Tag Archives: wedding planning tips

Terry & Kristi's Real Wedding
Terry & Kristi's Real Wedding - Part 3

Photos Courtesy of Kendra Elizabeth Photography and Terry & Kristi's Family

The Ceremony Venue

My husband and I got married on June 16th, 2012, at the church where we are members. We got to know the pastor very well through marriage counseling. He is awesome! He took the time to tailor our ceremony to our personalities and the challenges we may have in our relationship. It was perfect. My only regret is not having it videotaped.

Our church has a gorgeous, ornamental alter and beautiful stained glass windows, so we didn’t feel the need to decorate a lot. We rented candelabras, white bows and ivy from the church to decorate the ends of the pews, which the church’s wedding coordinator’s took care of.

The Reception Venue

We had our reception at Farmamerica, a venue dedicated to preserving a bit of Minnesota’s farm history. The land is home to a 1850s farm, a 1930s farm, a country church and a schoolhouse. These made great backdrops for our outdoor photos. Our reception was in the Minnesota Agricultural Interpretive Center (a.k.a. visitor’s center). The tables and dance floor were set up in the ballroom. The guest book table, cake table, food and bar were set up just outside the ballroom.

How We Saved

1. When choosing wedding vendors, we did two things to help keep prices low. We used local vendors as much as possible, and we used our connections for the rest. All of our wedding vendors were wonderful.

2. I purchased my dress from a store that includes alterations in the price of the dress. I chose a dress that fit my personality and figure, at a cost that was much lower than most dresses ($671).

3. We are members at the church where we had our ceremony, and that made it very affordable. We paid $140 for the ceremony, wedding coordinators, the pastor and the decorations for the church. We did hire a musician, but she was also a member of the church and gave us a very good price.

4. We chose the local bakery for our cake, and found out she does catering, too. We had a buffet to avoid additional costs of table service. We chose plastic plates, plastic silverware and paper napkins to keep prices low. We bought them online to save even more money. We chose a small, decorated cake for display and sheet cakes for our guests.

5. The caterer’s mother was the local florist, so the caterer recommended decorating the cake with fresh flowers to match our bouquets (super cheap). Our bouquets included inexpensive flowers, such as gerbera daisies, alstroemeria, mini carnations and a variety of greens.

6. Our reception venue did not have a liquor license, so we brought in liquor and beer ourselves. This allowed us to offer unlimited free drinks to our guests. We used plastic cups for the drinks and can coolers, which doubled as favors, to keep the beer cold. The venue had a portable bar we could rent, which had unlimited soda.

7. My stepdaughter works part-time for a DJ. Naturally, she asked him to DJ the dance at our wedding. He also brought the pink up-lighting we used to enhance the decorations.

8. My husband and I set a budget before we started planning and agreed to stick to it, but we both chose one thing that was most important to us to splurge on. That happened to be photography. We felt it was important to have quality pictures to remember our wedding day. We interviewed ten different photographers, but the ones we liked were out of our price range. My sister’s friend, who is a photographer herself, helped us out. She found us five different photographers who were available on our wedding day in our price range. She recommended one in particular, which is the person we chose. Her price was excellent for two photographers, unlimited time and rights to reproduce the images.

So there you have it.  All the things we did to have a beautiful wedding on a $15,000 budget. Feel free to comment!  We’re more than happy to answer your questions.

Photos Courtesy of Kendra Elizabeth Photography and Terry & Kristi’s Family.

affordable bridesmaid dresses
Wedding Planning Checklist: Section 3:  Part 4

Saving your bridesmaids some cash is top on your list of priorities, so we’re sharing five of our favorite places to visit for dresses that say ooh-la-la without the cha-ching!


The Place: David’s Bridal

The Price Range: Prices start at $80.

The Reason: You just can’t beat David’s Bridal. They have proven quality, dependable service and a great selection of styles in a range of prices.

The Tip: Create an account on DavidsBridal.com and you can get special coupons and offers sent to you!

Davids Bridal Illusion Halter Charmeuse trim short Davids Bridal Sleeveless Satin V neck long
Photography by David’s Bridal.


The Place: The Limited

The Price Range: $25 to $100

The Reason: If you like short-length and tea-length bridesmaid dresses, The Limited is an excellent option. You’ll find stylish, affordable dresses that will look fantastic on your bridesmaids.

The Tip: Check the website of your favorite clothing stores, like Maurices. Their dresses are stylish, affordable and many are totally bridesmaid-worthy!

Limited Cap Sleeve Ruched Dress Limited Bow One Shoulder Dress

Photography by The Limited


The Place: Milanoo.com

The Price Range: $50 to $110

The Reason: Milanoo.com is one of our favorite finds this year! This super affordable, online apparel retailer carries a huge range of dress styles, and almost all of them are under $100. And, Milanoo.com gives clear measurement instructions in their Size Chart beneath each dress, which helps eliminate some of the worry associated with ordering apparel online.

The Tip: Shop accessories, too! Milanoo offers jewelry, shoes and more.

Strapless-Sash-Satin-Bridesmaid-Dress-17715-1 A-line-Strapless-Sash-Satin-Bridesmaid-Dress-8273-1

Photography via Milanoo.com


The Place: Amazon.com

The Price Range: $50 to $150

The Reason: Why else? Amazon is so easy! Just type in “bridesmaid dresses” and you get a large selection of affordable bridesmaid dresses in a variety of styles.

The Tip: Shop other search words also, such as “formal dresses,” “prom dresses,” “evening gowns” and “cocktail dresses.”

Amazon Chiffon Satin Dress Prom Formal Bridesmaid Dresses Amazon Long Strapless Satin Bridesmaid Dresses

Photography via Amazon.com


The Place: Department Stores

The Price Range: Varies

The Reason: Department stores offer incredible variety and good quality. Best of all, since they serve such a wide clientele their price ranges are just as wide. Obviously, the price range will vary depending on where you shop. Macy’s will be higher-end whereas JCPenney will be mid- to low-end.

The Tip: Check the sales racks — like you don’t already! If you’re letting your bridesmaids choose their style of dress in a color you’ve chosen, department store sales racks are the way to go.


Macys Maggy London Stretch Satin Bridesmaid Dresses JCPenney Long Chiffon Crossover Bridesmaid Dresses

Photography via Macys.com and JCPenney.com


wedding planning tips

The holidays are just about over and you’re finally through with all the stress of finding the perfect gifts, planning family get-togethers and baking what seems like a million cookies.


Now all you have left is…planning an entire wedding. That’s a big task, even without all the holiday stuff. That’s why we’ve compiled 10 great tips to rejuvenate your wedding planning spirit.


#10. Take a little time for yourself. Don’t jump back into planning right away. Relax a bit. Here are some ways to pamper yourself.  Get a massage. Soak in a hot bath of those lavender bath salts “Santa” put under the tree for you. We recommend Martha Stewart’s guide to pampering yourself for more ideas.


#9. Now…get back at it! Just kidding. Start slow, and make sure the first wedding planning tasks you tackle, even if they’re not the most pressing, are ones that you enjoy.


#8. Have a low-key party with your bridesmaids to reconnect and get everyone excited again! Plus, you can bounce wedding ideas off of them and get some good feedback.


#7. Get Inspired. Visit www.getmarried.com. It’s filled with beautiful photos, super stylish decoration ideas and so much more. You can even preview Get Married magazine online and request one for FREE. It’s a great resource for any bride.


#6. Spend some one-on-one time with Mom to talk about low-stress items and a few easy to-dos. She’ll be happy to help, and you’ll have that great feeling of checking a couple things off the list.


#5. Explore popular wedding blogs. Wedding blogs are great for inspiration and offer really good ideas and how-tos. A few of our favorites (besides Ann’s, of course!) are DIY Bride and Style Me Pretty.


#4. Talk with your soon-to-be husband about the things you’re most excited about, whether it’s the awesome band you lined up for the reception or the fabulous honeymoon you have planned afterward. Enjoy the anticipation together!


#3. Hit those after-Christmas sales! Nothing rejuvenates a Bargainista Bride more than a great deal, and stores are full of them after Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Just think about all the holiday décor and products that will be SUPER cheap and could look great as wedding reception decorations. Also, don’t forget to check out Ann’s Clearance Section for more great deals!


#2. Order some FREE samples of your favorite wedding invitations. You’ll be surprised at how much it helps to make a decision when you can hold and feel different examples. And, seeing the real thing is certain to kick your excitement into high gear!


#1. Write your wedding vows, even if that’s not a part of the plan. It’s exhilarating and refreshing to write down on paper how you feel about the person you love. Even if you never use them, you can’t help but be excited after pouring your heart out on paper. And when you’re feeling frazzled, they’ll be right there to remind you exactly why you’re planning this beautiful wedding.