Affordable Wedding Alternatives to Luxurious Splurges

Your wedding day is meant to be one of the most, if not THE most special day in your life. It would only make sense to have the best of the best in every single aspect, right? Well, unless you’re one of the lucky few who are sitting on a fat trust fund marked “Wedding Cash”, you’re going to have to make some compromises. Here are a few ways to spend wisely while keeping a top shelf feel.

Silk Flowers vs. Fresh Flowers:
One of the easiest ways to save a huge chunk of change is to explore alternatives to traditional fresh flower arrangements. Simple arrangements are a snap to do-it-yourself, and there are many online stores where premade bouquets and arrangements can be had for a fraction of the cost of fresh. Now, if you’ve had your heart set on multitudes of fresh, fragrant blooms at every turn in your wedding, I won’t fault you. However, I always ask my brides this very question: in the last five weddings you’ve attended, can you describe the flowers in detail to me? You might be surprised to know that the vast majority of my brides can’t describe more than the general colors or shapes of arrangements. However, every single one could tell me whether they enjoyed the food and drink at the receptions, so consider that some of your flower money might be better spent elsewhere to ensure a pleasantly memorable event for all.

Fondant is a Fon-DON’T
I admit, I’m a total junkie for shows featuring high-end bakeries with their sculpted cakes and gorgeous fondant decorations. However, for most brides in the real world, fondant just isn’t a practical or cost-savvy option. Cakes covered in the smooth, sugary dough usually run anywhere from $3-10 per slice, sometimes skyrocketing to $20+ per slice for the truly elaborate. Multiplying those prices by the average guest list of 100 or more, and you can end up with a budget-busting confection. Many talented bakers can ice a cake in traditional buttercream, and make it smooth as to almost perfectly mimic fondant at a fraction of the cost. In addition to saving some serious dough, most people also prefer the taste of buttercream, as both the texture and super-sugary taste of fondant can be a bit much.

Five Star Doesn’t have to mean Five Courses
Having visions of an elegant meal but going into sticker shock from the prices on a full, sit-down meal? Add in the cost of wait staff to serve your guests and the price can really skyrocket. No worries, keeping your food budget under control doesn’t mean you’re relegated to the world of cold-cut buffets or asking guests to bring a covered dish of their own (I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it on an invitation with my own eyes). One great way to save money is to feature an array of appetizers in lieu of a traditional meal. Tapas (small plate) dining is growing in popularity, and with the inclusion of a few heartier selections, can make for an interesting and satisfying dining experience for all of your guests. Another way to save without appearing stingy is to opt for a nice pasta entrée like lasagna or chicken parmesan. These choices please a wide variety of palates and are usually much more budget-friendly than beef or pork choices.

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Five Unique Wedding Bouquet Ideas

Every bride-to-be dreams of her wedding day, from walking gracefully down the aisle, a first dance with her new husband, and of course, tossing the bouquet over her shoulder to the contingent of single women hoping to be the next in line. Though sometimes taken for granted, the bridal bouquet is an essential factor in your bridal look and can take the whole package from average to amazing.

These days, brides have a plethora of options for their flowers and are no longer shackled to the basic cluster of white roses (though still a fine choice). While mixing it up with different colors is a pretty easy option, there are also a number of various shapes and styles for the bouquet itself. Here are five styles to help you choose:

Biedermeier Bouquet

photo credit

Originating in Switzerland, these are a bold and unique choice and work best when all of the flowers are of a similar style. This is a tightly-packed and structured bouquet, with the flowers arranged in alternating rings of different colors (imagine a ‘bulls-eye’). This is a great choice for brides who want to add a bit of drama to their look and aren’t afraid to think outside of the box.

‘Presentation’ Bouquet

These bouquets get their name because they are meant to be carried draped over the arm like those presented to actresses or beauty queens. This style is a very fashion-forward look and is one of my personal favorites. This style works best with longer flowers such as calla lilies, orchids, long-stemmed roses and the like. This bouquet is also quite versatile in that you can opt for a double-ended bouquet with flowers on both ends. Presentation bouquets are just as beautiful with an elaborate number of flowers as they are with one or two statement blooms in a single color, so the possibilities are truly endless.

Prayerbook or Bible Spray

For devout brides, this traditional choice is an elegant and understated touch. A small spray of flowers is arranged in a corsage-like setting and wrapped around the family Bible or other heirloom religious book for the bride to carry as she walks down the aisle. This is a wonderful choice for those couples who have such family heirlooms or who would like to start a tradition themselves. Alternately, some brides who still wish to carry a different bouquet can still opt for an attendant to carry the decorated book for presentation at the ceremony.

Pomander Bouquet

These fun, whimsical arrangements are a beautiful option for more casual events or carried by younger attendants such as junior bridesmaids or flower girls. These bouquets are a ball of flowers, usually in one or two colors (often bold and bright colors), and carried over the wrist with a loop of ribbon. While an unusual choice, with the right theme these can be a really great splash of color for your wedding.

Cascade or ‘Princess’ Bouquet

The most formal of bouquets, this style gained in popularity in the early 1920s up through WWII. It continues to remain popular and is a lovely choice for formal weddings. The shape is similar to a teardrop, with the larger rounder portion carried in the hands, with the narrowing trails of flowers cascading down. These can work with either monochromatic palettes or a mix of colors, but are best set against a gown without a lot of overwhelming detail as the bouquet is rather commanding in itself. These are also known as ‘princess’ bouquets in honor of the late Princess Diana who carried a beautiful ivory cascade at her own wedding.

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Great Ideas For Holiday Weddings Of All Seasons

Each and every one of us has a favorite holiday, be it Halloween with its ghosts and ghouls, Easter with fluffy bunnies and candy, Christmas with sparkling snowy trees and carols, and many, many more. One great way to personalize your wedding (and help insure your husband remembers his anniversary) is to tie it in with your favorite holiday. Frightened off by visions of tinsel-bedecked bridesmaids or ring bearers in Cupid costume? No worries, there are plenty of ways to tastefully incorporate holiday cheer into your special day, and here are just a few:

Valentine’s Day Wedding
A no-brainer for weddings, right? While Valentine’s weddings are one of the least budget-friendly options since the time of year is in such high demand and flowers are at peak pricing, it is still one of the most traditionally romantic days of the year. To take advantage of the romance while keeping control of the budget, consider touches like red or pink (one OR the other, please) bridesmaid dresses, silk rose bouquets instead of fresh, or small heart-shaped boxes of Valentine’s chocolates as favors.

Easter Wedding
While Easter can be a challenging time to plan a wedding since churches are obviously quite busy this weekend, some churches can be amenable to a Saturday service squeezed in, or perhaps a weekend or two afterwards. This is one of the two times a year when churches are traditionally the most elaborately decorated, and can save you a fortune in that respect. Keep the theme going with sunny pastels for dresses and flowers, adorable especially with flower girls and ring bearers. Baskets filled with various candies make unique centerpieces for your reception tables and are a neat twist from the usual candy buffet favors. With all the money you’ll save on church decorations, consider a butterfly release as you and your new spouse exit the church – this is both beautiful and a great symbol of resurrection and new life, perfect for both the holiday and your new marriage.

Halloween Wedding
It takes a certain kind of couple to have a Halloween wedding, but if this is your style, it can be one of the most fun for all involved. How far you go with the holiday is up to you, but if you and your guests are up for it, a costume party/wedding/reception can be a huge hit and tons of fun for everyone. For a more subtle affair, bouquets of rustic fall colors, black sashes, or bridesmaid dresses in gold and bronze tones keep things festive while keeping a classic touch. If your area has fairly mild weather at this time of year, an outdoor night-time wedding would be beautiful, lit only by the moon, torches and jack-o-lantern luminaries.

Christmas Wedding
The motherload of all holidays, it’s also a very popular time of year for weddings. It’s one that’s very near and dear to my heart as my own wedding was Christmas-themed, held the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend. A caveat for Christmas weddings, make sure to book your venues well in advance, as many groups book reception halls for Christmas parties and places can go quickly. To keep holiday cheer alive in your wedding festivities without going too “mall Santa”, keep touches classic and clean with reds and gold, blues and silver, or a clean winter white palette. Springs of mistletoe are a romantic touch, and classic holiday carols make beautiful dinner music. For a sweet finish for your reception, consider a hot cocoa station to cap off your guests’ night.

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5 Custom Wedding Favors And Where To Find Them

When you’re planning for your wedding there are basically two types of gifts you can buy for all of the people who end up on your list (such as wedding party, parents of bride/groom, reception guests, etc.) — regular gifts and more personalized or custom ones. I’m sure that you already know this, but the major difference between these two types of gifts are that the regular gifts are just that — regular, everyday types of gifts that people could receive from anybody. Custom wedding gifts, however, take this to the next level by adding a layer or personalization and thought to the gift, which will make it resonate that much more with who you’re giving it to. Simply speaking, custom gifts are just a little bit cooler.

Like many things, not everything about custom gifts are positive. The two main downsides to getting custom gifts made are 1. They usually take a little longer to get your hands on, which requires a little bit of preparation time (which we don’t always have around our wedding) and 2. They are usually more expensive than just normal gifts. If you can deal with these two things, then I say go for it and go all out.

One of the gifts where a little bit of personalization can go a long way is the wedding favor that you decide to give out to all of your guests at your reception. Giving out some custom wedding favors as opposed to your standard, run-of-the-mill regular ones will be a nice touch for all of your guests and will give them all something that you specifically made for your wedding day. Like I mentioned earlier, custom wedding favors take a little longer to show up and might be a little more expensive than the normal stuff, but I think that it’s worth doing if you can get away with it.

If you’ve decided to go with some custom wedding favors here are five that I think you should take a look at buying for your wedding reception:

Super Cool Personalized Mint Tins
$2.25 each >> click to view/buy
With over 65 different designs that you can choose from these custom mint cases might just be the wedding favor you’ve been looking for. Also, depending how much garlic there is on your reception’s buffet it probably doesn’t hurt to have some extra mints laying around.

Personalized and Custom Wedding Shot Glasses
$3 each >> click to view/buy
I’m of the mindset that a shot glass is always a great gift, no matter what. More than likely it’s going to get used, it will never be left at the reception table and it can pretty much be used the instant your guests get it. You know what they say — the only better than a shot glass is a free, personalized shot glass (that’s full).

Custom Playing Cards With Included Case
$1.80 each >> click to view/buy
Just like the shot glass, I would go ahead and mark this up cards something that pretty much anyone can use more of. Personalized cards are a really fun and cool way to remind your guests of the very important part they played in your wedding and also something that will have some longevity and real-world use after they get home.  Plus, who couldn’t use a full deck of cards that still has all 52 cards in it? I know I could.

Stemless and Personalized Wedding Wine Glasses
$2.70 each >> click to view/buy
If you and your gusts are more into the wine as opposed to the liquor, a custom wine glass at your reception might be a better idea than giving out a shot glass. The stemless wine glasses look great and you can personalize it to your heart’s content, so feel free to have fun with it.

Personalized Chap Stick
$2 each >> click to view/buy
One thing that I know Stephanie couldn’t live without is her chap stick. I honestly don’t know if she could even last a day without it. If you happen to have a love of chap stick that’s even close to the level of Stephanie’s then you might want to buy a few of these and spread that love to your guests. It’s a pretty cool gift and I can’t come close to complaining about Stephanie having soft lips.

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