Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fairy Tale Wedding without the high price tag: Part One.

Enchanted        Fairy Tale       Magical
All these words would be the way I would describe my son's wedding this past weekend.
While many weddings are often beautiful and amazing, this wedding was created 
on short notice and on a tight budget.  A very tight budget.  
Often that leads to missing elements in a wedding.  So take a good look
at  the magical photos taken by my amazing 
friend, style guru Matthew Mead and his talented wife Jenny.
Because looking at these photos, you won't see a budget wedding... 
It was a lush, intimate and romantic affair.
Lets start with the dress. 
 Mimi and I went shopping for a wedding dress, and upon doing
that were able to narrow down the dress designer that she loved best, and the basic style that
she wanted to wear, which was the princess look.  Tight at the waist and flowing out to the floor.
The stock photo on the left was by the bridal company, and here on Mimi it looked equally wonderful.  These dresses cost thousands of dollars, and so she searched bridal shops online that
were selling their samples from discontinued dress styles.  There she was able to score a dress
from a bridal shop that was never worn, and was made by the dress designer she loved, for a 
heavily discounted price. These retailed at $2000, she got a similar dress for $500. 
The dress was a big part of the Fairy Tale.
We were shocked to find out that bridal alterations can cost between $400 and $600.
So I decided to try to do it myself and since she bought a sample in a size that
fit her best that made it a bit easier.  However she lost some weight and I had to 
not only hem it, but take it in at the shoulders and the waist.  I was a bit scared to
be honest, so I used safety pins on the inside of the dress, synching it in about an inch 
on each side and then had her try it on again.  It made a world of difference.  Then I pinched 
up a bit on the shoulders and pinned that part too.  After she took it off, I hand stitched the 
pinned areas without cutting any part of the dress, and it fit like a glove!!
So pin, then hand stitch.  We saved as much as the dress cost!!
I hemmed the bottom after pinning it up as she stood in her shoes.  That was scary too, but with tulle
fabric (the fluffy netting over the dress) it is cut simply using scissors, no hemming needed.
And you cut it a bit longer than the dress fabric underneath.  So even though I may not have sewn
it perfectly, it was not noticeable because, (1),  who is looking at the hemline? and (2) the tulle netting
covers the skirt hem and hides the stitching.  So our dress cost $500 and it would have been $2500.
We went to a fabric store and found the same nude colored tulle which I created a veil.
The veil was simple to make.  We made it hit the floor, and then trimmed it afterwards.  Two 
lengths of tulle were gathered with a big basting stitch and then pulled to shirr it tight, and then
hand stitched to a hair comb with button thread, which is a heavy duty thread.  Easy Peasy.
I had the veil made in 20 minutes. And it cost less than ten dollars in fabric and maybe five bucks for the comb.  
This was a backyard wedding in a small space, so that meant it would be 
a very small group of guests.  Cutting down the invitation list was difficult, but in the end
it was exactly the same thing my husband and I did and it lent itself to a very intimate and romantic feeling.  This wedding had under 30 guests, and the costs associated with bigger guests list will automatically drive up the cost of a wedding.  So think hard and long before inviting people just because of this or that.  Are they connected in a real way in the couple's lives?  If not, leave them off the list.  After all, it is THEIR wedding, not their parents, and it should be who THEY want to witness their marriage.  Then shop around for a caterer, as there are price lists online from local caterers that have great reputations.  We saved money on the venue, as it was our own yard.
That is a great way to slash wedding costs.  We had to rent a tent and chairs, tablecloths and stemware.  I had dinner plates, napkins and silverware, and when I was short, I borrowed what I needed from my mother in law next door.  My collections served me well, as my gold rimmed dinner
plates were finally looking incredible set up on the long tables in the tent.
The tent, tables, chairs, stemware and tablecloths and the caterer cost just under $1500. 
We bought all the wine, beer and champagne and soft drinks at big retailers to save money.
The table flowers and bouquet came from a local garden center after we visited and the bride picked out her flowers of choice.  The groom's dad works for this garden center so he was given a discount. 
I augmented the flowers with more flowers from Trader Joes to created massive bouquets for the house.  After spending $50 on roses and hydrangeas, I created many arrangements, including my favorite, using my French magazine basket as a container.  I place five vases inside the basket
and then stuffed extra tulle around the vases to hide them through the cane exterior.
While we had a connection for better pricing for flowers at a nursery, we saw amazing and 
beautiful flower arrangements in all sizes at our local Whole Foods at super affordable prices.
Talk to the manager in the flower section there to order great looking arrangements for tables,
or simply buy from their composed arrangements, of which there were many.
 This amazing idea came from Matthew himself, who suggested using the basket
as a flower centerpiece.  Truly gorgeous!
Next was the tent...I wanted to make it magical and give it an enchantment 
and that meant putting up lights and some white tulle. I ordered 50 yards of white tulle that was 108 inches wide.  It also comes in 54" width, so get the wider if you plan to do this.  The overall effect
was pure magic! In the center I had hubby hang an old chandelier.

Mimi and I did all of this OURSELVES!! 
We used an 8 foot ladder to get close to the peak of the tent and then I used 
rolls of white wired satin ribbon from Costco to 
attach the tulle and the lights one row after another, layering from one corner to the next.
The wired ribbon is easy to tie and strong, and it cost about $7 for a roll of 50 yards.
 This was pretty exhausting, it took us about three hours, but we did it!

When hubs came home from work, he rigged up the chandelier to an old extension cord,
then used zip ties to attach it to the center of the poles.  By then it was evening and 
while I had ordered perimeter lights with the tent at a cost of $50, they had a 
weird greenish color when lit up so we kept them unplugged for the wedding.  
It was coming together, and I was excited to get to setting the table.
But that would have to wait for the wedding day, which was only in a few hours.
That will be part two of this series, and I can't wait to show you more.

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  1. Budget is in the bottom line dollar signs... but style, true style has no actual numbers attached to it. Events, weddings, parties, etc. have large numbers attached because many, many people aren't in touch with style, re-use, upstyling... many have been sold a bill of goods that means big venues and bad polyester linens are the way it has to be, the expectation. I say "express yourself". Pick your venue, your food, your style... you make it what you want for the money you want to spend... save money and spend your style forward. MATTHEW MEAD

  2. Beautifully done, Amy. We have two daughters and had two very different weddings. One was an over-the-top extravaganza and the second was a small, intimate affair. We gave them the same amount of money to spend so daughter #2 used her "extra" money to help her and her hubby get set up in their new home.

    Personally, I LOVE a small, intimate wedding. You really feel connected to those that are there and there is a whole different level of sharing of the bride & grooms' lives in the smaller atmosphere. Can't wait to see more, Amy! xo Diana

  3. Amy you are amazing! The wedding venue looks dreamy and romantic. Just goes to show with talent like yours anything is possible.


  4. anxiously waiting for part 2

  5. Omigosh, this was so interesting to read! Your attention to detail is so inspirational! I sewed a wedding gown way back in 1976. We all remember empire waistlines, don't we? Thanks for sharing!

  6. So many great, lovely ideas. Timely for me. Thanks for sharing, Amy.

  7. Elegant weddings on a budget ... sounds like a new magazine to me! Your labor of love and your many gifted talents produced a wedding that people dream of. I am sure that those planning a wedding now are truly loving your tips of how to achieve a most memorable day.

  8. It's fantastic and so practical. Having recently sold a wedding venue, we just hosted our daughter's backyard wedding with very little stress. Really enjoying your story.

  9. Amy,it was just magical. I love all your money and stress saving tips. What a dream wedding. Looking forward to the next chapter.

  10. Y'all did such an amazing job! I was following along on IG. Yes, alterations cost a fortune. Wish my daughter had done a budget wedding. Thank goodness we only have one daughter.

  11. So lovely. Everything. The tulle with the lights were perfect.


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