20% off at Ann’s Bridal Bargains

Save up to 20% on your order with Ann's Bridal Bargains


I know how expensive it can be to put on a wedding. We took on a challenge when we attempted to pull off a $20,000 wedding for $5,000, but WE DID IT! You can read about it here: Frugal Fairy Tale Weddings. (When you click, just scroll down to see our story). 🙂


If you’re planning a wedding, I wanted to let you know that Ann’s Bridal Bargains is offering up to 20% off their products with promo code VALUE. Check it out here.


Happy planning!


Save up to 20% on your order with Ann's Bridal Bargains

Wedding Supplies on Sale at The Knot Wedding Shop

On Sale This Week at The Knot Wedding Shop


Planning a wedding or know someone who is? The Knot Wedding Shop is featuring a big sale on everything you might possibly need. Take 15% off (sitewide) with code 15GALS at checkout. This offer ends May 20th.

Bridesmaid gifts are on sale up to 70% off. Personalized totes normally $24 are marked down to $2.99, plus you can personalize the totes for free!

Other bridesmaids’ gifts are on sale, as well, including travel gifts, compacts, bracelets, necklaces, jewelry boxes, crystal tees and tanks from $8.99, cosmetic bags, and more.


Have you checked out my Frugal, Fairy Tale Weddings series yet? It’s all about how my husband and I had a $20,000 wedding for just $5,000!


Bridesmaid Gifts at The Knot Wedding Shop

Free Personalized Wedding Invitation Samples


Find the perfect wedding invitation by choosing up to 3 designs and then personalizing them with your unique information for FREE!
While you’re at it, be sure to check out my series, Frugal, Fairy Tale Weddings.


Frugal, Fairy Tale Weddings: Wedding Location & Ceremony (Part 6)

Did you miss any of the previous posts in this series? Check them out here:

Our series continues…

The Location of your Ceremony:

Many wedding ceremonies are conducted in church, but outdoor weddings, destination weddings, and other creative locations for weddings are popular today as well.

  • Does your area have a landmark like a lighthouse? When my sister was married last year, she and her husband had a beautiful outdoor wedding at a lighthouse for a fraction of the cost of other venue options. Her reception was in a large room of a nearby restaurant.
  • Consider an all-in-one place for the ceremony and reception: rent a barn, a large home, etc.
  • Consider having your ceremony on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon: it is much less expensive and becoming more common.

Here are some questions to ask when deciding on a venue for your wedding:

  • What is the fee for the use of the church, facility, or property?
  • May we bring in our own pastor or officiator for the ceremony?
  • If it is a church: Do you require pre-marital counseling in order to use your facility for our ceremony?
  • Does the church provide (or require) a wedding coordinator? What is the fee?
  • Does the church require you to use its musicians? What are their fees?
  • Is there a Bride’s Room?
  • Is there a room in the church available for our reception? What is the fee?
  • Does the church have caterers who work with its weddings?
  • Is there a custodial fee?
  • Is there help with set up and take down?
  • When can we start decorating?
  • When must we be out of the building the day of the wedding?
  • If you are having the reception at the church, check on the availability of the following items:
    • Tables and chairs
    • Serving pieces and dishware
    • Vases
    • Table cloths
    • Table centerpieces

The church my family was attending at the time that my husband and I were married was not large enough for our wedding, so we had to find another church in town. We ended up at a Lutheran church that boasted the very longest center aisle in town, the most glorious pipe organ, and the most beautiful sanctuary. That’s the style my husband and I preferred. We worked our way through the questions I just listed and discovered the following information:

  • The fee for the use of the church was $200.
  • We would be allowed to bring in our own pastor and musicians.
  • A brief pre-marital counseling session with the pastor was required, but was free.
  • We were required to use the church’s wedding coordinator. She was paid a flat-rate fee, and after a certain number of hours, she was to be paid per hour ($15/hour, as I recall). By the way, she was worth her weight in gold both during the rehearsal and the day of the wedding. It’s worth it to hire a wedding coordinator! 
  • We would be given dressing rooms for the bridal party.
  • There were a few decorating items we would be able to use without charge.
  • We were not allowed to use flash photography during the ceremony.
  • The church had banners hanging from the ceiling, and they could not be changed, but it just so happened that the colors during that season of the church year coordinated nicely with our color theme.

A few other money-saving tips regarding the ceremony:

  • Be sure to think through all the expenses related to your ceremony. You must pay your pastor or officiator, your musicians, your wedding coordinator, and possibly a custodian. Talk with each person to negotiate their rate of pay. My husband is a church organist and has been paid everything from $100-$350 for a wedding. Depending on your area, $150 is the minimum you should expect to pay an organist or other musician. If you require a large amount of music, you might need to up the anti a bit.
  • We designed and printed our own wedding ceremony bulletins. I designed the bulletin and my brother, who works for a printing company, gave us the gift of the printing.
  • Because the church was beautiful, we didn’t need to spend a fortune on decorations.
  • We did several price comparisons before selecting an aisle runner. Look for deals and ask for discounts.

Remember: your wedding day is a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully!) event, but it should not break the bank! At the end of the day, you will be just as married, whether you had your ceremony in Westminster Abbey or on the beach, and whether you a three-course meal or cake and punch at your reception. Your goal should not be to impress your guests, but to get married! Keep this in mind throughout your entire planning process, and let it inform all of your purchasing decisions.

Coming up next: The Reception 

Bridesmaid Gifts at The Knot Wedding Shop           http://media.theknot.com/staticimages/KnotShop/2011/KWS_$5Totes_200x253_3.gif

P.S. TheKnot.com is having a sale on Bridesmaid gifts right now: you can save up to 70%. Plus, today is the last day of FREE shipping on orders over $99.

This particular deal stuck out to me for bridesmaids gifts: $5 Tote Blowout Sale! That’s an awesome price for a fun bridesmaid gift.


What ways did you find to cut the cost on your wedding venue and ceremony? Leave a comment!

Enjoying this series?  Subscribe for my free daily e-mail updates or follow me on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss anything! 

Frugal, Fairy Tale Weddings: Flowers and Decorations (Part 5)

Did you miss any of the previous posts in this series? Check them out here:

Our series continues…


  • Do you have a friend who can arrange flowers? If so, you can order flowers from Sam’s or Costco and save hundreds. Set up a space in your basement or at the church to assemble everything. Don’t forget to set aside refrigerator space for bouquets, corsages, and other fresh flower arrangements.
  • If the church purchases floral arrangements for Sunday morning, check with them to see if they would be willing to order the flowers in your colors.
  • Use long single stems instead of a bouquet. calla lilies and gerber daisies work well for this. You can also use silk flowers instead of fresh.
  • Consider using silk boutonnieres for the groomsmen and one fresh flower for the groom.
  • If you’re buying silk flowers for boutonnieres, pew bows, or any other decorating, don’t forget to use the 40% off coupons at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Joanne Fabrics that come in the mail or are available on their websites. Print the coupons, pass them out to your wedding party (or family), and ask them to come to the store with you.
  • Save any fresh flowers you used for the wedding, dry the petals, and turn them into a keepsake potpourri for your home.


  • Borrowing is going to be your best cost-saving method. But you must be committed to taking care of the items and replacing anything that is broken, lost, or damaged while in your care. Also, keep a running list of what you have and to whom it must be returned. (We were able to borrow fabric table cloths, mirrors for centerpieces, candle holders, and hurricane lamps from another church in our town.)
  • If you know of someone who was recently married, and you admired their decorations, ask if you can borrow some of the items.
  • Let your friends know what you are looking for. In our case, we were trying to recreate a tea my sister and I had experienced at The Orangery at Kensington Palace Gardens in Londonand we needed a lot of silver serving pieces. A friend knew of a friend who was willing to loan us over 50 pieces of silver that she had in storage from her mother. What a gorgeous presentation!


    The Orangery, Kensington Palace, London

  • If the church uses banners in the sanctuary, are you able to trade them out for colors that coordinate with your color theme?
  • If you have a wedding date set, take a look at the holiday(s) that fall before it and choose a color scheme that will enable you to hit clearance racks for many of your decorations: Black and red after Valentine’s Day; pastels after Easter; red, green, silver, gold, maroon, navy, and deep purple after Christmas.
  • We purchased candles, candle holders, flower girl basket (heart-shaped, from Walmart), and gobs of white Italian lights on clearance after Christmas and Valentine’s Day for our March wedding.
  • After Christmas at Walgreens my mom bought helper gifts such as lotions and bath sets at a fraction of the retail cost. She purchased white flowers at the dollar store after Christmas. White/ silver, and other color bolts of discounted ribbons at Hobby Lobby after Christmas. These go on sale at 50% off at Hobby Lobby even before Christmas. Don’t neglect the Christmas aisle when looking for ribbon even in August.
  • Don’t forget to check Dollar Tree or Dollar Bill when you’re gathering your decorating supplies. We purchased quite a number of items from them. The larger stores actually have quite a nice selection!
  • Purchase decorations and serving pieces for your wedding and reception that you plan to use in your new home: pedestals, vases, silk flowers, table covers, serving ware, cake plates, trays, etc.
  • If the church has trees and greenery in the sanctuary and narthex, find out if you can move them around to work with your decorating theme (provided you return them to their original locations following the ceremony).
  • Does the church have a bridal closet or a stash of wedding suppliesthat are available to you? You are looking for the following items:
    • A runner
    • Unity candle stands
    • Candelabras
    • Silk flowers
    • Tulle
    • Arrangements for the altar
    • Pew bows
    • Greenery (ivy vines)
    • Strings of lights
    • For a winter wedding: Christmas trees

What ways did you find to cut the cost on flowers and decorations for your wedding? Leave a comment!


Enjoying this series?  Subscribe for my free daily e-mail updates or follow me on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss anything!

Frugal, Fairy Tale Weddings: Invitations, Dresses, & Tuxedos (Part 4)

The Frugal Fairy Tale Weddings series continues today with ideas for savings on invitations and wedding attire. If you missed the previous posts in this series, check them out here (ways to save on the rehearsal dinner) and here (early preparations).


  • Print your own wedding invitations. Buy the kits when they go on sale for 50% off at your favorite craft store. The packages come with instructions for printing. Or, you can also buy exotic paper and design your own! If you purchase the kit from Hobby Lobby, Joanne Crafts, or Michaels, you can use the 40% off one item coupons that come in the mail (or are available online at certain times). Ask your family and friends to donate their coupons if you need to purchase multiple kits. You may need to ask them to come to the store to purchase them with you.
  • Print your own return address labels; the package comes with instructions.
  • Rather than providing a stamped envelope for a response card, provide an e-mail address, phone number, or website for your RSVP.  We used theknot.com, which is fun because you also get to add your story and picture and personalize it as much as you want.
  • Almost anything goes with wedding invitations these days:
    • a large postcard style with a picture of the couple on the front and the invite on the back
    • fold-up style with a sticker to seal and address/stamp on the back
    • reception invite listed at the bottom of the wedding invitation
  • Be sure to check Vistaprint (my favorite printing company) for great printing deals.

Bridal Essentials for the Big Day: Starting at $0.60!

Invitations and Announcements for all occasions
    Invitations for any event and budget       Free shipping on any order of $150 or more!


Wedding Dress/ Bridesmaid Dresses/ Tuxedos/ Flower Girl Dress:

  • Most bridal shops have a clearance rack where you can pick up a beautiful dress for $100 or less. If your dress needs to be altered, remember that you can have the work done elsewhere. Check your mall for alteration shops and do a price comparison. You don’t have to get your dress altered at the bridal shop. Shop around!
  • Buy a white bridesmaid dress for about a quarter of the price you would pay for a wedding gown. Many of them come with trains.
  • Use 30% off Kohls coupons to purchase suits (already on sale) for the groomsmen for about $70—which could be less or equal to the cost of a rental.
  • Bridesmaid dresses: look for styles they can use later, perhaps tea length. Check out Target.com, JCPenny.com, JCrew.com, Chadwicks.com, Kohls.com, and others. Wait for sales and check for coupons. The same sites are good sources for Mother of the Bride dresses. Check their clearance sections, as well.
  • Save on the exorbitant price of a veil by gathering tulle onto a comb, barrette or tiara and sewing it into place.
  • If you’re having a flower girl, Communion dresses are a very inexpensive and beautiful. I got the dress for my flower girl at TJ Max for $25. Check the clearance racks after May for the deepest discount.

Save up to 75% Off Select Wedding Dresses
   Ties.com - America's Premiere Tie Store


Coming up next: Flowers and Decorations!


Frugal, Fairy-Tale Weddings: Early Preparations (Part 3)

If you’re just joining us, don’t forget to read Part One (an inside peek at the cost of our wedding), and Part Two (ideas for keeping the cost down on the rehearsal dinner).

Who’s Payin’?

Traditionally, the parents of the bride foot the bill of the wedding. However, these days it is not uncommon to see couples paying for the wedding themselves or parents of the groom chipping in for some of the expenses. Get the topic on the table at the beginning of your planning process and set a budget for the entire event: start to finish—wedding invitations to honeymoon. Be realistic, and remember that you may need to adjust your expectations.

Once you have the overall budget amount, I suggest that you divide it into spending categories, such as:

  • Invitations
  • Wedding dress, shoes, undergarments
  • Flowers
  • Cake
  • Decorations
  • Photographer
  • Reception
  • Hall rental
  • Honorariums for pastor, musicians, helpers, etc.
  • Tuxedo rentals
  • Etc.

Before you do anything else, you need to make one very important purchase: a wedding planning notebook! It will be worth its weight to you in gold. I put mine own binder together with tabs and page protectors at Walmart, but there are scads of them on the market. Here are a few wedding planning notebooks on Amazon:

My Wedding Organizer (The Complete Wedding Planner)

Hortense B. Hewitt Wedding Accessories Bride’s Planner, Turquoise

The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner: Worksheets, Checklists, Etiquette, Calendars, and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Binder or notebook in hand, take all of your wedding spending categories and list them in each tabbed section. The idea here is to keep all of your planning, receipts, notes, and research in one place. My notebook had the following tabs:

  • Invitations
  • Dress research
  • Bridesmaid dresses
  • Tuxedos
  • Flowers and decorations
  • Church
  • Photographer
  • Reception
  • Hairdo
  • Cake
  • Hotel (for guests)
  • The service and music selections
  • Ceremony bulletin
  • Honeymoon

Think through your plans and determine your own section headings and sub-headings. 

At the beginning of each section, include a ledger to keep track of expenses as they happen. List your budgeted amount for each category at the top of the ledger and deduct from that amount as you spend. Remember to stick to the budget! 🙂

Add page protectors to each category and put pictures and ideas in each one.   As you start to make purchases, put receipts in another page protector. You may need to make returns, so hold onto those receipts!

If you’re already married, did you use a wedding binder for your planning? What categories did it include?


Enjoying this series?  Subscribe for my free daily e-mail updates or follow me on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss anything!


Frugal, Fairy Tale Weddings: Rehearsal Dinner (Part 2)

Welcome back to Frugal Fairy Tale Weddings! As I mentioned in Part One, my husband and I enjoyed a beautiful wedding day with a price tag of about $5,000. In this series, I will share some tips and ideas that my mother, sister and I have compiled for cutting the typical expenses of a wedding. Hopefully these ideas will provide a springboard for your own brainstorming. Your day can be just as dreamy and gorgeous as you ever imagined it for thousands less than you thought possible.

Let’s start with the Rehearsal Dinner:

The Rehearsal Dinner is an opportunity for the parents of the groom to reward anyone who has helped with the wedding and to give the bride’s family a chance to relax and enjoy a meal for which they are not responsible.

  • Set a budget for your dinner. Be realistic, but conservative. I’ll share some ideas in today’s article for keeping your costs in check.
  • Plan your guest list carefully. You may want to include the musicians, close family members of the bride or groom (grandparents, for example), and out-of-towners. Remember, though, that you do not have to invite everyone. It’s perfectly acceptable to limit your rehearsal dinner guest list to the wedding party and families.
  • Choose your venue. Your guest count can dictate your choice in venue. If you will have a small, intimate group, perhaps a restaurant would be your best choice. If you want to include all of your helpers, family, and out-of-town guests, you might consider a less expensive option, such as a potluck or BBQ in your home or backyard, in the pavilion of a local park, on the beach, or in the reception hall of your church, club, or civic organization.

Restaurant Rehearsal Dinner:

  • If you choose go have your dinner in a restaurant, be sure to shop around and compare prices before settling on your venue.
  • Let the manager know that you are doing price comparisons and see what kind of discount they can offer you. See if there is a difference in price based on the day of week, time of day, etc.
  • Choose your menu items carefully. There is often a big difference in price between chicken and beef.
  • Ask if you can provide your own dessert. You could save dramatically by making or purchasing your own dessert and bringing it to the restaurant. Maybe the couple loves your homemade apple pie; make and bring it!
  • Compare eat-in prices with catered prices. Perhaps it would be less expensive to order the meal, pick it up yourself, and bring it to your venue. This option also gives you the opportunity to decorate your own venue to your preferences.

Do it yourself Rehearsal Dinner:

The do-it-yourself rehearsal dinner is usually a more cost-effective option but does require a bit of planning and work.

When my brother was married, my mother did an Italian-themed rehearsal dinner in the fellowship hall of their church. The menu included homemade pasta sauce (made by our Italian grandfather), spaghetti, salad, bread, and dessert. The ingredients for each menu item were purchased at discounted prices. The room was decorated with drippy candles, red checked placemats, Italian flags and paraphernalia, and pictures of the couple. It was authentic, original, and cost-effective.

  • Choose a theme for your dinner. Serve the meal that the couple ate on their first date or on the day of their engagement. Run with the theme of their favorite pastime or hobby, their honeymoon location (if they don’t mind everyone knowing…), your state, or some other distinction specific to the couple or to you as the family of the groom.
  • When family or friends ask if they can help, let them! Give helpers recipes and ingredients for your menu items and ask them to make the dishes and drop them off at your rehearsal dinner location.
  • Have a pizza party!
  • Let Sam’s or Costco “cater” your meal. Stop in and check on their ready-made dinner options. Don’t just check the freezer section, check the fresh section, as well. You’ll find several entrée options, as well as pre-cut fruit, veggie, and cheese platters.
  • Consider a progressive rehearsal dinner. Start at your home or other venue and end up at a nice restaurant for dessert.

Do it yourself menu ideas:

  • Winter: lasagna, chicken parmesan and pasta, baked chicken and green beans, steak and mashed potatoes, or pork chops and asparagus. Salad and bread are great sides. Dessert could be cake or pies.
  • Summer: BBQ on the lawn, at the park, or on the beach. Grill steaks, chicken, burgers, or kabobs. Serve salads, chips, and watermelon. Dessert could be as simple as banana splits or ice cream sundaes complete with lots of toppings.

When my husband and I married, our primary concern for the rehearsal dinner was that it be a fun, relaxing time with family and friends. We enjoyed a simple, delicious, catered meal in the fellowship hall of the church. What stands out the most in my memory, though, is the time of sharing after the meal, the song my brother wrote and sang with his guitar to my husband-to-be and I, and the excitement of the day to come.

What are your ideas for keeping the costs down on the rehearsal dinner? Leave a comment below!




Enjoying this series?  Subscribe for my free daily e-mail updates or follow me on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss anything!

Frugal, Fairy Tale Weddings, Part 1

Whether you are currently planning your own wedding or will help a family member, friend, child, or grandchild with their special day at some point in the future, this series is for you! Stick around as I share my wedding planning experience with you, which proves that a fairy tale wedding doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

My mother, sister and I have joined forces to write this mini-series, which I have entitled Frugal Fairy Tale Weddings. These ideas stem mainly from our wedding 5 1/2 years ago, but two of my siblings have also wed since then, so a few of the ideas come from their special days.

My husband and I were married in March of 2006. To this day, we continue to receive compliments about reverence and beauty of our ceremony and the loveliness of our afternoon tea reception. What makes these comments particularly enjoyable to me is thinking about how we were able to pull off what we did at a fraction of what it would normally cost. Granted, we did all of the preparations ourselves with the help of family and friends, but, we figure that we pulled off a $20,000 wedding for about $5,000.

The festivities began early in the week with out-of-town guests, a tea party with some close friends, a rehearsal and dinner, a coffee time with the out-of-towners the night before the big day, a large, beautiful ceremony, and an English afternoon tea reception. It was a dreamy day: one which my husband and I will cherish for the rest of our lives.

$5,000. What did this include? Here’s a partial list:

  • wedding invitations
  • my wedding dress
  • several tuxedo rentals
  • dresses for the mother of the bride and flower girl
  • decorations for the sanctuary and reception hall
  • fresh flowers
  • professional pictures
  • food for the reception
  • church, reception hall, and chair rentals
  • honorariums for musicians and ministers
  • gifts for helpers

Our family’s philosophy is that a wedding should be a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime event, but should not deplete the gift-giving of the couple’s families. Often the money that parents have to give is spent on the festivities surrounding the wedding. How wonderful would it be if some of that money could be saved through wise wedding planning, and then given to the couple to invest in a home or for their future?

Take a look at some pictures from our wedding day, and then join me as the series continues later this week.

Think you might enjoy this series?  Subscribe for my free daily e-mail updates or follow me on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss anything!

Image Map