My fiance then, husband now, and I were determined not to go into great debt in planning our wedding.
He was just getting started in his new job, his school bill still hung over his head...
I consider myself pretty creative and I knew that between Mom and I, we could pull together a beautiful, impressive, yet inexpensive wedding ceremony and reception. And we did.
I will try to create a step-by-step description in how we accomplished this.
Ok, so my fiance and I are engaged. What's next right?
We began to plan.
I was working in an office at the time and had a computer at my disposal on lunch breaks. I spent hours over the Internet in the 7 months time, browsing wedding vows, reception favors, bridal bouquet flowers, wedding party attire.
I should have been exhausted, but really I wasn't. It was so much fun. And it was all coming together so well. Ok, well I'll take part of that back. The night before the wedding, my bridesmaids and I camped out in the foyer of the church. I had stayed up early into the morning finishing my bouquet, and dropped with exhaustion to my makeshift bed. But I really didn't suffer that much stress, beforehand.
#1 Where would the wedding be held?
Well that was simple. My dad is a pastor and my husband and I met at our church, so that cut out the rental fees for the use of the church.
#2 Who would perform the ceremony?
I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle, so we chose a great Pastor friend of ours to perform the ceremony, with the assistance of my husband's father, who is also a Pastor! They only requested, as form of payment, our covering the costs of their motel, so that helped with the usual chaplain costs as well.
#3 Who would be in the wedding party and what would they wear?
My fiance and I broke this down rather quickly. Close friends and family members.
As to what they'd wear, since our party wasn't made of money, we got creative here as well. I visited a local David's Bridal for the bridesmaids; I found absolutely gorgeous prom dresses in the color I wanted, a soft buttery yellow. And they were all deeply discounted! I was in seventh heaven! And the sizes were nearly all in what I needed. I'm fortunate to have an aunt who is a seamstress and she quickly altered the dresses to what I needed. She then created matching lavender short-sleeved jackets- my colors, Yellow and Lavender.
For the men, we secured a great sale on their tuxedos.
For the bridesmaid's flowers, my aunt created beautiful bouquets with lavender and yellow ribbons, silk roses with hot glued "dew" on the petals and a long cone-shaped holder crisscrossed in these ribbons to hide the long stems- absolutely breathtaking!
For the men's boutonnieres, she fashioned a cluster of silk roses.
#4 Bridal Bouquet- Buy or make?
Well the funds weren't deep and the base price for a nice fresh bouquet was between $150-500, too steep. I'd created bouquets for weddings and church arrangements in the recent past, so I knew I had the talent. I decided to make my bouquet. I scoured the Internet for ideas. In the back of my mind, I knew what I wanted it to look like, the type of flowers I wanted to use, whether they'd be fresh or silk...
I wanted my bouquet to last forever. I had arranged for my aunt to make a throwaway bouquet for the bouquet toss of silk flowers, so I could keep mine.
I found a website www.flyboynaturals.com
that offers freeze dried rose heads. I ordered them in lavender and soft yellow.
I was very satisfied when I received them. They had no stems, so I purchased green wire, which I doubled for durability, inserted them into the heads and voila- instant roses!
I ordered three fresh Stargazer lilies and a rubber banded bunch of lily-of-the-valley from a florist, babies breath and white calla lilies. Together, wrapping a beautiful white handkerchief around the stems, it was a beautiful creation. The wedding guests, who later discovered that the bridal bouquet was created by the bride, said they had no idea. Guess that's a pretty good thing.
#5 How will we thank the wedding party with a small budget?
My mom and I went to our local dollar store and purchased beautiful (for the girls) and dark masculine (for the guys) gift bags with bright contrasting tissue paper. We filled them with age and gender appropriate gifts.
For the girls, I purchased little bath soaps, girly things. For the guys, my fiance got them a keychain from our city, and some guy stuff.
For the children in our party, we filled their bags with things kids love; gum, candy, snack bags, toys
It wasn't much, but it was something from our hearts and they really appreciated it.
#6 Who will sing at our wedding?
We have some really great friends who double as awesome singers/performers.
My fiance set to work, setting up the music and in no time at all, everything was scheduled. They were more than willing to perform for us and at a very affordable cost. Some even considered their performance as their wedding gift to us.
#7 Should we splurge on videographers and photographers or settle for a friend who take pictures?
Well we did both. Kind of. The videographer was a disappointment. He was elderly, and wasn't all the prepared. We not learning this until after the honeymoon when we sat down to see our video. We had gotten him off the Internet at a 50% cut off the usual costs (now we know why) and his video samples were just what we were looking for, but the turn out, not.
He had cut off the music in our video at very odd times. We probably should have sought out a lawsuit, but we didn't, so it's all water under the bridge now. We just cringe every time we see our video. So...all that said, spend the money on the videographer. You'll never be sorry. Yes, you might think a family friend of someone off the net can do just as good a job (and in our case, I think a close friend could have done better), but take my word for it. This is something you will pass down to your children, and your grand children. And someday, look back on yourselves, as you and your spouse are old and gray.
For the photographer, we did choose a family friend. Both my fiance and I had seen his work. He was very talented. He considered his work for us, his wedding gift, which was awesome of him. And we were very satisfied with the pictures that we received back.
I purchased our wedding album at < a href http://www.artleather.com> www.artleather.com and got a really great price, but after having to purchase each page separately, I think just getting a fancy scrapbook album from would be just as nice and more affordable if you're on a tight budget.
#8 Should we cater in the reception or what?
My parents covered the reception, as do most brides parents. Dad got a great price on the hall of a church down the street from our church. Friends and family eagerly extended their hands in help. My parents purchased great big sandwich wheels, fruit bowls, chips... it was light, but it was really good and everyone looked forward to sampling the beautiful wedding cake.
#9 Which brings us to- Where will we get the wedding cake?
Well I'm extremely fortunate. In addition to my aunt being a decorator and seamstress, she makes beautiful wedding cakes. And that day was no exception! It was so gorgeous in lavender and white. A stair step cake on glass pedestals. So beautiful! And she wanted to have her contribution as our wedding gift from her to us.
#10 Should we use traditional vows or create our own?
Well, I did a mixture of both. On my lunch breaks, on the computer, I played around with some vows I loved, cut some out, inserted some in, until our vows consisted of probably five different vows. It was unique and everyone loved it. They said they'd never been to such a wonderful wedding.
#11 Decorating the church?
Mom and I visited our local craft store, purchasing bunches of white, lavender and yellow silk flowers that came on sale. The kind that, at a glance, you could swear were real.
Then we visited a glass store where I purchased huge clear lavender vases for the front of the church. Mom and I spent hours arranging the beautiful big white silk Gerber daises, lavender and white plumeria and deep purple silk lilacs into the vases. We filled the bottom of the vases with clear, round "stones" --The finished product was incredible. The looked like they'd come straight from a florist!
#12 Bridal dress
I had in mind beforehand what I wanted. Long, sweeping train, lots of lace and white satin, romantic, exquisite.
I found it on sale at a small local bridal shop. Deeply discounted, because it was being discontinued. Not a thing wrong with it. It had some minor alterations to be done. It was beautiful- long sleeves; lacy and see thru, scalloped cuffs, sweetheart neckline, heart shaped back, v-shaped waistline, full skirt.
I made my own veil, purchasing material on E-bay with a curly hem. Then I sewed on varying sized white pearls.
My aunt created a headpiece of white silk rosettes with a hair comb. It was so pretty!
For my sandals (I married in the summer), I bought a white satin pair at PayLess shoes, bought heart shaped glue-on jewelry that resembled little glass hearts and glued them over the strap and front of the sandals. They were so cute and everyone loved them.
I forwent the splurges of new brides on hair, nails, facials... I had two friends do my hair up into beautiful curls on top of my head, disappearing into the veil.
My nails I did myself, filing them simply, brushing on clear gloss.
For makeup I smoothed on matching foundation, a light brush of pale pink eye shadow, my favorite lipstick.
I did my toenails, since they'd be visible in the sandals, the night before in a natural mauvish-tan shade.
#13 Honeymoon- Hawaii or motel down the street?
Did I mention how blessed we've been? Some great friends of ours gave us one of their timeshare resorts in Florida as their wedding gift. We only had to cover our airfare, which we put on a credit card. Now, looking back, I wish we hadn't done that. I wish we had saved up more (I saved up like crazy buying things that would be used in our new home, as husband and wife), perhaps prior to marrying. My advice would be to save, save, save and not use credit cards at all. They'll kill ya once you're married. You know- the washing machine goes on the blink. The car dies. The roof starts to leak.... Sound familiar?
I hope this list helped. As I went over these guidelines for creating an awesome church wedding on a budget, it brought back so many wonderful memories. For those of you reading this, whether you're contemplating marriage, planning your own wedding, or thinking back to your own Big Day, I hope you're filled with great nostalgia.