It’s been an interesting adventure planning our wedding. Many laughs, a few frustrations and lots of new ideas and respect for creativity. I’ve learned many ways to turn our ideas into cost effective and manageable realities without sacrificing elegance, ambiance and other factors important to us.
As I’ve been researching various details, such as table centerpieces and favors, it spurred some conversations with Justin about the type of wedding we want, and the funds we’re willing to invest (I pull out the wine when talk turns to “return on investment”). We are striving to stay simple, classic and, most important to us – fun. While staying within a realistic, affordable budget. So far, so good. At least to us. Maybe our guests won’t think so!
Through all of the planning, it’s been fun to see the creativity by other couples and wedding planners. To see the simple, recycled decorations one couple created and the elegant, cascading centerpieces another bride worked on with items borrowed from friends’ homes. I thought I would share again some of the ideas and lessons I’ve learned from my research and brainstorming.
I’ll start with favors. There are SO. Many. Ideas. Perhaps you’re having a difficult time deciding on candies, a picture frame, chocolates or some other gift to give. All fun, but maybe consider something that will make an impact on those in need – a donation to a charity. There are so many worthy charities, whether an animal shelter, cancer organization, food bank or your church. Many charities have a formal special occasions program that can provide personalized table cards or table tents that will let guests know you made a donation in their honor in lieu of a favor. Smaller charities might not have a formal program but that’s alright – you can easily create a simple table card using the logo and basic verbiage. (Of course a tribute donation can also be given in lieu of gifts for anniversary parties, bar mitzvah or any special occasion.
I’ve also heard of providing flower seed packets or tree saplings to guests, which is a cool way to give back to our Earth. We recently attended a friend’s wedding at a local museum – their gift to guests was keeping the museum open all evening so we could wander the exhibits (see earlier blog post). As a history buff, I loved this. There are many ways to keep costs low and be creative for guest favors!
Then there’s THE dress. Shopping for a wedding dress is a fun and exciting part of planning a wedding. My biggest challenge was that I felt pretty in all the dresses I tried on! I finally found the one that made me feel beautiful and elegant and still kept the simple, romantic attitude I was searching for. While I eventually found my dress at a traditional bridal salon, I was super impressed with The Brides Project in Ann Arbor (Mich).
If you’re a bride looking to save money and make a difference in the community, check out The Brides Project. This nonprofit organization sells once-worn gowns donated by brides or unsold gowns donated by bridal shops at a considerable discount (typically 50 percent below market prices). Proceeds from the gown sales benefit the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor, which provides social and emotional support programs at no-cost to people affected by cancer. The Brides Project has a variety of styles, sizes and prices. All gowns are in great shape. And of course if you’ve already walked down the aisle in a beautiful gown, consider donating it to The Brides Project and make a difference in the life of someone touched by cancer.
When planning the decorations for a wedding, anniversary or birthday party, consider items that are or can be reused or recycled. Part of our table centerpieces will include candle holders from my sister’s wedding, as well as other items that we’ll use again after the wedding. It just makes sense to reuse and/or recycle rather than buy all new items. Think of the money saved, as well as the good deeds you’re doing.
If possible, try to use local resources. For example, we’re planning to work with a vendor at the farmer’s market for flowers that are grown locally and are seasonal. Our other vendors are local and our invitations will be printed on recycled paper.
These are just a few suggestions. There are many options available for keeping a wedding simple and eco-friendly and still have a romantic, elegant ambiance. I promise you really don’t need to spend a ton of money on your event. What ideas do you have?