Resources


DRESSES
Lilly Wedding  This website has some really pretty gowns, a lot will cost less than $200

Cheap Wedding Dresses
   I love this website, they have free shipping on some dresses plus a great size chart.

Did you know
The Limited sold wedding dresses?  I didn't either but they are awesome dresses and all under $300.

Ebay Wedding Dresses
   So judge if you want to, but I saw a really pretty new wedding dress listed here for $6.88. Beat that. Check out Craig's List too and of course area thrift stores. Maybe there's nothing there but what if there is and you didn't even look? Plus, buying a dress for ten bucks and taking it to an alteration place to make a few changes and clean it up - would probably cost you less than $80. Worth taking a look at.

JC Penney
   Yes, they sell wedding dresses and the dresses are cute and affordable.

David's Bridal has gowns for under $200
   I got my dress here although I was in a hurry and ended up regretting my hurried decision. Take your time, pick something you will love.

Budget Bridal Gowns
   There you go - pretty straightforward. You can buy new, used, or even rent a wedding gown at this website. Lots of options for flower girls and bridesmaids too.

InWedding
   Pretty dresses and affordable prices, some just $99. Flower girl dresses start at just $49.

Click here to find out how to make your own wedding dress.

You could look like a million bucks for less than the cost of a new winter coat. Shop around and check the website list in the back of the book for more places on the Internet where you can find great deals.


Take a look at some of these other great money saving ideas

Something borrowed… 

You know the old saying that starts with “Something borrowed something blue…” Well, why does the “something borrowed” have to be just a bracelet or a pair of earrings? Can it not be the dress itself? Truth be told, most brides would be flattered to hear that you loved their dress so much that you want to borrow it for your own wedding. As long as she is okay with you making any needed alterations and she trusts you to return it cleaned, why in the world would you not think to use a friend’s or relative’s wedding dress?

She’s Sew Self-Sufficient 

Pardon the pun, but if you think you can make the dress yourself, go for it! Lots of cities offer community education classes that teach sewing for beginners and sometimes sewing classes that cater to special occasion sewing needs (like making your own wedding dress). Sign up for one of these classes and you’ll not only save lots of money on your dress, you’ll have the teacher and people around you who can offer advice on how to make the dress look and fit just right. All you’ll need to pay for is the material and the cost of the class. It will also make the dress that much more special and unique.

Alternative Wedding Gowns
Add a veil, the right jewelry, and a bouquet of flowers, and you’ve turned a prom dress into a gorgeous wedding gown.

Other types of dresses that can be converted into a wedding dress: Sundresses, white bridesmaid dresses, white suits, and evening gowns (these don’t necessarily have to be white either!) The idea is to think beyond what is traditional and conventional. If you can do that, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars and still have the wedding you want with the dress you’ve dreamed of.

HAIR
Want to try out a style before the big day without the commitment? Click here for a virtual makeover.

I love this site because you get TONS of ideas but not just pictures, they also show you how to do each hairstyle with videos and suggestions.

You'll see this blog pop in our makeup section too. Really, it's like having a group of trendy girlfriends who have tried all of the latest ideas give you beauty advice on hair, makeup, clothes, accessories, etc.

For much more on do-it-yourself hair ideas, click here.

MAKEUP
My favorite beauty blog is right here.

Make your own makeup and other beauty supplies
here. Recipes for skincare, makeup, and more.

iVillage
has some really great wedding day makeup tips, and really, makeup tips in general. Everything from what shade to choose, how to control oily skin, apply eye makeup, etc.

Want that smoky-eye look for your big day? Click
here for the step-by-step instructions.

How to choose the right shade of lipstick is
here.

Want free samples? Best to contact your Avon or
Mark (the younger version of Avon products) representative and buy a few basics. Tell them you're getting married, doing your own makeup, and ask for a few samples. Let them do a party at your house and you and your bridesmaids and family can get makeovers, makeup tips, free samples, and great makeup that you can try before you buy.

CENTERPIECES

Beautiful centerpieces that are free or almost free

- How much does a bag of tea lights cost? About five bucks and they’ll burn for approximately four hours. Borrow an assortment of small glass vases, add greenery around the outside of the vases, drop a few tea lights into each vase, apply lighted match to wick and you have a warm, elegant, and inexpensive centerpiece.

- At a craft or discount store, you can purchase packs of pillar candles for around ten dollars. Buy two packs, borrow some silver or glass serving trays, put the candles on the trays, put the trays on the tables, and you have centerpieces.

- Borrow family pictures from your parents and relatives, especially old pictures of your parents and especially any pictures that your friends and family might have of you and your partner. Put them in frames you have or can borrow and place them on all of the tables.

- A dozen roses at a grocery store will cost around twenty dollars. Buy a dozen and borrow twelve small glass vases. Put one rose in each vase and put one vase on each table. Better yet, let’s reuse what we have. If you’re walking down the aisle with arrangement of flowers, use those flowers to put in each of the vases. At least use your bouquet somewhere at the reception as a decoration, otherwise, you’ll just have to carry it around or your bridesmaid will have to find a place for it and that can be very annoying.

- What’s great about Christmas decorations? The lights, the greenery, the beautiful glass ornaments, the rich colors… or is it the fact that they are beautiful decorations that almost everyone has sitting in a box somewhere in a basement and could be used at your wedding reception? Aw, I think that’s it. Place simple holiday greenery around white pillar candles, use white tree lights around the baseboard of the reception room or wrapped around the staircase, take the red velvet tablecloths and silver napkin holders and use them at your tables. These are things you can borrow from your family when they ask, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

- Make the food your centerpiece. This might be the best idea of all because it blends style with purpose. Borrow silver or glass platters and have an arrangement of hors d'oeuvres, a bottle of wine, and some candles on each table. You can also have the plates and napkins stacked and the glasses out on each table so all your guests have to do is find a seat and enjoy the food and company.

Have your cake serve more than one purpose
It’s tradition, it’s delicious, and it can be expensive. Instead of a large three tiered wedding cake with all of the frills, make small cakes and use them as centerpieces at the tables. When the guests are finished eating, have your servers cut the cakes for your guests (you can make them all different flavors so your guests will be surprised!) and now your cake- excuse me, your cakes- have done more than decorate your tables, they’ve fed your guests and saved you money! 

Family game night  
Ok, here's an idea. Centerpieces are not just meant to be beautiful, but have you noticed that now they usually serve a function? I've seen the centerpiece as a mini-wedding cake, or a bottle of wine with ribbons, flowers your guests take home (a.k.a. party favor), even part of the meal can serve as a centerpiece. But here's what I'm thinking- what about putting out fancy boxes or baskets full of card and dice games? This sounds perfect for a Friday night wedding and if you're keeping it small- as you should- then it's really a formal but fun family game night! Keeps the night moving and the party going and you will likely have some pretty cool memories of your big day where you gathered around tables with those you love and laughed over a good game of Yahtzee.


PICTURES
Wedding photographers can be fabulous. However, we don’t have an endless budget. We have $500 for the whole thing. But do not get discouraged. This is when you need to roll up your sleeves, gather the troops, and get creative. We’re going to get you some awesome wedding pictures and still stay within the budget.
 

Everyone knows someone who takes great pictures
Lots of people will be bringing their camera to a wedding, just make sure that the people you know with a real eye for photography are getting the shots you really want. You want them all there taking pictures, a lot of pictures, tons of pictures (that’s the great thing about digital cameras). When the day is finally over, have them put all of the pictures on a CD for you. You and your spouse can look over the pictures, find your favorites, and either print them out right away or later when you’ve got more money.

Make a list
Know exactly what pictures you want because it will be up to you to make sure you get them. Especially if you’re enlisting the help of people who do not do this as a full-time career, you’re going to need to know what pictures you want and when.

Find a rookie
In addition to the amateur photographers that you’ll have at your wedding, find a rookie. When I say rookie, I mean someone studying photography in college. Post a flyer at local universities and community colleges stating something like this: Photographer Needed for Wedding! Pay is $50 for one hour and the negatives. Call this number if you’re interested… Use them only for the ceremony and the big shots. You’ll need them only for about an hour so $50 will be plenty (budget another ten bucks if you want them to be there extra twenty minutes). Tell them if you like their work, they can use you as a reference. Also, just get the negatives from them.

Remember, one of the rules is Be Resourceful. Think about using a student if you want cheap live music at your ceremony, some decoration tips for your reception, photographs, recipes, invitations, and more.

FLOWERS
Do I really have to spend $600 on flowers? 

No, you don't. Quick ideas include buying your flowers the day of the wedding, using silk or paper flowers (only if they're cheaper, they aren't always cheaper), and having your flowers serve more than one purpose. Can your bouquet be your centerpiece at the head table? Yes it can. Here are some more ideas from michaels.com:
 
A Few Tips About Outdoor Floral Designs
There are a couple of things to consider when designing flowers for the great outdoors:

  • When attaching flowers to bases such as wreaths, be sure to wire them in place rather than just using hot glue. The glue may soften in warm weather or sunlight, causing your lovely arrangement to shed its decorations.
  • Wind is often a factor in outdoor festivities. Extra weight should be added to table arrangements to keep them standing. Designers often fill the bottom of containers with river rock or sand to add this extra weight.
  • If you're using candles in your outdoor arrangements, be sure to add some sort of protection against the wind. Enclosing candles with a hurricane globe, or placing them into containers such as ivy bowls will ensure they stay lit, and that the flame is a lesser danger to items around them.
RECEPTION SITES
City parks and gardens
There might be a fee associated with renting park space but it’s usually less than $100. If bad weather surprises you on your wedding day, some park districts even offer a second indoor location at no extra cost.

The home of a close friend or family member
If one of your relatives, close friends, or even you have the space and atmosphere for a special event like a wedding reception- seriously consider using it. Like with the city park or garden, you are in control of the reception space and will save tons of money by choosing the food and forgoing the fees associated with hotels, caterers, ballrooms, etc. If you feel weird about asking someone to use their home for such a big occasion, think about what you can offer them in exchange.

Dinner at the church
If you are like me and your religion requires you to be married in a church, then exchanging your vows at a park or a friend’s home isn’t a possibility. However, who says you can’t move the party to the church? Most churches offer a reception room or dining hall because this is where a lot of gathering takes place for after-church meetings, coffee and donuts, funeral receptions, church board meetings, etc. They often have a kitchen are a blank canvas just waiting for you to decorate.

Keep this in mind as well, if you are from a large family or your partner is and you can’t seem to trim your guest list down to fifty or less, this is a great option for you. Church reception halls usually hold quite a few people, and the money you’ve saved on the location can be put into feeding more people. After the reception, you can still plan on a small cocktail party at a friend’s or family member’s home and any guests with children might find this easier too.  Even moving it to a ballroom would be much cheaper if you take out the food expense.  If you're just hosting a dance with a bar, your costs are trimmed down dramatically.

They can visit with everyone at the dinner with their kids and then bring them home afterward to a babysitter so they can enjoy the cocktail party with you.


MUSIC
Look, as a former radio DJ it pains me to tell you this but truthfully- you don't need a DJ at your wedding dance. Sure you have to have someone there to make sure the music is running smooth but there's this new crazy invention out there called an iPod that allows you to play a ton of music with the touch of a button.

If you don't have the money to buy the services of a really good wedding DJ, then just do it yourself. You can buy a simple system that connects to your laptop, like the one pictured above, or just hook up some speakers to your laptop and you're ready to rock.  Add a few lights if you have the budget but remember, this is really just an ambiance component to your party.

 
INVITATIONS
This is a necessary expense, no way around it. But we don’t need all of the frills that are very unnecessary and go unnoticed by everyone. Spend your money on the things guests will notice and the things they will truly appreciate like the food at the reception. You can have wonderful invitations that are truly beautiful yet inexpensive.  Also keep in mind, this is where your smaller guest list comes in and saves you big bucks. If you estimate fifty guests at 42 cents per stamp, that’s $21. If you spend two dollars on envelopes and ten dollars on some specialty paper and make the invites on your own computer, the cost of your invitations comes to $33. You can save money on stamps by delivering some of the invites yourself which will bring that $33 down to $30. Furthermore, don’t double your postage costs with pre-stamped RSVP cards, just include a phone number or email address for guests to respond to the invite.

There are simple ways to make a gorgeous invitation including a half sheet of heavy stock paper printed in delicate font on your own computer.  Assuming you’ve got ink in your printer (and if you don’t, this is a good opportunity to follow that “borrow” rule) you’re looking at an expense of less than 20 bucks for paper and envelopes.  If you deliver them yourself or even mail just half of the invites, you’re still within the budget. 

What your invitations should include:
  1. Names of the bride’s parents
  2. Names of the bride and groom
  3. Names of the groom’s parents
  4. Day, date, and time of wedding
  5. Place of the wedding
  6. Location of the reception
  7. RSVP instructions
While you’re on the computer, make your wedding program, a couple profile, and a dinner menu.  Borrow some 8 x 10 inch frames and frame up the menu as part of the centerpiece for each table.  It’s an easy way to help your guests and make the evening more formal.

More ideas...
Print your own invitations!  We want to keep that guest list small right?  So the invitations should really be like sending out Christmas cards, nothing too exhausting.  Start with a classic and pretty design but make it unique!

Check out this website, www.seedtosproutdesign.com, you can buy a unique template and change the information and colors to suit your needs. Then, have a copy store print out the copies you need.  You can do it at home too but you may end up spending more this way with the amount of ink your invitations may require.  By going to Office Max or the UPS store, you can have them do it with their crisp high-end printers and the invitations will turn out gorgeous.

Some great ideas have just come my way in terms of invitations.  This is one of those really fun wedding-planning-activities but can be a hidden money-stealer if you're not careful.  Don't forget, each invite needs a stamp so you're not just paying for the invite and the envelope.  If you're keeping your guest list under control, stamps shouldn't be too bad.

Word of advice concerning RSVPs.  This is an email world now.  People can send an email to your wedding website or email account.  They can email your parents, they can drop you a message on your wedding facebook page, they can even call you if they by chance do not have access to email.  There is no reason to spend a nickle on RSVP cards so be smart and savvy and have people email or call in their replies.

So we're keeping our guest list as small as possible, we've eliminated the RSVP concern, now it's on to the fun part: picking out the invitation design.  Check out these ideas:
  1. Have a graphic design friend make you a unique invitation template.  I have at least ten friends on facebook that do graphic design work from home and if you want to reimburse them for their time, you'll still be getting a huge savings.  They may do it for free with a little plug of their website or Etsy shop on your wedding programs thanking them for their talents.  TheWeddingChicks.com also has some really cute and free invitation and save-the-date templates (see picture above) that you can customize and then take to your printer.
     
  2. Make them on your computer.  Check out Microsoft's templates and Microsoft Office online for more templates of wedding invitations. 
     
  3. You'll be printing these at a FedEx/Kinko's, small local printing shop, or online.  Vistaprint.com or 123print.com have cheap printing ideas.  I've heard of brides getting 100 prints for less than $14.  Lots of options there for printing your own designs and make sure to do a google search for coupon codes on free shipping too.  123print.com is currently offering free shipping on any purchase, no limits.
     
  4. Make your own!  Careful though, this can get REALLY expensive.  By the time you purchase the card stock, fancy pens and art supplies, you'll now have to sit down and put together 60 of these.  With all of the options above, consider those first before you dive into a time-sucker like this.
     
  5. Go green and go digital.  There is a case to be made for really cute online invites that are free, easy to access, easy for people to RSVP, and a nice way to share information on hotel reservations, the menu, pictures to share after the wedding, etc. Evite.com has some cute ideas.  If you'd like to skip the middle-man, do your own invite in a Word document and mail that as an attachment to your list.  It will be that much easier to RSVP too with your email address being right there.  You'll probably have every RSVP in before lunch!
Just be creative and think outside the box.  Remember, you do not have to do what everyone else is doing. Go your own way!

PROGRAMS
So this might sound strange to you, but designing a wedding ceremony program was one of my favorite activities when I was planning my wedding.  I absolutely loved it.  The layout, who had what roles, the kind of paper I used, how it would be presented, picking out a quote, etc.  I loved it.  Truthfully, if you had a million dollars and seven wedding planners to help you prepare for your big day I'd still recommend doing this part yourself.  It's just a great way to see exactly what's going on and when and with what members of the bridal party.  Plus, you have to do one.  Guests will feel SO MUCH better if they know exactly what kind of time they'll be spending sitting still and being quiet.  A lot of people bring them home, they read it during the ceremony, they use it as a fan if the church is hot, they use it as a coloring book for bored children, it's perfect for blotting lipstick or discreetly gossiping about your second cousin's elective surgery.  Just do it.

Here's some tips to get you started.  First, pick out some nice paper but paper that can be printed on.  Your best bet to keep down costs is to put your entire design on a regular piece of white printing paper and then take it to the copy shop and have them make the copies on some high-end paper.  Stick to black, white, and gray ink if possible.  You may not need the heavy duty stock paper, decide what design you're doing first.  

The content of the program should include the following:
  • Order of the wedding (names of songs and readings, declaration of intent, exchange of vows, blessings, recessional)
  • Participants (parents, couple, bridal party, minister, etc.)
  • Other information (couple's new address, honeymoon plans, thank you message)
Now you've got the guts of the program, how about the design?  My favorite (also probably the cheapest and easiest) is to put the whole thing on one sheet, have it printed on regular paper in one of your wedding colors, roll it up, tie it in a bow with some ribbon or twine and place them in a basket at the front of the church by the guest book.  Cheap, simple, easy, elegant - it's perfect.

OTHER IDEAS
Best Man Speech:  Is your best man panicking over the speech? Check out this website, he'll thank you later.
 

Online Wedding Planning:  From Google, here are some great tools (all of them free!) that will help you with the budget, editing pictures, creating cards, etc.
Many more ideas in the book, order it today, only $2.99.


Order your copy of The $500 Wedding: How to have a beautiful wedding and reception for $500 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Lulu.com - click here to get it on your kindle for just $2.99