Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Frugal Wedding

I wanted to share the wedding today, but I also know that several of you have commented that you have weddings coming up soon too.  There is no doubt about it, a beautiful wedding costs money! Weddings are important milestones, and we all want them to be as special and memorable as possible, but memories in the form of making payments long after your special day are over aren't the kind that give you that warm, fuzzy feeling of happiness. In fact, with our young people often starting life with student loans, car payments and other encumbrances, it makes sense to start your new life together as debt free as possible.
You all know how cheap frugal I can be.  I like to make every penny count, but I also love my girls and I wanted their weddings to be beautiful! So as I share, I'm also going to share the best ways that I found to pinch those bridal pennies til they squealed :>)
Grab a cup of whatever refreshment you might like, this is a long one.

The Dress

Victoria dreamed of a lace dress for her big day, and the style is so perfect for her.  We used the same little bridal salon in Waterford, Michigan for both Lauren and Victoria's dresses.  It isn't in a posh neighborhood but I would recommend it to anyone. For anyone in the Oakland County, MI area, the name of the shop is Adorabelle, and the ladies who work there have "the gift".
We walked in with a budget that would make the snooty salons sniff in dismay, but in both cases, after seeing the girls try on dresses and getting a feel for what they wanted, this dear lady would say, "Let me get a dress I think you'll like".  In both cases she nailed it.  Both dresses fit perfectly off the rack, (Victoria's needed to be hemmed but that is all) and both were amazingly beautiful, designer dresses that were very deeply discounted.  She has a large area of discontinued dresses with great prices and good selection, neither of  my girls found dresses in that section of the store, I don't know how she does it, but she knows her stock and she is gifted in finding the perfect dress.

Victoria got her lace dress with the most beautiful lace train.

Instead of buying a veil for $150-$200 I made her veil from tulle I had on hand and lace that she ordered with a coupon from Joanne Fabrics.  Total cost $50.


I had a mixed bag of success with the flowers.  Victoria decided from the beginning that she wanted zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, and pretty much anything pink, peach or coral that we could grow.  Earl tilled up a cutting garden area and Victoria planted.  Outcome? We didn't plant nearly enough for the table centerpieces and window boxes we used.  I was able to cut a lot of flowers out of the garden, but I really would have been better off money and time wise, to just buy them all from the farmers market.  We spent $45 on the dahlia bulbs and seeds, and another $200 on farmers market flowers and a couple bunches of roses from Costco.  Still, I count this as a very big success budget wise. 
 The lowest price I have found for wedding flowers would be Sams club or Costco, and even those places would charge  $800 and up for the wedding flowers for a party with 10 attendants. It would also include centerpieces for only 6 tables not the 14 tables we decorated.  For my $250 we made:
the brides bouquet
5 bridesmaids bouquets
6 boutonnieres
14 centerpieces
10 long window boxes full of flowers
Not bad if I say so myself! 

  This dahlia is the only one that bloomed in time for the wedding, it was the perfect color though and I used two of these along with white hydrangea, pink hydrangea, a couple of Costco roses, dusty miller, peppermint, thyme, and sweet autumn clematis for the Bridal bouquet.  All but the roses came from my garden.

The bridesmaids carried zinnias, dusty miller, white hydrangea, queen anne's lace, and the herbs along with some of the Costco roses.  Something I learned along the way? Dusty miller (the gray/green foliage) is not a long lasting way to add green to the bouquets. Without water they wilt very quickly, so I can't recommend it.  However, it lasted long enough for photos and the ceremony.

 The venue was beautiful, it's our town's community center which is only 2 years old.  They don't have a website and I wouldn't have found them if I hadn't thought to stop and inquire about the facility.  It was a happy circumstance.  You may remember I planned an outdoor reception at the family farm. This venue actually cost less than renting a tent, tables, chairs, and dishes, not to mention it saved me from worries about parking, bathroom facilities, and weather.  In fact, the venue included very nice china, glassware and silverware in the rental price. One wall was windows and we alternated the beautiful window boxes Earl made from scrap wood we had on hand (free), with the lanterns I had left over from Lauren's wedding. The tissue poms in the windows added another punch of color and cost about $1 each ($50)
This is handsome son in law #1 getting the sweetheart table ready before the bride and groom arrived.  I made the lighted curtain behind him from muslin stapled to a board and icicle lights hung from cup hooks.  We then tied the board to the heavy wood blinds and pulled the whole shebang to the top of the window. Again, I used items I had left over from Lauren's wedding and it cost me nothing.  As the sun went down it made a beautiful backdrop.

The sweetheart table, cake table, and gift table were covered in my collection of vintage quaker lace tablecloths found for a few dollars at yard sales.  You can't see it well, but I also gathered a bolt of tulle (about $10) to skirt each table and lined it with more muslin that I had on hand.  All of the tables had centerpieces in milk glass similar to the one on the sweetheart table. I used my own collection and borrowed the rest from a friend. (Cost $0 for the containers, flower prices are listed above.)

The Cake

Victoria and I went to a darling little bakery in our home town, they do beautiful work and the cake tasting was a lot of fun...until they gave us the quote. $800 for a cake to feed 130 people!
Now I know that a gorgeous cake takes a lot of work but holy cats! It's a piece of cake for pity sake.
Enter this gorgeous girl.

Kayla is Victoria's cousin. She works in a bakery in New York City and was kind enough to put her culinary skills to work for us for free.

The cake was beautiful and delicious! Chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache and raspberry mousse filling. Earl put his woodworking skills to good use again and made the wooden pedestal to display the cake on.  We saved about $750.  Score!  A big thanks to Aunt Karen for the photo which I stole from her blog, I actually missed the cake cutting because I was off  talking to guests. 
 Bad mommy.


Photographers are one of those huge expenses, and everyone will tell you that if you are going to splurge on anything you should make sure it's on your photos.  With packages running $1000-$3000 and up, there is a lot of room for savings. And do you know what you get for those prices? A thumb drive. Seriously, for that amount of money you then have to find a professional printer and order photos.  Victoria decided she really just wanted a fantastic portrait to frame.  How often do you really pull out those wedding photos and go through them? The portrait is the thing really, so she hired a friend who does wedding photography as a side business and whose work she was familiar with for a couple hours for a few hundred dollars. This photographer's prices included some actual hard copy photos professionally printed, another big plus!

and she got some great photos, including the photo up a few pictures from this one of the bridesmaids!
I love the portraits she took of my girl :>)

I also love this pic of the love of my life and I ♥

 But the flower girls daddy brought his gee whiz camera too, and he sure knows how to use it.

The photo below turned out to be the one she loves for her portrait.
Photo by the flower girl's daddy.

 He also caught these..

 The handsome groom and his beautiful bride:>) I love this photo of him dipping her, both of them so happy.

And her 17 and 19 year old cousins captured the ones below.

If you have guests with good cameras, chances are they know how to use them! They also have the time (unlike the mother of the bride!) to get some great shots.  Ask friends and family to get all the pictures they can and send them to you. You might be amazed at the wonderful shots you get that way, and all for free:>)
We saved thousands of dollars and her wedding was one of the best nights ever!  I hope these tips help some of you plan a great wedding that you'll remember, not because of a monthly bill, but because it was the wonderful night it is meant to be.
For those of you who have already been through the wedding process, I would love to hear cost saving strategies and tips that you learned along the way too!


  1. I love this post!! Victoria is beautiful in her lace gown. Here happiness shines!!

    You are so smart to do it this way, Kathy. We've been to quite a few weddings in the last year and all were wonderful. But I'll tell you, one of my friends took a second mortgage on their house for $50,000 to pay for the wedding. It was a wonderful affair but dang! My husband would absolutely never go for that. When I think of our wedding, it was simple and the happiest day. That's all we need.

    I'm proud of you! Oh, you and Earl are adorable. :)

  2. What a lovely day and how pretty. I did a budget wedding for our daughter 13 years ago--wasn't blogging then but it was gorgeous too! And so much fun to do! Beautiful bride and looked like a wonderful start to a long happy life together!
    Karen @ The Decorated Nest

  3. Oh this post is a wonderful resource for anyone planning a wedding or event! I so enjoyed seeing the beautiful photos! Thank you for including the one of you and Mr. Kathy's Cottage. Very nice!

  4. What a gorgeous wedding! Victoria was absolutely beautiful - and radiant. I loved all the things you did to save money for what was important. We did the same for our daughter's wedding. It means so much more when you've put it all together - even though it's a lot of hard work! You did a great job! I loved the photo of you and your hubby - sweet to see the two of you together.

  5. You are the queen of frugal beauty, in my book. Wow, the dress is lovely, I do like lace. The scalloped hem is so graceful. Everything you did turned out perfection and I could not tell the difference between this wedding and a $30,000 wedding. Oh, the bouquets with their colors are also beautiful.

  6. Everything and everyone looks so beautiful Kathy. You and your family and friends did an amazing job on the wedding. Maybe that would be a great new business...Beautiful Budget Weddings by Kathy!

  7. Penny has an awesome idea! A new job for YOU!

    You all look just so stunning in the photos. My favorite is the intimate one of them looking into each others eyes. Priceless.

  8. Beautiful pics of a beautiful family. And I love it when someone is frugal (yet classy) with their big events. (I did with my wedding 30 yr ago.) This wedding looks lovely and that cake sounds divine.

  9. @Stacey Wow, $50,000 in debt for a 4-6 hour party! I just can't fathom it. Add in the interest and fees for borrowing the money and it's a lot more. I guess some people can afford that kind of budget but we aren't those people. I had a friend confess once that she worried just a little about what people would think about parties she threw, whether they would think they weren't "enough". I told her I didn't invite those kind of people to my parties. Everything in perspective, A reception, or party is a way to get together with friends and family who love you. That is all and it's enough.

  10. Absolutely lovely, a happy day with no huge bills to follow. I did a similar one for my son's wedding 25 years ago...reception at home, cake made by a friend, decorations by me...etc! It was perfect.

  11. We all know how beautiful Victoria is, but no one commented on how handsome the groom was...

  12. Not only are your selections inexpensive, they are lovely and thoughtful. Your daughters will have a the most precious and unique narrative as they page through the photos over the decades...
    ...and my mom grew these flowers in her garden from seed...
    ...and my dad made these window boxes...
    ...yes! those are the lanterns from my sisters wedding!
    ,,,the cake was amazing... my cousin created it just for us!


  13. Looks like a beautiful wedding! My daughter is getting married in May and we are trying to be as frugal as possible! You've given me some ideas for sure!

  14. Wow! You all did an amazing job - it was a beautiful wedding! The wedding gown is so pretty! Loved seeing all the beautiful photos!

  15. We did both Kara's and Wesley's (I know it's different for a son, for sure) "on the cheap." We scored with a discontinued dress (and yes, fit her right off the rack!), friends pooled their resources to hire a photographer, we did all the decorations and I did most of the food prep, and had an amazing friend and her family pull off the "catering" so I could be present. And the cake ... neither of the kids liked cake, so I made brownies, and then made them a little "bride and groom" layered one to cut ... decorated by her sister (who did GREAT!). We did a popcorn bar while the guests waited for the bride and groom ... and had a friend's church graciously let us use their fellowship hall for the reception ... complete with the youth group setting up the decorations for a donation to their missions trip! Frugal weddings are possible ... but you have to work and (we found) rely on the community of friends and family we have to help us through. Thanks for your ideas, too .. hopefully I won't need them for a few years now! I'm ready for a summer without one of my kids getting married!!!

  16. I so enjoyed this, Kathy, first for all of your great tips and money smart ideas, but also because I got to see your beautiful daughter on her special day, and you as well, pretty lady! Victoria looks SO sweet, I mean that, like a very sweet girl. And she has a handsome new hubby to boot.

    I applaud you on all of the sewing and growing! It made a difference. Using other's skills as well, such as for the cake and pictures, fantastic.

    I think if you aren't the type of parents who can reach in your wallet and hand the bride and groom to be a carte blanche credit card, you have to do your research. I am so happy that my daughter and DIL did that and were their own "wedding planners". They found so many ideas on Pinterest and had various things made through Etsy. My daughter did splurge with the wedding photos and was terribly sorry. She didn't think the pictures were that good but she had signed a contract. There are so many budding photographers out there and anyone can edit a picture these day. I felt bad for her.

    Anyway, I need some tips for the baby shower I'm having for my daughter in law here at home in January!! :)

    Jane xx

  17. Your daughter and her wedding dress are just beautiful. I love how you created such a touching and meaningful wedding and did not have to break the bank....

  18. Kathy
    It is all so beautiful, especially the bride!
    I think the way everyone had a hand in Victoria's wedding made it all the more memorable and special.
    Your detailed outline is perfect for anyone who is planning a wedding. You should consider being The Thrifty Wedding Planner!

  19. O, dear Kathy, I swear you can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. You are so so talented in so so many different areas...
    This was a beautiful wedding...could not have been any prettier. I love all the photos, the tips you give here and the money saving things...but most of all...I love you. And, of course, your daughter was the most beautiful part of the post. :)

  20. Wonderful post....and our daughter just celebrated their seventh anniversary. We also DIY a lot of the wedding ( flowers, table decor, etc) and when the money ran out, we had a neighbor video the wedding. You can guess...that is what they now hold MOST precious and watch each year on their anniversary to remember once again.
    I have said many times, the happiest day was their wedding day. The SECOND happiest was the DAY AFTER!!! Oh my, I was exhausted but so happy. Many happy years for your sweet couple. BTW...her dress is GORGEOUS!!!!

  21. Amazing! Exquisite! You can feel the love.♥

  22. Hey Kathy - I finally took a few moments to read through your wonderful, inspiring post and look at the gorgeous photos...what a lovely wedding, daughter, family, you, etc! It all turned out amazing!! I think a frugal approach to a wedding makes so much sense for a young couple starting out (or anybody for that matter), so your ideas and inspirations are so helpful! Thanks for sharing all the details! You're a great creative generous soul and your daughter and her new hubby are indeed blessed to have had the benefit of your hard work and lovely ideas... Enjoy the afterglow and rest...

  23. Wow! I love all the details. Your daughter and her dress - stunning! The photos are beautiful and capture the day. I'm a big fan of bridesmaid dresses that aren't an exact match of each other and these are wonderful - not only a beautiful color palette but they all compliment the style of the wedding dress as well. We're a long way away from any weddings for our girls, but I definitely will remember these cost saving tips. Congratulations on all of your hard work. Everything is lovely!

  24. So, so beautiful....all of it! That dress - perfection. And her eyes - again - perfection! The flowers added that bit of color that tied everything together. You're brilliant! Everyone looks so happy. Congratulations on a very successful and loving event!

  25. Aww the pictures turned out so great! And thank you for using a picture of me in the kitchen where I don't look too crazy :-). Love you lots!


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