Wedding Tips

One of Matthew’s friends in Texas just got engaged. He emailed us asking for wedding resource advice. Here’s what I jotted down for him in a few minutes…please feel free to add your best wedding tips/resources in the comments, and I’ll pass them on!

I don’t know anything about wedding vendors and resources in Texas, but here’s some advice from a bride/bridesmaid/friend/guest of many weddings….

If you know anyone who could arrange flowers for you (if your bride has a
friend who has ever worked for a florist, etc.), I LOVE Grower’s Box.
You can order a ton of beautiful wedding flowers (they have special
wedding packages) for a lot less money than using a local florist.
I’ve done flowers for two weddings this year and we ordered the
flowers from Grower’s Box and they were beautiful and fresh.

Trash the Dress has some amazing, inspiring ideas for
post-wedding portraits. Look at a LOT of photography blogs and
websites and be willing to put the money into a photographer who
really captures your style. The flowers fade, the food gets eaten,
but you’ll have your wedding portraits forever…they’re worth it.
You should be able to get an excellent, creative, professional for
$2,000 – $4,000. Get someone who will do an engagement session with
you well before the wedding as part of the photography package. It’s
important that they get to know you and practice shooting you so they
can really capture your day.

Hire a good videographer if you can possibly afford it. Don’t just
trust a friend with a crappy camcorder. You may only watch your
wedding video once a year, but you’ll be glad you have a good video of

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on cake. A lot of guests don’t
even like wedding cake. Don’t be afraid to do something
non-traditional. One awesome wedding we went to recently had a
cheesecake bar – a bunch of simple, plain cheesecakes from a local
restaurant, and a whole bar of toppings, like fruits, nuts, chocolate,
whipped cream, etc. So fun, so easy, so inexpensive! And delicious.
You can always have a tiny, one-layer cake for you to cut. Put fresh
flowers on the top and it’ll look like a million bucks. Or if you
like the look of a big traditional layered cake, order it from Sam’s
Club or something, iced simply in all-white, and put some of your
wedding flowers in the top of each layer.

Skip favors. They’re not worth the expense. Most guests will just
end up throwing them away.

Get someone to work closely with your bride to coordinate all the details -
someone who is really good with attention to detail. Having someone
check and double check things for her will take a lot of stress off
her and allow her to relax and enjoy the process. Also make sure she
appoints someone on the day of whose job is to take care of her…run
errands for her, make sure she’s eating and drinking, let her know
where to be and when, run interference on annoying relatives, etc.

Congrats again, and good luck!

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  • gwyneth

    1. if you ARE going to do favours, ask friends what favours they got that they actually liked. my favourite from the 18 weddings i have gone to this year was simple/cool shaped mugs w/ the couple’s “logo” on them. they let me have 2, and i really like them and use them frequently. another favour i liked were expensive/tasty “designer” chocolates…people can enjoy them and they’re not bits of extra crap that people will hold onto for a week or two at most out of guilt before pitching.
    2. if you want to make your wedding unique and memorable, pick something that is really “you two” and RUN with it! use it as a thread running throughout the entire day. my favourite example of this was the couple who made thousands and thousands of origami cranes out of brightly coloured origami paper…they were hung over all the tables, hung in the trees under which they married, stuffed in the mug favours. the place cards were made out of origami paper.

    i’m surprised i don’t have more, but right now that’s all i’ve got…

  • Stout_Sojourner

    Really good advice! I tend to end up as the “catch all” groomsman- sprinting back and forth for two days solid. These would save a lot of time, money and stress if implemented.

  • cakelady

    I had cheesecake at ours!!!!

    Another tip:  see if there is a bride getting married the night before/night after your wedding, and see if you can coordinate.  We did this, and it ended up we had the same style – so we shared the cost of all the table deocrations and chapel decorations, plus we shared the cost of her floral arrangements.  It was an awesome way to save money.

    Frame your invitation.

    Agreed- Photography is one of the most important aspects. In the end we spent as much as if we had flown out Kimberly Jarman but the photos weren’t nearly as good.  If they say they can do your style but have no pictures to show that, go on to someone else, because even photographers are creatures of habit.

    Try on your dress each month before the wedding. I didn’t ….and 3 weeks before it wouldn’t zip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kriss10P

    I just went to my cousins wedding and they did two things I really liked. One was at the reception they gave out Jones soda with various pictures of them and their parents on it. It was such a nice personal touch and the soda was great too.

    Secondly they had huge jars of penny candy and bags for favors. They also had candy apples (it was held in an apple orchard) This was a huge hit with everyone. It was help yourself so everyone got to pick what they liked.

  • jlc2you

    If you want to save money on your invitations but don’t want to put the work into making your own, go to Midwest Specialty and Promotion  This lady will take any invitation idea you have and help you adjust it to keep it in your budget, then she’ll hand make them, mail them, track your RSVPs giving you weekly updates and then will send you all the RSVPs after your wedding so you can have them.  I did all my invitations for $300 and the only time it took me was approving the design (via email) and sending her my invitation list.  She had them out the next day.  She’s amazing.  My sister found her and my entire family will probably use her forever.  She’s based out of Lee’s Summit, Missouri but obviously worked with me and I’m in DC.

    Dress – If you want something more than a David’s bridal dress but don’t want to pay designer prices, check out Jean Hartman .  She’s an official retailer but works out of her home so she typically gets designer dresses 40% off what you’d find in a store.  A friend of mine in the DC area used her and loved her.  I was skeptical so I actually went to her house to talk to her first (she’s based out of Leesburg, Virginia) – and she’s amazing.  She measured me so well that I didn’t require any alterations on my dress.  But she can also work from a distance.  She did my sister’s wedding dress and all bridesmaid/junior bridesmaid dresses.  Basically, you go find the dress you want from a boutique and then email her -she’ll give you a price quote.  If you like the price she can order it for you and send it to your house.  The dress I wanted was going to cost me $1,500.  Obviously way more than I wanted to spend.  She got it for me at only $780.  And like I said, she did all the dresses for my wedding and then all the dresses for my sister’s wedding, who’s in Missouri.  We love her!

  • simply_nikki

    Staples/Michael’s: invitations/programs you print up
    Family and friends: your biggest resource! Hand make favors and centerpieces; borrow cd’s, rip them onto a laptop and have a buddy DJ for you; if you know a musician, baker, photographer, videographer or seamstress ask about their services (we got a free string trio and cake as gifts and a discounted photography package for a friend just starting out as a photographer)
    I used David’s Bridal and Mr. Tux; both disappointed me. I think they are national vendors so that is something to keep in mind.

  • rachelboo

    I’ve been to several weddings lately with a candy bar and that doubles as the favors.  It looks gorgeous with the right candy jars/vases.

    Cupcakes are another inexpensive alternative.  We bought a small cake for us to cut, then someone made 500 cupcakes for our guests.  It was a huge hit.  You can easily do different flavors to appeal to all guests, and 500 cupcakes only cost us about $55.  It was someone we knew, so we didn’t have to pay labor, but a very inexpensive option.

    Some tuxedo shops give you free invitations (up to a certain number) if you order so many tuxes.  The store I worked at was 6 tuxes, which can be easy to fill with the groom, dads, and a couple groomsmen and a ringbearer.  I think we got 250 or 300 invitations free.

  • rachellasia

    I’m curious as to who’s getting married..?
    Love your advice! I’ve not been married yet, but from observation, you’re right on!
    Christy – oh my goodness, what a blessing to be able to split those costs – that’s ideal!
    Beth Wiley found her “classic black dress” bridesmaid dresses on, which her bridesmaids were very grateful for, considering they had to spend a lot of money coming in from out of town for the wedding.
    They also had some of their favorite foods at the reception – ChicFilA nuggets, Starbucks coffee, etc. Then she asked her friends in town to make foods for the reception (muffins, etc) by giving them recipes & money.
    Sarah Mathis, who just got married in July, had only sisters as bridesmaids, but had all her close friends be the helpers for the wedding, and took pictures with them at the rehearsal dinner, as if they were bridemaids – i thought that was a great idea!
    If I think of more,

  • simply_nikki

    Oh, and Ebay and Dollartree Direct for supplies. I even got my veil on Ebay.

  • Mistress_Kath

    My mom’s favorite piece of advice: There will ALWAYS be someone with a big mouth making snarfy remarks about what you do/don’t do, so do what makes YOU happy and comfortable. You have your heart set on a pirate or Halloween or Camelot wedding? Go for it. Or perhaps you feel that you’d be better off with your wedding being very small and intimate (due to tuition, house down payment, whatever…) Go for it. I know couples who have had a renewal of vows and reception for an anniversary after one or both has graduated and/or gotten a better job.

  • ErikaAD

    It depends on what part of Texas I know a phenomenal photographer there though. She did my best friends wedding and was wonderful!

  • ErikaAD

    I ment to add that Ian and I did a 3 tiered cheesecake for our wedding cake the bottom was a New York one The middle pumpkin cheesecake and the top peanut butter chocolate we did it on cake stands and decorated it with flowers that matched the bridesmaids bouquets and ribbons. Making the cheesecakes was also a family affair which helped on cost and made it more special. We also did our centerpieces as 8×10′s of our family members wedding photos back as far as great grandparents. It was great because then we took them and they are hanging in our home now.

  • CarrieSaum

    If your friend is anywhere close to HOUSTON, give me a call. 281-745-0251. We did our wedding for $3,000, start to finish. :)
    We (obviously) had a tremendous amount of help with it all, and everyone who helped was local, except for our florist.

    My ONLY advice is get lots and lots and lots of premarital counseling. Spend 75% of your time/energy building a foundation for your marriage, and about 25% of your energy/time on planning the actual wedding. You will not regret it. Also, build that counseling cost into your budget.

    Seriously, call me if you are close to Houston.

  • Black_Wolf

    Best advise I ever heard . . .

    Elope.(Most times you can get the father of the bride to chuck in a few thousand bucks on this one. He is getting a deal.)

    I had a friend who’s future father in law offered them $5000 for the honeymoon if they skipped the wedding. Heck-o-deal.


  • twentysixcats

    I got my dress off ebay for only $130 – new with tags and I loved it. My mom made the bridesmaid dresses but it ended up not being that much cheaper ($60 or $70 when all was said and done).

    We skipped the videographer. It would have been nice to have one, but I think I’m glad we didn’t spend the money (since at the time we didn’t have the money for it). I don’t regret spending the money on a photographer. That was about half our budget!

    We just used long-stemmed roses from the grocery store. They looked beautiful, but I will say: if you go that route and don’t have a professional florist “treat” your flowers, then take ALL your pictures before the wedding!! My poor flowers looked so sad and droopy in the pictures. I wanted to do all the pictures before the wedding, but certain people wouldn’t hear of it… and to be honest I didn’t think the first sight down the aisle was “magical” enough to make it worth it. Especially if you have the reception at the church – all I could think of while we were taking pictures was “hurry! hurry! everyone’s waiting!”

    One thing to consider is having an evening wedding with a coffee/dessert bar. I went to one wedding and it looked so classy! We had an afternoon wedding with snacks and people left SO fast. I think partly because they wanted to get on to their Saturday evenings, and partly because there wasn’t room to have chairs for everyone to sit. If I could redo it I’d definitely try to brainstorm for something else. (Either find a location with more space for people to sit, or try to fit more tables.)

  • Badcat926


  • Anonymous

    Your bridesmaids do not need to match.  If you just give them a hemlenght, a style and one or two colours to chose from, they will chose a dress they genuinely like, they will look like themselves and love you extra for it.

    Forget the ‘dream wedding you had since you were five’.  You aren’t five anymore.  Re examine that idea and wonder if you really need a cool mustang to get to the wedding.

    See if you can find a good photographer that does a ‘shoot and burn’: shooting your wedding pictures and putting them on a cd.  Believe it or not but I found one that did this for about 400 dollars, and he stayed for five full hours.  Plus we own the copy right to our pictures so there are never any pricey re orders for anyone.

    See if you can get a parish hall or something for your wedding instead of a venue.  You will have more options foodwise than with a venue.  You can ask some friends to man the bar (or ask them to man the bar after dinner if you want waiters for the dinner) and only give wine and beer if you give out any alcohol at all.

    Ask your friends  to help out.  My reception flowers were done by my aunt.  My cake was done by another aunt, we did our invitations ourselves.  If you have a friend do your flowers, consider asking her to make small budvases (IKEA) with a sticker with your names on and putting a few flowers in them. Your tabledecorations will also be your favors.  This saves money and ‘stuff’ later on.

    Instead of a program, consider a booklet in which people can follow the entire wedding.  We did this because we had a bilingual wedding with one set of guests not understanding the other language and vice versa.  To this day, this booklet gets reread every week or so.

    Don’t be pressured into doing something costly because it is ‘unique’.  Costly unique things like extra large wedding cakes, photo boots or throw away camera;s on every table rarely ARE unique.  You will get a much more personal wedding by skipping things than by adding them.  For example we walked to the Cathedral where we got married.  Granted it was only a ten minute walk but the first impulse of my mother was to want to rent something ‘original’  like a horse and carriage or antique car, which is the same originality as every other wedding. 

    If you are not married (pun intended) to the idea of a dinner and dance, consider a morning wedding with a brunch afterwards.

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