Getting married on a shoestring..ideas wanted! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 09:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So dh and I are thinking of making it legal(ok..I just typed illegal..is the universe trying to tell me something )

anyway...there is a chapel nearby and we can get married for $300bucks...and have 40 people there etc. There is another fee for the licence..$100.

We are thinking of a ceremony at the chapel and then an open house with finger foods and cake at our home in the afternoon.

So help me with ideas. I want it to be nice, not fancy...but I don't want to waste money either.

Another option is to have an officiate come to the house and we could rent some chairs and just do it here..that will cost around $200 with the rental of the chairs and such but might be a bit more confusing as we don't have a large house and I don't know how much they would cost to rent.

We could set some of the food and drinks up in the basement and some on the mainfloor to keep it comfortable.

So tell me, anything you did to make your wedding day nice that didn't cost a whole lot.

I want something completely original and unusual. And cheap. and as green as possible. No disposables. I may rent linens. That might be my only splurge.
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#2 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 09:57 PM
 
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moving to frugality and finances Congrats!

"Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen." Ralph Marston

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#3 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:11 PM
 
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We're doing:

- Potluck (so many scrumptious yummies) plus a pig roast
- No booze (daytime makes that easier and more kid-friendly too)
- No gifts (asking for charity donations instead)
- Outside on the mountain (free, and what an amazing backdrop!)
- Camp out after at a free forestry campsite for anyone who wants to.

Hope that helps!

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
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#4 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:11 PM
 
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We got married in a church with a bunch of people. I wish we had a much smaller affair in a beautiful outdoor setting.

So that's my idea. Have an outdoor wedding in a gorgeous place and only serve cake and a beverage.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#5 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:18 PM
 
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Congratulations!

Do you have a yard? could you do it all outside. Not at this time of year but in the spring/summer maybe.

An afternoon reception with snacks and drinks is a great option. A lunch reception is also cheeper than a dinner reception. Would your guests be the sort to be open to a pot luck? You might consider asking various friends and family to contribute something as their gift to you. If a friend has a lovely flower garden and a talent for floral arangements you could ask that she do your flowers for example of if Aunt Trudy is famous for her cabage rolls ask her to bring them as a gift.

Our wedding cake was a flat slab iced in white with a simple decorative edge. A hole was cut into one corner that a small vase fit in and my bouquet was sliped in there to double as a cake decoration. It was really lovely and elegant and only cost about $20 (plus the cost of the bouquet but I would have had that cost anyway)

There are also a lot of wedding costs that you really don't need (does anyone really care if they go to someones wedding and don't get a favor?!)

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.)0(
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#6 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:18 PM
 
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Instead of splurging on a band, rip your own wedding cd with all your favorite music on it. If you want, rip multiple copies and give them out as gifts. It's a super-cheap wedding favor, and it's meaningful.
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#7 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:27 PM
 
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I am also planning my wedding but my frame of mind is that while I do want it on the cheap side, I don't want to look back and wish I had done things differently. I don't want any regrets (that's my life motto).

My cheap idea was to go to England. . Not cheap by any means, but compared to renting a venue here, reception, caterers, etc. And then add on the costs of a honeymoon. We're just killing two birds with one stone. We just reserved our space and are very excited. BUT we are already married legally here in the States (nobody in our family knows that though!).

Make sure you have pictures to document the event. Do you have a college nearby? I would post a help wanted ad for a photographer. Many students are looking for the experience.

Also, a morning wedding with a breakfast/brunch afterwards is normally cheaper because it's during a non-busy time and breakfast is cheaper than dinner.

Keep your eyes out for favors/decor now. We are sending our save the dates out in Christmas cards (the ones that you can insert a picture in the front). I just hit up an after Christmas sale and got all of my cards for $0.53 a box!

Cupcakes instead of a cake is cheaper too. You can make those on your own and they sell the stackers so that it can resemble a wedding cake.

At my legal wedding my neighbor made me a bouquet of fake flowers. They were beautiful and I plan to use them for my ceremony. Fake flowers can be much cheaper than real ones.
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#8 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:33 PM
 
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Have one of your friends become an on-line minister and perform the ceremony Free officiant.

Make your own music CDs.

Find someone in your family who takes decent pictures and designate them to take some posed shots, and shots of specific important moments.

Serve cake and punch and maybe some finger sandwiches and whore-derbs (you can usually get large platters of things at Costco/Sam's Club).

Skip things like favors, we didn't have them.
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#9 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:43 PM
 
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Denise and Alan Fields (The Baby Bargains book people) have a Bridal Bargains book that may help. There's also message boards on their website.

There was a book at my local library called something like "How to have a beautiful wedding on $3,000 or less" that could give you some ideas.

You have to keep in mind your social circle and what's acceptable. While cake and punch at an outdoor ceremony would be acceptable in my social circle, a pot luck absolutely would NOT be OK.

You can do a lot DIY if you're crafty. Invitations, favors, flowers, food, cake, punch, etc.

Congrats!
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#10 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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We got wild flowers from someone who had grown them the year before for her own wedding and they came back. We also used sunflowers from people's gardens. I made my own bouquet- the day before all the girls and I sat around and made the arrangements.
Some times high schools have floral arrangement classes and the students there take orders-- they are much cheaper.

I made a bunch of bundt cakes and froze them, we pulled the out the day before and my mom drizzled white frosting over them. My MIL made cream cheese mints and we had punch.

Pot lucks are good too.

I used my MIL wedding dress (my mom's was green w/ daisies and a miniskirt).
My only "regret" was the dress-- I wish I had had the money to make a renaissance dress.
The most we spent money on was the rings.

I would agree w/ the PP who said to check collages for photographers-- family members are not always the best. If you do have someone you know take them-- make sure they have the full body in sight (feet included).

Having a justice of the peace do it in a park and tell everyone to bring a blanket and picnic would be nice and cheap. You could have games for entertainment- like sack races, etc.

For my brother's reception we did strawberry shortcake.

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#11 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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Hot appeitzers. Punch and a punch that is spiked or some wine. Can a friend offer as a gift the job of watching the kitchen- meaning heating up stuff, making sure stuff stays heated...

punch
7up or ginger ale
sherbert
hawiann punch or cranberry juice

spiked punch
add rum or champagne like an inexpensive one

hot appeitzers:
weiners, sausages etc in bbq sauce in a crock
hot artichoke dip w crackers
grecian pizza squares (homemade dough)

cold:
mini sandwiches of deli items
veggies and dip made of yogurt and spices
spring rolls
roll ups instead of sandwiches like pinwheels

desserts cake and some cookie type stuff on a tray.

This can fill people up and get them out the door quickly.

or

Cook two large roast beefs, have the deli slice and buy bread and serve sandwiches w gravy from the meat
serve lettuce salad and bake mostocholli on the side.

We plan on doing the second for dd2's bday in a few weeks and we are serving about 45.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#12 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 10:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _betsy_ View Post
"How to have a beautiful wedding on $3,000 or less"


We're aiming for waaaaaaaaaaay less than that! Like a whole zero less than that. Not including the rings.

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
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#13 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 11:19 PM
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My Mom and her friend did my flowers. We ordered them from a wholesale flower market that was open to the public, but you can also go to the farmers market.

My friend got married in the afternoon and had a lunch reception. Trays with croissants, lunch meat & cheese, salad and rolls. It was light but filling. Her friend's Mom made the cake.

If you are trying to do it on a budget, ask everyone you know to help with what they know. Some people are excellent bakers, some are great at decorations.
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#14 of 110 Old 01-12-2008, 11:55 PM
 
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I think having a green wedding would be so much fun! I got married many, many moons ago when I was a young babe in the world and I had a traditional wedding for about $3000 US, and that included my dress, DJ, wedding reception, etc. Things were probably a little cheaper 13 years ago but not considerably so I think if you go green you could absolutely do it on a shoestring. The key is to have others help you. Like maybe someone could loan you plants or potted flowers. I love the potluck idea. People always want to give gifts for weddding so if you ask people to bring a dish instead that would be fun. If you have a friend who loves to bake I bet they would be so excited to make you a cheesecake or something as your wedding cake. Here's an article from Treehugger that may help you.

Oh I almost forgot, don't forget to spend the money on a photographer, how else are you gonna remember this special day? (my DH is a professional photographer so I may a be a bit biased )

Awesome SAHM to 5-yr-old son,3-yr-old girl and a baby girl. Blog about my home http://azaleastudio.blogspot.com
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#15 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 12:03 AM
 
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Some stuff that saved us a lot off the top of my head--

An evening wedding with a dessert reception
Burned 2 CDs full of music to play (instead of DJ, band ect)
Had apple cider instead of alcohol
My brother took the pictures (he is very good at art)
I used fake stuff to make the boquets and boutineers (but they still were very pretty and I have them in my cedar chest)
Made our own invitations
No favors

Congrats!
Jen

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#16 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 12:29 AM
 
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We did a brunch weeding ceremony on our 1 year anniversary after eloping the year before for 45-50ish at a garden club. Ceremony outside, reception inside. We spent around $500 in Seattle in 2003 on the whole thing, including my dress, ties for the groomsmen, sweaters for me and the bridesmaids to match. The site was DIY but had a stocked kitchen with most all plates and utensils we needed and cost $100 to rent in an off month. We rented linens. Drinks were coffee, tea, punch. Menu was granola, muffins, roasted potatoes, baked eggs (cooked in ramekins with high, cheesy tops). We made it all ourselves (the granola and muffins in advance, the potatoes and eggs that morning). We did cheesecake cups (graham cracker crusts pressed and formed in muffin tins and filled with cheese filling, topped with chocolate and frozen fruits). We did out own flowers. An artist friend did the photos in exchange for tax and bookkeeping work. It all looked a lot more expensive than it was for us.

Katie, mama to one big boy (6/03) and one little boy (12/08).
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#17 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 12:34 AM
 
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You can rent plates and cups from local rental places around here. Maybe call and see if that is available? You can also rent the linens, including napkins, and all of it ends up being cheaper than disposable. And much nicer. Not to mention green.

In my circles, a reception can be very simple. Cake, punch, mints, nuts, and cheese straws. From there, people might add tea sandwiches, chicken fingers, crudites and dip, maybe fresh fruit. And beyond that, it can get as fancy as you want.
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#18 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 01:15 AM
 
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Betsy - are you from Wisconsin by chance? The only times I have seen/heard of cheese straws have been when visiting MIL in WI.
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#19 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 01:25 AM
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How about getting married in a local park with picnic lunches, blankets spread out?
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#20 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 01:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post


We're aiming for waaaaaaaaaaay less than that! Like a whole zero less than that. Not including the rings.

Yeah, sorry, I meant to add that you can get some ideas from there that could help you stretch your dollars, not that you had to spend $3,000 to have a beautiful wedding!
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#21 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 01:29 AM
 
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I got a wedding dress from this site:

http://pacificplex.com/

For about $50. I took it to a tailor in the mall and had it altered to fit me for another $50. So, $100 for the dress. I got a veil from a veilmaker on ebay for $25! BEAUTIFUL veil!
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#22 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 01:37 AM
 
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I recommend the book: "A Simply Beautiful Wedding"

We got our flowers from Albertsons (grocery store)
My mom made the bridesmaids dresses, so they only had to pay for the fabric
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#23 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 01:49 AM
 
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congrats!

having the type of home (and yard!) that we could invite people over to have a nice wedding get-together sounds perfect to me :

and for the most bang for your decorating buck, i suggest candles from the dollar store--LOTS of candles

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#24 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 01:56 AM
 
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Some ideas:

-Make your bouquet(s)--I thought about this but didn't end up doing it for the ceremony in the end. However, there are easy instructions online to make really nice bouquets and in books at the library. You could also ask a friend to do it for you. Bridesmaids can carry a single flower, which provides more impact and is beautiful.

-Dress from a vintage shop or friend--That I did do. It was much cheaper, and unique. I've never seen "my" dress anywhere else. And the woman there was really really nice and tailored it for me.

-Simplify the reception-although I think a daytime thing at your house sounds like a good bet in general. Potluck wouldn't have felt right to me, but you have to weigh that decision yourself. Could you ask a couple of close friends or relatives to foot the bill/make the food for the reception as their gift to you?

-Especially if you do something outside, have bubbles! You can make them yourself or not, but they look great in photos and people have fun with them, and they're better for wildlife than rice.

Do consider what you'll do in case of rain though. Renting tents is costly from what I've seen.

Happy with my DH, 2 kids, dog, fish, and frogs
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#25 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 03:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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moving to frugality and finances Congrats!
thanks..it hit me just a few minutes ago..this is where I should have posted it
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#26 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 03:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow..so many ideas! Thanks..some of them are awesome.

Ok..here is what I am leaning at..I will throw in some prices.

The ceremony. Have an officiant to come to our home. We could invite just immediate family to the ceremony. We will either be doing this in the spring(May 10 or 11) or the fall(date to be determined) so the weather will be chancy. We have a back yard. If it's dry enough and doesn't rain that day and is warm(which last year on that weekend it was gorgeous) we can set up chairs outside and have a beautiful outside wedding. It's plain..house is a year old so not a lot of landscaping but one BIG beautiful tree that should have leaves on it. Officiant would cost $250-$300.

or we could go to a location in a town about 30minutes away and for another $100 have it there...we wouldn't need to rent chairs or decorate or anything..$350 for the whole ceremony. I am leaning towards this one. Because then the weather wouldn't be a consideration and it would probably be as cheap. Also, this location holds up to 80 people plus the wedding party. My brother also lives in this town. Place for one of us to get ready while the other gets ready here at the house.

Reception. I think we might do an open house kind of casual/afternoon thing. Have the ceremony at 11am then from 2pm until 5pm ish invite people to come to our home for finger foods. I was thinking wine and beer only.

Thanks to you guys maybe I will do wine, beer and a wine punch..the punch will make the wine go further. We could set up a bar in the basement with some of the finger foods and more finger foods on the main floor. That way the crowd if too many arrived at once could be dispersed a bit.

The idea of having a photography student take the pictures for experience is brilliant!!!

The cake/cupcake idea is also brilliant. I like the idea of the cake stand with a small 8inch cake on top with matching cupcakes surrounding it all the way around and down. I found a website that will make a frosting picture that you can put on the cake and the cupcakes...it's amazing..you send them a digital photo..costs about $20 and then you put it on top of the cake istead of a topper...tie a ribbon around the cake and surround it with cupcakes...viola. Plus it could be made in advance, frozen and taken out the day before the wedding to defrost.

I like the single flowers.

My attendants will be my 4 daughters. I am thinking that each of the older ones will hold the hand of the younger ones and walk down the aisle with me.

I will wear a dress I can wear again to my FIL's 80th bday party this summer(which is why we can't get married int he summer) and the kids can also wear dresses they would wear to that or their prom dresses(one graduates highschool, the other graduates elementary school, both have proms.)

I will send email invites for the reception.

I will send card invites only to those invited to the ceremony. I will make them on the computer. This will save paper and money.

I can't do potluck. I want to throw this party..lol. I think we can just do little sandwiches, veggie trays, fruit trays, etc. And we would make all this ourselves. If we do this in May I will probably have help from my MIL and my mother as both will be visiting then. My older girls can also pitch in. I can get friends to help us set up.

Anyway..what do you think of my plan? I think we can come in for less than $1000. I guess the key is to pay for what you have to have, then scrimp elsewhere.

Oh..and dh's cousin sings so we would ask her to sing at the ceremony. My 13 year old also sings. I am hoping I could talk her into something but she's pretty shy.

Please keep the ideas coming. I love them. I did find a great website called the frugal bride. It has tons of ideas!

I am so glad I saved this very long post before the website started acting up!
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#27 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 09:24 AM
 
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Our wedding was super cheap. Many people did stuff for us instead of presents. For instance, a friend with a talent for picture taking did our pictures, another did the music (we later had kareoke, which was a huge hit!), we rented a hall with full facilities for $100 but we had friends who helped with the food and setting up for free. We had a potluck, no alcohol (since we don't drink it and we were renting a dry spot...not too many people complained ). A friend made my wedding cake as a gift, which is still talked about to this day (a heavenly carrot cake that was to die for!!!). The actual wedding ceremony was free through my church. My dress was free from a friend who had just divorced and didn't want it anymore. DH's tux was $75 from a clearance men's shop (all the sizes were weird, but fortunately one was a perfect fit for him). Flowers were provided by a friend. I made the invitations up on the computer.

I think a rather elcectic wedding is fun and people still mention it to this day nearly 8 years later. Everyone else was having boring, predictable weddings at the time (being the millenial year) so ours was different and fun. The reception was a big, fun, family affair and without everyone's help we could never of had a reception for about 125 people for *well* under a thousand dollars, flowers, food, clothes, rings included. I learned then never be shy to ask around as in my experience, most people are willing to pitch in and help out
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#28 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 09:26 AM
 
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I think your plan sounds lovely!
We did the exact same thing when we got married. Except we decided to get married in the living room. I didn't want to travel to another location. We had little things appetizers that I had bought from Costco to eat. It was very small and beautiful.
I wore a clearance dress from Macy's that was just plain black so I can wear it again. Not that I get dressed up too often.
We had an official come to our house and do a SHORT ceremony. I think it took 15 min, but it still felt like forever....
For the cake we ordered it from the local bakery. I think it cost us $80 and it was two tiers. I was amazed that it was so cheap.
Later we went to dinner at a local restaurant (organic, local food) as I didn't want to cook meals for everyone but I wanted to feed them. : The only problem with the food is the kitchen wasn't set up to feed so many people at the same time and my SIL thought she was being picked on as her meal was last. But we expected something from her so it was no big deal.
I think the whole wedding cost us $600-$700 and the majority of it was the dinner at the restaurant.
We loved our wedding and wouldn't change it for the world.

ETA: My sister owns a nice camera so we had a family friend take pictures for us! Turned out VERY good and she wouldn't accept any $$ payment (we ended up mailing her cash anyway as I felt guilty) and she brought us a gift!

Mom to '97, '07, '09 and birth mom '00 and wife to my BFF
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#29 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 11:19 AM
 
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I took a cake decorating class at a craft store. Many of the people that took the class were DYING to occupy their time. I'm sure somebody would do your cake for free or very little. They are learning so they could do your cake and get credit for it by taking a picture. Wouldn't hurt plus it would be homemade and fresh.

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#30 of 110 Old 01-13-2008, 12:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by allgirls View Post
My attendants will be my 4 daughters. I am thinking that each of the older ones will hold the hand of the younger ones and walk down the aisle with me.

I can't do potluck. I want to throw this party..lol. I think we can just do little sandwiches, veggie trays, fruit trays, etc. And we would make all this ourselves. If we do this in May I will probably have help from my MIL and my mother as both will be visiting then. My older girls can also pitch in. I can get friends to help us set up.

Anyway..what do you think of my plan? I think we can come in for less than $1000. I guess the key is to pay for what you have to have, then scrimp elsewhere.

I am so glad I saved this very long post before the website started acting up!

Yeah, I had a long post all typed up last night, when everything went wonky. I see this morning you answered a lot fo the questions I had!

Having the girls in wedding will be very memorable and unique. It be AWESOME if one sings, or all of them together.

I definitely think you can do it for under a $1000, esecially with help.

Just some ideas for finger foods. We did only foods we loved. We did cocktail shrimp (a splurge) that dad steamed the night before (large bags from Sams) and our favorite greek salad and breadsticks from our fav pizza place, salad isn't finger food I know, but easy. Sanwiches, veggies and fruit too. Oh and hot wings, cuz their dh's favorite. Not very elegant, but many of the guests were pleased because it was their favorite foods too. Do you have special foods you love?

I love your cake ideas!

And photos: If professional ones are important, try finding someone for just a few hours. My sister found a gal who pro. shoots babies and kids. She normally charges $50 for a session where she comes to your home for 2 hours worth of shooting children. My sister really liked her work and asked if she’d do her outdoor ceremony and a few choice pics afterward. She agreed. Photos will be more later, but at least its not a huge upfront cost.

Congratulations - sounds like your whole family will be having a great time with this!
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