Ahhh to be a young bride again........ummm, young maybe, Bride? naaah! I did that 28 years ago and never plan on doing it again! I'm happy with my memories :) One of many memories I have is of planning the wedding itself. My Parents gave me a small amount (compared to todays standard) of money and told me that was what I had to do my wedding with. I just wanted a small wedding and a nice little honeymoon getaway. So I was going to have to do it all myself! I have an older sister who got married when she was only 16 and I was 8 years old. I barely remember any of it. The only thing I do remember is one day her and I were digging around in a garbage dump that was back in the neighbor's fields one day and she found the cutest wedding veil in the dump! It was in perfect condition and it had this beautiful crystal beaded crown on top that was all sparkly and made her look like a princess! I can't remember where she got her dress from or what it looked like, heck I don't remember the ceremony itself...all I remember is that veil! Funny how the most memorable things are things that didn't cost a cent!


My parents did buy my dress and gave me a bridal shower at their expense. I found a dress that was ok at a bridal outlet for $60!! Just keep in mind that this was 1986 :) I couldn't find an inexpensive veil that I liked so my sister made a simple one for me which was prettier than any I seen in the stores!

The Wedding Party

 So far I hadn't spent a dime of the cash my parents gave me! My mother-in-law to be made my bouquets for me and my Maid of Honor. I didn't want bridesmaids. She also made the wedding cake, which she is really good at doing. My In-laws also held our reception at their home at no cost to us. We were married in a church and a lady my Mom worked with lent us the flower arrangements from her daughter wedding for us to decorate the church with. The reception went nice, We received a ton of gifts and more money!!! Later that evening we went home gathered our luggage and took off in the wee hours of the morning to Gatlinburg Tennessee for our honeymoon! That was were I put all the money my parents gave us and that we received as gifts from others.

The Honey Mooners!
OK, enough about me and my wedding! Except to say that if I had it to do all over again I would not change a thing! It was enough.  In the years since I have witnessed many other marriages ranging from small like mine to large and expensive. Funny thing is that most of the couples I know who had large and expensive weddings are no longer married to each other! I know of one couple that went all out, then two weeks later they separated and got a divorce. Her parents threw a fit! And I don't blame them. All that money for nothing! If she ever got married again I bet she had to pay herself!
For those of you that are planning your own wedding I have put together some money saving tips and Do It Yourself ideas.
I guess the best place to start would be the Bridal Shower. There are many shortcuts you can take to save you some money. You can start by making/ printing out your own invitations. If you are crafty in a scrapbook kind of way the possibilities are only limited to your imagination and scrap book supplies. If you don't scrapbook or just don't have that kind of time you can always download and customize, then print out these. They give you 5 different templates to choose from
If your home is not big enough to hold all your guest, see if a relative or Bridesmaid will let you use theirs. Renting a hall or banquet room can get pricey. Check out church halls, most times they are free to use! The drawback is most don't allow alcoholic beverages.
Get the bridesmaids to help you out with the party. Even if they can not afford to help with the food or other preparations their time and extra hands at setting and cleaning up always are a big help too! Put them to work making decorations such as stitching silk roses to hair bands to make napkin rings! That is simple enough, just a little time consuming.
You may want to have a theme of sorts to your party.  It doesn't have to be an extravagant theme just some little something to help it all tie together. Now if money is no problem you could always take all the girls to the spa for a day :)  An example would be a tea party! Do it Alice in wonderland style. Collect odd & end teacups and plates at yard sales and thrift stores. Everyone can take home their teacup as a party favor! It doesn't even have to be a tea party to use odds&ends and mix match china. Just make sure to stay in the same types of glass being used, meaning don't mix stoneware with fine china. The patterns and colors do not have to match just the types. I've also seen where people just gather odd & ends but all one color such as solid white.
Another example would be a country theme where you could use inexpensive mason jars and burlap table cloths and there you have it.
Put single stem flowers in clear glass bottles and group them on the tables as centerpieces. If your party is in the spring or early summer buy flats of annual flowers and separate the cells and wrap them in a pretty square of fabric or tissue paper and use those as centerpieces on the tables and also to be taken home as party favors or game prizes! Succulents are another nice plant to do this with and they are usually available year round! 
Pick up some small journals or note books at a dollar or craft stores. Open them up a bit so that they will stand on their own and make a pretty tag with the guest's name to stick on it. Use this as a place card/party favor all in one!  Another really good favor Idea is  nail polish that you can pick up at the dollar store. Tie a pretty ribbon with a tag that has a cute saying printed onto it and you're done! It is amazing how the smallest simplest things will make the most impact with your guests.
 The dishes, serving platters and bowls can also be carried over to your wedding reception if you are doing it yourself and so can any decorations. As a matter of fact buy decorations that you know you can carry over to the reception! Borrow serving plates, platter, utensils and cake pedestals from relatives. Usually Grandmas & Aunts are good for these things and don't mind them getting some use instead of being stashed away somewhere.
If you need a table to be bigger than it is just go down to your local home improvement store and have them cut you a piece of cheapy plywood that is 6 inches bigger on all sides than the table it will be used on. Conceal it with a cloth. Stage your serving platters and plates at different heights for visual appeal. Conceal stacked books or cigar boxes under your cloth to get height for them. Use tiered serving platters or make your own by gluing candlestick holders to the bottom of plates such as the one pictured HERE 
Make banners to hang across the front of tables or on the walls. One cute idea is to take pictures of the couple to be married and place them on a rectangular piece of paper that is folded in half. Place your twine or ribbon in the fold and glue or tape the paper shut. You can also decorate them with markers or stamps.
If you are creative you can also make and print out custom labels for bottled water that you make available for guests...this is also a good idea to do for the reception as well.
Glass vases & candlesticks painted with chalk paint in bright colors make a cheap and pretty centerpiece decoration.   (tutorial and pics coming soon)
You can spray paint dried beans the color of your choice to use as a cheap fillers in candle jars vases etc....Just place them in a single layer in the bottom of a card board box. Take them outside and spray them. Let them dry then shake the box until they are all turn over and spray again. Keep repeating that until the beans are covered with paint.
Now for the food because you do have to feed them and a cocktail or two might cheer them up! If you do serve cocktails make sure to have alternatives like tea or soda for those who don't drink and are to young to drink alcohol. A nice non-alcohol punch in the punch bowl with sherbet ice cream floating on top is always yummey too! We will start with the drinks. If you are going to serve alcohol I would suggest a punch or a sangria mix. I'm kind of partial to the Sangria, for one I like them! and can use cheap wine! I suggest these because you make them ahead of time and you don't need someone to play bartender. You just put it in a large dispenser and people can serve themselves. You want to either tie a tag or paint some chalk paint on the side of the dispenser and write what is in it so your guest will know. You don't want grandma drinking the Sangria thinking it is Iced tea! (Tutorial coming soon)
I have been testing recipes of Sangria (hard job but somebody has to do it!) because there are so many of them out there and they are all different. These that I'm about to post are my tried and true favorites. When I go to make them again I will take pic and post them.
A good Spring/Summertime brew that I like is called exactly that "Summer Brew". It's not a Sangria but it is still a good mix.You get the cans of frozen Pink lemonade concentrate, vodka, beer and water is all you need to make it and trust me it is good. Recipe is as follows
1 -12 oz. can of frozen Pink lemonade
1-12 oz. beer (any kind)
12 oz. of Absolute vodka
12 oz. cold water
Empty the frozen lemonade into your container first then use the can to measure the rest of the ingredients into container and mix well....serve over ice.
My go to Sangria for fall/winter is :

1 cup vanilla vodka
1 cup sugar
2 cups apple cider
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
2 honeycrisp apples
2 pears
1 large orange
2 bottles pinot grigio
Combine vanilla vodka, sugar, apple cider and pumpkin pie spice in a gallon
pitcher and stir until sugar is dissolved. Chop apples, pears and orange into
small pieces and add to vodka mixture. Refrigerate mixture and let sit for
 2-4 hours. When ready to serve, add chilled pinot grigio and stir to combine.
 Serve over ice if desired (I usually don't but it's entirely up to you).
When it comes to food you don't want to get into making anything that is time
consuming or expensive to make. Easy to make finger foods are best. And your
guest can serve themselves. Do some searches on Pinterest or the net for easy
appetizers. There are a ton of free recipes out there. Below are some ideas 
****You can take ham, tuna or chicken salad and make sandwiches using a variety
of different breads, then slice them in half diagonally to make sandwich wedges or
slice them in strips to make finger type sandwiches.
***You can make a super easy crockpot full of party meatballs all you need is
1- 3lb bag of frozen meatballs
1 jar of grape jelly
You can stop there with those two simple ingredients for what you can call
"Wine Glazed Meatballs" or you can add to that
1 jar of Heinz 57 sauce
1 small bottle of A1 steak sauce
now you have "Sweet & Sour Meatballs"!
Cook either version for 4-5 hours on low, set to warm and serve from crockpot!
****Make ahead vegetable & fruit platters with dips are tried and true party favorites!
****Bake cupcakes and brownies and set them on paper dollies placed on tiered
      serving platters for a nice presentation.

There are all kinds of good ideas on the web for bridal shower games. A quick Google or
Pinterest search on those and you should be able to find some that you like and that will
fit your budget. Here is one that looks interesting  Bridal Shower Bingo 





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