5 Reasons Planning a Backyard Wedding Won’t Be as Simple as You Think

An at home wedding can sound like a dream come true for the bride-to-be who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of planning a big, fancy ceremony and reception. But sacrificing some of the glitz and glamour that a gorgeous venue can bring to a wedding doesn’t necessarily mean that wedding planning will get any simpler. Sometimes planning a backyard wedding can be more complicated – and even more expensive – than putting together a traditional wedding at an event venue. Here’s why:

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The necessary extras:  The nice thing about many wedding venues is that everything is included. The linens. The bridal chamber. The staff. Someone else is handling all the different rentals and professionals. Compare that to a backyard wedding which has to be planned from the ground up – it’s the bride-to-be’s responsibility to find servers, linens, trash receptacles, and more. If you’ve never planned a party for 100+ people you may be surprised at all the things you need to buy and rent.

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Bathrooms: If the backyard where you’re thinking of saying your vows and partying down is attached to a house with 4+ bathrooms then disregard this item. But while 75 guests and two bathrooms could work – and probably would work – do you want to take risks? Residential plumbing can get overwhelmed pretty easily, which means that to stay on the safe side you’re going to need to pay for extra accommodations. And then find some place out of the way to park them.

Rain or shine: Weather is unpredictable – you may live somewhere where it hardly ever rains and the random storm picks your wedding day to show up. It may be unseasonably sunny and warm or cold. Will all of your wedding guests fit in your home? Would you want them in there? Renting a tent, even a small one, and getting it set up can be pricey and complicated (depending on what your yard is like) but it’s a must.

planning a backyard wedding

Refreshments: Getting food and drink (and the cake) to your backyard wedding isn’t the issue. Prep is. Will there be enough space for the caterers, etc., to prep your food? Somewhere safe to store the cake? Somewhere to put the drinks? Be realistic about how much space you have for prep and adjust your choices and expectations accordingly.

The cleanup: This is a big one! At a hired venue, you don’t have to worry about any of the cleanup – your job is to have fun and leave before the last dance. At a backyard wedding, particularly when it’s in your own backyard, you (or your loved ones) will have to decide ahead of time who will do the cleaning up and with what – rented trash barrels? – and when.

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None of this means, of course, that you should stop planning a backyard wedding in favor of renting a venue. Brides and grooms just need to be aware that there’s more to planning a backyard wedding than deciding to host at home. There’s a lot to think about and a lot of things that will be on your plate so while we’d love it if we could say that it’s as simple and as easy as buying wedding jewelry we can’t. It can be pretty hard but for a lot of couples, also totally worth the extra trouble.

Images: Sarah Kate, Photographer; The Sweetest Occasion; http://weddingplannerncdotcom.wordpress.com; Mywedding.com


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Choosing Jewelry for Your Bridesmaids

SO you’ve found a dress – or batch of bridesmaids’ dresses – that looks amazing on everyone from your best bestie to your big sister. Your ‘maids LOVE it. But if you think your work is done, think again. (Sorry, ladies.) Now it’s time to accessorize that perfect gown with some bridesmaid jewelry. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

Let the Dress Be Your Guide

You likely already know that necklaces should not hang down past necklines and bracelets seldom harmonize well with long sleeves, but the overall fanciness and style of your bridesmaids’ dresses can also help you choose jewelry and accessories. Very formal bridesmaids dresses demand bigger, bolder baubles.

blue bridesmaid jewelry - blue wedding jewlery sets

Think of the Photos

Very ornate bridesmaid jewelry may not photograph particularly well when worn by a flock of identically dressed ‘maids. Some jewelry will look better in low light or candlelight while other pieces shine brightest in natural daylight.

pearl wedding jewelry sets

Give Them a Little Freedom

Even if you don’t want to choose bridesmaid jewelry, you still have the final say when it comes to what your ladies will be wearing on your big day. You can dictate parameters. Crystal bridesmaid jewelry. A pearl wedding jewelry set. Colored bridesmaid jewelry. It’s your call, and having a few boundaries may actually make it easier for your bridesmaids to shop for their own accessories.

crystal bridesmaid jewelry - CZ bridesmaid jewelry

Keep It Simple 

If you want to, that is. Bright dresses with something simple like a pair of understated stud earrings and a simple drop pendant necklace can make the bride, with her more ornate accessories, pop. Especially in the pictures. Bridesmaid jewelry can be barely there and still be impactful.

Or Go Big

Sometimes more is more, and your wedding day is not the day to stay small because you’re afraid of being too flashy. Flash away and let your bridesmaids do the same with big CZ sets or striking vintage look pieces that really stand out.

Make It a Gift

Your bridesmaids’ jewelry can be the gifts you give them to thank them for being a part of your big day, but in that case do your ladies a solid and choose something they can wear again (even if only for big events). They’ll appreciate not having yet another bridesmaids expense and you don’t have to worry about their jewelry. It’s win-win!

Are you letting your bridesmaids choose their own accessories or are you choosing for them?


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Tips for Setting Your Wedding Reception Schedule

The wedding ceremony is relatively structured when compared to the reception, but that doesn’t mean that there doesn’t need to be set wedding reception timeline.

wedding reception timeline - wedding reception activities

How hard can it be, you’re thinking… a little dinner, some cake, a first dance and so on. But really, no matter how formal or informal you want your reception to be, it is actually pretty important that you plan ahead and establish a sequence of events for your reception. Your wedding guests will be expecting certain events to happen at certain times, they’re expecting to be entertained, and they’re expecting to be fed. Spending time and a little effort before the wedding to make sure your wedding reception will run smoothly can save you from a lot of confusion and unnecessary distractions on your wedding day.

Here are some reception planning hints that can make your wedding reception memorable and fun:

  • Sit down with your spouse-to-be and decide what you want to do and what you want other people to be doing at the reception. Are you going to do a bouquet toss or a series of special dances like a father-daughter dance and mother-son dance? Will there be a sit down dinner? Will there be kids?
  • Be as detailed as possible when preparing your reception timeline. Include names, times, specific locations and song titles of special dances. This will help you explain to vendors what your expectations are.
  • Put your schedule in writing and give it to all of your wedding vendors. Also, give this schedule to your wedding attendants and immediate family members so they know where they are suppose to be and when (i.e. for picture taking, formal announcements, or special dances).
  • Don’t get too hung up on the exact times when creating your reception timeline. The clock times on your schedule should act only as a guide to keep things moving in the right direction and so you can be sure that everything gets done!
  • Use the items in your itinerary as a checklist so that you don’t forget anything and as a guide to help you plan your reception just the way you want it. But on the day of your wedding, hand off this checklist to your maid of honor or your mom.
  • The order of events is up to you, but should be firmly established ahead of time. For example, some brides prefer to do their first dance with their husband very early into the reception, before dinner is served. Other brides prefer to do it after dinner, when the “real dancing begins”.
  • Traditional etiquette states that wedding guests are not suppose to begin dancing until after the bride and groom have had their first dance. So, if you want people to start dancing early in the reception, schedule your first dance right away!
  • Of course, the length of your wedding reception will determine the agenda. A two-hour cocktail reception is going to play out very differently than a five-hour sit-down dinner.
  • Remember to work in time for toasts – these can go longer than expected depending on who is doing the toasting and how many people want to toast. Consider chatting with potential toasters to let them know how long they’ll have at the podium.

 


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Wedding Registry Tips for Perfect Presents

wedding gift table - creating a wedding registry

Creating a wedding registry should be fun but for so many brides end up being stressful because they’re in totally new territory. Never fear! Our resident wedding experts are here to help you create the ultimate wedding registry so guests can give gifts easily and you end up with (pretty much) exactly what you want.

  • Whether you need anything or not, your wedding guests are probably going to want to buy you a little something. Typically, couples register for household gifts – dinnerware, a stand mixer, and that sort of thing.
  • These days the etiquette rules surrounding what you can register for have relaxed somewhat and it’s not unusual for couples to create a honeymoon registry, an experience registry, a charitable registry, or simply to register for things like books and games.
  • Registering for wedding gifts ought to be fun but it can actually get kind of stressful when you’ve already been shacking up with your spouse-to-be. In some cases, couples specifically choose not to register for wedding gifts because they’re hoping for checks.
  • While that’s okay, and frankly, usually works, you can’t actually ask people for checks. And you absolutely cannot act disappointed if someone chooses to buy you a very random gift indeed instead of following the crowd and putting a check in a card.
  • You can’t register for things like… costs associated with the wedding, your gown, your wedding jewelry, or travel expenses. Basically, you can’t ask guests to pay for any part of the wedding via their gifts.
  • Gift registries are considered a bit tacky in some circles because they imply you expect a gift, but the fact is that registries make it easy for people who care about you to give you things you’ll actually like. In that way, wedding registries are actually a courtesy.
  • Almost every major retailer has an online registry tool and you can usually go right to the store to register, too. Don’t like any of chain options? Online registry sites let you create a wedding registry that features items from lots of different stores.
  • Know the store’s registry policies with regard to purchases, shipping, and returns. You may find that what looked great on a web page isn’t so great in person, after all. And mistakes can happen!
  • Have your spouse-to-be help you register – even if they’re a little reluctant and especially if you’re registering for house wares. A few years down the road they’ll appreciate the things they picked out and it won’t seem like it’s your house and they only live there.
  • Create your wedding registry early – before your engagement party or any showers, if you can. People may want to buy you gifts months before you say your vows.
  • While tiny boutiques are the best, register for wedding gifts at national stores or online if your loved ones are scattered around the country.
  • Keep your wedding registry simple and stick to stuff you’ve been lusting after for a while. Just be sure to include items at different price points so no one looks at your registry and leaves without buying because it’s too luxe.
  • Find out how long your wedding registry will be live. Some wedding guests or loved ones may want to delay getting your gift (for whatever reason) and they shouldn’t be shut out from our registry because of timing. Keeping your registry live for longer may even mean more gifts!

Where are you and your SO registered?


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Wedding Planning Basics: The Groom’s Countdown

Here’s something you may not have encountered before… yes, the groom’s countdown. With – let’s be honest here – the bride handling so much of the wedding planning duties, it is relatively rare to come across a to-do list for grooms. Maybe the wedding experts out there just assume that the bride-to-be will fill her soon to be spouse in on what he ought to be doing and when? That being the case, no one will blame you if you’re feeling a little lost as to what the duties of a groom actually are.

grooms wedding planning duties - grooms countdown

Turns out that the list of what grooms are apparently responsible for is woefully short when compared to lists of the bride’s duties. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, of course, but I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that when it comes down to it I hope that you and your spouse-to-be find a wedding planning division of labor that works for you as a couple – and doesn’t leave you as a person exhausted and stressed out.

With that in mind, here is the generally accepted list of what grooms should be doing to help with the wedding planning:

12 to 18 Months Before

  • Meet with both sets of parents to discuss the budget and style of the wedding.
  • Go with your fiancée and book the reception site. Many sites fill up quickly so the earlier you pick a spot, the better!
  • Reserve your ceremony location.
  • Choose your groomsmen. Figure on one usher per 50 guests.

9 Months Before

  • Decide on an officiant.
  • Write out a preliminary guest list for “your side”. Be sure to get input from your parents.
  • Register at one or several locations along with your SO.
  • Accompany the bride-to-be at any tastings, meetings, and visits.

6 Months Before

  • Choose and order your attire and your groomsmen’s outfits.
  • Plan and book your honeymoon. Are you looking for fun, seclusion, fine dining? Contact a travel agent for help if necessary.

3 Months Before

  • Finalize the guest list.
  • Order your wedding bands and decide on inscriptions.
  • Check state requirements concerning marriage license eligibility.
  • Decide on living arrangements and order furnishings.

2 Months Before

  • Buy wedding gifts for your bride and groomsmen.
  • Pick up your wedding rings, make sure they fit properly and check the inscription for accuracy.

2 Weeks Before

  • Pick up your marriage license.
  • Give ushers instructions for seating the guests at the ceremony, especially if there are guests requiring special assistance.
  • Practice your toast to the bride’s family.
  • Pick up your rental attire and remind your groomsmen to do the same.
  • Arrange for someone to bring the gifts from the reception to your home.
  • Get a haircut.

1 Day Before

  • Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Give gifts to groomsmen.
  • Do something sweet for your bride (hint hint). A short love letter, a flower on her pillow…. she’s worked hard planning a wedding, so show her how much you appreciate her.

Of course, the groom’s duties can be anything. Maybe the groom-to-be is responsible for picking out and reserving the reception venue. Heck, maybe he’s responsible for picking out the bride’s wedding garter set – this is 2014, after all! The list above could be said to be the traditional list of groom’s to-dos, but we hope times are changing as more couples pay for their own weddings. We’re all for the guys taking on more!

What wedding planning duties has your groom-to-be taken on?


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Helpful Hints When Kids are in the Wedding Party

Kids in the wedding party? Cute. Also a potential hiccup in your big day because they’re unpredictable. But you want them there because they’re too darn cute – especially if they’re yours. And then of course you want them there, even if they cry their way down the aisle.

flower girl jewelry - flower girl tiara

As with anything else, the secret to successfully including kids in a wedding party is thoughtful pre-planning and then the kind of damage control that you can employ before a minor cry turns into an all-out tantrum. What follows are some of the best tips real brides – and moms of flower girls, too – have shared with us so tomorrow’s brides can have the best and most kid-friendly weddings possible.

  • Have a toy or book hidden under the petals of the basket for the flower girl to open once she has completed her walk. Or ready and waiting on the seat of the ring bearer’s chair if he’ll be sitting there during the rest of the ceremony. Make sure it’s something she can open quietly – and then play with quietly.
  • Don’t force a flower girl or ring bearer to go down the aisle alone… or at all! Let them walk with their mom or dad if they’re scared, and let them bow out (even at the last minute) if they need to.
  • Have someone in your family or from the parish (if you’re marrying at your church) ready to whisk younger ring bearers and flower girls off to the bridal suite or Sunday School room where snacks, toys, games, and crafts will be waiting for them. Better yet, so no one has to volunteer to miss your ceremony, have your flower girl’s parents ask their usual sitter to attend.
  • Don’t expect little ones to stand up with the rest of the wedding party for the whole ceremony – it’s unrealistic and even kind of mean.
  • Lois offered this tip: ” An attendant or a groomsmen should be assigned the task of keeping an eye on the kids during the service. Should the child become unruly, their parent should be alerted to come and remove the child from this focal point of the ceremony.”
  • Make sure mom or dad understand that they need to stay nearby to help keep their little lady or gentleman happy and well behaved before, during, and after the ceremony.
  • Recent flower girl mother, Lease Moon, had her daughter keep a diary about her flower girl experience as well as a calendar up in her daughter’s room to mark off the days until the wedding. Her daughter let everyone know she was keeping a “diarrhea” of the wedding, lol!
  • Remember, perfection isn’t the goal. You’re asking a little one to alter their morning routine, put on scratchy strange clothes and hard new shoes, sit for a hairstyle, keep a flower girl tiara on top of their head (for girls), get through per-ceremony pictures, hold a basket and not lose it, drop petals or carry a ring pillow, walk slow, walk straight, and then two hours later be expect to be clean, smiling and quiet for more pictures? Sure.
  • Make sure your flower girl and ring bearer’s parents have prepared them for the big day by talking to them about what they will be wearing and doing.
  • A calm easygoing bride is the best medicine for nervous flower girls and ring bearers and also helps to relax the mother as well. Keeping your expectations low and having a go with the flow attitude is the best strategy for the bride to be.
  • Lois Pearce, President, Beautiful Occasions in Hamden Connecticut has these additional comments about kids in weddings, “Children need praise. Praise them for their performance and thank them for their cooperation. They will react accordingly. All they want is a little love!”

How are you helping your littlest wedding attendants feel happy and comfortable on your wedding day?


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Bridesmaids Dresses: Short or Long?

As a bride-to-be, your responsibility for styling hair, makeup, wedding accessories, and clothing goes beyond your own look. You may have to find the perfect little flower girl dress and even help your groom choose his and his groomsmen’s suits. And of course, if you’re like most brides, you’ll be choosing the bridesmaids dresses your besties wear when they precede you down the aisle. This can be, how should I put this… awful, terrible, and stressful? You want your girls to look good. No, great! But they’re all different body types, the wedding is at a weird time of day, the venue you’ve chosen doesn’t clearly dictate what level of formal wear you should be aiming for, and of course, your maid of honor is knocked up.

I know, right?

But let me tell you that sometimes the easiest way to make any decision is to start small. You don’t need to choose a bridesmaids dress designer right this second. Or even a color or a cut. Start by simply choosing between long bridesmaids dresses and short bridesmaids dresses.

LR140XXThere are, of course, (for lack of a better word) benefits to both.

Short bridesmaids dresses may be easier to move in and more comfortable in the summer and late spring. They’re also fun and sweet and if the cut is right, just a little bit sassy.

Short bridesmaids dresses at a formal(ish) affair? It has been done and it can be a lot of fun!

Of course, beware the short bridesmaids dress on the short bridesmaids – many a ‘maid has complained in secret about having to wear a frock that makes her look like a munchkin. If you go short, let your bridal party control how they hem so they get the most flattering look out of the length.

2834Long dresses will (ahem) dress up your wedding – they’re generally perceived as more formal by guests. They may also be warmer if you’re having a fall or winter wedding.

And depending on the cut, a long gown can hide a multitude of sins for those who are worried about body image. Some bridesmaids may simply feel more comfortable in a dress that conceals more than it reveals.

The downside comes in the form of a price tag. For better or for worse, long dresses will be more expensive. Not to mention more difficult to find if you’re letter your ladies pick their own gowns.

And with all that simplification out of the way, I’m going to say that I don’t care what Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids’ Lori says – in the year 2014 it is perfectly acceptable to mix and match lengths the same way it is perfectly okay to mix and match dresses. This is not prehistory. Your ‘maids are not there to confuse demons into snatching one of them instead of you. If you love how mismatched bridesmaids look, then mismatch to your heart’s content!


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Questions to Ask a Reception Venue Before Signing the Contract

questions to ask a reception venue wedding

Okay, so you’ve searched high and low and you have finally found what seems like the ultimate wedding reception venue. But wait, before you sign on the dotted line and hand over that deposit, make sure you’ve asked all of the right questions. What? You want to know what the right questions actually are? Then read on, bride-to-be, for a primer in how to plan a perfect party without getting burned.

The Size and Particulars of the Venue

Can the facility comfortably accommodate the size wedding and number of guests you are planning? If you’re planning a large wedding, inquire as to the largest reception the facility has handled. Does it have handicap access? Does it have air conditioning? Is there a room available for the bride to use during the reception to change clothes or just freshen up?

Your Wedding Date

Is it available? Ask if there are any other events or weddings booked for that day. Some facilities will only book one wedding a day and that’s great! Other reception locations may book two weddings back to back. And of course, large hotels can have many weddings going on simultaneously. Just be sure you know all of the details for the day of your reception.

The Decor

If you haven’t seen it already, ask to see pictures of the facility as it would be set up for a wedding. Can you make any changes? Make sure that if there are certain decorations that you see now and like, that they will still be available on your wedding date. Ask if they are doing any remodeling or redecorating from now until your wedding day. When booking sites sometimes a year or more ahead of time, some brides have been a little disappointed when they’ve fallen in love with a certain look of their reception site and come back for their wedding to find that it looks totally different!

The Number of Hours

Most receptions last for four or five hours. Ask how many hours you will have for your reception. Some facilities will give you four hours and charge you additionally (sometimes another $500) for every additional hour. Be sure to ask when you must be out of the facility and if there is an additional charge for going over the allotted time.

$$$$$

How much is the total rental fee? And specifically, what does the price include? Ask about the deposit, how much and when is the balance due? Ask if they have any “wedding packages”. Sometimes facilities will offer a wedding package including food, flowers, wedding cake and even a limo. Although you limit some of your choices, it can save you lots of time and money!

Extra Charges

If it’s a banquet hall or historic estate, do you have to rent chairs and tables, and if so, is this an extra charge? What about linens and glassware are they included? Is there a cake cutting fee? What about a corking fee? (When you purchase your own alcohol for the reception, a corking fee is sometimes charged for each bottle of wine opened.)

The Food (and the Cake, too)

If the facility is a hotel or restaurant and will provide the food for the wedding, make sure that you’ve had an opportunity to sample the food and talk about menu choices. If you choose a location which requires an outside caterer, ask if you’re required to choose from their approved list or can you choose any caterer?

Alcohol and Bar Service

Does the facility provide the alcohol and bar service or do you bring your own alcohol? What about bartenders? Are there any restrictions about the type or quantity of alcohol to be served? Do they require a cash bar or is open bar an option? Ask about their liability insurance and if it is sufficient for your size wedding.

Entertainment

Make sure the dance floor is big enough to accommodate your guests. Ask the facility manager to show you where the band or DJ would set up their equipment. Make sure the facility can accommodate them adequately. Does the venue have an in-house DJ?

Parking

Is it readily available? Do you need to hire a parking attendant or valet? Are there any events (i.e. festivals, parades, sporting events) that will make parking difficult for your guests?

Restrictions

Ask if there are any restrictions in regards to using the facility. For instance, some historic estates have certain restrictions or rules regarding smoking, lit candles, and alcohol.

Overnight Accommodations

Ask if the facility has overnight accommodations for your out-of-town guests. If it is a hotel, can you reserve a block of rooms at a discount?

The Wedding Coordinator

Many facilities will have a Wedding Coordinator on staff and at no extra charge. The role of the Wedding Coordinator is to make sure that everything runs smoothly for your wedding day! The Coordinator keeps the wedding on schedule and is “the person” for the caterer, DJ/band, florist, or even the bride to go to if they have questions.


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The Top 16 Ways to Save Money on a Wedding Reception

orange wedding reception table

Here’s a “fun” fact: the reception is nearly always the most costly part of the wedding. Spring for a real pearl wedding tiara or a designer dress, and shoes that cost more than your rent – you still won’t top the cost of the reception. It makes sense. Wining and dining 100+ people is seldom (okay never) cheap, and if anyone can justify the upsell that wedding vendors are so often accused of its the space where the whole shebang goes down.

Still, my motto is always ‘Why pay more when you don’t have to?’ There’s nothing that says you have to lay out big bucks on your wedding reception. You’ll be just as married if you don’t, after all. Chances are that even if you’re a budget bride your reception will still be the costliest part of your nuptials – but costliest doesn’t have to mean it’s a budget buster. Here are 16 ways you can save money on a wedding reception without sacrificing style or good times.

1. Reserve your banquet hall or reception space early so they put a cap on the price per person. Who knows what the cost per head will be six months from now when open days are few and far between? When you’re sure you’ve found the right space, pull the trigger.

2. Think outside of the box. Instead of a traditional banquet hall or country club, consider hosting your wedding reception at a community center, nature conservatory, greenhouse, library, museum or church hall. Some alternative options are actually more expensive, but not all!

3.Getting married in the off season really can be a money saver. Could you see yourself getting married on a Friday or Sunday morning – could your guests even make it? If that’s too much to ask, late fall and winter wedding dates are often the friendliest options when it comes to your wallet.

4. Have a cash bar instead of an open bar. Will some people give you the stink eye? Yup, but if they’re so déclassé as to absolutely require free booze to have a good time then who needs ’em!

5. Instead of treating your wedding guests to a full sit-down dinner, have a champagne cocktail and dessert reception with nibbles, a small selection of cocktails, coffee, and wedding cake. Truth be told, I have never not left a cocktail reception full – you can enjoy plenty of food without sitting down to do it.

6. Keep the guest list small. Fewer mouths to feed translates to a smaller bill at the end of the big day. Cutting down the guest list is hard, I know, but believe me when I say that most people won’t actually be offended when they don’t receive an invite.

7. Buy your own alcohol, if your reception venue allows it. I’ve written about putting together a DIY wedding bar before.

8. Limit the nibbles circulating before the meal if you’re having a sit down dinner. Consider three or four food stations, instead of eight or nine butler-passed hor d’oeuvres. Or scrap the whole works and let guests satisfy themselves with one lovely meal.

9. Steer clear of anything with “market price” on the menu, obviously. Comfort foods are often nicely priced and can be spruced up so as to make them trendy and fun. Think stuff like grilled cheese sliders and tomato soup shots.

10. Ask your reception site about guaranteed numbers. You might still have to pay for 150 guests even though 120 showed up, but the discount you could get might just make it worth it. Or heck, just flat out ask for a discount. You never know when someone might be in a good mood and the worst you’ll hear is no.

11. Prioritize. If you’re not a huge cake fan but want a wedding cake for the fun of it, let them eat chocolate and vanilla instead of shelling out for a tier each of peach spice, key lime, and almond torte. Don’t care for beer? Don’t serve it. Do you really care about the relative quality of the linens? Think about what you’re paying for before signing on the dotted line.

12. Pick daytime over dinner – lunch or brunch receptions tend to cost less than dinnertime affairs in part because lunchy and brunchy foods are budget-friendly. And who doesn’t love brunch?

orange wedding reception flowers

13. DIY your reception table centerpieces. It’s amazing what you can do with some glass jars or vintage bottles and fresh flowers – no prior experience in the florist industry required. Make sure, however, that you’re not still paying a fee for decorations provided by the venue.

14. Though it seems counter-intuitive, consider letting your reception venue do all the work. Why not DIY wherever and whenever you can? Because professionals working at a site can often do it cheaper because they do it A LOT and have access to discounts you don’t. Sometimes getting a deal is as easy as having the venue provide not only the space, but the food, drink, cake, music, and decor.

15. Switch cities. Just for the big day, of course. If you live somewhere like Manhattan or Boston, you could save big bucks on reception costs by getting married in your Middle American home town.

16. Ask for help. Controversial? Yes, but often worth it. Skilled friends may be only too willing to help out with your reception. I recommend only asking very good friends to pitch in – you know, the cousin who is like a sister and just happens to be a first class cake designer or your very best best friend who actually does arrange flowers for a living.

And there you have it. You really can plan a wedding reception that’s fabulous and frugal, too, so you have more money to devote to what really matters. Like wedding jewelry, hint hint.


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How Much Can One Bride Really DIY?

Excited to DIY your wedding? And why not! DIY can save money and is a fun way to personalize your wedding. Well, sometimes. We are all for DIYing some or even all of your wedding ceremony and reception details provided you have the time, the experience necessary, and yes, the cash. Because DIY is actually not always the least expensive option. And DIY can be hard.

easy wedding decor DIY - burlap bunting

There’s a reason that wedding cake bakers and seamstresses who specialize in alterations on wedding dresses and professional photographers get paid so much for what can seem like so little work to an outsider’s eyes.

But let’s say you’re determined to tackle one or more DIY projects. Okay. There’s no one answer to how much a bride-to-be can reasonably DIY for her wedding. But it’s not that hard to gauge how much you personally can take on.

easy wedding DIY - book themed wedding

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a job? How stressful is your job?
  • Will you have help from bridesmaids or your intended?
  • Have you ever: arranged flowers, baked a tiered cake, brewed beer, etc.?
  • How much time do you have before the wedding?
  • Is DIY realistic given your circumstances and experience?
  • No, be honest, is it really realistic?

If you don’t want wedding planning to turn into a giant cluster you-know-what of stress and tears then you have to be absolutely truthful with yourself about your skill level and how much time you have at your disposal.

easy wedding decor DIY

If your dream is to DIY your wedding cake, do you have enough time to make two or three practice cakes – as in, full size, fully decorated cakes? If it’s DIY wedding invitations you’re after, do you have design experience? Want to make your own wedding jewelry? Sew your own gown? Handcraft your bridal veil? That all sounds wonderful and we support your efforts, but don’t kill yourself trying to do things you don’t even know if you’re good at.

After all, there’s not much worse than having to run to David’s Bridal the day before your wedding to grab something from off the rack and hope to God it fits! And there’s nothing wrong with working with professionals to ensure things are as close to perfect as they can possibly be.

In other words: Be confident when you DIY but for goodness sakes, know your limits!


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