Recently, close friends of mine completed two days of ceremonial bliss at an unbelievably low cost. They held both the rehearsal dinner and the reception at the location of the wedding. This couple had unforgettable fun in creating eclectic fare for their reception. The serving tables were draped with linen-like cloths and covered with large tin serving pieces of their favorite foods including Zapp's potato chips, which they ordered by the case at an affordable price.
The couple invited guests to make their own boxes of delicious treats including custom-made fortune cookies complete with fortunes "telling" the news of the couple and their special day. They purchased the cookie favors for about $50 per 300. The creative minds also thought of engaging the services of their favorite local waiter to serve and manage the reception; his current studies at a culinary institute added a professional flair.
How does a couple turn memorable into manageable—specifically, financially manageable? Wedding costs can easily equal the cost of a new car or a significant down payment on a first home under unrealistic demands, expectations of family and a social agenda that drives the cost beyond the focus of what the ceremony is really about: the couple. Is this level of cost really worth it? Probably not. Just use a bit of creativity to make a wedding special.
The location holds the key to setting the atmosphere of the wedding. You can exchange vows at a church, a chapel, a museum, a romantic inn, a beach, or the beautiful backyard or flower garden of family or friends. The choices are limited only by availability, geographical ease and cost. Since the wedding ceremony site logically serves as the rehearsal site, having the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception at this same location can prove to be a cost saver, and you can carry your plans through with logistical ease. The cost of time and travel is a real consideration in making the day before and the wedding day less stressful and more enjoyable.
The time of day for the ceremony is a major consideration when pricing out a wedding and the reception that follows. If you have a late-morning or high-noon wedding, then the reception expectations will be that of a "luncheon." Lighter fare will not blend well with more formal ceremony times, such as an evening wedding. Afternoon weddings require less at the reception.
Whatever the time of the ceremony, keep in mind that the reception menu is at the discretion of the bride and groom, with the "helpful" considerations of family and close friends. Once the menu is planned, graciously accept the help of family and friends. Most of the reception food can be made ahead of time with a little imagination and help. This holds true for the rehearsal dinner as well. Well-planned menus can be elegant and delicious and do not have to include fish flown in from the East Coast! (Think Zapp's.)
How do you inexpensively navigate the wedding waters of bridesmaids' dresses, flowers and decorations without pushing the purse to a popping point? Many brides look online and at local consignment stores for beauty at a bargain, and most are successful if they take enough time to find their dream dresses. The same goes for finding clothes for the rest of the wedding party.
Pre-wedding bridal parties were once reserved for making rice bags; now, these gatherings can create decorations for the ceremony and reception.
My fortune-cookie-loving friends held a pre-wedding party to complete the bridesmaids' bouquets, floral arrangements for the reception, floral pew markers, and reception-table decorations at a family-centered party that was both fun and productive. The bride had purchased gorgeous silk flowers (almost real) online as well as battery-lighted cherry blossom branches. To complete the Japanese theme, they filled tall, glass containers with translucent stones, orchids and the lighted branches. At the reception, Japanese lanterns were strategically, yet gracefully, strewn about to create a soft and elegant effect. The couple purchased all the decorations locally at a dollar store or online.
The most beautiful floral work was that of the bride's bouquet. Filled with silk flowers, bought online, the bouquet was exquisitely constructed by a local florist, all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional fresh-flower bouquet.
The final goodbye from the bride and groom can long be remembered as classic if the couple rides off into the sunset in a lovely sedan. Borrow or rent a classic car from a friend or an acquaintance. You can make the trade back to your not-so-classic car down the road in the shopping-mall parking lot.
What about all the wonderful, inexpensive wedding things you have bought? You don't need to put it in the attic; just take wonderful pictures of the placement of all of everything at the wedding ceremony and reception, and put it online for sale as a great and complete wedding bundle.
Use the money you just earned from your own wedding, and take a trip to a great bed and breakfast for your first wedding anniversary.
Don't forget to take that piece of frozen wedding cake along, and do not feel bad if you throw it out the window; a good burger and fries will taste better.
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