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Summer 2010

Gift Ideas

for the Bridal Party, Family, and Each Other

DIY Projects that Every Bride Can Do!

Tips for choosing a photographer florist * * reception * and ceremony site your wedding dress * without breaking your budget!

to Plan or Not to Plan? do you really need a wedding planner?



Editor in Chief La Nita Thomas

editor’s note:

Photographer Haley Sheffield of KHaley Photography

Volume 1, Issue 1 May 2010

Staff Writer La Nita Thomas

Dear Readers, In hard economic times, sometimes it’s necessary to skimp and save on certain things. Your wedding should not be one of them. There are thousands of ways to stick to your budget and still create the wedding of your dreams. As Editor-in-Chief of Budget Weddings, I plan to provide you with the best advice on how to make your special day perfect without breaking the bank. So many times, the word “budget” in regards to a wedding can mean $10,000 or $15,000. For most brides, $10,000 seems more like a million dollars rather than a “budget.” In Budget Weddings, we want brides to know that their wedding does not have to cost a lot to be perfect. I am currently planning my own wedding on July 10, 2010 to my best friend. As with many other recent college graduates, spending a ton of money was simply not an option. It was the difficulty of planning our own budget wedding that inspired me to create this magazine. I see wedding planning as a journey. Sometimes, you need to stop at a gas station and ask for directions. We are that gas station. Stop by and we’ll give you the shortest route with the best scenery. I’ve found a lot of helpful information on my journey and am learning more everyday. Hopefully, we can help each other as we stress about the dress, reception, flowers and favors and still have times to celebrate this exciting time in our lives. I am so excited to share the road with you as we journey together toward wedded bliss. See you on the road!


La Nita Thomas

in this issue: To Plan or Not to Plan


The Cost of a Photograph


Getting In-Site


The Right Fit


Picking a Flower


Being a DIY Bride


Do you really need a wedding planner?

How much is wedding photography worth?

Do you really need a wedding planner?

Choosing a wedding dress

Choosing a flower that you can afford

Save a lot by doing it yourself


The Cost of a

Photograph by La Nita Thomas



t’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but should pictures cost thousands of dollars? Photography typically carries about onetenth of the total wedding costs. For a bride on a budget, this is not a lot of money, especially when considering’s 2008 real wedding survey where the average bride paid $2,655 for wedding photography. “Ultimately the price of the photographer can be anywhere from $500 plus. It really depends what you want and what you are willing to pay,” said Lauren Smith, former assistant photographer for In His Grace Photography in Easton, Maryland. Smith spent two years studying under photographer Laura Olsen where she handled equipment, downloaded pictures, designed albums and shot second shots with another camera. For wedding photography, Olsen charged upwards of $200 an hour or up to $5,000 for premium packages. To save money, Smith suggests asking a family member or friend to take them as a wedding present or finding amateur or lesser-known photographers to take wedding pictures.“ Many photographers who are starting off sometimes offer to knock the price down if they can use pictures from your wedding,” she said. “Plus, they’re young and might have a lot of fresh ideas that a professional might not think of.” If you are unsure where to look, many new photographers out can be found on Facebook Fan pages or by advertising on college campuses. Smith warns, though, to first look at his or her previous work so as not to avoid hiring someone without a good eye. Brides can also save money by having the same photographer for their wedding that they hire for their engagement shots. “Engagement pictures are a must,” said Smith, “They can be used as inserts in the wedding invitations as well as art work in their future home.” Engagement pictures should focus strictly

on the couple and their excitement of getting married, said Smith. She said it is also a must to get good pictures of the engagement ring. According to Smith, a photographer can be

“Ultimately the price of the photographer can be anywhere from $500 plus. It really depends what you want and what you are willing to pay.” very traditional with classic wedding party and family poses, artistic with different lenses and tints, or photo journalistic with candid photography. “Candid shots I would say are the best because they really capture true unbridled emotion,” said Smith who recommends looking to and photos of friends weddings know what style of photographer you like. Many brides also want photos of the bride and bridesmaids as they get ready for the wedding. For these types of photos, Smith recommends hiring a female photographer. “She can take pictures of the bride getting dressed without all of the awkwardness that a male can sometimes bring,” she said. Another option that many brides are choosing, said Smith, is a trend titled “Trash the Dress” where brides are photographed post-wedding in natural settings while wearing their wedding dress. These photos can be taken in lakes, fields, city streets, swamps, or in the ocean ruining the dress but creating a beautiful picture in return. “They have these beautiful dresses exposed to the elements,” said Smith. “The shots turn out beautiful.” Whoever you choose for your wedding photographer, Smith suggests considering all of your options but in the end choosing what works for your wedding. “I would say the biggest thing about wedding photography is to know what you like and what you want,” said Smith. “You go with what you can afford in your budget and what style of photographer you want.”



choosing a venue on a budget.

If you live in the city, finding a ceremony and reception site is an easy task. Finding one on a budget, on the other hand, is a completely different story. For those getting married in a suburb or in the country, the exact opposite is true: it will be very hard to find a site, but it will more than likely be decently priced. Here are some tips to find a site on a budget.

Look at public, city, or county property. Parks, recreation centers, city centers, etc. While these types of places may need more decorating, they typically will be very cheap and can provide tables, chairs, and clean up at no additional cost. I found a very retro art center that provided clean up, tables, chairs, and allowed us to have the space the day before for set-up and the entire day of the reception for only $400.



by La Nita Thomas

ask a friend.

Many people own property, buildings, or have homes big enough for a wedding ceremony and reception. These places may require more cleaning or decorating, but, if the friend will consider it your wedding gift, they will more than likely give it to you for free.

go to church. If you are apart of a church, most churches will provide facilities to members at a very discounted price or even for free. The only problem is that churches typically do not allow dancing or alcohol at the reception.


the right fit

choosing the perfect dress by La Nita Thomas on your budget Photography by Valerie Thomas


hat makes a blushing bride? Beautiful make-up? A perfect hairstyle? Sparkling jewelry? Ask anyone and the answer almost always will be the dress. A woman’s wedding dress is something that she dreams about from the time she is a little girl. Will it be white or ivory? A sweetheart neckline or straight? Strapless or halter-top? A


mermaid dress or ball gown? Whatever she decides, the wedding dress should be

When you are a bride on a budget, it’s hard to spend such a large portion of your budget on a dress that you will wear once. ­­For me, I originally had a budget of $300 for a dress but was able to add a few hundred dollars that I saved from my ceremony site and reception site to equal $800. I was able to not only purchase a dress for under $800 (including tax), but also purchased my

The wedding dress should be the most important purchase made during the wedding planning process. Generally, though, it can also be one of the most expensive. the most important purchase made during the wedding planning process. Generally, though, it can also be one of the most expensive.

veil and was able to purchase the dress special ordered to fit my size rather than purchasing off the rack. To buy a less expensive wedding dress, many brides visit chain retailers such as David’s Bridal. David’s Bridal is the largest bridal retail store in the United States and can typically offer wedding dresses at a lower cost because they massproduce them. The bad thing about choosing a dress from a chain is that you will see your dress on probably many other brides. Also, their prices can typically be just as expensive as other stores unless the dress is purchased during a sale such as David’s famous $99 sale. David’s Bridal holds a $99 sale fairly regularly throughout the year, but

automatically marks an additional fifty percent off of their discounted, off-therack dresses bringing a multiple thousanddollar dress down to $300 or $400. If you do visit a designer store, do not forget to ask about dresses under $1000. Many stores, such as La Raine’s Bridal Boutique in Atlanta, keep all of the less expensive dresses in a separate room or area of the store and do not show these dresses unless requested. This is so that customers will have no choice but to try on more expensive dresses rather than only looking at dresses with the right price. The theory is that if a bride tries on a dress, she is more likely to buy it no matter the cost.

usually only marks a few dresses down to $99 leaving a bride with very little choices. At designer stores, it is nearly impossible to find a good deal unless you shop through their sample sale rack. Many designer stores have annual or even monthly sample sales at which they discount many of their off-therack dresses. Demetrios Bridal in Atlanta

Brides who are comfortable with purchasing their dress online can save a lot of money by purchasing a dress off of auction web sites like Ebay. com or While you can’t try on the wedding dress prior to purchasing, you can purchase a gown for hundreds less than purchasing a dress at a store. These dresses are typically used, but some are new dresses that were either never worn or are sold from Ebay Stores where the owner makes the dresses. Other web sites such as, HouseofBrides. com, offer wedding dresses exclusively online for a lesser price due to the savings of not having a physical store.

Consignment shops are another great option. After the wedding day, a bride can sell her dress to a consignment shop to resell as a lower price. These dresses can be designer dresses or dresses bought from a chain, but are guaranteed to be in good condition or the shop owner will not purchase them. This is a good option for a bride looking for a lowerpriced dress or a bride wanting to get a portion of her money back after the wedding. Le Dress Boutique in Atlanta offers brides 45 to 55 percent of the selling price to sell their wedding dresses. While discount stores still offer designer dresses, they save money by selling dresses out of season. The same wedding dress that retailed for over one thousand dollars can be found for only a few hundred dollars. My dress was purchased at New Natalie’s Bridal, a discount store in Atlanta. It retailed for over $1500 and was listed at $595, by far the cheapest dress that I tried on that day. No matter the style, color, or fabric of the dress, a bride should be able to purchase the dress that makes her feel beautiful, confident, and, ultimately, like a bride. Though the dress makes the bride, the dress should not also break the bride.



Plan or


by La Nita Thomas


he first step on many wedding to-do lists is to hire a wedding planner. Hiring a wedding planner can be very beneficial but many brides say that it is unnecessary and a waste of money for a bride on a budget. Depending on the type of planner hired for the wedding, a wedding planner can help to organize the wedding plans, make important purchases, and essentially plan the entire wedding. While a planner can make the planning process easier on the bride, hiring a planner can cost multiple thousands of dollars. For a bride on a budget, hiring the planner could take their entire budget. “If you are on a budget, always go man-power, but some things need the opinion of a wedding planner,” said Becky Thomas, a former intern at the Lutsen Resort in Lutsen, Minnesota where she worked as an assistant to the resort wedding planner. The benefits of hiring a wedding planner include finding additional discounts for the bride and groom, working with the bride and groom to plan the ceremony and reception, working with vendors, and coordinating the entire wedding day including handling the decorating, organizing the time line, and serving as a manager for the day.


“A wedding coordinator makes sure that you’re not forgetting anything, helps you to stick to your budget



and takes care of coordinating vendors and clean up, etc. etc.,” said Corrie Goldsmith Lovette, a December 2008 bride, “It helps to have someone not emotionally invested in your day to help you focus and get things done.” Essentially, their job is to assist the bride and groom in creating their perfect day while allowing them to enjoy it stress-free. “Hiring my wedding coordinator was the best decision I made,” said Lovette, “It made the wedding planning experience much more enjoyable and everything went according to plan on the rehearsal and wedding day without me having to worry about a thing.” Kristin Haley Sheffield, a May 2009 bride, chose not to hire a wedding planner. “I do regret my decision, although my wedding still went pretty smoothly. I recognized how much stress was placed on my family on the big day and would have liked to lighten their burden in any way possible,” said Sheffield, “Plus, there were a few moments where experience would have helped in the flow of things.” One of the main benefits of hiring a wedding planner is the experience they bring. A wedding planner understands where to find the best deals, how to organize the events and time line of the wedding day, and knows who is a reliable vendor. “I think that a wedding planner is useful to any bride because

“Brides need a lot of help and, in my experience, a wedding coordinator is the best help.” they’ve [planned weddings] many times before and can bring clarity and organization to a confusing and emotional process,” said Lovette. “Brides need a lot of help and, in my experience, a wedding coordinator is the best help.”

little things which she would have done if my wedding planner wasn’t there.” Many brides choose to not use a wedding planner reasoning that they can save money by using family members or friends to assist with wedding plans.

If hiring a wedding planner for the entire wedding planning process is not an option for a bride on a budget, hiring one as a one-time consult is another good option, especially if you are bad with money, said Thomas. Another option is to hire one only for the wedding day. “For me, it was the day of the wedding that I needed her the most,” said Sarah Hester Ross, a May 2009 bride who used a wedding planner. “I was able to relax and not deal with any of the little things but getting myself ready and prepared. If nothing else, it took a lot of pressure off of my mom to run around and handle stupid

“When we did needed advice, we talked to our grandmothers or other older women who had planned for their own weddings and had participated in many more,” said Dominique Johnson, a brideto-be, “As for decorating and helping day-of, we’ve gotten our youth groups and friends to help, with specific people we trust in charge of different areas. And because these people know us, they’ve volunteered.” Thomas agreed that using friends and family was a good idea for helping to plan or hand-making wedding supplies, but did

not recommend it for choosing a wedding coordinator on the day of the wedding. “Behind the scenes, man-power all the way. The day of- no way,” said Thomas. Many brides use their mothers as the wedding coordinator, but Thomas recommends disregarding this option. Choosing a family member or friend to be the wedding coordinator on the day of the wedding can cause additional stress for the bride or on the coordinator because of the emotional ties to the wedding. It can also cause a strain on the relationship, said Thomas. “You don’t want to be fighting [about the plans] the day of the wedding,” said Thomas. “You want [your wedding coordinator to be] someone completely uninvolved. Someone who can look at the details without the [mental overload] of the day.”



Using a mother or a bridesmaid as the coordinator also takes them away from the bride on the wedding day, leaving her to do a lot of the personal preparations (such as dressing, doing hair and make-up, etc.) by herself. “I wanted my mom, maid of honor, and bridesmaids to be able to be with me on the day before and on the day of the wedding, instead of decorating the reception hall, doing errands, etc.,” said Lovette. “By outsourcing things on the rehearsal and wedding day, I was actually able to spend time with my wedding party and mom.”


Another option for a bride on a budget is to hire a family

member or friend who is a professional wedding planner. Typically, they will give you a discount for their services. “That’s what I would suggest,” laughed Ross who took this advice, “befriend a wedding planner before you get engaged.” Few brides do not recommend hiring a planner or a coordinator, but some fear that hiring someone to plan the wedding will change the bride’s original idea for the wedding. “I’ve heard horror stories of the wedding being beautiful, but nothing resembling what was in the bride’s head due to the fact that the wedding planner took over,” said Johnson.

Choosing to plan the wedding yourself or hiring a wedding planner is ultimately up to the bride, her budget, and the overall feel of the wedding. If the wedding is small enough, a wedding planner may not be necessary, but planning a typical wedding may be too hard for a bride to do on her own. Either way, a bride should do whatever it takes to be stress free and enjoy her wedding day. “I believe that on your wedding day, you must keep a pure heart and perspective,” said Sheffield. “Things always go a little crazy at parties. Don’t fret. You’ll still be married at the end of the day, and everyone who counts will still be incredibly happy for you.”

WHAT TO As in planning any event, there are obvious things that can be cut to help save money....


Engagement photos. Unless you need a

photo for your invitations, you do not need to have engagement photos.

A flower girl and ring bearer. As cute as they are, they are also distracting during the ceremony.

Hiring a videographer. Will you really watch a video of your wedding?

Save the dates. These are really not necessary unless you are planning a destination wedding or a wedding with a lot of out of state guests. Hiring a make-up and hair artist. Do it yourself or have a bridesmaid help.

Transportation. Hiring a driver and a “special” ride to drive you away

from the ceremony is not necessary. Use one of your own cars or borrow one from a friend.

WHAT NOT TO CUT And things that should not be cut, no matter the cost. Thank you notes. It’s really important to thank all of

your guests for attending, including ones that do not give you a gift.

Thank you gifts for your family and bridal party. These people work really hard to help plan the wedding. It’s very important to thank them properly.

Insurance for your engagement ring. There are a lot

of bridal horror stories of a diamond falling out of the ring.

Premarital counseling. Premarital counseling brings up a lot of topics that need to be discusses prior to getting married. It’s worth the cost to save from a possible unhappy marriage later.

Wedding photography. You will want pictures of the entire day and snapshots

won’t cut it. You don’t want to look back on your wedding day and only have blurry pictures of your relatives.


picking a flower


hoosing a flower for one’s wedding can be one of the most important decisions in a wedding. The flower choice decides the wedding colors, the overall feel of the wedding, and, most importantly, can tip the budget in a big way.

Floral arrangements can be one of the most expensive items on a budget list. From boutonnieres, corsages, bouquets, petals for the flower girl and even decorations, flowers are included in almost every part of the wedding ceremony and reception. Depending on the type of flower, purchasing the amount necessary for each wedding can add up in addition to


by La Nita Thomas

the cost of hiring a florist to arrange them. Many brides save money by choosing to arrange the flowers themselves, but Rena Kosiek, a floral designer for Palomino Floral Designs in Schaumburg, Illinois, advises against this idea. “The stress of it isn’t worth it,” said Kosiek, “The set-up of a wedding can be stressful. I get stressed when it’s not even my own wedding.”

Kosiek began working at Palomino Floral Designs as a junior in high school after a friend suggested she apply. With no experience and without a real job description, Kosiek arrived the first weekend and was put to work assisting in wedding set-up. Two years later, she was promoted to floral designer for the company. During a wedding set-up, a florist will arrange the flowers for centerpieces and bouquets, design the ceremony space, and decorate the reception area. Depending on the wedding, the set-up may not be complicated but can potentially take a lot of time away from a bride trying to get ready for the ceremony.

brides, but Kosiek advises to first check out the company, as some wholesalers may not offer a high quality product. Vases can also be purchased wholesale, which will also help lower the cost. The type of flower chosen also affects cost. Out-of-season flowers are much more expensive than flowers that are in-season and, in many cases, are not available outside of specialty floral shops. Though they are available nearly yearround, cheaper flowers such as carnations or baby’s breath are not used by many florists, including Kosiek’s Palomino Floral Designs, but are much cheaper than the traditionally used roses.

From boutonnieres, corsages, bouquets, petals for the flower girl and even decorations, flowers are included in almost every part of the wedding ceremony and reception.

“It’s simple yet time consuming,” said Kosiek. Rather than hiring a florist, another option for brides is to hire a friend or students in a floral design class to arrange the flowers. While they may not be as professional or as well put together as if they were done by a florist, a bride can save a lot of money and is able to have more input on their overall design. This can also ensure more time spent on individually arranging the flowers. Many florists are forced to perform rush orders due to multiple weddings in a weekend. Kosiek admits that she typically worked at four or five weddings each weekend. Purchasing the flowers wholesale is a cheaper option for

If you can afford roses, Kosiek suggests the black magic and buccara rose, her personal favorites. “They are deep reds that bring out elegance yet stay simple,” she said. This sentiment is also true with calla lilies, she said, but commented that calla lilies are also very expensive. Another cost cut is to create smaller arrangements overall. Rather than each bridesmaid with a full bouquet, they could carry a single-stemmed flower or a small bundle of three or four flowers. Table centerpieces could be focused around candles rather than a vase of flowers. Other mediums can also be used in decorating for the reception and ceremony.


A g n i e B e d i r B Y I D hy by


ita Th y La N



hen planning a wedding, brides often get the advice to hire a wedding planner or at least hire various vendors to complete some of the smaller task of wedding planning. While this allows the bride to relax a little more, it also almost triples your cost, said Rachel Mahannah, a bride who decided that she didn’t need a wedding planner when she could do it herself.

rap Photog

price estimate. After meeting with three different florists, Mahannah was given a price of over $2,000 not including flowers

Mahannah was married on May 16, 2009 in Temple Terrace, Florida, to her fiancé of only four months. With such a short engagement, Mahannah knew that prices would be higher for rush orders and she was already on a strict budget. “I took the whole thing on as a challenge,” said Mahannah, “Why shouldn’t I have everything I want for a beautiful big wedding for a fourth of the price?”


She began by meeting with vendors and getting


Tho La Nita

florist would have cost Mahannah $18 per stem. For the bouquets, Mahannah wrapped blue ribbon around the stems and added flare with a jeweled ribbon. As an additional bonus, the wedding party was able to keep their flowers because they did not have to worry about the flowers eventually dying. At the time of their marriage, Mahannah’s fiancé’, Shawn, was a youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Temple Terrace. Because of the nature of his job the couple felt they should have an open invitation wedding, making wedding favors a hard thing to plan for. The couple opted to a candy buffet rather than creating individuals gifts. Vendors gave Mahannah an estimated price of $1,500. Instead, Mahannah searched online and found a candy vendor form Canada that sold candy in bulk. She was able to purchase rock candy, jellybeans, and chocolates that were colored to match her blue, black, and white theme, organza bags from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store, and glass vases from Wal-Mart to hold the candy for around $300.

for the ceremony or reception decorations. Mahannah search for other options and discovered the same flower at Michaels craft store for only $3. The flower was artificial but had a much cleaner white to it, said Mahannah. Purchasing from a

Mahannah also saved money by creating her own invitations, doing set-up for the ceremony and reception herself with the help of the groom and wedding party, and holding a buffet-style reception with pasta, salad, and individually wrapped Ho-Ho’s in place of a groom’s cake.

By doing it herself, Mahannah held a beautiful wedding and reception for 350 people for right at $6,000. For her bridesmaids Mahannah also saved money by choosing a prom dress from J.C. Penney. Though the dress had a bright pink sash, Mahannah easily covered this up by purchasing blue fabric and creating a blue sash to match her color scheme. For additional savings, Mahannah asked family and friends to save forty perfect off coupons the Michaels regularly prints in newspaper ads. Other craft stores such as Hobby Lobby also regularly publish coupons or send them weekly after signing up for their e-mail newsletter. “I stopped by to pick up invitations or flowers almost every single day on my way home from school,” said Mahannah. Adding up the estimates that she got from vendors, Mahannah found that her wedding would have cost her a little over $20,000 if she had hired other people to do it all. By doing it herself, Mahannah held a beautiful wedding and reception for 350 people for right at $6,000. “Doing it myself made me really feel like when my friends and family walked in they were coming to my party, not someone else’s vision,” said Mahannah.

DIY Resources Web sites/ Blogs

Books The DIY Bride by Khris Cochran The DIY Wedding: Celebrate Your Day Your Way by Kelly Bare Crafty Ideas for the Bride on a Budget: 75 DIY Wedding Projects by Linda Kopp The Everything Weddings on a Budget Book: Plan the Wedding of Your Dreams-Without Going Bankrupt! by Barbara Cameron The Paper Bride: Wedding DIY from Pop-the-Question to Tie-the-Knot by Esther K. Smith Your Wedding, Your Way by Sharon Naylor


it’s better to

GIVE How to give thank you gifts


If you find a suitable option for everyone to have the same gift, buying them in bulk will also save money.


and stay on-budget:


Another option is to make your own gifts. Make your own candles, bath salts, jewelry, CD’s, or even purchase something small and have it personalized. For bridesmaids, a good idea is to purchase tote bags from a clearance rack and have their initials embroidered on them.

than to


by La Nita Thomas



Watch for sales. Shop the Create thank you baskets clearance racks for the bridal party with and clip coupons. small items from a dollar store or general store. A small basket with a candle, photo frame, vase, and coffee mug will only cost $5 at a dollar store.


Think small. Get a photo frame and have a photo printed of you and the person from the wedding.


K. Haley♼ Photography


hope your heart smiles.


Budget Weddings  

Budget Weddings Magazine, created by La Nita Thomas for Magazine Design and Production class, spring 2010

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