Tie the Knot for Less

Many couples cannot afford the luxury of a $20,000+ wedding.  It is possible to have a beautiful wedding for about $5,000.  Yes, it can be done!  There are certain things that are non-negotiable – the dress, the photographer, the rings, but there are a lot of ways to cut the expense and still have a beautiful wedding.  Here are a few ideas that I would like to share with you.

  1. Skip the Save-the-Date postcards and use email, Facebook, and your phone to spread the word to family and friends, especially out of town guests.
  2. Make your own Wedding Announcements.  You can purchase pre-designed invitations, and then have them personalized with your information.  That saves a bundle.  There is a local store in town called Take Note that can help you do just that.  They are located in the Chesterfield Valley and you can find them in our Vendor listings under “Invitations.”
  3. Keep the list of guests to must haves.  Forget all the friends you haven’t seen since grade school.
  4. Do the same with the bridal party.  The less people in the party, the fewer gifts you need to buy.
  5. In one of our past blogs we talk about cost-effective, beautiful locations for weddings: Quail Ridge, Jaycee Stage, Sue Bee Park.  There are more and we will share those with you in future blogs.  You don’t need a fancy Hotel or Elegant Banquet Hall.
  6. Perhaps skip the formal dinner and serve a brunch or a dessert buffet.  If you must serve a meal, check out the new caterers just starting out.  They are eager for the business and will bend over backwards to do a great job.  We already discussed alcohol in previous blogs.  If drinking isn’t that important to you, skip it.
  7. Forget the party favors.  Add a small candy or popcorn station that you do yourself.
  8. Cupcakes can be fun, but if you really want a “wedding cake” get a two tier cake rather than a three or four tier.  Keep it small and fill in with a sheet cake that you cut for guests.

You can tie the knot and do it for less.  While this is not for everyone, many couples who are paying the bills themselves find that they can still have a very nice wedding without going broke.  Share with us your wedding plans.  Are you putting off that wedding because you feel that it is too expensive?


Smalll One Layer Wedding Cake


Simple Wedding Bouquet



Budget Tip #5 – Saving Money on Alcohol at Your Reception

Bar LiquorIf you are trying to keep the cost of your wedding reception in line, here are a few tips to reduce the alcohol expense at your reception.  This is a big chunk of the reception expense, and while you want your guests to have a good time, there’s no need to break the bank.

One of the easiest ways to save money is to provide your own liquor – this can save up to 50% of your alcohol bill.  While this can’t be done at all venues, if you can, this is a significant cost saver.

Use bar brands not premium brands of liquor.  They are less expensive and most people will not notice.

If you are paying corkage fees or by the bottle, consider the larger containers like a magnum or a keg of beer.

Limit the number of hours you open the bar.  Open during cocktail hour but close over dinner if the guests will have wine.  Then open again after the dancing starts.  Close the bar one hour before the reception ends and have a coffee and tea bar.

Don’t use family help to man the bar.  They might pour larger drinks and negate any savings you might otherwise have.  So arrange your own bar service with a professional bartender.

And another idea – serve a signature drink only such as a specific cocktail, along with soft drinks, coffee and tea.  This save a lot of money plus it is a fun way to express yourself and tie it into the theme of your wedding.

If you pay a flat rate per guest for alcohol, ask to subtract the number of children expected from your overall total bill.

Budget Tip #4 – Saving on Your Wedding Celebration

Saying “I DO” can be a budget buster.  Here are some additional tips and hints to save on your celebration:

  1. Keep the wedding guest list under 100.
  2. Limit the wedding party – keep it small.  This cuts down on the cost of attendant bouquets and gifts to each member in the wedding party.
  3. Consider having the ceremony and reception at the same site – thereby paying only one site fee and possibly fewer total hours.
  4. Have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday.  Lots of vendors charge less on these days.
  5. Why not an early morning or early afternoon wedding.  You can eliminate a lot of alcohol and possibly a band/disk jockey.
  6. Talk to a photographer with special prices for Friday/Sunday weddings, or possibly limit photography to just six hours.
  7. Set up a wedding checking account and make deposits monthly.  Use only that money for the wedding allowing you to see what you are spending, and a better way to stay on top of the budget.

Tent Wedding

Budget Tip #3 – FREE wedding catalogs with special offers

There are some wonderful on-line catalog companies for wedding planning.  Here are some of my favorites.

  • MagnetStreet.com – Wedding invitations, stationery, save the dates, programs, favors and more.  They are offering a 10% discount with the promo code “WCATALOG10” until 2/7/13.
  • BridesVillage.com – Wedding Accessories & Attendants’ gifts.  They offer free shipping on orders of $55 or more.
  • JessicasWeddings.com – Wedding gifts for groomsmen, bridesmaids and the entire wedding party.  They are offering 15% on orders of $95 or more until 2/1/13.
  • WrappedHersheys.com – Who doesn’t love chocolate!  They offer a great selection of chocolate Hershey bars with custom covers.  They are giving free shipping on orders of $99.00 or more until 1/31/13.
  • PersonalCreations.com – Here’s a great assortment of gift ideas.  Champagne Flutes, Personalized Afghans, Frames, Hurricane Candle Holders, Character Platters and lots and lots of goodies.
  • ExclusivelyWeddings.com – Just about anything you might desire can be found here.  Get a free 116 page catalog upon request.

Are you searching for the perfect wedding dress?

Wed_Gal_12-10-29 Web Size










Once you have that ring on your finger, the quest begins for the “perfect” wedding dress.  After all, you want to look amazing for your walk down the aisle.  Before you begin, let’s review a few guidelines.

Start EARLY. Get started early so you don’t cut it too close to your wedding day.  In most situations you want to allow 9 to 12 months in advance.  This allows plenty of time for your dress to arrive and alterations to be made.

Shop with Bridal Vendors that offer FULL SERVICE.  Their experience is invaluable in helping you find a gown that flatters your body type.   It’s great to have an idea of what you want before you begin, but do consider a shop’s recommendation of various styles.  They know what’s “in” and what styles would look good on your body shape. Wear the right undergarments – the ones that you will wear with your gown.

And finally, this is for you brides on a very, tight budget.  Don’t worry – there are ways to have your beautiful dress and still not break the bank.  Check these out:

  • Military Veterans & Free Dresses:Select Bridal shops in the area promote this event in November around Veteran’s Day.Free Dresses are available to brides of active duty military servicemen and women.
  • Running of the Brides:Go to Filene’s Basement “Running of the Brides” sale – usually held in late July.Filene’s is located in Chicago at 1 North State Street.They usually have over 1700 gowns priced from $249 to $699 – (originally priced as high as $9000).  Bring along a support team and be ready to fight for your dress.
  • Eva’s Midwest Room in ChicagoYes it’s out of our area – but they have hundreds of dresses which can be taken home theday of purchase.  They feature over 60 designers and thousands of dresses.  This is a greatplace for weddings with a short planning period.
  • White ChicagoLove couture but hate the price?  Here you can find sample and “once wed” dresses.They carry designers such as Olge Cassini, Reem Acra, Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang andmore.  Call first, as you will need an appointment.
  • Locally Check out Whatzenstore.  They bought out a bridal shop and have a few remaining dresses at significantly reduced prices.  Check our “Bridal Fashions” wedding resource guide for contact information.One of the best places to go for Plus Size Wedding Dresses is Syndey’s Closet as they have a large selection of Size 18 dresses to try on.   (Check in the Wedding Resource Guide for contact information.)  And finally, ask your preferred store if they have “special” discounted gowns available.  Many of the stores offer older stock at discounted prices.

Do you have a great find?  Share back with all our brides to be.  And have fun, and enjoy the experience




Great Weddings On a Budget – Tip #2

The program for your wedding day ceremony not only informs guests of the details of the ceremony and names of the bridal party participants, but more importantly can be a cherished memento of the event itself.   Many couples today save money by creating the program themselves.  Paper companies offer beautiful bridal themed program paper that is reasonably priced.  In addition, visit www.mountaincow.com for inexpensive PrintingPress software that allows you to design your own wedding program with easy- to- use templates.  This program offers a range of free graphics and fonts for the look of a professional designed program without the big price tag.