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Blog: Living Cheap in Kansas

How to live on less, save on just about everything and be green too!

Showing 1 posts in the Weddings for Less category for this blog.
You Don't have to go Broke to get Married - Part 1
Sunday, January 17, 2010

As noted in previous posts, We have three daughters.  They are all married.  We put on three weddings.  We did them all on a tight budget.  In doing so, I've learned a few things about weddings.  The most important is that you can put on a lovely shindig without breaking the bank.  Here is how we did it.

The first - Vanessa:  Although it's been almost 15 years, Vanessa's wedding was the biggest and the most frugal of them all.  Since my Son-in-law Joe comes from a large family (youngest of seven) This was going to be a big wedding - between 200 & 250 guests.  We did it all for about $3,500.  This includes the invitations, church, the priest, the hall, the decorations, the flowers, the cake, the pictures, the DJ, the bartender (with wine and beer), the flowers, the clothing and the food.

V&J announced on Halloween that they were getting married on February 3rd.  Not a long time to plan such a big wedding.  But with a combination of planning and luck, it all came together.

They planned the wedding for a Friday night - it was the only time they could get the church and the priest.

Next, the dress.  At that time Penny's Outlet store sold wedding dresses.  It was the first place we went.  Now, Vanessa is short, so we knew that whatever we bought would have to be shortened.  We looked for something that had a fancy top and simple skirt. 

The first dress she tried on had a beautiful beaded top and a plain white satin skirt.  It fit perfectly and cost $199.  After trying on several others we decided to purchase it.  The store personnel assured us the it could be returned if it hadn't been worn.  We wanted to check out some other options.

We visited several other stores and she tried on numerous dresses.  Nothing even came close to the first dress.  Since her M-I-L and I both sew we took the dress and planned the remodel.  For about $50 (from a store that was going out of business and had everything 50% off) we purchased some heavy netting - the type used to make trains for gowns, some lace medallions, some lace edging and some beading.  We trimmed the satin skirt shorter in the front and curved in the back.  Then we added the netting, sewed the lace medallions down the back, covered the seam with lace and beading and trimmed the edges.  When we finished, the dress had a six foot train with beaded lace cut-outs.  It was absolutely gorgeous!

Since it was the dead of winter in Kansas, Vanessa decided to use silk flowers instead of fresh.  Once again, she, her bridesmaids, her M-I-L and I created the arrangements, corsages, boutonnieres, and other floral decorations.  Her M-I-L worked for Walmart at the time and found glass bowls to decorate the tables on clearance for 50¢ each. She also found white wired Christmas lights for about $1.00 per string.    I used Michael's sales & coupons to pick up ribbon and those flat glass things and candles to put in the bowls.  I think she rented the tablecloths from the hall. Her colors were dark green, burgundy and gold.  We picked up the rest of the decorations for at least 50% off around and after Christmas.  I believe the only thing we paid full price for was the big burgundy rose in the center of her bouquet - around $5!

As for the bridesmaids' dresses, she chose black velvet tops with burgundy and green plaid satin skirts - using a simple pattern.  We found the patterns for 99¢ each and the fabric at Joann's for 50% off.  There were four bridesmaids - we made the dresses for about $25 each.  Then she found coordinating shoes at an outlet store at the mall for $7 a pair - in just the right sizes for all the girls.

For the two flower girls we found similar dresses at Sears for $10 each with velvet tops but a different skirt.  We removed the skirts and replaced them with skirts made from the left-over bridesmaid dress fabric.

At the time, Vanessa worked for a photography studio.  So not only did she get their top of the line wedding photo package at cost, but by knowing the invitation people, cake lady, the DJ's, the bartenders and the people who rented the hall, she got everything else for about 30% off.  Her grandparents said they would pay for the cake - around $250.

Now the food.  How do you feed 200 people on a small budget?  Well, we did it.  Our plan was to have meat & cheese trays, vege  & fruit trays, rolls, baked beans, potato salad, pasta salad and coleslaw.

Near my work with one of those places that sold salvage food items.  I had purchased food for the family from there for years and knew that their quality was good.  Right after Christmas they marked all their deli meats (unsliced) down to $1.49 per pound.  I bought two each of the turkey and ham items and one of corned beef.  They also had ten pound cheese blocks for $1.99 per pound.  Bought two cheddar and one of Swiss.  We put the meat in her M-I-L's freezer and stored the cheese in the fridge at her house also.

We were able to order the small egg rolls from a company that only sold to other companies for $1.00 a dozen.  My son-in-law managed a soccer store and was able to purchase them and have them shipped to the store for a "party".  Planned those to come in the day before.  The rest of the items we bought at Sam's or Aldi's. We bought bowls, serving utensils and trays at the local party store - on sale after Christmas.

A friend of her in-laws owned a small pizza restaurant.  He said that we could come in and use his big slicer to slice the meats and cheeses. So that is what we did - just a couple of days before the wedding.

The whole family got together the day before the wedding to prepare the food.  We sliced the rolls and prepared the meat & cheese and vege and fruit trays.  They were wrapped in plastic wrap and tucked into her M-I-L's spare fridge.  We also made the pasta salad.

The best man's sister owned a catering business.  As a wedding gift to the couple, she and her two teenage children came in and setup and served the food.  Afterwards we did the clean-up.

It was quite an event.  Everything came off perfectly.   Even the weather cooperated - it was about 50 degrees and sunny (unusual for Kansas in February!!)

Luck? Planning?  Maybe a little of both. 


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AnnieM (Contact)
Olathe, Kansas USA
About Me:

I've been a cheapskate just about all my life. In doing so I've learned to do just about everything. I can sew, paint, hang wallpaper, install tile and flooring, pull and replace toilets, sinks, garbage disposals and faucets. Remove and replace ceiling fixtures and fans, replace outlets and switches, I've installed windows (both on houses and on computers!), I can rehab almost anything from furniture (repair, reupholster and refinish) to computers (I built my husband a good laptop using three broken ones that I got for free)! I've taken cheap to a whole new level!

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