Wedding planning guide - Planning a frugal wedding

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It is your dream wedding. You want to make it memorable, spectacular and unique. You may fear your budget will not allow you to have your wish but you couldn't be more wrong. You can have the most memorable and enjoyable wedding while ensuring it doesn't cost the earth! All it needs is some planning, some adjustment, some creativity and some help from friends and family.

Some of the areas in which you can plan to ease the cost and make alternative arrangements are as follows:

1) Location

Have the reception in a cheap, public place like a beach, school gymnasium, public park or lakeside. Small, family-owned restaurants would host receptions at very low cost. You could hold the wedding at off-seasons and less busy hours.

Invite a minimum number of guests. You can later watch a video recording with other guests.

2) Dress

Some brides spend up to 14% of the wedding expenses on designer gowns. A good alternative is to check out consignment shops, thrift shops and department stores. Also holiday and off-season sales are the best time to purchase bridal and bridesmaid’s dresses at throwaway prices.

If you like a particular design in a catalogue or a shop, you can get a dressmaker to make an exact copy at half the price. If you have a relative or a close friend who's a dressmaker, this will save you substantial costs.

Purchase a dress with a simple cut and design. You can embellish it later with sequins, beading and lace by yourself. Purchase bridal as well as bridesmaid’s dresses from the same shop to avail of discounts offers. Try to order from a mail-order discounter, which will cut costs.

Rent your dress. It is going to be worn only for a few hours. This saves maintenance, dry cleaning and storage costs. Tuxedos are usually rented. Wear a family heirloom. Borrow a dress from a relative.

Make your own veil.

For bridesmaid’s dresses, look out in department store or in the same shop as the bridal dress or a mail order discounter.

Bridesmaid’s dresses can also be copied and made by a dressmaker.

3) Catering

Make the reception an afternoon party rather than a full course lunch or dinner. Bake your own cake. If a dinner or lunch is a must, a buffet is preferable. Choose the caterer carefully, as food expenses are the costliest. Limit the number of hors d’oeuvres to around four varieties. Plan a pot luck reception and cut off the caterer completely. Relatives can bring the wedding cake, appetizers, side-dishes, dessert, salad etc.

If party is held in someone’s home, hire a chef for the evening.

Keep away from expensive food items like shrimps and lobsters in the menu.

Food stations like Chinese/ Mexican are more economical. For a simple spread, you can also use deli meats and cheese and rolls from the local grocery store, along with salad side dishes.

If the ladies from the church volunteer to make the wedding cake and even do the catering, do let them.

Make a do-it-yourself dinner. Cook turkey/ham/roast at local bakery. Buy cold cuts and arrange in a tray. Baked potato and vegetables can be prepared a day or two before. Friends can pitch in with salads. Fresh fruit can be arranged in a watermelon basket. You can hire teen groups to serve and clean up.

4) Decoration

Use lots of Tulle net and greenery to decorate the hall.

Hire pots of trees and shrubs to fill a large hall.

Purchase flowers in bulk to avail of wholesale prices.

Ask a friend or relative to make flower arrangements. They can help in making the bridal bouquet and bridesmaid’s bouquet.

Use silk flowers for the decor, which are available in most local stores.

The bouquets of the bride and the bridesmaids can serve as centerpieces of the reception tables.

Order flowers that are in season and available inexpensively.

Small white lights and candles can help create a soft, warm atmosphere.

5) Invitations, gifts and other aspects of a wedding

Print your invitations yourself or with the help of a friend, using a computer. Software is available to keep track of RSVP and guest lists and details of the wedding. Attach reply postcards, which are cheaper than letters.

A relative or family member can photograph and videotape the wedding as a wedding gift. Instead of a limo, borrow a luxury car from a relative.

Music can be just a soft, romantic CD being played, or a local music student entertaining you, cutting the cost of a professional DJ.

Keep the gifts simple. Books, money clips, pens, journals for the men. Personalized candle holders for the women. Have disposable cameras at each table and take pictures of everyone, print them and present them to each guest with thank you notes.

Wedding favors can be as inexpensive as silk roses with Hershey's Kisses attached to them or chocolates with personalized messages glued on them.

Thus, with a little imagination, you can have a wonderful wedding without compromising your budget.