Monday, November 2, 2009


Happy November!

I've been looking forward to this month all year... There's just something about it. The crisp temperatures and early darkness, the wearing of tights and clogs, the fragrance of fallen leaves and burning bonfires or fireplaces. Ahhh.

This is going to be a really busy month for me, but I'm up for the challenge and approaching my "to do" lists with gusto!

One event this month has me particularly excited, and I've decided to let you come along for the stressful, yet educational, blessing.

I'm executing (probably not the best word...) a 2 week, 20 guest, $200 wedding.

"Impossible", you say? "No!" says I! Well... not if you're a party-planning-pack-rat of sorts, like I am.

This is a first time wedding for a couple that can't really afford it, but I've long felt in my heart of hearts that everyone deserves to feel special on her/his wedding day. And this couple is making a new commitment of themselves to Christ and they want to be married in "the church".

I'll tell you up front that I'll be pulling from my stash and pre-buys or leftovers, so that will cut the cost some, but what I'm using wouldn't cost you that much extra if you decided to do the same and add what I've got in my stash. Really - the things I'm using are dishes, candle holders, and candles, leftover party supplies like plastic table skirts, tablecloths, plastic cups and plates. Not overly expensive items.

I've been planning and coordinating weddings for, well... 20 plus years, if you include my own. (Which was right at $2000 for about 125 guests - including my gown and the fabric for all the bridesmaids dresses and tuxedo rental.) But since my wedding I've been the wedding planner / consultant / decorator / floral designer / invitation maker / coordinator for more than a dozen weddings that I can think of off the top of my head. That's not a bad record for a non-professional that just does this kind of thing on the side. And all of the weddings I've been involved with since my own have been much more beautiful - to the point that I'm seriously considering a renewal ceremony for our 20th anniversary next summer. (Don't mention this to my husband - though, I do plan to invite him...)

I think one of the contributing factors to doing an inexpensive wedding is the time of year you choose to have it. In my opinion, the most cost effective time of year for a "do it yourself" wedding is Christmas. You can take advantage of the decorations already up in the church you may choose to use - white lights, candles and ribbon all over the place - simply romantic. White lights have long been a favorite of mine for quickly adding a celebration atmosphere and they're very inexpensive and go a long way.

The second season I'd choose is Autumn. Because of the rustic and natural feel of the season, you can easily decorate a wedding in a rustic and natural way. And this is almost always cheaper! Take for example the burlap table runners and pumpkin centerpieces I wrote about in this post.

This is the direction I'm going with the wedding taking place in a mere four more days. Rustic Romantic.

The bride's favorite color is purple, which is easily incorporated into a fall color scheme. This arrangement I put together for my mother-in-laws birthday last week is kind of the direction I'm going, only with a little red added in and a couple of other kinds of flowers.

Don't you just love the bright yellow sunflowers and the purple together? This is really going to be fun!

Truly, one thing that is keeping the cost down for this particular wedding is the amount of volunteers I'm recruiting to help (like sound tech, soloists and photographer) and no cost for the venue. The time of day - 3 in the afternoon - too late for lunch, too early for dinner, just right for cake, punch and hors d'oeuvres. Also, the number of expected guests. Less than 15 are anticipated, but I'm preparing for 24 with favors, programs, cake and food. So if the event you're planning is larger, add about $200 for every 20 guests. That's not entirely accurate unless you're adding a lot more flowers (one of the biggest expenses) but if you add a meal and more tables with centerpieces and tablecloths to your reception it would be closer. $10 per head is about right for a "low-frills" do-it-yourself reception with a meal.

Over the next few days I'll share my plans and tips for pulling the "extras" together for a lovely wedding in a very short amount of time. (The "extras" are everything but the preacher and the groom - both of which are free in this case :0)

Here's my to-make list: (hopefully I'll get it all done...I sense some long nights ahead, as it's a very busy week...)
  • 2 pew bows (pew clips on hand in my stash, but very inexpensive)
  • Decorate champagne flutes (purchased years ago for $.99 each, "just in case")
  • Fill/Decorate Favor Boxes (exactly 25 left over from in-laws anniversary this summer)
  • Decorate Cake Knife/Server (mine, I will loan)
  • Decorate front of Guest Book/Photo Scrapbook (last one at Target - gave it to me for $2)
  • Decorate Bubble Bottles (box of 24 bubbles less than $3)
  • Guest-book Pen (Pen was $1.49 - will top with sunflowers and wrap in ribbon)
  • Guest-book/Scrapbook pages (using paper and embellishments from my stash)
  • Programs (Paper from my stash and some purchased just for this)
  • Bride's Bouquet (will be hand-wrapped and fresh flowers)
  • Bridesmaids Bouquet (just a little smaller than the bride's)
  • Daughter/Flower-girl's Bouquet (just a little smaller than the bridesmaid's, possibly silk)
  • Groom's Boutonniere (also fresh flowers)
  • Best Man's Boutonniere (same as groom only different :0)
  • Father of Groom's Boutonniere (see above)
  • Pastor's Boutonniere (see above the above)
  • Son/Ring Bearer's Boutonniere (smaller than dad's - possibly silk for staying power)
  • Church Floral arrangements (silk - to go around the bottom of existing purple hurricane's I have)
  • White Pumpkin Floral Arrangement(s) (fresh flowers)
  • Mini White Pumpkins hollowed out for Tea-lights
Hold on - it's going to be a fun ride. And if you live locally... feel free to come over for free lessons in any of the above. Warning: some classes will be starting after 10 p.m. at night.


  1. Cool! I'm looking forward to following on your blog! This is amazing. Lisa~

  2. Thanks for this, Sara! I have cooridinated a few weddings (including my own, less than $5000 for everything, including 5 days in the smokeys!) and people have always encouraged me to get my own business started. I'm seriously considering it. This gave me some great ideas! I'm not even sure how to BECOME a wedding planner, besides, I just am one LOL

  3. People have long pushed me the event planning direction too, Chell. But - I'm resisting it.

    I much rather like situations like this where I can do it just for the opportunity to bless someone else using my God given abilities.

    Besides... I watch TLC and the like and don't think I have that caliber of party in me... I prefer to keep it a little more simple and "real" :0)

  4. Can't wait to see it all!!!
    Hugs, :) Heather

  5. I love seeing you use this gift of yours to bless others and this time is especially sweet. Yea, you! Go!

    I think it's going to be so pretty.

    If Jesus doesn't come back in time, I'm booking you now for HB's wedding. Thanks.


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