Archive for April, 2009

How you can cut costs while keeping it a special day

Weddings are expensive. Although formal data on the cost of saying “I do” is scarce, the cost often is $20,000 or more.

The Bridal Association of America, for example, estimates that in 2009, weddings will cost an average $30,860.

If you’re a bride- or groom-to-be, those numbers can seem especially scary in a recession. According to a survey in March by wedding Web site, 40 percent of brides said they have trimmed their wedding budgets, by an average of 16 percent.

But if you’re looking to cut back, where do you get the biggest bang for your buck? After all, there are lots of expenses you can eliminate, from the chocolate fondue bar to themed wedding favors. Here are five ways to save recommended by wedding planners:

Cut the guest list

One way to reduce wedding costs is to invite fewer people. The tab per person easily will make up half of your budget, said Ali Phillips, owner of Engaging Events by Ali in Chicago.

“Looking at your guest list is really important,” she said.

A smaller guest list not only saves you on food and beverage costs, but also reduces the number of tables and chairs, centerpieces and favors you’ll need. Even your wedding cake, which generally runs $5 to $8 per person, will be cheaper. The snowball effect is substantial.

Get hitched in the morning

Hosting a wedding reception during the morning or afternoon can significantly reduce the cost you spend per person, a good alternative if you can’t bring yourself to cut the guest list.

“You’ll save almost 25 percent to 30 percent of your food and beverage budget,” Phillips said, who notes that she has seen a trend toward luncheon weddings lately.

In addition, many venues charge a lower fee for daytime receptions. In Chicago, for example, the venue fee for an evening wedding ranges from $4,000 to $8,000, said Marcia Hemphill, president of An Urban Affair in Chicago.

Because daytime weddings typically are shorter in length — four hours compared with six to eight hours at night — you may pay half the price.

Change venues

You also can save if you skip traditional spaces, such as a hotel ballroom, and host your reception at a restaurant, Hemphill said.

She said that venues such as a local restaurant tend to be more flexible and may be willing to negotiate deals. “There’s not as much red tape,” she said.

Make your own wedding album

Wedding planners say a good photographer is worth the money. But instead of paying one $800 or more to create an album for you, opt to make the album yourself.

“Have your photographer put all your wedding images on a hi-res disc,” Lauren Paige, founder of Lauren Paige Associates in Middletown, N.Y., wrote in an e-mail.

“There are many places online where you can get a professional-looking wedding album or print your images for less.”

You also could negotiate with your photographer and ask to have an album, say, a year after the wedding, when your pocketbook has had time to recover.

Get creative

Even after the biggest expenses are pared down, wedding planners say there are myriad other ways to cut your budget:

On flowers, ask your florist which flowers will be in season at the time of your wedding. Flowers that are in-season cost less.

When it comes to wedding gowns, it’s possible to find designer gowns for a fraction of retail price if you shop strategically.

For example, some bridal shops sell off-the-rack dresses, many of which are discontinued samples or overstock from designers, bringing down the price. (Off-the-rack means you purchase the gown at the store, rather than order it from a catalog.)

Finally, does etiquette require that you send your guests home with a favor at the end of the night?

“Not at all,” Phillips said. “That’s a tradition we’ve all created. It’s perfectly fine to do without.”


The Washington Post Do I have to give a gift on the registry? How do I trim the guest list without hurting feelings? Can we send our invitations by e-mail? Anna Post, great-great- granddaughter of Emily Post and author of Do I Have to Wear White? Emily Post Answers America’s Top Wedding Questions (Collins Living, $14.99), took questions from brides, grooms and guests on navigating weddings with grace and good manners. Excerpts are below.

Question: My cousin is having a weekday destination wedding. I would have to take a week off work to travel, attend the ceremony and travel home. I believe in this situation the bride and groom must expect that many guests won’t attend, but other family members feel declining will cause hurt feelings. Is it rude of me to decline the invitation?

Answer: No, it’s not rude to be unable (for reasons of vacation time or finances) to attend a destination wedding. Do send a gift though, even if you can’t make it.

Q: We plan to not have kids at our wedding reception. My family does not like the idea. Am I right for not wanting kids there even if one of them is my 18-month-old niece?

A: It’s up to the couple and the hosts (as in, those paying, such as parents) to decide about kids or no kids at the wedding. So yes, it’s up to you. But you may have to smooth some ruffled feathers, or lose some guests who can’t find child care. And be sure not to make exceptions – it’s not fair to those who do find child care.

Q: We’ve been in several of our friends’ weddings; does that mean they should be in ours? Is it OK to not have a formal wedding party of bridesmaids and groomsmen?

A: Your guest list is your own to create; you don’t have to invite all the couples whose weddings you were in. That said, if you were in their wedding, you are likely close, and it may make sense. But base your answer on genuine affection for these couples, not obligation.

It’s just fine to forgo bridesmaids and groomsmen if you don’t wish to have them.

Q: My daughter insists that, according to etiquette, the parents of her attendants need to be invited to the wedding. Is that true?

A: There is no point of etiquette requiring the parents of a couple’s attendants to attend. In the case that they are family friends, you might then consider them, but because they are family friends, not because their child is in your daughter’s wedding.

Q: As the father of the groom, I understand my roles to be the three “ups” – dress up, show up, shut up. Are there any other particular roles or functions that I have besides sharing the joy of our son and new daughter-in-law?

A: The first two are musts, but I think we all know the third one is just for humor. The best thing to do is to ask your son and his bride if there is anything beyond having fun that they would like you to do. It’s possible they might ask you do give a reading or be ready to dance with the bride after she dances with her father (not required, but not uncommon).

If you and your wife are hosting the rehearsal dinner, you should discuss whether you will be giving a toast that evening as host (also common).

Q: Is it weird if I don’t invite co-workers who know about the wedding? What’s the etiquette for colleagues?

A: It’s OK not to invite co-workers, even if they know you are getting married.

If there are some people from work whom you would like to invite, treat them as friends and send the invitation to their home address (it’s OK to ask for that), and don’t discuss the wedding in front of those not invited.

The Washington Post| Source

‘Even if I had loads of money, I’d come here. I actually believe in recycling and using stuff that has been used before,’ says bride-to-be Dorothy Fletcher as she is helped by shop assistant Kayoko Yanagisawa to try on a cut-price bridal gown at Oxfam, George’s Street, Dublin

Saying ‘I do’ needn’t cost you a fortune – there are plenty of ways you can save money while still having a truly memorable day, writes FIONA McCANN

‘I’M A TYPICAL recession bride,” laughs Dorothy Fletcher as she twirls in front of the large gilt mirror in Oxfam Ireland’s bridal shop, stunning in a beaded dress with a €50 price tag.

Fletcher, who recently returned from the US and has just started up her own business, says she can’t afford a lavish wedding, but that hasn’t stopped her from making her dream come true. The budget for her wedding to her Scottish fiance Colin, is set at €7,000, and so far the two have managed to keep things more or less within their set budget.

It’s a far cry from the 1.5 million tag on the boom-time wedding of developer Seán Dunne and columnist Gayle Killilea, but Fletcher has no interest in ostentation, or indeed in little extras like hiring out Aristotle Onassis’s yacht, the Cristina.

“Even if I had loads of money, I’d come here,” she says as she flicks through the rails and rails of cut-price dresses in Oxfam. “I actually believe in recycling and using stuff that has been used before.”

This may be her intention, but over 75 per cent of the dresses before her, which range in size from an eight to a 30 and from €50 to €450 in price, have never even been worn before, having been donated from boutiques and shops around the country.

Fletcher’s one of a new breed of budget brides finding ways to tie the knot without yoking themselves to a lifetime of debt in the process.

According to Solene Rapinel, manager at the Oxfam store in George’s Street, Dublin, which stocks their bridal range, the numbers of brides-to-be finding their way to its trove of white taffeta have been increasing in recent months. “People are definitely not willing to pay as much as they did before for their wedding dresses.”

Oxfam has some 150 dresses to choose from, and new frocks are added every month to keep the collection current. And while donations continue to come in, from boutiques, bridal shops and former brides giving their one-day-only dresses away for a good cause, the supply barely meets the boom in demand. “We really need more stock because they fly out,” says Rapinel.

Viewing is by appointment only, but the bridal shop is booked up until May for weekend appointments, and already boasts a lengthy waiting list of bargain-hunting brides. As well as the obvious benefits to their bank balances, those who shop there also get a clean conscience into the bargain.

“If you buy your wedding dress here at the average price of €250 to €300, it means two families get a goat for the father, a vegetable garden for the mother, and school books and musical instruments for the children,” explains Rapinel. “So you make your family happy and two other families happy too.” Even putting the dress on hold for a mere €10 provides water to three families.

Tiaras, veils, shoes and shawls are also available, with a selection of bridesmaid’s dresses in varying styles, sizes and colours ensuring the full wedding party can be kitted out for bargain prices.

Except, alas, for the menfolk involved. “If we had donations for the grooms, we’d be very happy to sell them.”

THERE’S NO NEED to stop at the dress. Costs can be cut in all manner of ways that will remain largely invisible to guests, and canny couples are taking note. For example, venues are often the biggest outlay for a wedding party.

“People are reducing certain aspects that would have been considered discretionary in recent years,” points out Richie Huggard, conference and events sales manager at Dublin’s Burlington Hotel. According to Huggard, add-ons like chair covers and centrepieces can easily be lopped off the list and have an immediate effect on the potential outlay.

“There is a notable drop in expenditure,” says Huggard, who recalls the days when bridezillas roamed the earth. Having also worked on weddings in Slane Castle, Huggard recalls one flathulach fiancee requesting that the walls of the castle be repainted in the colours of her bridesmaid dress to ensure they blended in with the surroundings, allowing her to stand out.

Such days – and such demands – are well and truly a thing of the past, and venues are now offering more basic wedding packages that exclude such extras as matching walls or Onassis yachts.

“There’s your basic package, plus all the other options, like the rose petals flying from the ceiling and the balloons and lavish centrepieces on the tables,” Huggard points out, adding that choosing the simpler option doesn’t have to affect the festivities.

“At the end of the day the guests don’t leave a wedding saying ‘We had a great time, but they didn’t have any chair covers or ‘We had a great time but did you see the state of the centrepieces?’”

Besides, the new breed of bride is cannier than her Celtic Tiger counterpart, according to wedding planner Rosemary Muleady of

“Nobody wants a budget wedding,” says Muleady. “They still want the wedding that they’ve always dreamed of, but brides are more savvy nowadays and are looking for more for their buck.”

The tightening bridal belts are taking their toll on the wedding industry, however. “A lot of suppliers with bookings this summer were already booked from last year,” explains Muleady. “It has gone very quiet this year for bookings.”

Yet lack of lolly need not stand in the way of love, and Muleady has plenty of advice for those who long for the big day without the big spend.

“Set a budget and shop around,” she says. “Find a photographer who offers disc-only packages and then you can do the album yourself. Choose flowers that are in season rather than out of season, because they cost a lot more to import.”

Fletcher, who still has a year to go before her big day, has her own ideas about how to keep within budget. “I’m going to get hair extensions and try and do my own hair: we’ll just practice as the year goes on,” she says.

“And I already have sandals so I’m not going to spend money on shoes. If I’m in a long dress that’s flowing, they won’t even be seen.”

AS WELL AS the various other “dos” recommended by planners and brides – like hiring bridesmaid dresses, or setting up a website instead of sending out invitations – Muleady has plenty of “don’ts” for those setting out on the path to nuptial bliss.

“Don’t take out loans,” she cautions, advising couples to save for their weddings in credit crunching times. And don’t expect to get your outlay back in presents either. “Don’t rely on money gifts to pay for your wedding, because you can still get your five toasters, especially with people cutting back due to the recession.”

Finally, worried wedders should not be confused by the dos and the don’ts. Don’t forget that the big day is less about the fancy do and more about the “I do”.

Buying the knot: Six ways to cut costs on your big day

  1. Venues Shop around for venues, and bargain hard. The days when the word “wedding” would add 20 per cent to the cost of a party are gone. Bookings are down, and it’s a bride’s market out there.
  2. Dresses Try charity shops for bargain dresses, and consider hiring the bridesmaid dresses. But don’t think you’re saving by buying online – you’ll still be charged duty if the dresses are spotted by customs officials.
  3. Stationery The cost of invitations can really add up, and aren’t that ecologically sound after all. Websites are one way to go, with instructions, details, and RSVPs all available at the click of a mouse.
  4. Flowers Choose flowers that are in season to avoid the heavy cost of importing. If you feel enterprising, you can even make your own bouquets, though getting out of bed early to visit flower markets as they open is required.
  5. Photographs/videos Choose a disc-only package to save on a wedding album, or get your friends to take snaps of the day and send them on.
  6. Rings Go directly to suppliers, says Fletcher. “I can get an 18 carat white gold ring for €159 at the supplier, and they’re €300 at the shops.”


For many brides, their wedding day is something they’ve dreamed of since they were little girls and first heard the concept of Prince Charming.

Only two words could describe how the invitations, flowers, decorations and dresses must look on a bride’s wedding day: just so.

But while some obsess over replicating the grand fairy tale dreams of their youth, others realize that making some practical cuts when planning ahead can ease the potential for stress on their special day.

“I think that the bride can have her dream wedding, but she needs to be realistic,” said Lindsay Bennett, 31, a wedding coordinator and owner of It’s All N the Presentation.

In Bennett’s experience, the brides who give themselves enough time to plan and are willing to compromise on some aspects, are the ones who seem to have the best times at their weddings.

“Trying to make sure everyone is happy will exhaust you,” she said, and added that this can happen more often when bridal parties are larger.

She said when there’s 12 or 14 different friends – all of whom the bride might genuinely care about – that’s a lot of opinions that a woman feels obligated to consider.

“The bigger party they have, the more involved the planning will be. I don’t think brides really understand until they get into it,” she said.

Wrangling large bridal parties and lots of opinions isn’t only frustrating for the bride. It can also make things more difficult for wedding vendors. They are getting paid for their services, but most still want to provide an unforgettable experience for the bride and groom.

“I think the main pitfall can be not sticking with one idea,” said Tareeca McKee, 62, owner of Sylvia’s Flowers in Groves.

She said when too many people are involved, a bride can get overwhelmed and shuffles through concepts without feeling tied to any of them.

“It’s cliche, but I’ve always said less is more,” said Bennett.

McKee agreed. She said the most elegant wedding she’s ever done cost almost no money.

“The bride used baby’s breath everywhere, on the aisles and everything. It looked beautiful and elegant. Like a fairy land,” she said.

The bride, McKee said, got the idea from a picture in a magazine and brought it with her to order her flowers, which is something McKee recommends.

“We always tell brides during consultations to look at a lot of magazines, but only bring in one or two ideas,” she said. “That way, there’s very little chance of indecision.”

According to Beaumont-based wedding photographer Emily Lockard, 23, furnishing the photographer with a list of the bridal party ahead of time is another way to be more efficient. It speeds up the process of formal pictures after the ceremony and helps ensure that the priority shots are taken.

“Some think it’s not effective, but it helps because I can at least learn the names of who to call on for the different pictures. That way, the couple can get to the reception quicker,” she said.

Lockard also said it’s important to let the photographer know if the venue has any specific rules regarding photography. For instance, she said many Catholic churches do not allow flashes during a ceremony.

And then there’s the budgeting aspect of weddings.

Bennett said laying clear expectations for what is affordable ahead of time can save on disappointment.

“People don’t always know that this can get expensive,” Lockard said about wedding photography. It’s not only the time she spends shooting a wedding that a client pays for, but also the about 40 hours of editing after the fact.

Bennett also said that many brides can fixate on having every possible tradition represented, especially when it comes to the wedding reception.

“Sometimes, depending on your age group, you might not want to do the bouquet toss,” she said.

On a number of occasions, Bennett has had to drag guests on to the floor so a bridesmaid isn’t waiting for the bouquet toss alone.

“I just think that’s one of those traditions that can totally die down and be OK,” she said.

However she said that some traditions are fun and easy to include.

“Something borrowed, something blue – a lot of girls have fun with that,” she said.

Local wedding coordinator Lindsay Bennett is full of good advice if you’re getting hitched. Here are a few of her tips:

– If you get invited to multiple showers and the wedding, you don’t have to bring a gift to every one. One nice gift at one of the events will suffice.

– For outdoor weddings in the summer, or early fall, make sure you have fans or air conditioned tents. If it’s the winter or early spring have heaters.

“The weather in Southeast Texas is the worst thing to fight when it comes to planning an outdoor wedding,” said Bennett.

– Allow toasts at the rehearsal dinner, but not the reception. If someone goes on too long or tells an inappropriate story, the audiences at the former are generally smaller and more forgiving.

– “Never give a toast if you’ve had too much to drink,” said Bennett. “That never works out well.”

Wedding trends for 2009

Apr 6, 2009 Author: John | Filed under: General Wedding Articles, In the News

By Nicole Warburton

Vintage. Romantic. Green. Individual.

Those are some of the words you might hear this wedding season as couples choose to make their nuptial celebrations more personalized, yet simple.

Colors are rich and earthy, with blues, browns and even jewel tones being used for table linens and bridesmaid dresses. Instead of bright Gerber daisies, brides are opting for more subdued flower hues.

And wedding and receptions sites are becoming more creative. It’s not all about the catered hall anymore. Some couples are going to music clubs, or even a local farmhouse to throw their wedding party.

“Everyone wants their wedding to be unique and to showcase them as a couple,” said Chelsie Crane with Ruby Avenue Events, a wedding and event design company that serves the Wasatch Front.

From Crane’s perspective, one of the top trends this season is for brides to “go green” with their wedding celebrations. That could mean choosing recycled invitations or creating a menu with locally grown or organic items.

Other trends include using fun patterned fabrics, monograms and unique touches to customize a wedding, according to Crane.

Her advice is for couples to not be afraid to break out of the traditional mold for receptions. A wedding should be a celebration, she said.

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“There’s a lot you can do besides stand in a line and shake hands,” Crane said. “A wedding should be an event where you have the time of your lives.”

Likewise, Emma Harris and Raelynn Johnson with Modern Display say brides and grooms shouldn’t be afraid to design the wedding of their dreams — even if they’re on a budget.

When meeting with couples, both Harris and Johnson will ask the prospective bride or groom to describe their dream event. They will then offer ideas and examples to help the bride and groom plan.

One idea is for couples to forego a traditional wedding cake and instead serve a “favor” cake with small boxes of chocolates or other treats guests can take with them.

Other ideas include using fewer flowers on table settings and instead displaying one or two flowers in a unique vase or jar.

Harris said she believes one of the top trends this season is the desire to create a romantic feeling at a reception and wedding. As a result, styles are becoming more vintage and old-fashioned, with wedding dresses that are no longer the traditional white and flower colors and linens that are more sophisticated, Johnson said.

Either way, both Johnson and Harris believe a couple can have the wedding they always dreamed of. The key is to be flexible and open-minded to different ideas.

“There are a lot of small touches that add a lot,” Harris said.

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