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Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

Last post Mon, Feb 18 2013 4:36 PM by budgetwise. 45 replies.
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  • Sun, Apr 4 2010 9:48 PM In reply to

    • swedluv
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on Sun, Jun 8 2008
    • North Carolina
    • Posts 1,713

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!


    Most of my wedding stuff came from ebay. The petals were won for only a dollar and shipped for very little. I got my sons' tuxedos for $15 each brand new! I also won programs for about $25 (for 200 of them)

  • Mon, Apr 5 2010 9:32 AM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

    Congratulations on your pending wedding!  We got married last October and put ourselves on a very tight budget as we were trying to finish our house at the same time. 

    Check out online and freecycle.com or with friends if anyone has a wedding dress you can borrow.  Are you really going to wear that dress again.  If you are marrying the right person, hopefully your answer is no.  I found a dress on freecycle.com that someone was trying to get rid of.  I needed some alterations done, but it turned out nice enough that the small amount that I paid (I'm no seamstress) was well worth it.

     We also had our wonderful neighbors and friends help out.  We sat on their porch in the evenings and made out wedding invitations which turned out beautifully.  It cost me the amount of some paper and ribbon and glue.  I printed the rest on my printer.  Our neighbors also helped with the centerpieces.  They have this curly filbert tree that we cut branches from and stuck in jars, milk glass vases, etc and took mini tea light votive cups we bought at IKEA and wired them to hang with a lit tea lite from the branches.  Then we bought pansys in different colors in plastic 6 packs and cut them apart and used burlap squares to wrap them in and used the same copper wire that I wired the tea lights with or left over ribbon from the invitations to tie them with.  Everyone went home with one and they made the tables so beautiful. 

    I had some friends upload music I wanted for the wedding and receptions and they played it from their computer.  One of my tech geek friends even loaned us some larger speakers he had in his garage.  One of my former roommates parents are DJ's in another state and they sent me an email to give us some pointers.  The best one I got was that the crowd will not get up an dance if the Bride and Groom don't so we made a point to get out there and boogie, even thought normally we aren't big on dancing.  It paid off as we even got my husband's 85 year old aunt out on the floor.

    My girlfriend made our cake as a wedding gift.  It was spice cake with homeade apple butter filling that I had in my freezer and butter cream icing.  I bought small fruit and cut flowers, herbs and crab apples from our garden and had the plant cuttings cascading down the cake.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  She and another friend that were both ordained online married us which made our wedding very special because they both knew myself and my husband better than some JP or Chaplain that didn't know us from Joe.  We wrote our own ceremony so the whole thing was highly personalized.

    My cousin's husband was out of work, but he could take pictures, so we set up a photo list and he took over 600 pictures on his digital camera and gave us a disk with all of those pictures.  They were better than some photographers becuase he knew a lot of the people already and he got a lot of great candid shots along with a mix of the traditional shots.  Honestly one of the best gifts we recieved.

    My aunt lives in a community that had a club house she could use for free so she hosted our rehearsal dinner there and my sisters, aunts and cousins and friends got together a few weeks before at my sisters house becuase I had no kitchen at the time and made pulled pork BBQ, Mac & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Pecan Pies, Brownies, Rolls etc and froze everything.  Everything got pulled out a couple of days before to defrost and then heated up in crock pots and in the oven.  I have another cousin who came in from out of town and had brought 200 or so cookies of every type imaginable for my guests.  All I can say is I couldn't have done it without them.

    I also had a lot of guests coming in from out of town, so we made welcome bags.  They included a lot of free items you can get in most relatively large cities such as a visitors guide, I'm from Louisville so I added some brochures about the highlights of our hot spots and our St. James Art festival which was that weekend as wel.  I included a couple of cookies that I made and wrapped in celophane and a bottle of Louisville Free Tap Water that our Water Company gives away at special events.  I also included a couple of tea bags, a small package of kleenex and any mapquest maps from their hotels to the wedding and rehearsal dinner which was very appreciated along with a hand written note thanking them for taking time out of their busy schedules to come to our wedding.  My friends helped me deliver them to their hotels the night before everyone arrived.

     Our one worry was my husband's inlaws who have money and can be kind of snooty.  We recieved so many compliments on how wonderful it was and that they hadn't been to such a relaxed and fun wedding that was absolutely beautiful.  I wish you the best on a thrifty budget.  Remember - folks aren't going to remember your food or flowers years down the road, but they will remember if they had a good time and that's really what counts. 

  • Thu, Apr 8 2010 9:42 AM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!



    #1  Don't skimp on the food.  Every wedding I've ever been to, people have judged whether it was a good wedding or not was because of the food

    But on the other hand, remember that doing it inexpensively doesn't have to mean "skimping."  I've been to a potluck wedding reception and the food was mavelous.  At mine, we went ahead and hired a caterer, because most of our guests were coming from far away and bringing food would have been problematic.  So our biggest savings was to hold the wedding in the afternoon.  A tea costs a lot less than a dinner.  We had sandwiches, fruit, cheese, punch, bottled water, coffee, tea, and a *magnificent* chocolate raspberry torte that was included in the catering price.  Everything was delicious, and it all came to $11 a head.

    It sounds like you have already made some plans about the food.  That's good, because the reception is the most expensive part of most wedding budgets.  You are already saving on the location by having it at the church.  However, I cannot agree more strongly with the person who says that you cannot expect your guests to eat barbecue sandwiches on folding chairs.  If you are absolutely set on barbecue, then find a way to get some tables in there.  You can borrow them from friends if you have to.  If you simply can't have tables, then I urge you to serve something else.  There is no way to eat barbecue neatly while holding a plate on your lap with one hand and trying to manipulate a plastic fork with the other.  You are likely to end up with more of it on your guests than in them, and that would certainly be a waste.

    One other thing I might reconsider in your position is having the flower girl drop "dried leaves that will be collected in the fall."  Autumn leaves look beautiful when they've just fallen, but by January 1 they will be dry and brittle.  The flower girl will probably find herself dropping a trail of crumbs.   You might consider a more winter-appropriate alternative, such as glittery confetti "snow," ivy leaves, or poinsettia petals.  (This article on Suite 101 has some other ideas for winter weddings.  You might find some of them helpful.)

    You seem to have three main budget concerns: the dress, the cake, and the photography.  You've already heard some good ideas about ways to find a "real wedding dress" without paying real wedding dress prices, which go well up into four figures: finding a white evening dress, buying secondhand, or making it (or part of it) yourself.  Freecycle has been mentioned; you could also try eBay.  A hand-me-down dress is another option, if you have a friend or relation willing to pass one down.  (It will most likely need to be altered, but this is still cheaper than buying a new one.)  My dress was in two pieces: a Renaissance-looking bodice that I bought on eBay for $35, and a simple A-line skirt that my mother-in-law-to-be made for me with $25 worth of white satin.  (You haven't mentioned a veil or headpiece, but for my wedding I wore an ivy wreath with ribbons and some baby's breath tucked in.  It cost about $5 altogether.  Something like this, or a wreath of flowers--fresh or dried--would be in keeping with your "earthy" theme.  Dried flowers, eked out with plenty of ivy, can also make a frugal and beautiful bouquet--much cheaper than fresh, especially in the winter, and much more attractive than silk, in my opinion.)

    Some folks have suggested baking your own cake.  When I looked into this for my wedding, I found that baking it is the easy part, and decorating it isn't all that hard; it's tiering it, to achieve that classic wedding-cake shape, that's tricky.  If you don't care about having that tiered look, then making the cake or having it made by a friend should be no problem.  (Kaiya6661's "spice cake with homemade apple butter filling," decorated with greenery, sounds absolutely marvelous and very appropriate for your themed wedding.)  If you do want it tiered, there's an article here on eHow that explains the process.  You could also try this shortcut: collect a couple of boxes of different heights, drape them with fabric in your wedding colors, and set the individual cake layers on top of these.  (Or, instead of boxes, you could use "rustic cake stands" like these, made from sections of logs--just the thing for an "earthy" wedding.)

    Photography--ah, that's where it gets tricky.  Unfortunately, there is no way around the twin facts that (a) hiring a professional photographer is expensive, and (b) photos taken by amateurs will look amateurish.  In my own case, we were lucky enough to have a couple of friends who are part-time wedding photographers and agreed to do the whole thing for us at cost (about $225).  If you don't have this option, there are a few things you can do to save some money.  First of all, avoid the wedding photo "packages."  They are ludicrously expensive and will probably give you a lot more photos than you really want or need.  Having them done a la carte will be a lot cheaper unless you really want *tons* of pictures.  Second, go with digital photos rather than film; it will cost less per shot, and making copies will be easier and cheaper.  Third, avoid buying extras like wedding albums from the photographer.  Just get the prints and make your own albums.  (Or, if the photos are taken digitally, make CDs instead.  This will be cheaper than making lots of prints.)  Another common suggestion is to hire a photographer for the posed shots only, and ask your guests to bring their own cameras (or provide them with single-use cameras) and snap candids at the reception.  True, they won't be professional-quality shots, but if you have lots of photos taken by lots of people, you are bound to get *some* that look good.  This is just one area in which you have to balance your competing desires: a large number of photos, high-quality photos, and low cost. You most likely can't get all three, so you'll have to compromise somehow.

    A final word of advice: if you haven't already done so, browse the "Weddings" section on the Dollar Stretcher site.  You'll find lots more stories and ideas that are bound to be helpful.

    My Ecofrugal Living blog: ecofrugality.blogspot.com
  • Thu, Apr 8 2010 2:30 PM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

     Coincidentally, I just came across this link while browsing on The Simple Dollar: PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com.  Most of what they're selling seems to be high-end gowns (thousands of dollars, even secondhand), but I did a quick search and found a few that are $100 or less.  So it might be worth a look.

    Also, one of the sellers on that site posted a link to her own site (www.pinkribbonbridal.ecrater.com), which also had several dresses around the $100 mark.
    My Ecofrugal Living blog: ecofrugality.blogspot.com
  • Sun, Apr 11 2010 3:09 PM In reply to

    • Georzetta
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Sun, Apr 11 2010
    • Virginia
    • Posts 4

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

    The best food I ever ate at any wedding was potluck. Instead of a gift, each guest brought some type of finger food.

    My sister bought her wedding dress at a wedding dress warehouse. Are there any outlet malls nearby?

    As for the cake, consider cupcakes from several local bakeries. They make beautiful stands to display them and you could have a small one layer cake to cut.

    We used a few techniques at my 40th birthday party that might be useful for you. I put disposable cameras on every table along with framed photographs that I already had of me and my family over the years.

    I ended up with tons and tons of great photographs that I never would've gotten otherwise. All sorts of people in various groups.

    If you have pictures of you and your fiancé, I think they would be wonderful decorations and conversation pieces.

    Good luck.

    Educator and Freelance Writer
  • Sun, Apr 11 2010 7:13 PM In reply to

    • Becky
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 23 2007
    • Posts 574

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

    My husband and I got married in 1999. We had a rather long engagement we became engaged in 1993. We had a lovely wedding that we spent less than $1300.00 including the wedding dress and the tux for the groom and best man and grooms father those were $180.00. My sister was my matron of honor and provided her own dress in my chosen color and she wears it to church now. Our cake came from a local grocery store and cost $130.00 three tier, with white frosting, lavendar and purple trim and the top, I bought at a Home Interiors party, it cost $10.00. I had purchased it before I even met my now husband. My dress was $135.00 form JC Penney. That includes the crinoline skirt. We held it in my inlaws back yard, it was like park, had lots of greenery and flowers in bloom. I rented the chairs from a local church for $70.00. The minister came from the same church and cost $100. The invitations were made on our home computer from a kit that we bought at Staples for $35.00. My MIL had lots of small conversation areas around her yard already, and we put wine, champaigne and other clear votive holders on those tables with candles in the wedding colors that I found at Canned Food Outlet (candles) for $5 and votive holders $5 at St. Vincent DePaul.  My sister inlaw made my bouquet and that of my matron of honor as well as the table centerpieces as a gift. My brother video taped as a gift. A friend took pictures as a gift and we also had disposable cameras that the guests used and returned to us. Cameras were $100.00. We covered the food table with a white sheet and the food came from Costco and was prepared by family members the evening before and the morning of the wedding. We had shrimp, veggie and deli trays with hoagie rolls for sandwiches, and various finger foods..cost $200.00 . We did not serve alcoholic beverages..we served soda, punch, and coffee..beverages were $75.00..Music came from a CD..$14.00,,We also had a Pinata with candy and toys for the children and lots of balloons in our wedding colors..$25.00. We were married at 7pm on a beautiful August evening. It had rained the morning of the wedding but by evening it had dried out. That day the Lord gave us a double rainbow as a gift. It was beautiful.

  • Sun, Apr 11 2010 10:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

    When I got married I had a plain cake chocolet some pink flowers on it silk flowers I ate ot instead of a wedding pressants that was good in laws took us out to eat.

    My dress was a two piece suit I even worn years later I just gave it away couple of years ago it was no nessery to have it in the closet collecting dust it was light blue and blouse was white and white shoes I married in the court house eloped to keep cost down would we do it again I would think hard on that and yes I would.

    Do what is best I would say get a family memeber of the family help bake a cake it can bedone nice taste silk flowers or two or real have a something pretty on the top part of the cake, if you have the whole nine yards on this prepare for the cost of over 100.00 to 200.oo this can be down under 100.00 just do the cakes yourselves.

    Reception I don't see why not have potluck thats my taste me I have lamb for the meat have salid and baked potatoes veggie for the side dish pie for dessert..

    smoking will be out side 10 feet away from the door, as for the dress wear a nice simple dress that can be worn in the future not something that lays in a box in the attic what a waist of money.

    Congradulations those e-mails you have there are good so read them over and good luck and good fortion

  • Mon, Apr 12 2010 9:24 AM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

    Wow... thanks for all the imput! Smile

    • I am rethinking the leaves... will look for confetti-type things. Just not a fan of the rose petals since I'm not a rose person.
    • I am going to be calling someone who offers dresses free (she is a freecycler) to those who can't afford them. I will have to see if she has my size. I will just see what I can get for style... that might be something I compromise on.
    • My parents and me and dbf are sitting down this weekend to discuss things more. It seems they might either pay for or help out on the cost of food. I'm going to see if it would be possible to have them chip in for rehearsal meal since a) it will be New Years Eve and 2) it will have to be at a restaurant. (church is in a tiny town with nothing)
    • Cake we'll still see on. Not sure on flavors and such yet... still have awhile. :) We both know what we want for a cake topper... the Christian symbol of a fish for each of us, kissing (we met on a site called plentyoffish.com). 
    • Dbf chatted with the pastor and his wife yesterday, I guess the basement can hold 70 people comfortably (though I am still not sure)... and we'll have 60-some. I was thinking of sititng family style vs. having a separate table.


    Thanks!! Smile and keep the ideas coming!

    I'm not confused. I'm just well mixed. ~Robert Frost
    Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction. - Anne Frank
    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

    Married my Blessing 10-16-10 :)
    Became an Auntie 12-10-10 :)
  • Tue, Apr 13 2010 10:36 PM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

    You are a sweetie there you gave me an ideal yes  when I closed up my deli in december I also use to cater for a wedding or two I say you are just doing fine and the fiswh for the symbal for christains that is wonderful me it was the star of david yeah Im married to a jewish hubby and just reformed jewish from the temple I just did that for me I find it wonderful that you are doing just fine keep me posted on how you are doing... blessing coming your way

  • Tue, Apr 13 2010 11:23 PM In reply to

    • Becky
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 23 2007
    • Posts 574

    Re: Frugal Wedding without it looking cheap!

    One way to control costs is to do a Cake and Punch Reception...these were  very popular in the 60's and 70's when my older cousins were married, at least in our area. By only serving cake and punch more money was free for the dress, and decorations...Also since you are planning a January wedding the church may still have decorations up. I also know of someone who got the large icing buckets from a bakery, painted them gold and made bows out of gold Screening. They filled them with sand then placed large candles with glass hurricane lamp shades around them...Very Pretty. You can also use Poinsettia's and then have them in your home after..winter wreaths, and holiday lights can be used too..clear is beautiful. And do not forget Dollar Tree. They have a wedding section.

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