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There is always something new to try with weddings, but how can you be innovative, stylish, and unique while on a budget? There is a way.
We spoke to several local brides and brides-to-be to see how they have achieved their goals and the general consensus of all of them was: Do your homework! Working hard to uncover great ways to ensure that your big day doesn't have an equally big price tag can fun and exciting.
According to local brides, there are a few things that should automatically be exempt from cutting corners on, the biggest of which is the photos. Once the sweet memories have come and gone, the pictures will be all that remains, so make sure they count. The brides all agree: Don't skimp on the photos.
With that said, here are some other places where you can save:
Professional, high-scale invitations and save-the-dates can be very costly, and in some cases can eat up thousands of dollars of a wedding budget.
For Amy Zupan of Essex, who got married a few years ago at the Madison Surf Club, saving money on invitations was a no-brainer.
"We have a huge family, so we knew we needed to be frugal," says Zupan. "I found my invitations on Etsy and I bought the template. I printed my invitations out myself on card stock, and me and my friends and family hot-glued a star fish to each invitation. It took a lot of time, but it was also a lot of fun and it saved a lot of money."
She adds, "I don't regret saving money on invitations at all."
Soon-to-be bride Briley Brandon, who is getting married in May at The WoodWinds in Branford, also saved money on her save-the-dates and invitations by using a pre-set template on Vistaprint and minted.com.
"We saved $1,200 by doing the invitations ourselves," says Brandon. "There were a lot of very good templates to choose from. You just have to be technologically savvy to do your own invitations, and luckily we are."
Flowers are a must-have part of every wedding, but they don't have to break the bank. Our brides suggested doing a little background work to find out which flowers will give you the best bang for your buck.
For Marty Whittle, who got married recently in Old Lyme in her friend's backyard, red roses were her flowers of choice. However, in an unconventional twist, she ordered the arrangements for her special day from the local grocery store.
"They did a fantastic job and everything looked absolutely beautiful," says Whittle, who was more than satisfied with her wedding décor.
Brandon and future husband Ryan Killion took a different route to save some money on their flowers, and decided to choose big, bushy flowers instead of small, expensive ones.
"What is most important to us is to make the day memorable for everyone," says Brandon. "I love flowers and I think all flowers are beautiful so we decided to choose ones that are bigger and bushier so we didn't have to buy as many."
For Zupan, she chose to pull back a little on her flowers and did her arrangements herself.
"I went onto a wholesale flower website and had the flowers delivered a day before the wedding. I Googled some centerpieces I liked and put them together in mason jars," says Zupan, who did call on the expertise of a local, professional florist for her bouquets and boutonnieres.
The first official action as a couple is to work together to cut the wedding cake, so it has to be special.
For Brandon, that choice was an easy one as it is part of what is included in her wedding package at The WoodWinds.
Zupan took a cupcake route for her wedding.
"It was really beautiful. The cupcakes were tiered and we had them topped with a small cake that my husband and I cut into," says Zupan. "We supplied cupcake boxes to-go because some people don't want cake at the wedding, so they could bring home the cupcakes for later or to give to their kids. We wanted to make sure that nothing was wasted. We figured if we paid for it, it better get eaten."
For Whittle, who took her intimate wedding party out for dinner at a local inn after the outdoor ceremony, the cake was in the form of cookies for dessert.
Setting or Venue
This can be the biggest expense of the wedding or it can be free; it's up to you.
For Whittle, her venue was her friend's backyard.
"It was the best wedding; small, intimate. I'm so blessed to have such a great guy," says Whittle.
For Zupan, getting married in the sand was paramount, and having her wedding on the beach in Madison was perfect. The Surf Club's tented and banquet areas were a cost-saver.
"It had everything we wanted, so it was perfect," says Zupan. "It cost more than what we paid for the whole venue, just to rent a tent to have a wedding in the backyard, so we knew this was the way we wanted to go."
Brandon, who explored several venues and attended several bridal shows, landed on The WoodWinds because of all the extra amenities it offered.
"We were considering an outdoor wedding at a farm, but the places we looked at were very expensive and it was a kind of build-your-wedding, meaning you had to bring and supply everything and you were just paying for the scenery. Having it at a venue that specializes in weddings is much easier. You get a lot more bang for your buck, and almost everything is included which makes the entire planning process much easier," says Brandon.
Some brides have been dreaming of their wedding day forever, and part of that dream is a big, expensive wedding dress. For others, simple and chic is the way to go. So, as far as dresses go, the most important thing is to feel beautiful.
For Whittle, that meant a $45 Ralph Lauren dress from Marshalls.
For Zupan, it was a David's Bridal dress with a beautiful Vera Wang veil and sash.
Hair and Make-Up
Nowadays, it is almost certain that the bride and her bridesmaids will have some kind of special hair and make-up as part of the big day. The brides agree that having professionals create their masterpieces is the way to go. The only real difference in price is whether you go to them at a salon or have the professionals come to you.
"It is going to be a little more expensive to have hair and make-up come to you, but if I went to them I would have to coordinate transportation for everyone in the bridal party, which in the end would be just as expensive," says Brandon.
Last, as the special day comes to an end, it's customary to leave guests with a small favor to remember the celebration by. This is another area in which creativity dictates. It's not about how much the favor costs, but more about what it means to the couple.
For Brandon, her 140 favors are already set and ready to go. Her aunt, a famed jam maker, helped her out in this area and has already made 140 jars of jams that will be adorned with unique stickers commemorating the day.
Zupan decided on an equally unique and inexpensive favor. She pre-made chocolates with a mold and the help of friends and family, then froze them in advance.
"It's a little old-fashioned, but it worked out well. Except for the fact that my husband ate a whole tray of the chocolates by accident. It was okay, they were meant to be consumed and they looked very pretty," laughs Zupan.