Wednesday, March 24, 2010

DIY Wedding Wednesday: On the Cheap

Yesterday in a thread I was following on
Yelp regarding where to find affordable wedding dresses in NYC, some bonehead dude had the nerve to chime in as follows:

John Q. said, "Any woman who wears a dress that cost less than a thousand bucks deserves to be left at the altar."

Everyone please join me in a collective
HOW DARE YOU?!?! to John Q. I don't expect he's headed to the altar any time soon with an attitude like that. Also his profile pic is a pint of beer, so I'm sure he's really hot too.

Therefore, for today's DIY Wedding Wednesday update I thought I'd highlight some of the ways I'm getting creative to stretch our modest wedding budget. Because despite what John Q thinks, you can have a very tasteful, beautiful, and fun celebration without paying the going rate for everything that the Wedding Industrial Complex demands. The toughest part is managing the funds to feed and get-drunk a crowd of friends and family. Unless you plan to invite only your immediate family and your one best friend, once you open up the guest list the costs go up quickly. Since we don't want to limit our party to just our parents and my dozen Mormon relatives (hey at least they won't drain the bar), my philosophy is don't skimp on the food and drinks but search for savings on the things you only need to buy one of. ie: the dress.

Some girls buy two dresses -- one for the ceremony, and another for the reception. Me, I bought three! Ok, so I'm only keeping one, but I needed to try them all on. I found two contenders online at, a vintage-inspired store based out of Burbank, CA. They specialize in pin-up girl style, prom dresses and super frilly Barbie doll quincenera-looking gowns. But they also have a great selection of perfectly tasteful wedding dresses with vintage flare. Since the groom and I intend to ride bikes from the church to the reception, I also am saving money by getting a tea-length dress (less fabric!). My third dress I picked up at a sample sale at the Jenny Yoo showroom in Manhattan. Jenny Yoo has a great selection of simple and elegant wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses, so even without sample sale prices, her designs are affordable. The dresses I'm not keeping I can unload at's used wedding dress forum. Easy!

We've recruited a good friend to be our "minister" since any speech about the meaning of our love will mean more coming from someone who actually knows just why we're meant to be together forever. Instead of someone who is paid to act like they care. I'm also planning to make all my own bouquets (see my last Wedding Wednesday post) to get around the high price of professional florists. I just need to be ready to work with whatever is fresh and available in the flower district the day before the wedding.

My groom and I both grew up being told we were "different" (or when someone was being nice, "creative"), so of course we won't stand to have a pre-packaged wedding. We checked out the standard banquet halls and popular venues but settled on a raw loft space that we can build out however we want. Sure that means 100x more work for us, but undaunted I've made a list of what we need to rent (which is everything), and we've started thinking up ways to decorate that will be more "us" than copious fleur de lis and ice sculptures. I've found a jackpot of decorating supplies at Save-On-Crafts -- willow branches, peacock feathers, glass crystal garlands -- and I refuse to let DIY wedding equal barn themed decor, no matter how trendy twine, mason jars and burlap seem to be on the wedding scene right now. Yuck.

As for the food, we're forgoing the usual special event caterers and going instead for catering-style delivery from our favorite grocery store, Fairway. Just as delicious without the pretense or the hidden fees. Working with a non-traditional party space means we aren't strapped to a limited list of vendors, so we're getting my favorite cupcakes from Baked (much cheaper than their custom wedding cakes) for which my dad is building a decorative tower, and we're staffing the whole affair with a mix of licensed freelancers and talented friends.

One more cost-saving tip for the reception -- offer wine, beer and a
signature cocktail or two instead of a full open bar. You'll buy less mixers and less varied booze, and you can make it fun by naming the signature drinks after something inspired by the bride and groom. I'm still coming up with mine, but the groom's is going to be the "Rock n Rye" which is a beer and a shot of whiskey. We can also save on champagne by serving its bubbly, Italian cousin Prosecco instead.

I'll blog more about these once I get involved in the actual creation, but we've already picked out colors, fonts and an illustration. Now it's off to the local stationery store to pick out the paper and envelopes. We're skipping the RSVP cards because they are wasteful of paper and they are an added expense. Instead guests will be directed to our Tumblr page (free) where they can RSVP via Google form (also free). The old folks who fear the web can always phone us from their land lines with their reply. Our save the dates, or STDs as I like to call them, cost us a whopping $36 including shipping for 100 custom postcards from They aren't fancy, but they are adorable and informative, and we'd rather spend the big bucks on the "real" invite and not blow our load on the STDs (hahaha).

More money saving wedding tips as I come up with them!