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So You Became Engaged This Holiday Season…

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Ann Wood ornaments that I turned into awesome cake toppers.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! You know the time where your Facebook /Twitter/Instagram/Snap Chat/ Linkedin? Feeds are just racked with happy pictures of newly engaged couples. Maybe you yourself are newly engaged? Although I feel a million miles away from when I was engaged just a mere 3 years ago. I remember it all. I remember taking to my Pinterest board and starting to plan for a very important day. Or, at least making my private board public.

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Here’s the deal, my now husband and I were extremely fortunate to receive money from our families. Each side of our families gave us a set amount and after that we were on our own. Did you know that the average wedding in the U.S. costs around $20,000? That’s just crazy! But depending on size, venue, and cost per plate it stacks up so quick! Here are a few tips from an old pro on how to make the best of your budget and to help you get on your way to planning your special day.

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Long rows of tables set the scene and allowed for the passing of family style portions of pasta too!
Location, Location, Location: This is a big one. This will set the tone for your whole day, not to mention your budget, your dress/suits, invitations and decor. After looking at several venues online and look at inspiration from local wedding magazines my husband and I knew what venues would be in our price range. I am not very religious nor is my husband so settling on an outdoor location was perfect for us. We chose a park located in the established part of town. Then for the reception it just so happens that there was a great community center located on the park grounds with beautiful 1920’s architecture and most of all it was budget friendly! When working with a slim budget try to find a location that makes a big statement and that way most of your decor is taken care of.

Who’s in charge? Of all the advice that I can give you it would be even if you wanted to plan every aspect of your wedding day hire or appoint someone to supervise your overall vision for the day. I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful Day of the Event Coordinator who made my day run flawlessly(Kate Whelan you are a talent). And most of all I didn’t have to drag any family members into the equation. They were all able to enjoy the day and that was worth the small portion of the budget to do so.

Flowers & Decor. I like flowers. I actually like them a lot. What I could not wrap my head around spending silly amounts of money on flowers that would cost tons of money and only be used for a few hours. So I didn’t, but I did. Okay to be clear I found an alternative. Thank goodness for freeze dried flowers. Sounds kind of weird, but I was able to find a flower that fit the theme for the day and they looked like they were alive. All in I spent $125  on flowers. And how did I do this with a bouquet? I actually used pressed wood flowers to make my bouquet which I used a toilet paper role as a base for with matching black and white ribbon and accented the pressed flowers with crystals. Did I really walk down the aisle with a toilet paper role for the base of my flowers? Yes, I did!

As for the rest of the decor we kept it simple.  I am crafty and thrifty so I spent months gathering and creating the decor for the wedding. Every inspiration I pulled from my Pinterest boards I made for a quarter of the cost. I found lanterns and bird cages at TJ Max, I bought mercury glass votives on sale through Pottery barn. I went to the Salvation army and bought crystal punch glasses, and white vases on sale for around $25 that covered all of our tables. I knew that in order to keep costs down picking the standard white or black tablecloths would help a lot. I choose white and then found black and white stripped table runners to really make a statement. The table runners ended up being cheaper to buy online rather than renting too.

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Freeze dried billy buttons wrapped in matching ribbon for boutonnieres.
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Yes these flowers are fake. But they look real.
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Infamous wood pressed white flowers and toilet paper base wrapped in ribbon. I am a crafting goddess.
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The Knot: Use it. It’s that simple.

Guest List: First of all talk to your partner about what you envision for your day. Then figure out your budget. It is your day, but know that you will need to hear the opinions of family members on who you should and should not invite, but ultimately it is your choice. If you decide that your wedding will be child free you will need to state this right from the beginning. Know that it’s okay to not invite everyone and their child. Some people may not understand this but hey! That cousin who has 5 children can put a serious dent in your head count for catering.

Dave + Erica Married-895.jpgCake: Cake tasting is the best part of getting married! Take this opportunity to have a kick ass date with your soon to be husband/wife. Remember, people really do remember your cake. But this doesn’t mean that you have to do a cake at all. There are plenty of budget friendly ways to give your guests a sweet treat.

Photographer: Something I was not aware of until planning for my wedding is that the photographer runs the day. They have a schedule for you and in order to get all of those fun and beautiful shots they need to plan accordingly. Make sure that you gel with your photographer and that they are someone that shares your vision for your day. We lucked out and had an amazing and I mean AMAZING photographer who was truly gifted at his art (Corey Fox you are the best!).

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Favors: Ugh. This was a hard one for me. I knew from many of the weddings that I had been to that nobody truly cares about your favors, but everyone has an opinion on them. I knew right away that I wanted to do a sweet. I thought that M&Ms in a container would be so cute! I also thought that it would be ridiculously adorable to have my husband and I’s name on them. Forget it! Nobody has room in their budget to spend a couple hundred on sweets (Well they do and I’m jealous). I settled for buying colored M&Ms that matched the wedding decor, and in the end I was happy and so was our budget.

Attire: I chose a dress that was appropriate for a wedding at a park and loved that my side of the wedding party all wore white. This can be a huge headache, just decide if you are someone who has a very particular idea in mind for the attire of your wedding party or if you want your friends to find their own attire. I gave a general idea and my bridesmaids and bridesmen did a great job! Dave + Erica Married-675.jpg

To be honest I could keep going and going on wedding day tips! It was an awesome day and one that my husband and I are so proud of and feel the love of our family and friends still to this day. I hope that you feel inspired and ready to start tackling the ins and outs of what will make your day special.

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Cheers to new beginnings!

-E.Harris

*Photo credits to CoreyFoxphotography

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