Picking The Right Centerpiece

Whether you are having a wedding, bridal shower,  or any other celebration for that matter, centerpiece is a very important aspect. Centerpieces help tie together the entire décor of the.

Here are some tips on choosing centerpieces:

1. Numbers! If you are using more than one item in the centerpiece go with odd numbers it is eye catching.

Odd # Centerpiece

2. Layer! Positioning is everything.

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3. Height! Creates great visual!

tall

4. Space! Do not over crowd your table with favors, place cards, formal place settings. Make sure you have room for the centerpiece.

Table 4

5. Venue! Make sure you are aware of ALL the restrictions of your venue.

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6. Setting! Take into consideration your environment. Surrounding and temperature is key.

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Centerpieces add a special touch to an event. Be sure to think your ideas through in order to have an event that is a vision of excellence.

 

Source: VOEevents

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Bride’s Biggest Budget Buster…

I’m always looking to help my clients save money without sacrificing style. Getting the biggest bang for your buck on wedding day comes by combining the ceremony and the reception. Not only is it easier on your guests (particularly if they are mostly from out of town), but it can save a bride BIG bucks! Most venues are prepared to handle both the ceremony and reception for your big day. Here’s a quick list of how this simple, convenient decision can save you some real money!

*Floral decor can be reused for both the ceremony and reception

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*Transportation costs reduced for both you and your groom, as well as your guests

*Shortened time frame for photographers, videographers, and event planners with fewer travel expenses.

*Avoid the rental fee of a church, or other location for the ceremony

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*Uplighting and staging can also be reused for both the ceremony and reception

 

(Reblogged From Circle City Designers)

Planning Your Outdoor Wedding

Even though right now isn’t ideal to have a wedding outside since winter has just started, it’s still pretty popular to get married and party outside during the rest of the year.. Here’s some things to keep in mind if you are planning an outdoor wedding…

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New Year, New Bridal Shows

So that most popular time of year to get engaged has just passed so many new girls have a sparkly ring on their left hand and now they are ready to start planning their big day.

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Here’s a look at some of the upcoming bridal shows across South Carolina! MARK YOUR CALENDAR!!

 

CHARLESTON:

* Sunday, January 13th – The Charleston Bridal Show – The Marriott Hotel (Lockwood Blvd) – Noon until 5pm

* Sunday, February 17th – Southern Bridal Show – Charleston Area Convention Center – Noon until 5pm

* Sunday, August 18th – Southern Bridal Show – Charleston area Convention Center – Noon until 5pm

 

COLUMBIA:

* Sunday, January 6th – WNOK Bridal Expo – Columbia Metro Convention Center – 1pm until 5pm

* Sunday, February 24th – St. Andrews Woman’s Club Bridal Showcase – State Fair Grounds – Noon until 5pm

* Sunday, July 21st – 2013 Summer Carolina Bridal Showcase – Columbia Metro Convention Center – 1pm until 5pm

* Sunday, September 22nd –2013 Fall Carolina Bridal Showcase – Columbia Metro Convention Center – 1pm until 5pm

 

MYRTLE BEACH/FLORENCE:

* Sunday, January 6th – BRAVO! Bridal Expo – Florence Civic Center

 

UPSTATE:

* Saturday, January 5th – Weddings With Style – Hyatt Downtown Greenville – 10am until 3pm

* Saturday, January 19th – Anderson Wedding Festival – Anderson Civic Center – 10am until 3pm

* Saturday, January 26th – Spartanburg Wedding Festival- Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium – 10am until 3pm

* Saturday, February 9th – TD Wedding Festival – TD Convention Center, Greenville – 10am until 3pm

Downtime between Ceremony & Reception?

“Join us in the celebration of marriage between

Sara Smith & Ryan Brown

Ceremony – 1:00 PM

Dinner – 6:00 PM

Dance – 8:00 PM”

 
What happens between 2:00 and 6:00 ???  

You know the wedding party will be taking photos, bar-hopping, or whatever else the wedding party does before dinner, but what about your guests?  If your reception does not immediately follow the ceremony, you will want to consider giving your guests something to do while they wait for you (especially if you have a lot of out-of-town guests).

 

The first place you will want to check is if your reception hall will allow you send your guests there before dinner.  You might want to consider hosting an hors d’ oeuvre and cocktail reception at or near the same place you are having your meal.  Food and drinks will keep your guests happy.

If your reception hall will not be able to accommodate an early arrival of guests, check out local bars or restaurants that have a large space to accommodate your guests.  It is nice to have a place where food and drinks can be provided for your guest, whether you pay for them or not.

You should consider giving your guests an activity to do while they wait.  Choose activities based on your crowd: decks of cards, yard games, music, coloring books, or just alcohol will do in some cases.

If you’re having a destination wedding, you may want to consider putting together a list of things for guests to do in the hours in between. Here in Charleston, so many people get married downtown and there are several things your guests can do to pass the time.

Just one more way to make your big day even better ❤

Source: Photos By JKay

** In my honest opinion, I would try to avoid splitting up your ceremony and reception as much as possible. It makes it easier on all your guests and keep in mind, many of these people have traveled to see you so try and give them that opportunity. **

Just Engaged?

Labor Day has passed, autumn is almost upon us ….which means it’s the start of “engagement season”! (Yes, we have a term for it.) I don’t know about you, but my Facebook page is starting to blow up with engagement announcements! I absolutely love newly engaged couples because there is SO much love and excitement around getting engaged!

But then soon after that excitement wears off, you’re hit with the reality of the fact that you have to plan a wedding– something that you most likely have no clue about, right?! Sure, you’ve been in a wedding or two, or maybe one of your close friends recently got married, but things are different when it’s YOUR wedding! And if you’re anything like me, you have NO idea where to start. Well, don’t fret, because I am here to help you out! I have compiled the 10 things you need to do first to get started with your wedding planning.


1. Set a budget

You shouldn’t be doing anything before sit down and talk about & decide on a budget. Sit down with your parents, family members, or just the two of you, figure out who is contributing, how much they can contribute, and what your total budget will be Then you can move on to #2!

 2. Choose 2-3 possible dates

To be safe, choose 2-3 possible dates to have your wedding. Think of the time of year, the weather, work schedules/vacation time, holidays, and yes, even football season (or whatever sport your fiance/family is crazy about). Then choose your #1 preferred date, and have a #2 and #3 available in case your preferred date isn’t available. This is extremely important because venues book up fast…some even book up to a year and half in advance!

 3. Start your guest list

Of course you want to invite everyone you know to your wedding. But here’s my warning for you: the more people you have, the more you have to spend. (This is why you do your budget first.)

Example: You want to have 200 guests. Your budget is $20,000. This means that you will have $100 per guest. 

So as you see, starting your guest list and knowing your estimated maximum guest count early is super imporant! And keep in mind that guest counts usually go down by the time your wedding day comes around- and believe me… it’ll get really easy to cut the people you haven’t talked to in forever from the guest list.

Here are some ideas on how to control your guest list… or use this flow chart…

 4. Decide on your wedding’s style & colors

Vintage, modern, classic, eclectic, handmade, rustic… there are SO many styles out there! The beauty of “wedding styles” is that they also coincide with decor and details, and so knowing from the beginning will help you later on.  No need to design your whole wedding right now though- just know the general look and feel of how you want your wedding to be.  It’s also a good time to decide on what colors you may want to have incorporated into your big day… Once you know that, it’ll be easier to move on to #5… 

 5. Decide on your venue

So all of the first 4 steps can essentially be done all in one sitting. That’s easy, right? Well once you have all of those decisions made, you can start researching and visiting venues. When you’re researching and you find a venue that you like, I highly recommend contacting them and asking if they have any of your possible dates available. If they do, then go ahead and schedule a time to tour the venue. Give yourself a few (1 to 3 max) weeks to tour all of your possibilities (depending on how long you have before your wedding date of course), crunch numbers, envision your wedding there (or not), and then book your venue! Once you have your venue booked (meaning deposit made and contract signed), your date is secured… you are just steps away from getting MARRIED!

6. Research

First and foremost, if you didn’t already hire a wedding planner during the first 5 steps…I strongly suggest you consider one….They will be able to give you great recommendations and save you time & frustration!

Vendors:

Researching potential vendors is HUGE. There are so many great wedding professionals out there now, and you want time to be able to choose the right ones for you. You definitely don’t want to be rushed, but at the same time, time is of the essence. (If you don’t have a wedding planner, go to here’s what you need to know when hiring your vendors.)

When you’re researching, be sure to check out the vendor’s portfolio, bio, pricing info (if they have it available) and their blog. Feel free to do research on every single type of vendor you need, but the ones that are crucial and book up quickly are the photographer, florist, and caterer (if applicable).

Moving on, the next steps are going to pertain to these 3 things. [After you’ve completed the following steps for the previously mentioned vendors, then you’ll move on to your entertainment, event decor, rentals, invitations, videographer and cake. And then you’ll go on to hair and makeup, transportation, tux rentals, favors, and any extras.]

Part 2 of Research is…

WEDDING DRESS!

Yes, it’s in caps because it’s *that* exciting! Isn’t it pretty much the very first thing you wanted to do- look at wedding dresses?! I mean, come on, who doesn’t like wedding dresses? 😉 But in all seriousness, you want to be sure that you research the types of dresses you like and the stores that carry them.

7. Inquire With and Interview Vendors

So by now you’ve done your research and you know what vendors you like. Now it’s time to contact the vendor, find out if they’re available for your date, ask about pricing/cost (if you want to), and schedule a consultation. I recommend meeting with up to three of each type of vendor, one if you already absolutely love them and they sell you right away, two if you’re pretty set but want to know other options, and three if you’re not sure. It just really depends on you, your decision making skills, and your taste. 🙂

8. Hire Your Vendors

Of course the next step is to make your pick & hire one of those vendors that you’ve met and fallen in love with. After your consultations, try to let vendors know your decision a week or two from when they provide you with an estimate/proposal. And then hooray! You’re one step closer to your wedding day! Important note: Once you’ve hired someone, please let the other vendors that you met with know that you won’t be going with them. I know it sucks to do it and yes, you might feel awkward, but it has to be done- they have to know! A nice, simple email will suffice.

9: WEDDING DRESS!

Alright, so you have some of your vendors booked… now it’s time to take a break and go wedding dress shopping! I don’t think this needs much explanation.

10: Design & Detail Inspiration

Remember back in the first 5 steps when I had you decide on your wedding style? Well with the second round of vendors you will meet with next (florals, decor, invitations, rentals, cake) you’ll need to have a good idea of what you want your wedding to be like, so it’s time to focus on design and details! What do you want your wedding to look like? Design is more of a general term, and details is more of the specifics (and where your personality can really shine through too!). This too is something that requires lots of research… which in the wedding world we like to call INSPIRATION! 🙂 I’m sure many of you have probably already started saving photos of things that you like and are Pinning away for your dream wedding. After all, this big, beautiful wedding world here on the internet does almost solely revolve around design and details! But you want to make sure that you have enough inspiration to be able to accurately convey to your potential vendors what it is you want for your wedding. And then in the same breath, you don’t want to have too much inspiration either!

Don’t forget to bring your inspiration with you to your consultations! You can probably even just pull up your Pinterest boards in your meetings- which I think is absolutely amazing.

Once you get to the last step for your first set of vendors, then move on to the next set! Wedding planning is like a roller coaster- you’ll go really fast at full-speed, then you’ll slow down, and then you’ll speed up again. Yes it’s normal, and it’s okay to have a lull in planning. Basically that roller coaster ride just keeps going until you get married. 😉

Wedding 101: Finding Your Vendors

Something that I had a really hard time with when planning my wedding was finding quality vendors. How was I to know that they were good to work with and what their work was like? We all know that Google is great, but sometimes it doesn’t always return the best search results when searching for something in particular. And so, I thought I would share some tips for finding vendors, as well as a few sites.

Tips:

* Location: You don’t have to look within the city your wedding is taking place in. If your wedding is in your small hometown but you live in a larger city, you can choose a vendor in your larger city. Some vendors have different travel policies, but usually if it’s 1 to 2 hours away, it’s no big deal to them. The key is to have vendors that you LOVE, not vendors that you’ve settled on because they were the only ones available.

* Reviews: You want to see past client reviews on the vendor. Use Wedding Wire or some other reviewing site, and if there isn’t anything online, ASK. Ask on forums like Weddingbee, or ask other vendors you have booked.  They can usually give you some feedback, and if all of that fails, ask the vendor to give you a list of past clients that would vouch for his or her work.

* Friends and Family: Talk to your friends and family about their vendors that they had. This can go one of two ways. You could have loved their wedding and check out their vendors, or you could have hated their wedding and know not to check out their vendors. And keep in mind that just because your sister-in-law loved her photographer, it doesn’t mean that you will too.

 * Meet:  You want to LOVE your vendors, so make sure you meet them before hiring. Meet a couple of vendors if you need to. Keep in mind to look at their work and make sure their style suits you and your wedding too. Don’t let their personality overpower your decision- if you really liked their personality, but your gut feeling says their style won’t fit your wedding, go with that feeling.

Around the Web:

Site Directories are awesome. Some are free, some are paid, and some are based on client recommendations. More and more blogs and wedding sites are getting better and better vendor directories, which I love to see! Here are some of the sites that have directories providing some great vendors:

WeddingWire: Wedding Wire is the greatest. Previous clients are able to review their vendors on a scale of 1 to 5, and you can read these reviews to get an idea for what their past clients think of them. You can also see their website and a portfolio of their work. It’s a great place to go when searching for vendors!

Style Me Pretty Little Black Book: I know what you’re thinking- vendors on the SMP Little Black Book are going to be too expensive for your wedding. That’s what I thought too. But now that I’m in the industry, I can tell you that Little Black Book members are most likely NOT too pricey for your wedding. All LBB vendors are preapproved and hand-selected by the SMP crew, so you know that you’re going to have a great experience. And a cool thing is that you can view a vendor’s portfolio on the LBB too.

Wedding Chicks Vendor Directory: Along with having a great blog, Wedding Chicks has a great growing vendor directory. You can’t see a vendor’s portfolio, but if you follow the Wedding Chicks blog, you may see a post or two or million from the vendors in their directory.

EAD Vendor Guide: The Elizabeth Anne Designs Vendor Guide is awesome too. Vendors are listed by category, and then divided up according to the state. The EAD vendors are approved by the site, so it’s a pretty select list.

BestWeddingSites Vendors: Another great location-based vendor directory, starting with the state, and then more concise with vendor type.

Of course, I also have a list of vendors to love, so just ask me for a copy if you are interested.

Even I still use these resources when finding vendors that I haven’t already worked with, or when a bride comes to me with a particular vendor in mind. And if you have another great resource for finding vendors, please share, and I’ll add it to this list! More than anything, no matter how much planning you do, the majority of your wedding is going to be reflected by your vendors, and of course you want them to be great! So definitely search for your vendors and do your research on them. And if you don’t have time to do that…hire a wedding planner, and they can do the searching for you! 🙂

Wedding 101: Vendor Meetings

Ah, vendor meetings. You have to go to them when planning a wedding, there’s just no way around it (unless you’re from out of town and can get away with phone and Skype meetings). Here are a few tips to help you out for when you go to vendor meetings…

 

– Bring stuff. Stuff? Yes, stuff.  This includes photos, magazines, swatches, things that you’ve bought, etc etc. It will help the vendor know what kind of wedding you want. It’s hard to convey things in terms of words, especially when that thing is a vision that is in your head. It ALWAYS helps the vendor to be able to see what you like!

 

– Don’t bring a posse of people. You and your fiance or you and your mom (or whoever is helping you with decisions and/or paying) would be suggested. And if the person paying isn’t you and they’re always cutting down things that you want, don’t bring them to initial meetings.

 

– Schedule. Most all vendors keep schedules, and if they give you an available time it’s because that’s what they have available. I personally ask brides what days are better for them, and then find a time in my schedule to accommodate them, but some may have a set day and/or time when they schedule meetings. And keep in mind that if it’s wedding season, weekends are going to most likely be out of the question for a meting.

 

– Know what you want (as best you can). This ties in with the photos, but know why you are meeting with that vendor. And if you have no idea about what you might want, tell them truthfully so they can allow for their creative juices to flow and create something for you.

 

A few extra sidenotes:

If you don’t hear back from a vendor less than 12 hours after you’ve emailed them, don’t email again. We got it, but we do have to try to sleep and/or get work done.  If you call or email Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, please wait patiently for a response. We are working through the weekend .

All of these tips should help you be prepared for meeting with your vendors. It’s better to know than not to know, right?

100 Ways to Personalize Your Wedding

Prepare yourselves for 100 incredible hot tips on how to make your wedding stand out from the crowd. Too many weddings are same-y and unoriginal, and this Before the Big Day mega-list is your way to make sure your wedding doesn’t fall into the same trap. There’s tons of incredible wedding inspiration in this list, so do share the love and forward it to all your engaged friends. So…. what are you waiting for?…..Scroll on down for a wedding ideas overload!!

♥ Wedding Details  ♥

1. Think about what you love to do together and build that into your day. If you love to read, stack old hardback books on the tables to create mini-stands for your flowers, if you love chocolate {and who doesn’t} how about sending out Willy Wonka inspired ‘gold tickets’ as your wedding invites?

2. Turn the wedding day on its head. Instead of starting the day with the ceremony, have it in the evening before dinner. This way you get to greet all your guests, and you’ll feel much more relaxed as you walk down the aisle.

3. Put together ‘welcome packs’ for out of town guests, giving information on the area together with a little gift.


4. If your guests will have to walk from the ceremony to the reception, consider p roviding them each with a single colored helium filled balloon that matches your color scheme. The vision of dozens of balloons all ‘walking’ their way through a country lane or a town centre (great way to make sure your guests don’t get lost!) is fantastic and makes for great photos. Once all of your guests have arrived at the reception, you could have someone ready to arrange them into two rows for you to walk through and as you reach each guest, they release the balloon into the sky, again fantastic for your photo album!
5. Set up a craft area where guests can make something to take home (e.g. a brooch or bow tie).

6. Choose a signature cocktail and give it a memorable name.

7. If you’re having a Christmas wedding, ask each of your guests to bring an ornament for a Christmas tree. You’ll use them on your tree every year, and it’ll be a fantastic annual reminder of your wedding.

8. Consider alternatives to the traditional wedding car. Many brides are wanting something different. Consider a horse-n-carriage, a pedicab or maybe a boat, if you’re wedding is on the water.

9. Arrange family wedding photos, going back as far as you can, in vintage frames and display them at your ceremony or reception – it will provide a talking point for guests and create a lovely decorative feature.

10. Ask your guests to circle words in a dictionary to remind you of their wedding day. Then ask them to write a message on a bookmark to explain why they picked each word. You’ll always need a dictionary in your home, and you’ll cherish this one forever.

11. Rather than getting your guests to sign a traditional guest book, you could get them all to sign some pottery such as a large platter. This will give you a lovely and unusual keepsake of your day which you can display in your home afterwards.

12. Tuck handwritten notes into the napkins for your guests – write about your favorite memory together or simply tell them what they mean to you.

13. What is your favorite book or film? Could it work as the basis of a wedding theme? I’ve seen fantastic weddings themed around the film ‘Up’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or “The Secret Garden.”

14. Instead of a traditional guest book, you could leave a card and pen at everyone’s place setting, with each one having a different sentence to complete such as, love is…, top tips for a happy marriage, or asking them to jot down a favorite memory of you both.

15. Include your pets in your big day, either in person {doggy ring bearer?}, or as a motif on your menus? You could give dog-shaped chocolate wedding favors, or name your wedding tables after your pets.

♥ Wedding Favors ♥

16. Create personalised fortune tellers for each guest. Instead of telling fortunes, write them up with fun questions about you as a couple. Then on the back, print the menu.

17. Order can koozies for guest’s drinks. Include your name & wedding date along with a fun saying or picture.

Photo Credit: Photos By JKay

18. As an alternative to favors {which can become costly as the guest list rises}, donate to a charity which is close to your heart. Charities will often send pin badges and cards for each guest explaining that money has been donated in replacement of a favor.

19. Personalized button badges and old-fashioned 3D glasses make great favours, and fantastic photo props too!

20. Ask your florist to design the table centres with multiple mini vases which guests can then take away with them at the end of the night, so they double up as favors and a lovely memento of your wedding day.

21. If the two of you love cooking, then why not create a little pamphlet of your favorite recipes, as a wedding favor. Or a list of your favorite restaurants? You could add little notes like ‘This is where X proposed’.

22. Only invest in favors if you really love them. Guests will only remember the truly great ideas. To save money, how about making favors such as home-made jam or chocolate truffles? You can save money and have fun with your favourite ladies at the same time!

23. Give your guests fancy-dress favors. Stick-on moustaches and silly glasses will raise a laugh, and get your guests talking to each other.

24. Make your favours – bake cookies, make jam or brew up lemonade, and bottle it with personalised labels.

25. Horse shoe wedding favors represent how lucky you feel to have found each other, and every guest goes home a little luckier.

26. If you can’t get going without a cup of coffee in the morning, give each guest a mug containing a little bag of your favourite grind. This works for tea too. Ikea sells mugs for about a $1 each.

♥ Wedding Decorations 

27. Decorate your venue with hundreds of paper lanterns. They’re cheap and cheerful, and you can always sell them on after your wedding. If you tie in tiny LED lights, they’ll even glow after dark.

28. If you’re getting married on a farm or in the countryside, use straw bales as seats. If you cover them with old tablecloths, it’ll fit in with a vintage-themed wedding.

29. Using unusual containers for flowers, such as old fashioned bottles, jugs and glass jars, can add a lovely kitsch look and can be picked up for a bargain at charity shops.

30. Bright table cloths can make a real splash at your wedding reception. Choose a colour to contrast with the flowers and napkins.

31. Use fruit instead of flowers to decorate your wedding tables. Paper bags filled with cherries, or baskets filled with apples make a fantastic display, and your guests can either eat them, or take them home as favors.

32. Children’s blackboards are a great way to communicate with your guests. Write little messages like ‘Love is Sweet’ or ‘All You Need is Love’. You could also use a large one for the menu.

33. Have you considered getting married at night? You could say your vows by candlelight, and then lead your guests in for an evening reception.

34. Paper is a great way to decorate your wedding venue. Not only is it cheap, but it’s incredibly versatile. DIY your bunting, pompoms, and streamers. For tutorials, search the wedding blogs.

35. Christmas weddings can allow couples to be more creative with décor and centre pieces by using Christmas decorations in the shops and incorporating these into the day. Often with winter weddings, couples can spend less on flowers and maximise the offerings already in place in the venue.

36. Use ribbon or lace to decorate your ceremony and reception. Wrap ribbon around candles and napkins, or use it to decorate the aisle and tables.

♥ Wedding Flowers 

37. Instead of carrying a bouquet, ask your florist to make you a crown of flowers. It’ll give your wedding a pagan feel. Bridesmaids could be given corsages instead of bouquets in another twist on the norm.

38. Make use of your mother or grandmother’s jewellery by pinning it to your bouquet. It’ll make your posy so much more personal, dress it up and act as your something borrowed.
39. Instead of the usual fresh cut flowers, how about using herbs or unusual pot plants to make a nice arrangement. Guests can then take parts of your display home with them at the end of the day.

40. Make your bouquet personal to you by choosing a flower that has a special meaning.

41. If you’re worried that your wedding flower budget is getting out of control, keep things simple by just picking one cheap bloom. Clouds of carnations or baby’s breath look just as beautiful as more expensive mixed bouquets of roses and peonies.

42. Choose flowers that are in season to keep the cost down. If you have plenty of time and some garden space available you could even think about growing some garden style flowers yourself. Not only would they look lovely, but the garden would then be a fantastic reminder of your wedding day too.

43. What about an alternative wedding bouquet? I’ve seen them made from butterflies, buttons, paper, flowers created from coca-cola drinks cans, lollipops, parasols, and more…

44. Try to be clever with the decoration pieces that you are using for the wedding to maximise their use. Can the flowers be moved from the church and repositioned?

♥ Wedding Venues 

45. If your wedding is going to span the whole day, your guests will appreciate a separate space to the revelry, where they can relax for a while. Personalize this area by having a screen showing you and your partner’s favorite romantic movies.

46. Choose an unusual venue for your wedding – from steam trains to aquariums, there’s a world of choice out there for something completely different. Or you could hold your reception in a stylish restaurant for a sophisticated and unusual wedding celebration.

47. Consider a weekday or Sunday wedding. Venues often offer lower rates for these days and it may just enable you to afford that perfect venue that was previously just out of budget! Dont worry so much about people taking a day off work, those who love you will do it in a heartbeat.

48. If you’re worried about having to invite large amounts of family members, choose to have a destination wedding. It’ll immediately bring down the guest list to only your nearest and dearest.

49. Have the wedding in a local hall for a vintage, old-school feel. Dress the room with family and friend or you cut costs even further and go outdoors…providing blankets for people to sit on and have a wedding picnic.

50. For a truly unique wedding, the best setting is a dry hire venue – one where you literally just rent the four walls. You can then fill it with things you have chosen yourself – right down to the cutlery, meaning your day will be a true reflection of you and totally different to every other wedding. This type of wedding takes a lot more organization and shopping around, especially if you are on a tight budget, but is well worth the effort.

51. Consider making yours a winter wedding. Venues and suppliers often offer lower rates for off-peak weddings. Not only will you save money across a lot of areas, but you’re more likely to get a higher turn-out for your celebrations, when you’re not competing with the rush of summer weddings and holidays.

♥ Wedding Entertainment 

52. If you need a performer or an artist, why not call upon your local drama academy or art school. They will be much cheaper and they will so appreciate the opportunity.

53. If you want to have some unique touches at your wedding, allocate some money in your budget for it. There are a lot of things you could have, but do you really need a chocolate fountain, ice cream tricycle, caricaturist, magician, candy bar, fireworks and a photo booth? Just pick one!

54. To help break the ice at dinner, why not have your Best Man host a quiz about you both? Each table would work together as a team, and you could offer a prize for the winner.

55. Make the arrival of the wedding cake an event, by asking your caterers to turn down the lights and bring it in decorated with indoor fireworks. At our wedding, we even asked the DJ to play ‘Eye of the Tiger’!

56. Set up a guest photo booth with personalised props and/or boards for your guests to write messages to you on.

57. Instead of a DJ, get all your guests to choose 3 or 4 ‘floor fillers’ that they love and collate them into an iPod playlist. That way you can have purely music you love, and know everyone will enjoy.

58. To help introduce guests to one another and add an element of cheeky fun, write a short but funny ‘one liner’ about each guest on the back of their place card. People will then ask what their ‘one liner’ means and it works brilliantly at breaking the ice. Alternatively, if you have a group of friends on one table, they’ll all understand the little jokes and it really gets the atmosphere going.

♥ Wedding Food 

59. Maximise your wedding cake by incorporating this into your wedding breakfast and serve as dessert. If your venue is happy to allow this, you can save considerably per head. In addition to this, you could also ask the venue to ‘dress’ the plates so the cake is served with fresh berries and cream at a fraction of the standard dessert price. Cupcakes also work well for this option too!

60. Consider having your speeches during your reception when the champagne or prosecco is flowing.

61. Rather than having a traditional wedding cake you could decide to serve chocolates and your favorite drink as a night cap later on in the evening. You could also set up a tasting bar for guests to sample different varieties.

62. Dessert tables are a hugely popular trend right now. If your budget won’t stretch to having yours professionally catered, why not ask 4 or 5 friends who are handy in the kitchen to bake some goodies as your wedding present. You can then put your own DIY decoration skills to use to create a stunning – and much more personal – display.

63. Cocktails are actually cheaper than straight champagne. So choose a Bellini as your signature cocktail, and mix it with prosecco. No one will ever know the difference.

64. What’s your favorite late-night snack? Serve it at midnight to all your guests.

Photo Credit: Braedon Photography

65. Instead of having a traditional wedding cake, why not ask your guests to take part in a Cakey Bakey! Each guest can bring any type of cake, the more extravagant the better, and the bride and groom will judge the cakes on the day. They can then hand out awards/rosettes during the speeches and have different categories. The winning cake is then used as their cutting cake!

66. Food and beverage is a large percentage of your wedding budget, so if you’re struggling to cut down on guest numbers then why not have a later ceremony followed by an elegant black tie affair with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres instead of a 3 course sit down meal.

67. Keep it seasonal – from food to flowers, this will reduce your costs and ensure your wedding is in keeping with the weather and time of year. Hold a BBQ in the summer and have an open fire with marshmallows in the winter to make the most of your day.

68. Instead of a dessert or sweet table, you could have a fun DIY station to decorate your own cupcakes. There could be a variety of different and more usual flavours with a selection of icings and toppings.

♥ Wedding Ceremony Ideas 

69. As part of your wedding ceremony, seal love letters and a bottle of wine in a box. You could even hammer it closed! The idea is that if you’re having trouble in your marriage in the future, you can open it up and be reminded of what brought you together.

70. Write your own vows, keeping it relevant to your life together.

71. If you’ve got ring bearers, give them flags saying ‘Here Comes the Bride’, and encourage them to walk down the aisle ahead of you and your father. It’ll get everyone smiling, and take the focus off you a bit.

72. Not everyone gets married in a church, but you might want to create your own ‘alter’ as a focus for the wedding ceremony. There are tonnes of ways of doing this, from hanging multicoloured ribbons, or crepe paper, a gorgeous piece of fabric, or lots of paper pompoms. I’ve even seen it with birdcages and lanterns hanging from a tree. Anything to create a focal point.

73. If you’re not walking down a traditional aisle, why not create a circular, snail-shaped one. That way all your guests get a good look at you as you walk down the aisle, and you’ll say your vows in the centre of all your friends and family.

74. Create a fun and unique ceremony procession. Walk down the aisle to one of your modern favorites then mix up the running order a bit so guests are left surprised and stunned!

75. If you already have children try to involve them in the ceremony. Many ministers or JOP’s can adapt your wedding ceremony to include a blessing for you all becoming a family as well as the marriage. You may find that they will include this in the price too!


♥ Wedding Stationery 
76. I love seeing personal touches at weddings so how about making your own invitations and hand writing them? The hand written word is very rare nowadays and your guests would really appreciate the personal touch – and you might even save some money in the process!
77. Have an engagement shoot and use the photos for your ‘Save the Date’ cards and/or table numbers
78. Toss out traditional save-the-dates and create a home made video with information on your upcoming wedding. Send a DVD to each prospective guest.

79. Your wedding stationery sets the tone of the day, but unique creations are rarely economical. You could look at creating a ‘wedsite’ instead – a totally personalised wedding website which allows you to send your invitations, track your RSVPs and gift list as well as keep guests informed of the travel and accommodation details. Not only will you save money, but you’ll get extra environmental kudos for going green!

80. Think outside the box for how you print your wedding stationery. Why use paper, when you could use plywood, fabric or even balloons {the invitation appears as you blow up the balloon}. Some of my favorite Save the Dates have come printed on magnets.

♥ Wedding Budgeting Tips 

81. Budget! Budget! Budget! Budgeting may be the least fun, and most difficult part of planning to face, but budgeting early and honestly will mean you steer clear of exposing yourself to ideas you can’t afford. Establishing a sound budget that reflects what is most important to you as a couple will ensure you get the most out of every penny you spend!  (See: Let’s Talk Budget)

82. Let your guests send you packing with honeymoney. Honeymoon gift list sites can be a smart way to have guests contribute to your honeymoon fun. This can save you money on what could be a very pricey trip, but you can also personalise your web page and have your guests contribute to different parts of your trip, making this more unique.  (See: Alternative Gift Registries)

83. It’s the personal touches that can make a wedding unique, so why not think about a workshop activity for your friends to do. You could have a fantastic afternoon learning how to arrange flowers or make stationery and then put your new skills to good use for your wedding.

84. Hire a planner! Most brides think that they cost the earth, but we save you time, money and stress as well as working with you to make your wedding day unique and ensure that it’s about what you want rather than what your family think you should have!

85. Beg, borrow or steal (ok maybe not steal!). Bridesmaids and friends may have already been married and may have anything from a veil or tiara, to something more unusual or unique that you could ask to use on your day.

86. Hire Don’t Buy. It’s possible to hire beautiful pieces to create unique and quirky decorations, for much less money that it would cost if you bought them yourself. Vintage china looks great for a relaxed tea party theme.

87. Search online for the cheapest suppliers. We found tissue paper for our DIY pompoms for a fraction of the price on eBay, and large round white balloons for much less too.

88. Use your friends’ talents. Think about any skills your friends might have, from being creative and crafty, having beautiful handwriting, floristry skills, or handy with make-up; you could put these skills to  good use you save on otherwise expensive suppliers. This also adds a unique and personal touch to your day.

89. If your church ceremony is followed by another wedding, discuss with the bride whether it is possible to share flower costs and rental for other props etc.

90. Instead of buying expensive thank you gifts for parents, attendants and so on you could buy some lovely food and wine and host a dinner party to thank them instead.

91. Ask your caterers to use only local ingredients from local suppliers when creating your menu. You will find that sourcing food locally cuts down on the cost.
♥ Ideas for the Groom & Ushers 

92. Don’t just match the ushers ties, buy them matching socks. It makes for fantastic pictures.

93. Sew a message into the inside of your husband’s jacket. He won’t see it till he’s getting ready, and it’ll be a lovely way to get a message to him before you walk down the aisle.

94. Write on the soles of your husband’s shoes. If you’re having a church service, when he kneels down for the blessing, the congregation will be able to see your message.

95. Don’t forget to remind your ushers to decorate your going-away car. Tin cans and an old boot are traditional, but ribbons and pom poms are the new fashion. You’ll need a Just Married sign too.

♥ Wedding Dress & Accessories 

96. Don’t buy ‘wedding’ shoes. There are lots of companies that supply shoes specifically for weddings. Why not choose a pair from the high street? They’ll be less expensive and you could choose a unique colour to match your theme. Who says your shoes have to match your dress?!

97. Don’t buy a wedding dress. If you’re looking for a really simple gown, then you might just find a white dress for a fraction of the price. Remember the word ‘wedding’ often adds 15% to the price. Also, consider buying your wedding dress second-hand, or from a sample sale. There’s plenty of websites out there, just google ‘second hand wedding dresses’. Get in touch with your favourite designer and ask them when they host their sample sale, or wait until just after Christmas when everyone reduces their prices.

98. Line your wedding shoes with a pattern that fits in with your wedding day. Or stick lucky pennies to the soles. 

99. If you’re a creative bride (or have creative friends!) consider buying your dress ‘off the rack’ and customising it yourself. Adding a few special touches can make your dress unique without breaking the budget.
100. Challenge the norm by wearing a non-white wedding dress. Soft blush and pastel shades are in fashion this season, and there’s a suggestion soft patterns might be in trend for 2013!  Go on, I dare you!

Let’s Talk Budget

Some couples have no idea what to expect when they’re planning their wedding. Yes, you have the lists and recommendations, but those things still don’t prepare you for what you about to embark upon. One of the most important things you MUST take care of first  (remember this post: 5 Things To Do First), you MUST set a budget!

According to CreditSesame.com, the average cost of a wedding this year is nearly $27,000 and that doesn’t include the honeymoon!!! I don’t know about you, but that’s more that what my car is worth! And all that money is going towards ONE day… less than 24 hours!

Every wedding needs to have a budget. Even those really ridiculously expensive weddings have a budget, it’s just really ridiculously huge. If your thought process is that you don’t have a budget, you do, you just don’t know it yet. Try to get a ballpark range of the maximum amount that you would like to spend. To do this, you want to look at the things that take up the majority of a wedding’s budget:

  • Food
  • Venue
  • Photography
  • Decor
Food and Venue: These two things are most likely combined if you are having your reception at a traditional wedding venue. However, if you’re having your reception at your parents’ house, you may not immediately think about the need for tables, chairs, and linens on top of needing a caterer. The food and venue for a wedding will usually comprise approximately 30-50% of the budget.

Image by Richard Bell Photography

Photography: With photography, you get what you pay for. It’s that simple. Photographers do so much more work than just those 8 hours on your wedding day. They spend hours editing your photos, making sure they all look PERFECT! So when you’re looking at pricing packages of photographers, keep in mind that you’re also paying for the many, many (up to 20-30) hours that they take to make your photos look amazing. The quality of the service that you receive will indeed reflect the amount that you pay. (Tips When Picking A Photographer!)

Decor: Decor can mean different things to you depending on the type of wedding that you want to have. Just about every wedding will need bouquets and boutonnieres, although there have been more non-floral substitutes popping up nowadays! (My girls carried parasols inside of bouquets) Then there are centerpieces for the tables, and decor for the ceremony if needed. Once again, you get what you pay for. If you want a huge, tall floral centerpiece, you’re going to be spending more money than if you have a small low centerpiece. Decor also includes lighting (which makes a HUGE difference in any space) and draping, which surprisingly isn’t too high cost. Anything that you can think of to create the “look” of your wedding would be included in the decor.

Courtesy: Jaime Windon

With all of these elements considered, you can then decide which one means the most to you. If you would rather have great photography and a backyard barbeque reception, then you can allot more of your budget to photography and less to food. Whatever is more important to you and your fiance, budget more for that particular element!

So first things first, establish your budget. I know it’s such an awful word with a negative connotation, but believe me, you will be thankful to have a set number as your guide.

BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Reception-Venue & Food: 50%

Photography & Videography: 15%

Florals & Decor: 15% (Sometimes part of this budget is included in the reception budget, depending on your linens and rentals)

Entertainment: 5%

Paper goods: 5%

Miscellaneous: 10%

Note: These things are by no means ALL of what is needed for a wedding or what is required, but they are a good starting point and rule of thumb. Please also refer to other budget recommendations to determine the perfect budget formula for you and your wedding.