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:

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