Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Few Things

Re-reading my old posts, I realized that I forgot some key information.  I gave you tips on how to find a good photographer on a budget, but I never mentioned what to do with the pictures!  Most independent photographers can offer prints through their preferred lab, which is usually a 3rd party and not actually done by the photographer.  I recommend getting at least a few pictures professionally developed through a photo lab because the quality is MUCH better than from "discount" photo printing sites such as Shutterfly or Snapfish.  I just used Shutterfly to get my prints because I didn't want to spend any extra money and was a bit disappointed with the quality.

However, I definitely recommend using a cheaper service to do any small 4x6 prints you might want because at that size the quality difference will be negligible and having the best quality prints isn't quite as important for pictures that are just going in an album.  Another great thing about Shutterfly is that they partner with a lot of bridal companies, such as David's Bridal and, to offer you special deals after your wedding.  I managed to get two free Shutterfly photobooks because I was registered on The Knot website and filled out some evaluations of my wedding vendors, and because I bought my dress from David's Bridal.  These books made great presents for my parents and my in-laws and didn't cost me a thing!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekly Wedding #3- Burlap and Pink

Hello again! For the third installation of my weekly wedding series, I decided to go with a country princess theme.  Now, this theme is inspired by my best friend in the world, so I tried to keep in mind my friend's preferences and modest budget.  I love the soft, feminine style of the bride's dress and the hint of pink really makes it stand out. The style of this wedding is right on the border of casual and chic, so complementary bridesmaid dresses really work well here.  I think a convertible wrap dress is perfect for this early summer wedding.  There are a ton of different convertible dresses out there and they pretty much all can be worn in one of at least 5 different ways.  I really like the style pictured here, but instructions for wearing the dress in a different style can be found at

Besides the short convertible dress I chose to use here, there are several other lengths to choose from.  All of these styles would look great for a country chic wedding, and the sea pink color perfectly complements the whisper of pink in the bride's dress! An added bonus is that these dresses are made of soft jersey material, which looks incredibly comfortable and doesn't wrinkly as easily as other fabrics! The only drawback that I can foresee with these dresses is that many of the styles have an open back, necessitating the use of an uncomfortable backless bra, or buying the company's matching bandeau ($30) to wear under the dress.  Cowboy boots set off the country theme, with the bridesmaids wearing brown high heeled boots and the bride wearing pink and brown boots. Light colored eyeshadow really makes the bride's blue eyes pop. To enhance the princess part of the theme, the bride would wear a simple crystal flower tiara from Icing paired with an elbow length veil.
The bridal bouquet would be made up of soft pink peonies, cream roses, baby's breath and ferns as greenery.  The bridal party would carry smaller versions of the same bouquet, minus the roses. Each bouquet would be wrapped in a soft tan burlap, with the bride's bouquet pinned by an antique brooch. In keeping with the country theme, the music would be a recorded selection of country love songs and classical wedding music played on acoustic guitar.  To add variety and keep costs down, instead of one large wedding cake there would be a dessert bar consisting of various fruit pies and buttercream cupcakes.  

For more burlap and pink inspiration, check out my weekly wedding #3 board on Pinterest at


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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weekly Wedding #2- Blue Christmas/Winter Wonderland

My apologies for the long delay since my last weekly wedding post.  I've been under the weather and miserable in the nearly 100 degree weather.  Anyways, I'm ready to jump back into fantasy wedding planning with a cool blue and silver winter wedding.  I want this wedding to be elegant and timeless, but also simple and understated.  No huge princess ballgowns here, just classic beauty that takes inspiration from ice and snow in the outdoor landscape.  

DB Galina Signature $700
I love the one shoulder design of this dress! It's more unique than the run of the mill strapless wedding dresses (nothing against strapless, I wore one for my wedding, I just wanted a more unique look here).  The fabric of this dress looks elegant and the hint of sparkle is perfect for the winter wonderland inspiration.  I would pair this dress with some simple but elegant crystal jewelry, a polished low updo, and blue shoes to match the blue of her bouquet and bridesmaids dresses.   
Once again, I think a mixture of bridesmaids dresses in different styles but the same color and fabric looks more natural and stylish than having each woman in the same dress.  It allows each bridesmaid to find a dress that fits her the best and I think will end up looking less "dated" in photographs.  

Satin Cowl Neck $140
Each bridesmaid would wear simple crystal jewelry and silver shoes.  To add a bit of continuity throughout the wedding party, all the bridesmaids could wear matching jewelry and shoes.  These dresses are all from the same line at David's Bridal in satin and the color is marine.  

Bridal Party Shoes $46
Strapless Satin DB $100

Satin V-Neck $80
   For music, a local university string quartet would provide a beautiful ambiance for  a reasonable price, and would play an array of classical pieces for the prelude, ceremony, cocktail hour.  The bridal party bouquets would be a small to medium sized bundle of blue and white flowers, while the bride herself would have a slightly larger and more complex bouquet interspersed with glittering brooches.  

* I realize that the spacing on this post is weird, and I apologize for that.  I may try doing picture collages instead of the individual item pictures in the future, and then just list the links separately.  For the sake of saving space, check out the rest of my ideas for this wedding at .  As always, any links provided are for your information only and are not part of any affiliate program.  Hope you enjoyed this post and the ideas as much as I did, and please comment and let me know what wedding theme you want to see on future weekly wedding posts! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Weekly Wedding #1- Boho Eclectic

For the first weekly wedding theme I've chosen an eclectic bohemian feel.  This bride is grounded in simplicity and loves to relax and have fun.  She probably plays guitar or drums in a local indie band.

Recycled Slip Dress- Etsy $430
For this bride's dress, I've chosen something that is elegant and beautiful without being fussy.  After perusing many vintage and bohemian style options, I decided the best dress for this bride would be a custom made dress from Etsy.  This dress is made by Etsy seller ktjean from recycled vintage slips in ivory and soft white.  This bride also wishes to maintain a little bit of modesty so she would pair it with a matching bolero jacket as styled in the photograph.

To match the relaxed vibe of the bride's dress, her bridesmaids would wear summery floral sundresses in complementary (but not matching!) prints and colors. By only dictating the style and pattern/color scheme, each bridesmaid is able to choose a dress that she truly likes and will be able to wear multiple times.  The soft blues and purples of these four dresses complement each other without looking too matchy or clashing
Nine West Serious- $40 (sale)
Bridesmaids dresses from left to right:
Beauty in Bloom- Modcloth $53
Lace in the Sun- Modcloth $53
Bohemian Maxi- ecrater $20
Meadow Maze- Modcloth $60

Rocket Dog SHELL $35

To accesorize, the bride would maintain her theme of simplicity and wear these cream and tan thong sandals while her bridesmaids would wear similar black leather thong sandals with blue beading.  Each women would wear their hair down or in a loosely braided style with natural looking make-up.  The bride would forego the traditional veil in favor of a more earthy looking headband.

Satin Flowers Headband- Icing $12.50
As for flowers the bridal party would carry bouquets of succulents and greens wrapped with ivory ribbon and tied with vintage charms or small lockets with photographs of the bride and individual bridesmaid.  
The music would be recorded selections of the bride and groom's favorite modern love songs played by the Vitamin String Quartet.  
Image by Rae Leytham via Elizabeth Anne Designs
*FYI: All links in the above post are for your information only and are not part of any affiliate or sponsorship program*

Friday, June 28, 2013

Budget Wedding Finale- Music!

Last but not least, I want to cover some different options for saving money on the music at your ceremony.  There are really two routes to go depending on your budget and how formal you plan for the ceremony to be.  The first route, which I would recommend for a ceremony music budget of a few hundred dollars, would be to contact the music department of any nearby colleges or universities and see if any students would be interested in playing at your wedding for a small fee.  By hiring music students, you can be assured that they will be competent and professional, because I think nearly every (if not ALL) college music programs require auditions and several performances each semester.

Many music programs even have requisite small groups that perform together all semester and you could possibly hire the entire group if it was in your budget.   As long as your wedding doesn't fall on the same day as any university performances, it should be fairly easy to find a music student to hire. I mean, really, what college student isn't looking to make extra money?  You could hire a student of virtually whatever instrument or vocal range you desired  It would most likely be cheaper to hire soloists, though, because I would assume that most students want to be paid individually instead of splitting a lump sum; because of this I think it would be best to hire a pianist or cellist or violinist instead of say, a trumpet player. After asking a few of my friends who were music performance majors in college, I came to the general conclusion that most would be happy being paid anywhere from $50-$150 per person to play at your ceremony.  I paid over $500 for a professional pianist, so you can see that hiring a student is significantly less expensive.

There are, of course, a few drawbacks to hiring a student musician. First of all, college students aren't always 100% the most dependable people so make sure that you thoroughly and completely explain all of your expectations about their responsibilities. Remember, besides the ceremony, most musicians need to be at the rehearsal as well. Have a legal contract drawn up if you have any doubts whatsoever about your musician.  Secondly, a student musician may have a more limited repertoire than a seasoned professional.  They should be able to handle any wedding standards and several classical pieces as long as you let them know many months in advance what pieces you want played, but don't expect them to be able to transpose and arrange a Ke$ha song.   Also remember that these young musicians are working very hard to succeed in their field, so please treat them with courtesy and respect. Don't be too much of a cheapskate when deciding on a price with them, because it does take a lot of time and effort to prepare for a performance, even if it is only a handful of pieces for a wedding ceremony.  And PLEASE don't forget to tip them if they go above and beyond everything you expected!

The second option, which is definitely the cheapest and what I would recommend for a less formal wedding, is to play recorded music from a cd or mp3 player. You can find a good wedding cd online for less than
The Knot Collection of Wedding Music
$20, and it will sound perfect every time (as long as you have a good working sound system).  Another advantage to this option is that you usually have greater variety and individuality than with hiring a musician.  You can literally find a string or piano version of every popular wedding song.  If you want Taylor Swift performed by a string quartet, you can find that! You can also mix up the instrumentation of your ceremony if you want to.  Personally, I think the flow is better if the instrumentation is the same all the way through, but if you want to go from piano to string quartet to guitar, you can do that.  Also, thanks to the wonderful internet age and mp3 downloads, you can pick exactly what songs you want and in what order you want them played instead of being stuck to the track listing on a cd.
VSQ Modern Wedding Vol. II

Classical Wedding Music on
Now, the drawbacks to using recorded music are pretty straightforward. You have to make sure your venue has a compatible sound system, and that you will be allowed to use it.  Most churches and indoor event spaces have sound systems that you can play a cd through or hook up to an mp3 player, so this shouldn't be a problem if you're having an indoor wedding.  However, if your wedding is outdoors you may have to rent a sound system, and that could end up costing more than it would to hire live musicians.  Of course, if your wedding ceremony is in the same space as your reception and you hired a DJ for the reception, they may be
able to handle the ceremony for an additional small fee. That brings me to another possible problem with using recorded music: you need to have someone you trust to play the right piece at the right time and who is technologically competent enough to work the sound system.  Also, it wouldn't hurt to have an emergency back-up sound system or other plan in case the one you are using fails (as technology and electronics frequently do).

One last thing: the reception music. I know some people try to save money by just hooking up an ipod to the venue's speakers, but that is really quite tacky and should only be done if you have an absolute shoestring budget and literally can't find the money anywhere to hire a DJ or band.  Of course, if you are going for a casual party feel for your reception, this may be acceptable, but I do recommend at least attempting to find a low cost DJ to hire.  And... if your wedding is in or close to a city/town with a college or university (notice a theme here?) you may be lucky enough to find a talented student DJ who will work for much less than a professional DJ company.  I know I went to a mid-size university (~16000 undergrad) and there were several well known student DJs who often played the local dance clubs.

This post brings me to the end of my planned series of tips, but soon I will be starting a weekly wedding series where I plan a new and unique mock wedding each week and post my ideas and rough estimate of prices!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Budget Wedding Photography

 I have to say that photography is pretty essential to wedding planning because you are going to want to have amazing pictures to capture your big day and remember it for years to come.

Since photography is so important, I'll start with some tips to to help you find an amazing photographer at a great price.  This is one area that you really don't want to skimp on and just have a family member or friend do (unless they are a professional photographer).  I'm not saying you can't get good photos done by a hobbyist or amateur, but for your wedding you really don't want to take any chances with the quality of your photography.  If you are lucky enough to live in a metropolitan area or somewhere with a local university, my first recommendation is to try and find a "young professional" photographer.  This is going to be someone that is either still a student, or very new in the field, but still has had proper training and education in photography.  You can usually get a good price from these young professionals because they don't have years of experience and are often are still trying to build their portfolios. Try using social media or online advertising to search for photographers, or post a notice in the art building of your local university.

"Experienced" professional photographers often charge $1000+ for wedding packages, but if you go with a young professional you will probably pay around half that depending on how many hours they will be photographing.  Similarly, you can use social media or other platforms to find an experienced "hobbyist" to act as photographer.  Ideally, this person will have been photographing weddings and events as a hobby for many years, but usually doesn't have the classroom training of a professional.  If you choose either a young professional or an experienced hobbyist, make sure you check out their portfolio and previous work to ensure that you will be getting a good end product.  Also, talk to them at length to get a good idea of their style and what ideas they have/will they work with your ideas.  You might find a good, low cost photographer who has a lot of technical skill but can only shoot dated and cliched poses.

For some examples of what to look for in a good young professional, check out the following links:
Elysian Fields Photography- NW OHIO
Polyrhythm Photography- Dayton/Cinci Area

Additionally, you may want to look into hiring a videographer to cover the ceremony and/or the early parts of the reception, ie: first dance, cake cutting, father daughter dance, bouquet toss, etc...
I only suggest this because I do regret not hiring a videographer because honestly, I don't remember a lot of my wedding day.  I was nervous and the whole day went by so fast that it is a blur in my mind.

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post, but check out the links for some awesome wedding photography and ideas. I promise I'll post more in my next posts!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Devil in the Details- Budget Wedding Stationary

I think I'll wrap up this series of budget wedding idea posts with some tips to save money on all the little things.  The small details of a wedding can quickly add up, especially if you are inviting a large number of guests or want to add  personal touches to a lot of things.  As with everything before, I can't stress flexibility enough.  If you have your heart set on some exact, particular detail, you will probably end up paying more than if you keep a general idea of what you want and find the best deals on whatever goes with your idea.  Also, if you have a lot of time to plan and work on things yourself, you will definitely save a TON of money.

Since invitations are pretty vital to every wedding, I'll start with some ideas to save money on stationary.  Many people choose to send save-the-dates ahead of actual invitations, but this really isn't necessary.  You can cut down on costs by skipping this step and relying on word of mouth to let your friends and family keep their calendars open for your wedding day.  I haven't really found save the date cards for any cheaper than $0.80 per card, plus tax and the additional cost of envelopes and stamps.  I really do think that you will be fine with just sending invitations, but if you absolutely have to send save-the-dates, keep them small and simple to save on mailing costs, or DIY.
Michaels Elegant Swirls Invitations

As for the invitations themselves, DIY is going to be your best bet if you are looking for classy and elegant stationary at a budget price.  I used a BRIDES® invitation kit from Michaels, printed and assembled them myself, and they turned out absolutely gorgeous! If you pay extra, you could also order your invitations from, but I preferred the DIY method because it allowed me more control over exactly how my invitations looked.
When you buy the kit in a store, the packaging will have a website from which you can download the proper format for the invitations to use in your word processing program.  This is a good starting place to ensure that the wording on your invitations is formatted and spaced properly on the paper.

Glue pad for rubber stamps
If the tone of your wedding is more casual, you could also just buy some nice cardstock and ribbon to design and print your own invitations.  If you are good at arts and crafts and have ample time, you could dress up your plain cardstock invitations with a pretty stamped design; all you would need are stamps and a quality ink.  Most arts and crafts stores also carry clear glue "ink" that can be covered with glitter after being stamped on paper.  Another good way to dress up simpler invitations is to add a raised monogram using a custom embosser.  Most of these handy little stamping tools cost around $50-$75 and can be used on ALL of your wedding stationary (invitations, envelopes, response cards, thank you's, etc) as well as on paper favor bags and even napkins! Spring Monogram

Wedding programs are also rather important, but the same money-saving ideas from your invitations can also be applied to your programs.  Most stores like Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, etc..., carry DIY program kits. These are usually plain and simple but can be embellished with ribbons and charms, glitter, scalloped edges, and fancy fonts.  Again, you can start from scratch and DIY using all of your own supplies, but please please please at the very least use a good ivory or white cardstock and NOT plain computer paper (that just looks tacky and cheap).
Hopefully these ideas help you; please comment with any questions you have or if you have another good idea to save money on wedding stationary! Next up, music and photography ideas, then possibly some sample/mock budget weddings!