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Get these crafty, cost-cutting wedding tips from Mindy Weiss' must-read The Wedding Book!
Obviously, there are as many ways to scrimp as there are to break the bank. But the key to a great wedding is knowing where to spend and where to save. Here are the ten best ways to keep the bills down without compromising the integrity of the event:
1. Trim the guest list. Your cost per head is your biggest expense.
2. Choose a gorgeous setting. Whether it's a conservatory or a Tudor ballroom, you'll save a bundle on decorations.
3. Skip the off-site location and go with a reception site (a hotel, club, or restaurant) that comes with tables, chairs, flatware, and staff. Tents and other rentals add up to a substantial expense.
4. Start the wedding earlier in the day. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, or heavy hors d'oeuvres cost less than dinner, and earlier in the day, people drink less, lowering your liquor costs.
5. Limit the alcoholic offerings to wine, beer, and a signature cocktail. Also consider sangria or punch as a festive but cost-effective alternative to mixed drinks.
6. Move the wedding from Saturday to Sunday; if you need to bring down the price even more, move it to a weekday. Vendors lower their fees for days that are less in demand.
7. Eliminate the champagne toast. Most of the bubbly will be thrown out anyway. Have guests toast with whatever they're drinking at the time.
8. Instead of a band, hire a great deejay or use an iPod.
9. Opt for an inexpensive printing method on your invitations. Use design cleverly and you can get a great effect with offset printing, for a fraction of the price of letterpress or engraving.
10. Skip favors. Write a personal note instead.
Images courtesy: Union Photography
Your wedding cake will be the star of the reception and the centerpiece of many, many photographs – no wonder so much importance is placed on choosing the right one! There’s much more to the perfect cake than the number of tiers and the topper though – imagine the guests’ disappointment when the most gorgeous wedding cake they’ve seen is also the most horrible tasting!
Photo by Punam Bean Photography
Thankfully, most bakers that specialize in wedding cakes offer cake testing to assure you that your cake will taste as good as it looks. Before you head out to the local bakeries for an all-day cake sampling adventure, there are a few tips that will make your decision easier without wasting valuable time.
What Would You Like?
It’s good to rely on the expertise of a wedding cake creator –but if you have no idea what type of cake you want, the baker can’t be much help. Before you visit the bakery, have a general idea of your dream cake. Do you want a traditional tiered wedding cake or something contemporary? Is there a particular style you really like or don’t like? This sort of input will help the baker suggest the perfect cake.
Round One - Choosing a Baker
Save yourself some footwork by narrowing down the number of bakeries you visit. Search the internet for wedding cake designers in your area. Some will have websites where you can gather most of the information you need aside from tasting. Others may require a phone call before you decide to make an appointment. Ask your friends and family for recommendations as well – word of mouth is usually the most reliable form of advertising.
Visit cake shops that:Create the style of cake you have in mind. Allow you to browse photos of cakes they’ve designed. Offer samples of various frostings and cakes to help you choose the best flavor. Bake the cake fresh just before the wedding rather than freezing beforehand.
Round Two - Choosing a Baker
Make appointments with three or four of your favorite cake designers. Browse their portfolios and listen to their ideas for your special day. Taste different types of cakes and icings available and discuss the best flavors for your location – some frostings may begin to melt if your reception is outdoors. Finally, discuss prices, options, and payment policies before heading home to make your final decision.
Round Three – The Final Decision
You’ve met with the bakers and have a good idea of what each can offer for your wedding cake. You’ll also want to consider your budget and eliminate any designers that are not realistic. If you’re still having trouble making a decision – whether it’s the type of cake or the baker to create it – schedule one more visit to test the cakes once again.
Bringing along the groom-to-be or your maid of honor can be a big help in choosing the best flavors. Some bakeries offer a test cake, a smaller version of the cake you’re considering, to help your decision. Choose a cake that’s moist with a flavor that will appeal to most of your guests, without overlooking the style you’ve been dreaming about.
For a wedding that is both budget friendly and extremely charming, throw a backyard garden wedding! By doing this, you'll be cutting out one of the most expensive costs: your venue. It also makes it easier to play with ideas and test out different concepts. Here, we've gathered all the elements for a darling backyard wedding in classic pink and green.
When throwing a wedding in a backyard or any outdoor venue, it's important to punch up those pale colors. Bright colors and deeper tones look best outside, so if you have a pale color scheme going just add a few brighter tones to make it pop. Another very important thing to remember is to plan your event around what's blooming in your garden. You can never go wrong with green and white and if you want to add a punch of color, take your cue from your garden blooms!
We gathered cabbage and rambling roses into depression glass vases and placed them on top of a sweet checkered pink cloth. We layered cloths for a homey, casual feel. It also makes it easier to use linens you already own, but improvising with different sizes and shapes, To add a modern touch and punch up the color scheme, we added these bright, handmade letterpress tags from Linda and Harriett as place tags. They brighten up the table and the design is a bit more modern, but it works. The tags are letterpress so they still offer that handmade touch for a quaint wedding. We collected vintage silverware, glasses and napkins from ebay and garage sales to give the table a vintage feel.
Don't rule out your own backyard for your wedding and don't be afraid to use your own flowers and linens...just punch them up with a few modern touches and a bit of color!
You’ve spent lots of time choosing the right music for your wedding and reception. After all that planning, the last thing you want to hear is a song you hate. Create a ‘do not play’ list for your band or DJ and you’ll never have to regret your reception music later.
Photo by Geoff White Photography
What is a ‘Do Not Play’ List?
Like the name implies, your ‘do not play’ list is a collection of the songs or types of music that you would rather not hear during your reception. Your DJ may request a ‘do not play’ list before the wedding; if not, just include it along with your traditional dance selections and the DJ will honor it.
How to Create Your List
My normal wedding planning advice applies to your ‘do not play’ list as well – it’s your day so it’s what you want! Your list may include specific songs or entire types of music; the most commonly included do not play requests are usually:Hard to dance to; Outdated; Overplayed; Or carry the wrong message.
Some brides prefer to leave line dances and cliché party songs out of the line-up, others may ask the DJ not to play any house or club tunes. Your ‘do not play’ list can include songs you hate, songs that may make your guests feel uncomfortable, or songs that make you cry – whatever tune that would make you cringe if you heard it at your reception!
Some DJs have created their own ‘do not play’ list for weddings, based on the preferences of other brides. There are also a few that allow you to create your play list and do not play list online, choosing from a selection of available tracks. It’s best to ask your DJ about these options early so that you’ll have plenty of time to get your list together.
Top 10 ‘Do Not Play’ Wedding SongsThe Macarena – along with all those other cheesy organized dance songs (Electric Slide, Chicken Dance, YMCA, Hokey Pokey, etc.). Celebration White Wedding Lips of an Angel by Hinder – and other cheating, breakup, or death-related songs, including Jesse’s Girl, Tears in Heaven, and I Will Survive. The Humpty Dance Love Shack Brick House Who Let the Dogs Out Hot, Hot, Hot Tainted Love – or any ‘bad’ love song.
The music will have a big influence on the mood of your reception, as well as your guests’ memories of your special day. Get started on your ‘do not play’ list now so nothing is overlooked!
According to some, wedding pies are on the rise as cupcakes take a little break! These magical mini-pies are perfect for a shower, wedding or any lovely occasion. Read on for the recipe!
Step One: Making the Pie DoughMakes 6 to 8 3" pies Make recipe twice. One will be for the bottom crust and the other for the heart cut-outs. 2 ½ cups all purpose flour 1 tsp salt 2 tsp sugar 8 oz butter, cold and cut into cubes ½ cup ice water
Step Two: Pear and Raspberry Filling3-4 bartlett pears, medium dice 1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries 3 Tbs Vanilla sugar 2 Tbs cornstarch ½ tsp ginger Juice of half a lemon
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and divide among the pies.
Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple of times to incorporate all ingredients. Add the cubed and cold butter. Pulse about 10 to 12 times until butter and flour mixture is crumbly.
Add the ice water while machine is running until dough comes together. Do not over work it.
Dump the dough onto a work surface and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic and flatten it into a disk. Refrigerate the dough for 2 hours. Repeat with the second batch.
Roll the first disk of dough on a marble or cold surface to about 1/8" thickness. Using a mini heart cookie cutter, cut out hearts. You will need about 20 mini hearts per mini pie. Place these on a baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate while working on filling the pies.
Roll the second disk of dough on a marble or cold surface also to about 1/8" thickness. Cut out circles that will fit into the mini pie molds. Fill the molds and cut the excess dough with some kitchen scissors.
Fill the pies with the pear and raspberry filling. Brush the edges of the pie with egg wash and start lining the heart cut outs forming two rows so that the filling shows through the middle.
Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Bake them at 400F for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Recipes Created By: Aran Goyoaga
Photo Courtesy: Aran Goyoaga
Without a marriage license, your wedding will be nothing more than an expensive party. The license is the document that will make your vows legal and official. The requirements are not the same everywhere – some states may require blood tests first and some may call for a waiting period before the license is valid - so now is the time to learn all you need to know about obtaining yours.
Marriage License Basics
The county where the wedding will take place, typically at the local city hall or possibly the office of the clerk, must issue the marriage license. Usually, you and your fiancé will both have to apply for the license and in some areas an appointment may be needed. Timing is very important. A marriage license is only good for a specific number of days, depending on the state, and you’ll need plenty of time to gather all the necessary documents.
Getting Married in the US
In most states, a marriage license is good for 30 to 90 days and medical exams are generally not needed. A few states still require blood tests and most need parental consent for applicants under the age of 18. In some cases, a waiting period may have to be observed but most states have done away with this to encourage wedding tourism. Both you and your fiancé will typically need:Driver’s license or picture ID. Birth certificate to verify age. Proof of dissolution for any previous marriages. Some states may also require a social security number and a second photo ID.
A marriage license in the US costs between $20 and $90 in most areas. You can usually get married in any state, regardless of residency, but you may pay a little more if your wedding takes place out of town. Be sure to check the requirements ahead of time for your particular state.
Outside the US
If you’ll be getting married outside of the US, you will still need a marriage license. Again, the requirements vary depending on the location but most countries ask for the above documents as well as your passport. Some areas may need an official copy of your birth certificate, translated into the native language.
Residency requirements are much more varied outside of the US. You may need copies of boarding passes and receipts that verify your date of arrival and in some countries, you will need to be in the area for a specific number of days before you can apply for a marriage license. Review the application process carefully before the wedding date so there are no surprises that could ruin your special day.
Once your marriage license is ready, keep it in a safe place until your wedding day. Once the ceremony is over, the license will be signed by your officiate and he will forward it to the appropriate office. Give yourself plenty of time to get copies of the necessary documents and keep waiting periods in mind when you schedule an appointment to get your marriage license.
For this cozy table, we were inspired by kraft paper, linen, and some pink-hued carnations. We started with a white linen table cloth and another layer of natural colored linen as a runner. Next, we added plain white dishes, floral napkins and vintage silverware. We tied up the silverware with a lavender ribbon and added a homemade kraft paper tag. For the tags, we cut out squares of kraft paper with scalloped scissors and wrote each guests initial with a white pen.
We used the same method for the bunting overhead. After cutting out the squares, we secured them onto a piece of twine by folding over each piece and placing a piece of double sided tape in between the two flaps.
The table is finished off with mix and match, cream colored containers which we filled with two bunches of miniature carnations (costing just $10!). Be sure to cut the stems of the flowers short and remove some of the buds. This will help you create a full, lush arrangement. We suggest you pair the table with dark wood chairs.
Your guests will feel right at home with the warm tones and thoughtful handmade details. Enjoy!
We’ve all heard the horror tales of Bridezilla and most of us have made promises to never become that unbearable bride ourselves. Now that your big day is almost here and you’re in the middle of planning the biggest event of your life – have you found yourself wondering how you’ll keep that promise and hide the Bridezilla that seems to be within us all?
Who is Bridezilla?
Some people believe that Bridezilla is a spoiled princess who’s every demand has always been met. The truth is, every single bride-to-be has the potential to become this dreaded wedding monster. The only thing on her mind is the wedding and she’s ready to destroy anything that stands in the way of her perfect day.
How is Bridezilla Born?
It usually starts with a little disorganization and the realization that time is moving much faster than the wedding planning. Once this happens, usually a few months before the big day, it won’t take much to create a new Bridezilla. The stress of planning a wedding is usually the real reason so many sweet and loving brides transform into monsters within a matter of minutes.
A few things that can trigger Bridezilla behavior:A delay at the printer that holds up the invitations. Learning that your bridesmaid dress is only available in certain sizes – none of the ones you need. Asking the groom-to-be for his portion of the guest list that still isn’t done.
As the big day gets closer, it will take even less to bring out Bridezilla. If the early warnings go unnoticed and nothing is done, a big wedding disaster could be in the future. I don’t know of any girl that has made it her goal to become Bridezilla, yet it happens everyday.
Bridezilla Doesn’t Have to be You
The first thing to remember is that there will never be a perfect wedding, but new brides usually never care once the day is over and most guests never even notice. The other – a bride-to-be cannot live on planning alone. Don’t neglect your friends, family, and loved ones for the sake of the wedding and don’t let the planning consume you!
You can’t hold back the appearance of Bridezilla on your own so communicate with your fiancé, parents, and bridal party and enlist their support. Warn your groom-to-be of the Bridezilla warning signs and let him know his importance in the planning. Finally, when you become wedding-crazed and can’t seem to think about anything else – take a day off. No planning, no browsing, don’t even look through a wedding magazine, and definitely don’t talk about the wedding. The most important thing is to manage your stress and don’t obsess over perfection – take time for yourself and you’ll avoid the curse of Bridezilla.
A champagne reception is a sweet and budget-friendly way to celebrate your day! Before weddings became a billion-dollar industry, champagne and cake receptions were the norm for most newlyweds. If the stress and cost of planning a dinner reception isn't for you, take a cue from yesteryear and put together a lovely, low-key champagne and dessert reception that your guests will love.
We covered a buffet table with a simple white tablecloth and stocked it with champagne and sweet treats. To keep the look cohesive, we chose food with a similar color palette (pink, gold, and green). Goodies like chocolate, shortbread cookies, fruit, tarts, and small pastries are easy for guests to eat using only a cocktail napkin, so silverware and plates are optional.
Strawberries poked with flag-topped bamboo skewers make fun drink stirrers, and tying name tags to each champagne flute ensures that guests won't misplace their glass during the party.
And with a spread this pretty, there's no need for fussy florals -- we finished off the table simply by filling three vases with single-stem tulips, for a look that's both simple and fresh.
Cake stands from Farmhouse Wares
Images courtesy: Mary Swenson
It’s quite common for brides and grooms-to-be to want to share their wedding with their closest friends and family. However, many want to invite others as well – such as business partners, old high-school or college acquaintances and even important people within the community. While it’s charming to want to include all of these people, one important part of wedding planning is to create realistic guest lists. Here are some things to consider when creating your guest list.
Invitation by: The Claremont Collection
If you’ve chosen a beautiful, intimate location for your wedding – such as your church, a small ballroom or garden – inviting a ton of people might not be practical. You will need to consider whether there is enough room for guests to move around comfortably, mingle and enjoy themselves. The last thing you want to do is pack your guests into your wedding and reception like sardines in a can!
If you’ve chosen a very large location for your wedding and reception in anticipation of a great number of guests, you will have more liberties with your guest list. Just a few larger-scale locations include a rented mansion, beachside wedding location or a hotel large enough to accommodate many guests. You may want to ask for the capacity before booking a hotel or mansion.
When considering realistic guest lists, the wedding budget is the first thing that comes to mind. It will certainly be affected by the number of guests you invite. It’s important to remember that as the guest number increases, so do your wedding costs. Just a few things that will be pricier for a large amount of guests include:
If you have a very large budget or unlimited funds available for your wedding, it may be alright to invite a slew of guests. However, most brides-to-be must budget carefully in order to stay out of debt while planning their weddings. Thinking of the most realistic guest lists is one important way to do this.
It’s also worth mentioning that if someone else is paying for your wedding, such as your parents or the groom’s parents – you may want to keep it affordable for them. By taking a close look at the location and your wedding budget, you can come up with a few different scenarios for realistic guest lists and then choose the final number of guests that will attend your wedding!