The adage proved true for my wedding: If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. It wasn't necessarily that I thought no one else could do a better job. It was simply a matter of budget.
While we were engaged, my now-husband Anthony Knight and I spent a lot of time together walking in the park. It was often for exercise, but it became an opportunity for us to talk about what we wanted our wedding to be like. Our ideas differed, but not greatly. We definitely wanted our guests to experience good music and food, and hosting a nice and elegant event was imperative.
For me, "nice and elegant" encompassed a lot. I wanted calligraphy, lined envelopes, fresh flowers and two gowns. But after establishing a comfortable budget, these items seemed out of reach. I had to decide if I would go without these elements or find a way to get them for less. I've always been one to hunt for a good deal, so the decision was easy to make.
My first challenge was invitations, which, for me, really set the tone for a wedding, signaling what type of event the wedding will be. To get the message across accurately, I wanted high-quality paper with a contrasting envelope liner. Calligraphy was also essential. Research showed that my dream invitations would cost roughly $10 an envelope—and for 100 guests, that would have inflated our budget. I rolled up my sleeves and started to investigate other options.
After finding a local printing company that quoted an excellent price for linen invitations and envelopes, much of my problem was solved. I even provided the company with the font name and size to achieve the exact look I wanted. While the company provided matching linen envelopes, they didn't offer any lined envelopes. Who cares, right? Well, I did. At that point, I started my first DIY project.
After searching YouTube for envelope-liner tutorials, I found one that was easy to replicate. I selected a ruby-red linen paper from a local craft store to offer a nice contrast to my classic black-and-white invitations. I cut and glued until they were all complete.
Next, I searched for a calligrapher. I entertained the idea of learning calligraphy, but I knew it would take too long to master. I also considered other ideas, such as having the addresses printed on a computer printer. But calligraphy was on my priority list, and I wasn't willing to budge.
After a diligent online search, I found a local calligrapher who was reasonably priced (less than half the price of others I found). She also offered various types of calligraphy from which to choose and provided excellent service.
Having our return address done in calligraphy was not a viable option, so instead I looked for a unique way of printing it. I saw embossing on an envelope during an earlier search and loved the idea. I located a company online that sells embossers and, after searching for a coupon code, I bought the embosser for half its retail price. The company customized it with our address, and I embossed the envelopes myself.
After successfully getting the invitations I wanted for a fraction of their initial estimate, I was ready to take on my coveted flowers. Because they are so beautiful and add such a nice, personal touch to any wedding and reception, I was determined to have fresh flowers. These natural beauties, though, are not cheap. They can cost thousands of dollars for even small weddings.
I decided I would order flowers from a bulk floral retailer online. Arranging flowers was not foreign to me since I buy them often. But shopping online for flowers was scary. I was concerned about reliability and didn't know what to expect. I eventually ordered 250 roses from a reputable and well-established company.
The roses were beautiful, but arranging 250 roses is no small feat. Thankfully, I had a lot of help. My family and I had to de-thorn and cut every single rose (whew!). My sister-in-law was the ringleader, because she was most knowledgeable about making corsages, boutonnieres and bouquets. Without the many hands that assisted, I don't think we could have completed the task in time for the wedding. The finished result was indeed exquisite.
I'm a chameleon. I love change and variety. Wearing two dresses was ideal, but not practical. Instead, I chose a simple dress that could be styled in two different ways. For the ceremony, I purchased a fitted lace, 3/4-sleeve jacket to top my white satin, strapless A-line gown. The jacket was intricate and modest, with white satin buttons down the back.
To transition my look from the ceremony to the reception, I decided to forego the jacket and added a beaded sash. While beaded sashes can be a beautiful complement to a simple dress, they can also be expensive. After buying beaded appliques I found on clearance at a craft store, I knew this was an easy DIY project. I adhered the beaded appliques to white satin ribbon, and voila—it was the right amount of sparkle I needed for the reception, and I felt truly beautiful.
Planning a wedding is stressful, and doing so on a tight budget can prove to be an even greater challenge. It is possible to have the beautiful wedding you envision without dumping your savings. Shopping around takes effort, but the end result is well worth it. Even though I cut corners everywhere I could, my husband and I got the beautiful wedding that we discussed on those long walks together.
Wedding planner: Bride
Day-of planner/coordinator: Melanie Brown
Officiant: Eugene Thomas
Reception location: Country Club of Canton (183 Country Club Road, Canton, 601-859-1722)
Groom's and groomsmen's attire: Men's Wearhouse (1039 E. County Line Road, Suite 103, 601-977-0188)
Bride's attire: Target.com and TulipBridal.com
Caterer: Ruth Hill Catering (601-502-7813)
Florist: Sam's Club Bulk Flowers (samsclub.com)
Cake(s): Dream Cakes MS (1006 Top St., Flowood, dreamcakesms.com, 601-932-7800)
Photographer: PhotO By BilbrO (photobybilbro.com, 601-941-6799)
Invitations: McPhearson Custom Printing (email@example.com)
Music: RWR Productions (601-955-9999)
Calligrapher: Calligraphy by Christen Hobbs (calligraphybychristen.com, 601-940-2163)
Makeup Artist: Makeup by K Rouge (240-382-5489)