My Aunt recently reminded me that no one will think about my wedding as much as me. She's been to 50+ weddings in the last ten years and she can barely remember anything specific about them. She can't remember any weddings that disappointed or wowed. She can't remember the flowers, favors or what food was served, if any.
She can remember watching the couple get married and the joy of being with them. After our conversation, I started asking around and reading about wedding memories and it's true, most people can't remember details about their own wedding, let alone other weddings. Even a last minute problem that might seem catastrophic is completely forgettable.
Before these conversations, I was stressing about stretching our budget to cover a fancier meal but this little reminder-- that no one cares as much as you and probably no one will remember the details-- has helped me calm down. I'll do what I can and not worry about it. No one's going to care and no one is coming to the wedding for the meal. They're coming to see us get married and that's probably all they'll remember.
A friend of mine sent this picture from a wedding she recently attended. They used bright colored ribbon to decorate the table. It's a super inexpensive way to decorate and adds a lot of color. Nice and simple.
Ceci New York invitations are beautiful and stationary is one of my favorite luxuries. Her invitations are quite expensive but they're certainly inspirational. If you're a paper craver then you'll like this work.
It's helpful to have a month by month plan of what needs to be done. I used Real Simple's list. Most of the planners include all the extra stuff but I just went through, crossed off the extra's and created my own personal list.
I just heard about the group shot idea recently and I thought it was a great idea. If you're very close with your family and friends (and they're game) then you should definitely add this to your photo wish list.
Original plan- 175 guests, serve a meal (preferably dinner).
Plan A- hire a cater. The first few quotes I received for food, service, beverage (excluding alcohol), and rentals were in the $14,000 range which was way too high. They scoffed at my hopeful requests for $15 per person (which I thought and still think is high) and even after brokering some great deals, it was still too high.
The wedding industry offers this advice: 1.) cut your guest list 2.) have the wedding at an inconvenient time or place to discourage attendance 3.) exclude children 4.) serve only dessert or appetizers
I was chuckling a little as I read this advice. I mean really, this is great advice if you're comfortable cutting family and friends so you can have a nicer dinner, cake or venue but in our case, we started with our guest list as the priority. Everything else takes a backseat to our guests because my great aunt, cousins, and mom's best friend are more important than more stylish linens. Option No.4 is a good option and I have many friends who've done it but I've found that appetizers often cost about as much as a full meal so I ruled that out. Also, we really wanted to serve a meal since so many of our guests will be from out of town.
With all of this in mind, I set off determined to find an affordable way to host all of our nearest and dearest in the least complicated way.
As far as I could tell the only other option was to cater ourselves and we could definitely do it but I decided to look into some more options- why does it have to be all catering or none?
Plan B was to go back to my top two caterers with a "what if I..." list that included:
provided my own beverages (buy in bulk)
provided my own clean-up staff (paying your own staff is hundreds less than paying catering staff)
provided my own rentals (rent everything for less from the local warehouse that all the caterers use)
simplified the bar to eliminate a need for bartenders (wine at the tables, 2 serve yourself cocktails, lots of beer options in metal tubs filled with ice)
simplified the menu (not your typical fancy entrees, cut the extras)
Removing these charges from the catering estimates certainly made the price come down (Note: if catering estimates come in just a few thousand above your budget then try this) but it still wasn't low enough for us.
The thought of catering the wedding ourselves is very intimidating. It's mainly the thought of trying to cook or heat anything on the wedding day that made me nervous. So we could either serve cold food only or heat just one thing. Also, fridge space would be an issue so we'd need to figure that out. Trying to answer these concerns brought me to plan C.
Plan C- I went to a local gourmet grocery store for an estimate on two entrees for delivery on wedding day. The price was shockingly affordable. They offered an amazing menu (that far surpassed the standard catering menu) and the estimate was thousands less. In fact, the estimate for two entrees came in around $1200 and if you cut the meat option then it'd be even less. This looks like the best option, it's still a lot of work because we'd be catering ourselves but for an extra couple hundred we've eliminated the hassle of creating, preparing, and cooking the main entrees.
If you're planning to cater your own wedding consider ordering some of the food from a gourmet store for delivery or take-out. It's not as expensive as you might think and it's one less thing that you'd need to prepare.
A clutch or bag of some sort is a great gift idea for your bridesmaids and/or other female friends who help with the wedding. You can find great deals if you check the sales aisle in a variety of stores and on etsy. Again, do they really need to match? Why not buy a clutch that you think each bridesmaid would enjoy? A different clutch for each - fashion forward, bohemian, classic prep, romantic, etc.
Edible favors are the best type of favors. These organic almonds wrapped in muslin and cheesecloth make a simple earthy favor (instructions here). Or you can use the same idea to deliver different goodies. For example, how about some freshly baked macaroons wrapped in muslin and chiffon fabric? Or perhaps some chocolate covered mints?
Little paper pinwheels for decoration. I have gobs of buttons and I've been looking for something to do with them. This is a great and inexpensive way to decorate. Just buy some matching/compatible paper and follow these instructions. You could spread them on tables or string them up.
Should the groom wear a suit or a tux? Initially, I thought a suit was ideal because he'd get to keep it after, it's potentially less expensive for the groomsmen (assuming they already own a black suit), and it's easy (and fun) to match their ties. But is the suit too informal? After some investigating, I've found that a good quality, well tailored suit can look very sharp.
It's important to consider the Bride's dress style. Even the nicest suit will look silly next to a Bride in an Austrian ball gown. The bottom-line is that the Groom should be wearing something that fits with what the Bride is wearing. If your dress is simple then a suit should be just fine, otherwise a tux is probably a the safer bet.
Just when I start liking the idea of a nice tailored suit, this pops into my mind:
And I'm back to the tuxedo. It's one of the few opportunities to wear such a fine type of clothing. And notably, most menswear stores will give the groom a free tuxedo if at least 5 groomsmen are renting from the same store which means a tux could be cheaper for the Groom.
Eat, Drink and Be Married letterpress sign- perfect for a cute photo op and/or to decorate the head table. It's also just right for hanging on the back of the Bride and Groom's chair. You can buy it for $12 here.
I came across this guide from Real Simple and thought it was helpful. I'm in the process of planning a menu for the reception. It needs to be simple because we're preparing everything the day before. I'm thinking about a variety of barbecue or tapas, or my favorite so far- a mediterranean style dinner of gyros, hummus, greek salad, chicken satay, spanakopita, etc.
I thought this was a sweet and simple way to decorate a gift table. I might print something more subtle like, "Thank you" but I like this idea. In fact, I loved this entire wedding theme and palette from The Wedding Chicks. The pale colors looked great with that punch of brilliant navy.
I just discovered this DIY reality check flowchart by Rachel at Heart of Light via 100 Layer Cake and I thought it was just brilliant. She writes, "simply print it out and follow the instructions. I’m going to start using this to test myself before beginning ANY project. I swear."
Step #1-Make a list of all the projects you're considering
Step #2-Run each one through the flow chart
Step #3- Cross off projects that fail
If you're planning to do a lot yourself then this flowchart might be worthwhile. Print it here.
As I mentioned before, letterpress invitations don't fit in a tight budget, however these little 2x2 letterpress monogram tags are a nice compromise. And at only .25 each ($2.50 for 10), they'll work within the tightest budget. They'd be perfect for embellishing anything from gift bags and favors to invitations or display tables.
They're on sale now but I'm not sure how long they'll last! Most letters are available in colors of pewter, blossom, twilight, pool, and moss. You can find them here. Even when they're all sold, you could still have them made for a fraction of the cost of a full letterpress invite.
I'm engaged to a wonderful man and planning my own wedding. Like so many brides, I intend to host this lovely event on a limited budget. I'm approaching this without the wedding industry "to do" list and with a focus on the marriage and graciously welcoming my guests.