(and yes, I'm outside on our front steps since the lighting inside is craptastic)
I made tabs for different sections by folding over a piece of ribbon and stapling. Fancy, right?
the 'dresses' tab started off as the bulkiest section since I'd torn out TONS of lovely dresses I found in magazines and printed online. The best piece of advice I could give to anyone searching for a wedding dress is to have an idea of what you like/don't like going into the find-the-ONE process. That way, you can narrow down the selection of, oh, 2.3 million dresses a little quicker. I had appointments at some places in my town to shop for dresses but had looked online first and actually found THE dress on, are you ready?.....ebay.
I couldn't stop thinking about it, but I knew it would mean buying the dress I loved WITHOUT getting to try it on. I kept the first appointment at the dress boutique in town, but while I was there looking at the gazillions of ruffles and sparkles and tulle, I couldn't stop thinking about
the ebay dress.
It was for sale in a bridal boutique in Rhode Island
(which is neither a road, nor an island- discuss....
coffee talk, anyone?)
So after trying on only 3 dresses in the boutique here, I told my mom I was ready to go home and buy the ebay dress. I felt like I was cheating on the one, ya know?
Since the auction for the dress had closed already (gasp), without any bids (whew), I called up the boutique and spoke with it's owner, Melanie, who measured every inch of the dress for me over the phone (while I was measuring myself) and quickly realized that it would, in fact, fit. I said a quick prayer and gave her my credit card number over the phone,
and that was that.
Want to know how much it was?
Well I'm tellin ya anyway-
The dress is a Melissa Sweet, and if you've looked at any Bridal catalogs, you'll recognize that name. It's a designer label that I wasn't familiar with before shopping for a wedding gown, but evidently she's awesomeness.
(not to toot my dresses horn or anything)
It was from 2 seasons ago (when I purchased it)and was originally sold for $3,600 in the boutique.
I paid 500 + shipping, which was 30 buckaroos.
(talk about staying within the budget I'd given myself!)
(on the left is a page I tore out of a magazine of a Melissa Sweet ad and on the right is my dress, on a manequin in Rhode Island)
I LOVED the pleated detail of the sweetheart neckline...
when the dress arrived at my house, I ripped open the box and had it on my body (with the help of my sis) in about 3.6 seconds.
And it fit.
No altering needed.
(picture me doing a happy dance a-la Elaine from Seinfeld when we got that baby zipped)
I'd also torn out tons of pics of bridesmaids dresses in my colors (green + brown) and wanted to keep their cost to a minimum as well. After looking and looking and looking, I came across exactly what I wanted at Parisian (now Belk) in their dress department.
The lovely lady behind the desk was SO incredible to call other stores and have the 3 dresses shipped here that I needed that weren't in the store. And, since I liked it so much and since it didn't scream I'M A BRIDESMAID DRESS since it wasn't, I bought one for myself.
If I'm remembering correctly, they were on sale and cost about $88 bucks. If you know much about bridesmaid dresses, that's cheap my friends.
For the flowers, I also ripped my faves out of magazines, took them to Becky at the Willow (here in town) and asked her to recreate the looks I loved using the least expensive options. Since I made the largest arrangements using bamboo (which I show you at the bottom of this post) I only needed flowers for myself, the maids, and to pin on the guy's tuxes.
Total spent on flowers = $350
this was another element where I totally stumbled on the deal of the century. I knew I wanted to make them myself, so I went in search of blank cards/envelopes on the cheap. While in the clearance section of Michael's, I came across 4 boxes of blank wedding invites, envelopes, menus, place cards, and rsvp cards- 50 per box, all for $15 bucks.
so, 4 x 15= $60
(now, I did end up having to purchase another box of blank invites since we needed more than 200, but I used a 40% off coupon on a box of 100 which I think were $20 full price. Still not too shabby.)
keeping with my color scheme, I stamped a leaf on the top and typed up exactly what I wanted on the computer. Printed those pretties out, tied a piece of ribbon, and they were D.O.N.E.
I even went a step further and stamped my initials on the back.
Because I'm fancy like that.
(and that tiny little leaf underneath my inital is what came on the clearance invites. Pretty cool, huh?)
I pulled this sheet out of a Martha Stewart wedding mag and made 30 or so copies to record all of our guests info on them. It includes spots for their names, address, how many guests per family, the gift received from them, and even has a place to check off when you've mailed the invite and the thank you note.
That Martha's so cool.
I found a pic of exactly what I wanted in, wait for it...
ripped it out, and took it to a friend who I was currently working with who makes beatiful cakes. I don't think this was even a bride's cake, but it had green + brown +bamboo, so it was love at first sight. She even found that awesome bamboo plate in the picture at Sams!
on the left is the original pic and on the right is the menu we settled on.
Our caterers were also the bomb-diggity. I found them through one of my friends that had recently been married who happened to have awesome reception food. I called her up, she gave me their info, we talked about my budget (which was $2000 for food) and they were able to do it for that and I even got shrimp.
That's right, folks.
( I did call a few places in town that cater to get price quotes and they were ALL so much more than $2000. I knew it would be difficult since we had so many on the invite list, but again...
God is good and we were able to find somone who could work with our budget. They even provided table cloths, plates, cups, and a beverage station with a green drink to match my color scheme.)
just like in the pic above, I used large glass pieces purchased for 50% off at the hob lob, filled them with green apples, tied a brown ribbon around them, and stuck them on each table. I also ordered super-duper large green balloons, like the white ones in the pic below, and tied the ribbon to a brick wrapped in green tulle. I opted not to attach table numbers to them since we weren't going for a super-formal reception vibe.
below is a pic of what we did for the kids tables. I found super-cheap clear plastic cups and and a tray from wal-mart, stuck flowers and crayons in the cups, covered the tables in brown craft paper, and we had the cutest kid tables ever.
(the pic is from a Rachael Ray magazine- any other Rachael Ray fans in the house? holla!)
(and I must tell you that I totally returned the tray and some of the glasses after the reception. Totally.)
napkins + favor bags:
since I wanted fancy shmancy napkins with our names on them but I didn't want to pay the fancy shmancy prices, I hand-stamped our initials on them myselves.
I did what??
that's right, my friends-
I hand-stamped hundreds of beverage and dinner napkins with my own two hands so we'd have super-cool ones like this:
I advise you to have lots of tv to watch/listen to and a glass of
wine coffee to keep you hydrated during this incredibly tedious task, should you choose to ever do this. I have actually done this again since my wedding for another reception, but I opted to emboss the last initial with a gold embossing powder. They turned out gorgeous! Any other fellow embossers in the crowd? No? okay...moving along.
(I like to believe that I was the first to start this trend, so if you know of anyone who did this before me, please don't let me know, mmkay? Thanks.)
below is the pic I found that inspired me to buy hundreds of dollars worth of brown + green candy
(thank you tax return)
Now, onto those large bamboo pieces that we made for the ceremony.
Since I didn't have a gajillion dollars to spend on flowers and since I wanted to incorporate bamboo anyway (since it was on my cake and I just loves it) I got a ton of bamboo for FREE from my parents neighbors.
our wedding party was
forced nice enough to help us with the assembly after our rehearsal dinner. I bought 3 long, slghtly narrow containers at Home Depot, 6 bags of sand, and 3 large bags of river rocks. Or, some kind of rocks. I can't remember and river sounds really good right now. We trimmed the bamboo so the leafy branches were only on the top, stood several stalks (is that what they're called?) upright in the containers and simultaneously poured in the sand which made them stand up. That's why you need several people helping- to hold them all and pour the sand at the same time. Then placed the rocks on top of the sand so it looked all pretty.
Here's another pic taken during the assembly- that's my sis and bro-in-law. And in the foreground of the picture is another twiggy arrangement I made for the ceremony. I actually made 4 of those and had them on the walls in front of the piano/organ in our sanctuary. Back to the bamboo...
I wanted something tall and dramamtic- I mean, let's face it...I AM a theatre major. Bamboo was the perfect solution. Not only do I love it, not only was it on my cake, not only does it stand for happiness, wealth, and longevity in the Chinese culture, but it was F.R.E.E.
And since I returned those pots (sure did) after we returned from our honeymoon, that awesome piece of decor only cost me the amount of sand + rocks, which if I'm remembering correctly, came to around 40 bucks.
And just look how pretty?
I know bamboo is not everyone's cup of tea, but it's exactly what I wanted.
for the front of the church, my friend Judy made me these beautiful 'M' banners. She also did the alterations on some of the bridesmaids dresses because she's cool like that. (she has a new blog and you can check it out HERE)And that pot with the plant? Well it was already there friends. Just an extra little pretty for our big day.
And that, my friends, is how I got married on a budget. (And if you stuck with me through this entire post, you are TRULY my friend.)
Maybe you can take some of these ideas and use them for parties you plan to throw in the future. Maybe you're getting married yourself and some of these tips can help you out. Maybe you know someone getting married who also needs to work within a tight budget. Maybe you just like reading my ramblings.
Whatever the case may be, thanks for tuning in today and any day that you drop by. I truly appreciate it.
Happy weekend everyone!
**I've linked this to weekend bloggy reading @ Serenity Now**