Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Budget Wedding Flower Fix- October

This quick how-to video will walk you through an easy fall-themed wedding centerpiece that costs less than $20. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wedding Budget Drama

While planning your wedding, you'll most likely find that the most wonderful day of your life is actually the place to find family and friend drama-- center stage! Why? Because it's your special day, of course ;)

From bridesmaids flaking out on their duties to family feuds, you could run into a lot of headaches. I was just reading a blog from a bride who seemed to have every person in her life butting heads. I just kept thinking, this is no way to spend what is supposed to be a fun and exciting process. And then I realized, I bet that some aspects of being on a budget could eliminate most of this drama.

See, with limitless options, your wedding could soon become more of a spectacle than the intensely intimate and special event that it is supposed to be. While some brides might be losing sleep over the type of rose that will be in her centerpiece, someone on a budget needs to be flexible. If you can say to yourself right from the beginning, "I'm going to go to a farmer's market 2 days before my wedding and pick out whatever is in season that I like", you don't have to worry about these futile details.

Flexibility is what will keep you sane in this whole process! When your friends and family offer to help you, graciously accept their offer. If you think that you're the only person you can trust to do it right, then you're going to have some high blood pressure come the week of your wedding. Make the projects fun and social- don't worry so much about everything being perfect. Let the memories of your wedding planning to be the fun you had with friends and family along the way- not the stress of everything that didn't go perfectly.

If you can learn to let go, you'll have a lot more fun both on your wedding day and during the process of getting ready for it :)

For more budget planning tricks and tips, visit http://www.budgetwiseweddingmd.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

Best of, Worst of Budget Wedding Planning

Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have any budget whatsoever for your wedding? You could have the most extravagant cake and flowers, the most eclectic and exotic food, an 8-piece band, you name it. I've watched my fair share of "Platinum Weddings" and I have to admit, it's a little depressing knowing that I could never have an event like that. But to be honest, I think it's kind of fun planning a wedding on a budget. It's so much more interesting. I'll take you through my favorite and most challenging/ least favorite aspects of planning a wedding on a budget.

The best thing about planning a wedding on a budget is the creativity. A fabulous wedding absolutely depends on it! On the show that I previously mentioned- Platinum Weddings- I saw a lot of gorgeous settings and spreads, but I also saw a lot of cafeteria looking backgrounds that had been not-so-successfully spiffed up by $100K worth of decor and details. To be honest, I can't understand why someone would pay double what you could do just as well yourself or with a scaled down version that looks better than the expensive one!

For instance, my specific budget wedding favorites are flowers and decor. I've seen centerpieces that will run you about $300 per table for basically a giant antique vase full of imported red roses. Maybe it's just me, but 75 red roses bundled together doesn't impress me. It's so boring and typical. On the other hand, you can fill a $5 vase with sand, water, seashells, grasses and brightly colored gerbera daisies for less than $20 per table. It looks so unique, fresh and classy and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. There are so many other creative options and alternatives to the typical centerpiece- just use your imagination!

My other favorite aspect of budget wedding planning is the bar. There are so many ways to get creative here. The first and most obvious- the signature drink. Don't provide a full bar if you're on a tight budget. Just stick to a crowd pleaser like sangria, bay breezes, or margaritas. If you are serving wine, just pick a white and a red. Don't get into chardonnay, pinot grigio, cabernet, merlot, etc. One red and one white is more than fine. For beer, your best bet is to get kegs and keep them hidden behind the bar (keep it classy ;)... Depending on how many guests you have, you might get 3 kegs of Bud Light, 2 kegs of Yuengling, and 2 kegs of Amstel Light. This is a good enough variety of flavors and they're not too expensive (Amstel Light would be the most expensive of the 3).

My least favorite things about planning a wedding on a budget are the food compromises and the cake compromises. However, this doesn't mean it can't be done well- it just means I wish I could have the most amazing food and cake around because I'm a real foodie :)

The only things about catering that have held me back actually are seafood options (and of course filet, but we can do without that). So, if you are unable to do shrimp cocktail and crab balls, try to think of cheaper ways to incorporate seafood into your menu. This, of course, implies that you want seafood, so if you don't then there are plenty of wonderful alternatives for you. If you do like seafood, consider dips or fried things- like crab dip or fried shrimp. The crab dip allows you to feed more people because most people will take a spoonful and move on, while crab balls are more intricate and people can easily "pop" them all night. Fried shrimp are a cheaper alternative to crab balls. You get the idea...

If you don't like seafood, the sky is the limit- think black bean quesadilla wedges, meatballs, mini roll ups (like sandwich wraps), chips and salsa, hot spinach and artichoke dip, mini pizzas, cheese and crackers, etc for hors d' oeuvres. For dinner, you could spice up a traditional chicken dish by making it "Jamaican Jerk Chicken" or skewers/ kabobs with chicken and beef. I also like to stray from the traditional sides like potatoes and green beans because I think it's fun to disguise that you're on a budget. Instead of going really plane jane, why not make it something really different that leaves people guessing? I like sides like balsamic pasta salad with tomato and mozzarella and grilled, marinated veggie medley. These dishes hide the fact that you're on a budget because they are so different and delicious!

Ok, for cake, it's really just the decoration that gets the kibosh- but only from the cake designer. You can find unique ways to spiff it up yourself. Think ribbons and real flowers. Just because you can't have 20 hand crafted sugar flowers or pearl borders all over the place, doesn't mean it won't look nice. I think that simple can be better sometimes, too. When these cakes get too busy, they tend to look a little tacky and ridiculous. Try to keep it classy by cascading real flowers down the different tiers- flowers that were left over from your arrangements and won't cost much extra.

So even the tedious parts of budget wedding planning have solutions and can be a lot of fun once you get your creative juices flowing. Let me know if you have any other unique ideas for saving money on your wedding. Check out Maryland Budget Wise Weddings for more ideas: http://www.budgetwiseweddingmd.com

Friday, October 16, 2009

Remember, the wedding is just the beginning

When couples are planning a wedding on a budget, the stress can set in pretty quickly. The way you handle the challenges that come up in planning your special day reflect the way you two will handle other problems in the future of your marriage.

You need to remember the importance of communication and compromise in a marriage. The wedding is the easy part- imagine a lifetime of managing financial burdens that will come up. Money is often a huge source of marital conflict and it doesn't have to be that way, if you can talk about it without blowing up. That is the trick- being able to keep it a conversation and not an argument.

I'm especially talking to the ladies here- if you all are struggling to make ends meet right now (which a lot of soon-to-be newlyweds are...), you need to be willing to cut back on some of the traditional wedding extravagances that brides indulge in, and keep your fiance in the loop of what things are going to cost. Don't try to hide things from each other- you will both find out eventually! The point is that you need to put everything out on the table. You don't want to be surprised by either of the other's debt that has been raked up.

Don't let planning the happiest day of your life become so much of a burden that it isn't fun anymore- planning a wedding on a budget can be a really good experience. If you can learn to prioritize and research the options that are available to you, you can definitely make it work. People have planned weddings on less than $5K, so just realize that it is possible.

If you and your future spouse can sit down and discuss not only your budget, but also how you're going to make that work before you start the wedding planning, you'll be setting yourselves up for a great foundation of your marriage. Good luck!

For more information on planning your wedding on a budget, visit http://www.budgetwiseweddingmd.com

Monday, October 12, 2009

Save the planet...I mean Wedding

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

We've all heard this phrase from the time we were in elementary school. Usually, it applies to our daily grind- trying to limit the amount of paper we use, rinsing out jars and using them for other things, and of course putting anything we possibly can into the recycling bin. So how does this apply to weddings?

Well, I should first admit that this has nothing to do with saving the planet-- but it does have to do with saving you and your family a ton of cash. Why not use some of the resources already available to you for the wedding ceremony and reception instead of purchasing more than you have to?

Not only should you be thinking about items you or your family have lying around the house, but also items that can be transported from the ceremony to the reception. Here are some basic ideas to help you cut back:

1) Centerpieces
These days, centerpieces can be anything the mind can possibly conjure. You don't need to have a traditional vase with roses in it. People come up with the most unique, creative and fun centerpieces that really blow the traditional ones out of the water. Not every table needs to be the same, either. So think about collecting a variety of vases from your house, your friends' houses and your family's house. I think it looks really cool to have some tall vases, some short, some wide, some narrow, etc. See what you can find. When you fill them, think of things that you don't have to buy. For example, you or your loved ones may have really cool greenery in the yard that can create a gorgeous natural piece that looks really whimsical and romantic. You could also collect some sand from a nearby beach to fill the vases with. One of the most obvious free centerpiece accents is water. Filling a vase with water and some floating flowers/candles can look really cool and eclectic- you might consider getting food coloring in your theme colors and dying the water. The sky is the limit!

2) Bouquets
So let's say you have 4 bridesmaids. There are 5 bouquets, including your own, that you girls are going to throw under the table as soon as the festivities get started. Why not leave the head table unadorned until you all get there? Have the vases filled with water and ready to go; then when the bridal party arrives, you all can put your beautiful bouquets in the vases and you've got your head table decor taken care of.

3) Accessories
Don't forget the beauty of the expression "Something borrowed". If your family and friends have gorgeous earrings, necklace, bracelet, hair pieces/ accessories, ask to borrow them! You don't need to buy $500 worth of jewelry for one day of wear.

4) Rentals
If you need to rent tables, chairs, etc for your wedding, consider having your rehearsal dinner with these items. The rentals will most likely be dropped off and set up 2-3 days in advance, so make use of the time you have them! You can most likely have the rehearsal dinner catered for less than going to a nice restaurant.

5) Entertainment
Do your family members or friends have special talents? Use them! If a friend is a good singer, ask her to sing for your ceremony or reception. If your little cousins Irish dance, ask them to perform for the crowd. If your wedding party is a bunch of jokesters, put together a surprise dance/ skit to perform. You and your loved ones can probably entertain your guests much better than a stranger could and have a lot of fun with it.

Do you have any other ideas about this topic?? Please share!

Friday, October 9, 2009

And now for the second wedding bill...

Just as you thought you had your wedding budget together, you realized that you forgot about the rehearsal dinner... oh yea, that little extra thing. The rehearsal dinner is not typically wrapped into the wedding budget because it is usually hosted by the groom's family. However, families these days are doing things much differently and throwing the traditional rules and etiquette out the window.

If you (the couple) and your families are working out some kind of 3-way split for the wedding costs, it's probably going to be on you to figure out the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner dilemma can be quite a nightmare if you have a lot of out-of-town guests. At an average of $40 per head without including alcohol, you could be looking at another $2,000 or more if you invite 50 guests to the dinner!

Ok, before you have a heart attack, there are options to make this an affordable event. First, you are not required to host a rehearsal dinner for everyone. You could make it an intimate event for just your immediate relatives (parents, grandparents, siblings) and wedding party. That should cut your list down to less than 20 people.

If you are set on inviting all of the out-of-town guests, why not host a very informal cocktail type of event in someone's home or back yard. Make a bunch of appetizer/finger foods that don't require heating or cooking and let people wander around talking to each other. For example, put out a platter of lunch meats, cheeses and rolls, some pasta and/or potato salad, a cold spinach dip with crackers, vegetable crudites and a fruit tray. This should not cost you more than $10 per person and it doesn't involve an oven or stove at all! If you feel obligated to provide alcohol, consider a signature drink such as sangria. This is a very budget friendly option because it is not all alcohol- it's a mix of about 3/4 wine and 1/4 club soda (and some sugar) with fruit slices floating in it (lemons, limes and oranges).

Has anyone done this type of rehearsal dinner? How did it go?