Wedding Shopping: Sweet success

Yesterday Amanda and I went shopping for matching ties for the groomsmen.  We entered the mall at Dillards, where I was aghast to see that not one tie cost less than $50.  And we needed 4.  $200.  Eek.  Amanda suggested J C Penney’s, so we headed there next.

The first ties we saw there were $30.  Well, $120 was a huge improvement over $200.  We meandered around comparing colors.  We came upon a table of ties that were buy one, get one half off.  That was more like it.  $90 for 4 ties.

Just when we decided that was probably the best we could do, we spotted one more table, way in the back full of $13.99 ties PLUS– PLUS!!– they were buy one, get one free.  Amazing. We walked out of J C Penney’s having spent a cool $28 for all four ties.

Sweet success.

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Looking back at your own wedding, what were some of your best successes?  Which of your plans worked best?  What saved you money?  What surprised or delighted you or your guests?  What part of the day were you most able to customize to be your own?

I’d love to hear more of your ideas!

{ 66 Comments }

  1. We used a simple but delicious sherbet punch at my reception. It’s economical and you can match most color themes by choosing the flavor of sherbet that matches.

    It’s easy to add to as you go along and impossible to mess up.

    Here’s a link to the recipe on my recipe blog:

    http://dianesrecipeblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/sherbet-punch.html

    Hope it works for y’all! And congrats to all concerned. :o)

  2. One of the best things I did was fire my caterer (3 days before the wedding) and did it all myself. My mom helped but we pulled it off and it was great.

    It was simple, a few flowers and bows, a lot of friends, our own vows and us.

    10 years ago, we spent less than $1000 for all of it (rings, food, flowers, pictures, invites, dress, tux, all accessories……..everything…….except the honeymoon).

    My parents paid for the honeymoon.

    I cannot wait to see pictures! When is the big day?

    Blessings!

  3. I think what worked best for us was to do what we wanted even if people said “oh, but you have to do ___ at a wedding.” We don’t like cake so we didn’t have it. We had wedding pies. We didn’t have bridesmaids at all because I was older (28), am an only child and all my close friends were already married with kids. I knew they’d do the bridesmaid thing for me if asked but it seemed kind of silly. That probably saved us the most money (having no “wedding party”). We had bluegrass music at the wedding because we loved it. I walked down the aisle to my favorite hymn instead of to the wedding march. Etc. When I look back I love that the day is full of memories of things we love instead of the typical wedding things we felt like we had to do.

    The next best thing was to let people help us and then to trust them. We asked some friends from dh’s work to do the flowers for us. I don’t really know anything about arranging flowers so I gave them very simple guidelines (like colors and what flowers are my favorite) and they did the rest. It turned out amazingly beautiful and much better than if I’d tried to direct them. For the flowers themselves we bought them at a wholesale place and then the friends did all the work. That was way way way cheaper than a florist. The church was dripping with flowers and I’m sure people thought we’d spent thousands but it was about $250 total.

    Another tip that worked for us was to find a photographer who was willing to give us the film instead of developing the photos. Most photographers want to present you with a book of photos to review that is very expensive. What we did was find someone who was willing to just come and take pictures and then give us the film as he left. We paid only for his time at the wedding. We also chose not to have him photograph the reception as dh’s family has many very good amateur photographers and we knew they’d take plenty of pictures. The pictures turned out great. We got the ones from the wedding itself developed on our own and then dh put them together in an album.

  4. One of my favorite things I did, was to make fans for our guests to use to help with the heat at our indoor-outdoor July, southern wedding. I made them myself using a sheet of plain card stock and a sheet of decorative card stock, spray gluing the two together, then cutting each into two fans. I punched a hole at the bottom and strung a piece of ribbon through, and used clear label paper to print a love poem, mine and Hubby’s names, and our wedding date.

    Another thing we did that was so special (and totally my mom’s idea) was use one of my great-grandmother’s old dresses to make pillows for my ring bearers. Her dress just happened to be in a color that almost exactly matched my bridesmaids’ dresses, and the top of the dress was too worn to be worn by anyone else. It made the wedding ceremony that much more special!

  5. We had our wedding catered by the local community college’s culinary program. They did a fabulous job at an amazingly good price, and because they were catering, we were able to use an historic home that the college owned for our reception (free).

  6. My husband and I were both stationed in Germany when we got married, so our reception was with our friends and coworkers and their families. We placed disposable cameras on the tables with notes for our guests to take pictures and leave the cameras for us. The kids ended up taking most of the pictures and they actually turned out incredible! To this day I can’t figure out how they got some of the shots they did!

  7. My grandparents were very into collecting sterling silver pieces (bowls, tea sets, etc.) at estate sales and antique shops. After they died my mom and her brothers and sisters split everything up. I collected (and polished) enough to make all the place settings at my reception and then filled everything up with flowers. Every place setting was different and beautiful. It was also a way to honor my grandparents who weren’t present. We also didn’t have 30 hurricanes and glass mirrors afterward that we didn’t know what to do with. Wedding planning is so fun. Enjoy it!

  8. I know you have said you didn’t want to share too much about Amanda’s wedding because it’s her day, but I want to thank you for the tips that you have shared! I’m getting married in April and it sounds like you guys are doing Amanda’s wedding much like we’re doing mine – homemade, simple, frugal. I’m off this week to check the thrift stores for serving dishes, and now I think I’ll stop by J.C. Penney to look at their ties. 🙂 Keep the tips comin’!

  9. This really won’t help you, but possibly another commenter…

    We had our church wedding just after Christmas – you know, when the church is still decorated to the hilt! Our colors were ivory and hunter green and we found a lot of greenery and such deeply discounted! And it was a candlelit service, which is beautiful and requires very little extra to make it magical!

  10. Our best thing that we did was decide, after being informed by my MIL that the construction on her house, where we were planning on having the wedding, wouldn’ t be done in time after all, and was that a problem (!!!), to have it at a local planned garden *the next week*. We ended up with only the mandatory people there, had a small reception at a local restaurant, and were done. It removed all the stress from my life, which had been considerable the entire time thanks to said MIL. Phew!

  11. My mom made pinecone wreaths to use as centerpieces (my dad cut out plywood wreaths & my mom covered them with pinecones, acorns, varying nuts). She placed four candle holders on them (all of this was done with hot glue) and finished them off by brushing the edges with regular glue and rolling in crushed moss. We gave them away as door prizes and they were beautiful. We still to this day use ours as an advent wreath!

  12. We had our reception in our church’s fellowship hall, which is basically a cinder block room. We made it beautiful by decorating with large plants that my mom bought from a tent outside the mall for about $15 each, and tying a bow around each pot. We also rented a helium tank and inflated a couple hundred balloons, which we released to the ceiling. It was beautiful and much cheaper than most wedding decorations.

  13. Oh, oh oh! Favours! Pleeeeeeeeease don’t waste your money on expensive boxes with substandard chocolates inside! We did, and it was by far the most pointless thing about our wedding. A friend of mine bought flat boxes off eBay for not much, made every single box up hereself and put a selection of mints inside. She bought ribbon to co-ordinate with her colours, tied it round and that was it. It didn’t take her long – and I’m guessing nearly all your kids could glue a prepared box together (and how cute would it be for them to say ‘Yep, we made my sister’s favours’) and put sweeties in a box. Muuuuuch better than spending a lot on them, believe me.

  14. One of the things that saved me money was the flowers. My dear friend, who was a long time missionary in Taiwan, but who was living for a couple years in Chicago, drove to Pennsylvania to do my flowers. I bought about $100 worth of flowers. With the help of my brother-in-law’s hand thrown tall pots–she made ALL the flower arrangements.

  15. $28~You go girls!! That’s excellent. I have no wedding stories…hubby and I got married in a field of wildflowers in Texas with me, him, and the minister. Well, and the photog. showed up later, so we do have pictures. It was beautiful.

  16. We also had disposable cameras available for everyone to take pictures. They were great! We also took a picture of all of the ladies shoes that attended the reception. It is a ring single feet and while it is something that is tradition in my family, it makes a very cool picture. I bought a tiara at Claire’s in the mall for about $12 and borrowed a veil from one of my mom’s employees. She also gave us all of the leftover tea lights and candle holders from her wedding to decorate the room. You can get bags of tealights at the dollar store for $1 and we had small bottles of bubbles that came in 12/$1 packs. The dollar store had a surprising amount of decorations that we could use to keep costs down. And instead of serving a meal at our reception, we bought some deli trays from the local supermarket (sandwiches, veggies, etc).

  17. Ok but one thing: DON’T SKIMP on the photographer! Nothing else will last from the day (ok the marriage will but you know what I mean) so don’t think, “Oh so-and-so’s brother takes really good photos.” GET. A. PROFESSIONAL. (Trust me on this: I used to edit a bridal magazine)

    Our wedding was simple but fun. I came down the aisle to Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” which is not only a gorgeous processional, but gets a few giggles when guests read their programs! 😉
    We got my bridesmaids dresses on sale at Nordstrom Rack.
    I was in a wedding once where the bride gave us colour swatches and told us each to go get our own dress. It worked out very well. Although no one matched, we were in solid colours and it was coordinated and unique.
    A hair salon did my hair and nails free in exchange for bringing in my bridal party and both mothers. It worked out well, and she gave everyone else a reduced rate. They closed down the salon so it was just us, and brought in coffee, juice, fruit and pastries. It was a fun time.

  18. One of the very best things we did on our wedding day to make it less stressful and more relaxing was the schedule. We chose to have a ‘first look’ before the ceremony, and so we had some precious time together before the hustle and bustle of the day. It was invaluable! It also made things flow much better for our photograher… all the pics were done before the ceremony, and we had lots of time! Our ceremony was at 6pm, and reception at 8pm, that way my guests from out of town didn’t have to hang around town for 3 hours between ceremony and reception, just waiting for us to be done. So many people commented on how much they appreciated that our special day didn’t have to eat up they’re entire Saturday!

  19. We were able to have fabulous catered food by talking to our local grocery store. It’s a small one, in a small town, so they were cheap. The food was amazing, and they even sent two servers to keep the trays full and hand out cake. We were very impressed with the service and the price.

    I should also mention that we had an open house rather than a full reception. We did at my grandpa’s farm to save money on a hall, we had a finger-food buffet rather than a dinner, and some family friends played as a string-quartet in a corner. My husband and I walked around, talking with everyone, and enjoying our party. All of the guests mentioned that it was more fun than most receptions because they felt so relaxed. And I believe we were able to have about 200 guests.

  20. Ok but one thing: DON’T SKIMP on the photographer! Nothing else will last from the day (ok the marriage will but you know what I mean) so don’t think, “Oh so-and-so’s brother takes really good photos.” GET. A. PROFESSIONAL. (Trust me on this: I used to edit a bridal magazine)

    Our wedding was simple but fun. I came down the aisle to Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” which is not only a gorgeous processional, but gets a few giggles when guests read their programs! 😉
    We got my bridesmaids dresses on sale at Nordstrom Rack.
    I was in a wedding once where the bride gave us colour swatches and told us each to go get our own dress. It worked out very well. Although no one matched, we were in solid colours and it was coordinated and unique, and everyone spent what she could afford.
    A hair salon did my hair and nails free in exchange for bringing in my bridal party and both mothers. It worked out well, and she gave everyone else a reduced rate. They closed down the salon so it was just us, and brought in coffee, juice, fruit and pastries. It was a fun time. I believe many salons do this; it might be worth checking out.

  21. Congrats — on the find, AND the wedding!

    All of this was ramping up when we were roomies back in November, and now look what’s happened!

  22. I had such a ball planning my wedding with my mother 10 years ago. It was a challenge doing a frugal wedding, but it was a challenge I was totally delighted to have taken on. My mom and dad were so wonderful and DH and I were delighted!

    -The whole wedding was at the church – my dad cleaned the carpets at the church so we got the hall without having to pay the fee.

    -I used a lot of rose petal instead of whole flowers, saved a lot of money.

    -I made teh bridesmaids’ dresses, flower girl, ring bearer and motherof the bride outfits. It was enough to have all those people (except Mom) fly to be in my wedding. I didn’t want them to have the added expense of the dress. I worked in the corporate office of retail clothing store at the time. One of the contractor who supplied clothes for the stores was able to get me the fabric I wanted – dk green velvet and satin taffeta for FREE so it cost me hardly anything to make 6 the dresses. I think I bought zippers, a few patterns (on sale!) and 2 yards of interfacing.

    -I LOVED my unity candle! I found inexpensive pillar candles at Ikea. I put the biggest one in the middle and surrounded it with 9 others of varying heights to represent the other memebers of our two families. I set them on a cloud of tulle on the altar the florist scattered with rose petals. She wrapped our candle with ivy. The acolyte lit all those candles when he lit the others . It was a late afternoon wedding on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and kind of cloudy. All those candles really made it beautiful, and they had meaning. I think that was my favorite design element of the whole wedding.

    -My brother just got married last year and he and his wife had one of those carnival photo booths at their wedding. The guests got to take the pix at no charge. When they came out, on black paper with metallic pens they made a scrapbook page with the picture strips. It was their guestbook and it came out so spectacular! Such a fun and fantastic keepsake for them to have over the years. And to have the grandmas and babies and other seemingly unlikely people in photo booth poses was just the most fun thing to see! They said it was the best money they spent on the reception, and theirs was pretty fancy!

    Glad to hear you all are having such a fun time planning the festivities!

  23. I commented earlier, but just thought I’d share some things we’re doing for our upcoming wedding:

    * We ordered our invitations from VistaPrint. It was $134 for 200 customized invitations and envelopes. They look beautiful, and that was one of the cheapest places we could find.
    * We’re each having one attendant (maid of honor and best man).
    * In lieu of favors, we’re making a donation to Compassion International in honor of our guests (less hassle and much more eternal!)
    * Instead of getting one huge cake for $600 or more, we’re getting a small cake for the cake-cutting and then serving everyone the same kind of cake, but in sheet cake form. It’s going to save us around $400!
    * We’re doing all of the food ourselves, buying things from Publix and Sam’s Club. One of my mom’s friends is going to be in charge of the logistics, so all we have to do is figure out what food we want.

    I hope these tips help, and, like I said – keep sharing yours and Amanda’s!

  24. I had a very simple wedding in my uncle’s hom, but I saw an lovely idea at a friend’s wedding. They borrowed several ficus trees and artificial plants from friends and strung them with white lights for the backdrop at the front of the church. It was a very inexpensive way to add lots of greenery.

  25. we did not do favors- instead we place a card at each place setting stating that in lieu of favors money was donated in their honor to a charity ……people seemed to be touched by that and the money was put to better use than if we used it to buy little trinkets/candy that nobody remembers to bring home anyway! we also used the bridesmaids bouquets as the flowers at the reception- good luck!

  26. I’m a lurker but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the information you are sharing about planning your daughters wedding. My daughter is getting married in July so I love all of the ideas you share and the comments as well. Thanks!

  27. If you do want to do favours, then rather buy some cheap netting and ribbon and put a few chocolates inside and tie the ribbon round them. We did this for my son’s wedding.

    And I recently did the decorations for a friend’s wedding, and we borrowed tall potplants from everyone and used them at the wedding, with while lights in them. Great look.
    Another idea for flowers on tables….use tin pots from Ikea and put a real ivy plant in each. They are cheap, and then add flowers of your choice. The ivy trails across the table. I wired beads and wove them through the ivy trails, and they sparkled beautifully in the candlelight. Your kids can do them one evening! Great fun as a family. After the wedding, the bride took all the wired beads and wound them around one pot in her entryway. It looks stunning. If you go to July in my archives, you can see all the preparations there, or email me if you want any more info!

  28. As part of the decorations at the reception, we used wedding pictures from every parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc. that we could get our hands on. The effect was wonderful!

  29. My husband and I paid for the majority of our small wedding. I made all our flower arrangements from silk flowers I bought at the dollar store on sale. I also bought plain white candles from the dollar store. I decorated a pillar candle by gluing a lace medallion and pearl beads onto the candle. I used a vase (for roses in memory of my father) and candlesticks that were gifts on the unity candle table.

    I put together a slide show of my husband and me as we were growing up and included pictures of people in our immediate family who were not able to attend – including pictures of my dad and all our grandparents who were deceased.

    Because we were married in Wisconsin and I was planning the wedding from Maryland, I kept everything super simple. The wedding party and I made the finger food and punch the day before, and I bought party trays from Walmart.

    I bought the fabric for the bridesmaids dresses – navy satin – and each girl picked out a long dress pattern that they liked for themselves. My SIL was my husband’s best lady and she already had a navy dress that matched exactly. All the girls wore black shoes of their choice. I also made simple pearl bead necklaces for all the ladies.

    Neither of my parents were at my wedding, and my younger brothers walked me down the aisle. I think that was my favorite memory of the day other than seeing my husband waiting for me at the front of the church.

  30. We had a very inexpensive wedding. My dress was off the rack from JCPenney, and my 2 bridesmaids dresses were off a clearance rack from another store. The groom and his two attendants wore slacks and plaid shirts and wild ties. We were married at my grandma’s home in an all-candlelit ceremony. We had chosen two colors and just got a variety of candles of all shapes and sizes in those colors that were placed all around. Only immediate family were at the ceremony, and then there was an open house reception for a few hours. We did a simple buffet of breads, cheeses, fruits, and cake. We also had a local print shop make simple invitations for us, but with today’s technology we could easily do something just as nice on our own at home.
    We also made our own wedding cake! A friend of my MIL was a wedding cake baker, and she loaned us her pans and pillars, so we had the whole nice tiered wedding cake, but had a great time making it ourselves, which was a really special memory. To decorate it we used long strands of real ivy wrapped around the base of each tier and on the top, and it was lovely. Happy planning!

  31. I got married at 20 (three years ago) and my parents spent about $3500 on my wedding. My aunt made my dress – $250. Friends and family made salads and other foods (green salad, pasta salad, deviled eggs), and we purchased hot roast beef sandwiches for the main course. We grew all of the flowers in our garden, and my aunt and mom made all the bouquets and flower arrangements. For the flower arrangements, we borrowed cool pitchers from everyone we knew and put the flowers in them. We bought our wedding rings online at titaniumstyle.com (titanium is cheaper, lighter, and more durable). My husband purchased a linen suit and linen pants for the groomsmen online from a tailoring company in Nepal (baronboutique.com), and they were beautiful. We used iTunes as a DJ, but our wedding had a games theme – we had board games and decks of cards set out at the tables for people to play, as we Mennonites aren’t much for dancing. We made the invitations and programs ourselves with paper from handmade-paper.us. You can see pictures from it on my photo website I linked to.

    The best part is, the wedding went EXACTLY how I wanted it to. I didn’t feel like I “lost out” on anything. It was a group effort and I think it was the most beautiful wedding that I could have dreamed of. I think its important to do things they way you want to do them – I didn’t have any of the silly wedding traditions that I find annoying, like the bouquet toss or the garter throwing, and instead of a traditional meditation with our pastor I had five couples in our lives – pastor and wife, mom and dad on both side, and sister & brother in law on both sides, do short meditations on any topic they wanted related to marriage. Some talked about their experience, others shared bible verses…it was very special. We also wrote our own vows.

  32. We had a very frugal wedding, but it truly was the wedding of my dreams. 🙂 Some of the big things that saved money – 1) bought the dress off the rack. 2) created my own invitations and programs. 3) I did my own flowers purchased through freshroses.com [they have more than just roses]. 4) We each had only one attendant. 5) We had a cake and punch reception instead of a sit down meal.
    Like I said, it really was the wedding of my dreams. I hope these help. 🙂

  33. I am getting married in September. Because we both work, go to school, do not have family around, and spend our “free time” with my 2 little girls, we quickly determined that our budget would include spending more in some areas simply because it is easier for John to work an extra shift of overtime than try to take on too much “do-it-yourself” wedding stuff. However, we also created several categories in our budget that we simply do not feel is necessary to spend $$ on.

    Here are some of the things we are doing:
    – we are having an outdoor ceremony (same location as the reception and the site was a nominal fee when booking the reception venue.) Outdoor ceremony means less need for decorations- the great outdoors is beautiful enough!
    – Our colors are a smokey lavender, champagne, and ivory. We got a lot of champagne and ivory ribbons/bows/candles etc. in the after-Christmas sales (90% off at WalM*rt!) We also got some hurricanes and white christmas lights on sale. These will be combined to create decorations and centerpieces.
    – We are using silk flowers and home-grown lavander/heather for our centerpieces. We have a wholesale silk flower warehouse near us and we are able to get some lovely things there… so much cheaper than getting off-season fresh flowers!
    – We are taking a very inexpensive honeymoon. We decided that the time celebrating with my girls and our family was more important than a honeymoon to us, so we used more of the honeymoon budget towards the wedding to make sure we could accommodate all of our guests comfortably.
    – Our DJ is doing all of the ceremony sound, including tracks for the songs my BFF will sing! It was a small fee, and much less expensive than hiring live music.

  34. My flowers! My husband’s name is Chris, so I selected flowers that “spelled” his name…

    C-Calla Lillies (miniature ones)
    H-Rats, I can’t remember H off hand — whatever it was, it started with H
    R-Roses
    I-Iris
    S-Sweet Pea

    It was something very unique and special and not one single person knew about it. Oh, and I had one single yellow rose in my boquet because that was the flower my mom and dad used in their wedding.

    Have fun…it can be stressful to plan such a big event, but remember that it is, truly, just a day. The marriage is forever.

  35. We opted for dress pants, dress shirts, and ties for the groom and groomsmen. Cheaper than renting tuxes, and all the men had an outfit they could use again. The groomsmen thanked us, and dh used that outfit for years!

  36. We picked wild flowers at a friend’s house the day before our wedding. We paid another florist friend to put them together for us. The picking day is a wonderful memory, and the flowers were much cheaper and I loved them!

    Also, my mom and a posse of her friends cater eachother’s kid’s weddings. The mom in charge sets the menu (with help from the bride of course), buys the food (costco???), but her friends do all the work on the day. We had a a full meal for 350 people, great food, for around $500. That was 7 years ago, so prices have certainly gone up, but at that time we sure saved a bundle.

    Good luck! It is fun reading the little details :).

  37. The most creative/best thing in my eyes was part of our centerpieces at the reception tables. It’s worth noting that we had a casual finger foods reception and not a sit down meal. Each table had two pictures in frames (that we bought cheaply), one of my husband as a baby/child and one of me as a baby/child. I thought it was a sweet way to show our lives before we came to be husband and wife AND it resulted in a lot of our guests mingling and walking from table to table to check out the different pictures at each table.

  38. I bought my dress at the JCPenny outlet for $25.00. I loved the dress and it was just what I would have bought if I had gone to a bridal salon.

    My favorite keepsake from my wedding is my Quaker Marriage Certificate that my husband and I and all of our guests signed. It was hand made and is the only material possession that I own that I would be upset if it burned in a fire. It’s framed and is in my living room. I love looking at the signatures of people who are no longer with us and remember our special day.

  39. We purchased the bridesmaids dresses at JC Penny Outlet for $9.99 each and my dress was purchased from the closeout rack at a bridal shop for $100. My mom and I made my veil ourselves. A cousin of mine who is a florist did all our flowers (silk) as a gift. The reheasal dinner was almost all prepared by my mother-in-law. We just had a very simple reception…cake, punch, nuts and mints. All together, our wedding cost about $1,000.

  40. We made our own wedding programs with handmade paper. It was a way to add my artsy side to a very traditional wedding. The program was attached to the paper with some beautiful organza ribbon.We added some lavender to the paper pulp. They still smell good!

    We also had bubbles for everyone to blow as we left. Those pictures are magical! and very popular with the kids.

  41. My husband and I got married young, consequently we were told to pay for our own wedding. My FIL was a pastor and we knew we would have well over 500 guests in attendance, but that didn’t stop us from having a beautiful wedding that was highly affordable.

    Flowers – I lived in a major metro city with a flower market, you are able to buy flowers for pennies on the dollar in bulk. It takes time but saved hundreds!

    Also we did bubbles as well purchased from a warehouse party store, bought fancy ribbon from Hobby Lobby, printed off nice little thank you notes and affixed them all together.

  42. I love JC Penney! I got my wedding dress there. ( We eloped, so I opted for a nice formal dress-I didn’t really need a traditional dress) My husband actually found it on the clearance rack for $75 and I got so many comments about it (even from the guy that developed our pictures!).

  43. So many good tips here… Some of mine are the same and some different.

    We had silk flowers that my mother arranged… they were cheaper than real flowers and she could work on the arrangements months before the ceremony. We also had candle and glass centerpieces rather than flowers which were inexpensive to put together (most of the glass came from Goodwill and I think we told people to take one off their tables at the end of the night if they wanted).

    We really lucked out in that my husband’s uncle is a professional wedding photographer and so he did our pictures for free. However, he always gives the bride and groom all of his pictures (for us it was film but now it is digital on a disc). And since he takes digital, he gives literally thousands of pictures, with no strings attached. They belong to the couple. I would definitely seek out that sort of photography arrangement. We also had a videographer and I am really appreciative of that (I watch our wedding video about once a year and cry every time)!

    One thing that I did that my guests seemed to really enjoy was I made a slideshow multiple choice quiz (I guess the foreshadowing that I was destined to be a teacher) that played before our ceremony (though it could play before the reception). The quiz had questions about my husband and I’s relationship up to that point . It entertained our guests while they waited, they learned a little bit about us and it set a really fun and playful atmosphere to the day… and cost us nothing because the church had a projector and screen.

    My favorite part of the day was actually before the ceremony. We had an evening wedding and I wanted out-door pictures, so we took them before the ceremony. The photographer was there (in the hallway) to capture the look on my groom’s face when he saw me. Then just four of us (husband, photographer, my sister as maid of honor, and I) went to a nearby park and took pictures there. I got to feel like a princess with everyone driving by and waving… and most importantly I got to spend some quality one-on-one time with my husband to be. No stress, just fun in the park (looking the best we would ever look!).

    And finally (goodness I’m long winded!), we didn’t take a honeymoon and I regret that. However, if your daughter is planning a honeymoon I would suggest that they leave a few days after the wedding (not the day after). That way they can really see and appreciate the family and friends who have traveled from afar to join them (b/c before the wedding you’re generally to busy to really appreciate those people). We opened our wedding presents the next morning at my mother’s house with just select friends (mainly members of the wedding party) and family and it was a great, relaxed time!

  44. One more thing…. we needed to send save the date cards since most of our family/friends will have to travel to get here. We opted for a photo postcard (postcards save postage!) and found the best deal here: http://www.postcards.com … 100 for $23.00 or 500 for $52.00. You can NOT beat that! We also liked that they really let you design the post card as opposed to some other places where you have to stick with their template.

    I have also found all sorts of deals on things like ceremony programs on etsy.com. And rather than trying to find a calligrapher or using my own handwritting, we entered all our guests into an Excel spreadsheet (also designating columns for their reply, meal preference, gift, and if we sent a thank-you note yet, etc…) and we are printing out labels (clear with fancy font) for our invites and save-the-dates.

  45. We skipped the gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen and instead paid for their dresses and tuxes, because let’s be honest – no matter how cute or simple, you really don’t ever wear them again!
    My mom grew all the ivy and flowers for much of the church and all of the reception in her backyard – we were able to decorate all the tables with the flowers that were not only free but native to the time of year and location. We hired a florist for the bouquets and wedding party, but I know lots of people who have had great success with ordering flowers online and having a friend put them together at a huge savings.
    My mom also made these silk flowers that hold the birdseed for throwing and we placed them at the reception tables so they doubled for wedding favors/birdseed throwers. My friend did the same at her wedding and I have a nice bouquet of them to this day – let me know and I can give you more details on how to make them. They are simple and beautiful and even your little darlings can help make them!
    I will concur with someone above on one item – don’t skimp on the photographer! Hire someone who shares their tastes and preferences and catches not just the posed pictures but the spirit of the wedding and their faith and commitment to God and each other.

  46. I was able to save a lot on the favors. I did most of the decorating and wrapping. I was glad at how I had my personal touch with it. Glad you found bargains! I also tend to check out other areas if I think that I’m spending too much on one thing. Good job!

  47. I watched the Hobby Lobby sales flyers very closely, and bought things when they were 50% off or more. I made all the flowers using silk flowers (except for my bouquet) and was able to get them done months ahead of time. Hobby Lobby also has on-line coupons and at the time (10 years ago) had some that were “buy one, get the other for 1 cent.” There was no limit to the amount you could buy, so I bought bubbles and disposable cameras that way and saved a lot.

  48. We were married on a Friday night in March, so places were eager for our business. We had a candlelight ceremony at 7pm and a dessert reception, so no one was expecting a full meal. I bought my dress, tiara, invitations and other decorations off of eBay. We didn’t have an official cake, because neither one of us are cake people, but we did have a giant cheesecake by one of the area’s premier bakers serived along with the desserts.

    We bought a jewelry box that looked like a chest for DS to carry the rings, because I think ring bearer pillows are silly and the jewelry chest is still in use.

    We had a photo mat that everyone could sign at the wedding to give us their well wishes.

    We went cheap on the DJ and he was awful, but we laugh about it now. We did spend $$ on the photographer, but we saw his work, plus we kept all the negatives. A cousin taped the ceremony and did an excellent job.

    Our flowers were purchased from the floral dept of the grocery store. They did the bouquets and bouts, but I requested very simple flowers/styles and the total was around $125 for 10 rose bouts, 3 corsages, 5 tulip bouquets, including bridal and an alter bouquet- all fresh.

  49. We did our whole wedding under $3500. My best advice is to really decide what the most important parts of the event are and try and forget about the rest. Looking back, I could have saved even more money if I did things like not having programs. That wasn’t so important to me–I just thought I had to do it! I also didn’t do favors. We did a three tiered cake for looks (and now you can even get them with false layers) It cost us 1/3 the cost to get our main cake for half the servings and then two giant sheet cakes (with a frosting rose on each piece) to make up the difference. Plus, we could start cutting them in the other room before we cut our big cake so that they were ready.
    We did a lot of different things but the main thing was to decide what was important and see if we could do it and nix some of the pricey little details.

  50. For flowers, we went to a little tiny florist in our little tiny town, a one-woman show, but who was employed by FTD as well. So she did amazing work, but didn’t charge us the FTD prices. She even gave us recommendations on less-expensive but beautiful flowers.

    For two bouquets (don’t forget a toss bouquet!), four bout.’s, five corsages, and three or four floral arrangements for the table with food, we paid about $120 (this was four years ago).