Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lessons from a professional bridesmaid

Weddings 101
by Kelly Caldwell

I will start by saying I am not a wedding expert, but I have been a bridesmaid or part of a wedding more than a dozen times and have attended at least double that in my lifetime. That being said, I know a thing or two about the ins and outs of weddings.

Weddings can be an expensive affair for all involved considering the average wedding in the United States cost $28,000 in 2009 (which by the way is more than I paid for my car).
Granted, every bride wants her day to be this magical event she has been dreaming of since she was six years old, but sometimes the meaning of the day is overshadowed by the flash. And, in these economic times, the word budget is used more and more. But, with a little imagination and creativity, the wedding of your dreams can still happen with money to spare...

1. Identify what is most important to you... For some brides, the dress is the most important thing because they want to look their best. For others, pictures or the reception is most important. It's kinda like when I wrote my letters to Santa all those years ago...My parents told me to ask for three things your really want and let the rest be surprises. In other words, prioritize your wants and budget accordingly.

2. Don't be afraid to ask for help... You can't come right out and ask for money to help pay for your beautiful day, but who says you can't ask for people to help out in other ways. Your friends will remember the day even more if they are a part of the events. I am not saying you have to have 20 bridesmaids and groomsmen. But if you have a friend that is a photographer, florist, d.j. etc. Don't be scared to ask if they would donate their services as a wedding gift (because how many toasters can a girl use...)

3. Use what is around you... When it comes to decorating for the event study your surroundings. It doesn't make a lot of sense to have a December wedding decorated with spring flowers. (go for a Christmas wedding in a church and a lot of the decorations are done for you!!! If you are having an outdoor wedding, keep it natural... Ferns are a lot less expensive than floral arrangements of the same size. You can jazz them up with twinkling lights and ribbon for a sunset wedding and you will be amazed at the impact. On the topic of decorations...Creative brides can do a lot themselves (with the help of friends and family of course) Picking up flowers at a wholesaler will save you tons and if you want tips on arranging check out youtube.com for video tutorials.

4. Do the trimmings really matter? You can save tons if you think outside the box when it comes to the veil (you want it to match the color of your dress of course but other than that does it matter where you get it), shoes (I have seen many a bride wear flip flops on the big day) and jewelry (Make use of those something old, borrowed and blue traditions because your dress is probably new).

5. Remember you aren't the only one paying...When picking bridesmaid dresses PLEASE pick something affordable (yes I am being selfish on behalf of bridesmaids every where). We are extremely honored that you chose us to stand up for you on the big day but just understand we are paying too...For the dress, the shoes (because bridesmaid's shoes always show), jewelry and a place to stay for the weekend.

6. Smile pretty for the camera...Pictures are worth a thousand words but change that to dollars and it can get expensive. To cut down on some of the cost be very specific with your hired photographer. Their time is money and you want to get the most out of it. Make a list of the pictures you want that day and put someone else in charge to make sure each is taken. After that make sure you have plenty of friends with their digital cameras handy. Candid pictures capture the day in ways you will forever cherish.

7. Tasty treats...I have been to a few weddings where it was truly a family affair with the family and friends providing food for the reception. This is a great idea in the South because you know we can cook down here!!

8. Timing is everything...Pick the time of your wedding wisely and you can save tons. A caterer friend of mine did a brunch wedding a few years ago and I thought this was a terrific idea. She even did the groom's cake out of dough-nuts. If you are interested in saving money you don't want to have your reception at meal times (lunch or dinner) because then “etiquette” says you should do a sit down reception.

9. Let them eat cake... A wedding cake can be elaborate, simple or somewhere in between. If you have always dreamed of a huge wedding cake ask your baker if they can use faux layers to make the cake appear bigger. You get the look you want at a reduced cost (not to mention saving all that wasted cake). Another option that is growing in popularity is having a “Wedding Cake” made out of cupcakes.

10. When all else fails...Forget 1-9 and elope! Just don't forget the camera!!


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