Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

Till Debt Do Us Part

It is difficult to imagine: Our wedding cost a whopping $200. I borrowed my dress and veil; I made the bridesmaid’s dresses; a friend made and gifted the cake; we had one bouquet for the church; and our fathers (both ministers) performed the ceremony. We opted for the photographer’s monthly special ($100 for eight 8x10s) and paid cash for everything, even the groomsmen’s tux rentals ($10 each). A lot has changed in 52 years, but enough about me.

I recently asked my “EC” readers to send their best money-saving wedding tips. I pored over hundreds of them, dividing them according to most popular and unique. Here for your reading pleasure are some of the best:

Make your invitations. Check office supply stores for kits to use with your home computer. There are so many beautiful choices, and provided you proofread carefully, no one will know your secret.

Rent or borrow the bridal gown. If you buy, you have to pay for it and then clean it, care for it and store it forever. A good rental shop includes alterations.

Book off-peak. Winter is the off-season; Sunday through Thursday are typically off-peak days. Off-peak hours are early in the day. Book off-peak and you can cut some costs in half. January is ideal as most service providers are available and anxious for the work.

Buy flowers wholesale. Beautiful flowers don’t necessarily require professional arranging. Find a talented friend to help you place them in vases, buckets or other creative containers. Example: Sam’s Club and Costco both offer gorgeous flowers, including roses in “growers’ bunches” starting at about $10.

Think unique. Contact the historical building preservation organization in your town to learn which facilities are for rent. One couple rented a beautiful 150-year old home and grounds for the day for just $200. The house was fully furnished, including tables and chairs for their guests. Or how about an arboretum? Another couple did this for a fee of only $100. The grounds were so beautiful, there was no need for any additional decor or flowers. Chair rental was additional.

Gifts of service. Many couples asked friends and family to provide services for the wedding as their gifts. Examples: Three played classical music for the ceremony. Two performed jazz for the reception. One made the wedding cake. Another did hair and makeup. Other friends set up the reception and even made a beautiful twig arbor.

Think green. Salad bar receptions (dessert bars, too) are becoming more popular because they’re cost-effective, and people love them. You can include a salad bar, fruit salads, pasta salads and so on. If you do much of the work yourselves, you’ll save even more.

Cake smarts. If you have a large guest list, do not buy a fancy wedding cake that feeds everyone. Buy a small, beautifully decorated cake for the photos and cake-cutting ceremony, and basic sheet cakes to serve your guests. Many respondents praised the wedding cakes from Publix Super Markets as not only beautiful but delicious — and half the price of a traditional bakery.

Take a short honeymoon nearby, and then plan a longer vacation later after you have settled into “normal” living. It will spread the expense over a year rather than adding that cost to the wedding.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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