The biggest savings was having a great family that is well-connected. My cousins run Wedding Planners and Catering Services (Sharon Helmick and Teresa Jackson, are my cousins. If you happen to live in the Ohio Valley region and need quality work at an affordable price, give them a buzz!) and have all the table linens, dishes, and kitchen wares we needed. Not everyone is so lucky to be related to pros, but there are ways to save money by thinking outside the box.
We used reusable dishes at the reception. It took a bit of time to wash them afterward, but we saved several hundred dollars not buying the high-end disposables. The napkins are also cloth and are reusable. Many halls have dishes available for use...as long as you're willing to do the extra clean up.
Check with churches and civic organizations. They often have the large, industrial-sized serving items. Offer them a donation or ask about rental fees. The punch bowls in the picture were gathered from family. Amazing what people have already gathering dust in their cupboards.
Another smart idea my cousins taught me...use black table cloths on the food tables. Spills and stains are inevitable, so white table cloths make zero sense.
The pretty glowing trees lining the hall were cheap to make. We cut down saplings. Used Sakrete to secure them in Dollar Tree buckets. Painted them white. Lined them with white Christmas lights and they were perfect.
Re-usables. The roses in the table arrangements were repurposed from another wedding. The pine cones in the mix were gathered from yards and baked before adding them to the centerpieces. By looking for things that can be repurposed, thrift shop flower arrangements can get a second life.
The chair covers made ugly metal folding chairs look classy. We tucked the covers under the legs of the chairs for a finished-looking touch. We had to do it all in one night because we failed to book the hall for an extra day to do the decorating. By accident, we saved money by doing it all in a twenty-four hour period. 3:00 AM start time sound good, my fellow money savers?
Drapes of lights twinkling behind a sheer curtain. A gorgeous, affordable idea.
The bridal table. The rose and pine theme was chosen to save money, but they turned out to be perfectly symbolic. Red roses for love. Pine for longevity.
Christmasy touches make for cheap pizzazz. The Dollar Tree is well stocked during the holidays and a cheap place to pick up baubles to add some sparkle.
Putting the final touches on the light sheers. PVC pipes with holes drilled in it were the light/curtain hangers. A magical touch!
The cookie trays were supported by red bowls they flipped upside down and glued to the bottom of the trays. The garland was lengths of pine with roses wired to it and pine cones laid on top.
The pine garland was also used on the tables. The pine cones were free. The hurricane vases were reusables. All of these matched, but had we not found enough of the same kind...non-matching vases would have been beautiful too and with planning could be gathered from thrift shops and friends.
The Christmas tree was my mothers, or the bride's grandmother. We decorated it with pine garland, Dollar Tree snowflakes and red bulbs. The pine garland was simply twine with pine cones hot glued to it. The tree topper was a simple bow.
They had all the roasters from their catering business, but it wouldn't be impossible to borrow roasters and dishes from people. Just be sure to label it to return it later.
Which reminds me of a huge money savings...we cooked the food ourselves two days before the wedding. Stored it in the fridge and put it in the roasters to heat the day of the wedding.
Another way to save money on the food if you don't want to cook it yourself is to contact local charity groups. For my mother's funeral, I contacted Wetzel County Hope and Memories, a local group that raises money to help cancer patients with the transportation costs of cancer treatment. They cooked and served the food after the funeral for a donation to their charity.
The finished product. It's pretty during the day, but absolutely perfect at night. The candles on the table and the sparkly trees around the hall were the perfect amount of romantic light.
No two centerpieces were exactly the same. By sticking to the same colors and theme, you can save money by picking up items as you find them discounted instead of having to find a certain number of exact matches in bulk.