names to a basket-weave tray with pearl-embellished hat pins. I happened to have a little easel to hold it up, too.

    I know these tips can help you have a beautifully coordinated and personalized wedding, no matter how large or small your wedding budget is.

    About the Author: Betsy Pruitt

    After the wedding, I missed planning an event from start to finish and thinking about all of the little details that make a party shine.  It inspired me to create my own business, Belly Feathers, to help others have highly personalized events with lots of handmade love.  I plan special events remotely from start to finish and design one-of-a-kind invitations, decorations, party favors, and more.

     

    In addition to running Belly Feathers, my true passion, I work as a marketing communications manager focused on event planning, writing, and graphic design for a software company in high-tech Huntsville, AL. I bring over 10 years experience planning corporate and special events, both large and intimate, to my Belly Feathers friends (aka clients).

    Photos courtesy of B. Good Designs in Huntsville, AL, and K&R Photography of Leesburg, GA

     

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