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It seems as if almost everyone is pinching their pennies these days. So, if you are trying to put on a wedding in these turbulent times, this can be a huge bit of stress.   Here are a few tips & ideas to take the bite out of the expenses and keep your budget in tact.  Keep in mind what makes a party memorable. People for one, interesting people make the party.  A wonderful setting, delicious food, some sort of surprise element and great music.  You don’t need all 5 elements to have a great party, but keep them in mind when you are picking out your vendors.  With that said, here is my list to help you through it all. 

Wedding Dresses– Beautiful and dry cleaned wedding dresses are available at local shops that sell used gowns. Because they have been dry cleaned you would never know they have already been worn, and most of the time only once. Two places come to mind, Something Blue Bridal Boutique at 2802 Juan St. Suite 10 in Old Town. (619) 294-2583. The other is Second Act, West at 7556 Fay Av. in La Jolla. (858) 454-6096. You have to check these places out ! There aren’t just wedding dresses there.

Invitations– These days you can make some pretty incredible invitations and have them printed at your local printer, or on your own printer if you are having a small wedding, for a pretty reasonable price.  Buy your own paper at a paper where house and take it with you to the printers. Use your imagination and think about your theme and I am sure you can come up with something that says, this is so who we are !

Food– Try to pick foods that reflect the season and are readily available by the caterer, this can keep the price down per plate, per person.

Bartenders– Try USA Bartenders Bartending School, where you can line up a student bar tender.Students are tought more than 250 drinks from old fashion standerds to today’s Lemon Drop. Yumm ! 2750 Harbor Blvd. Suite A12, Costa Mesa. (714) 545-2700. www.californiabartendingschool.com

Music– An ipod with your favorite mix of tunes playing out of some larger speakers is an option, but only if you don’t plan on having a first dance, formal toasts and announced cake cutting.  If you want or, more appropriately, need a DJ, check around because prices are all over the board.  There are reasonable ones out there that are also quite good.  This is one of the areas where a good wedding coordinator can you save you money, time and head(heart)ache.

Theme & Decor– First let me say there’s nothing like lighting, lighting, lighting. Votive candle lighting (as many as you can afford), and a few perfectly placed uplights provide an inexpensive mood lighting option.  It can transform your room big time.  Keep your decor simple but cnsistent, you don’t need to overdo to get a stunning room effect, so do a few simple things to make your room pop.  Look to your own yard, perhaps branches you can spray paint white or gold or a color that your are using in your wedding color scheme.  Vases for the center of the table filled with pine cones and Christmas balls or sand, shell and beach glass. Think of who you are as a couple and incorporate that into your centerpieces. Do you both like baseball? Fill the vases with balls with turf at the bottom.  Or, golf.  Golf balls, tees and turf at the bottom. Use your imagination.

Table settings– check the rental places and of course, Craigslist.com to see if anyone is getting rid of their older stock, you might be able to pick up all sorts of items at a reduced price. Napkins, tablecloths & runners, charger plates etc. Keep your eyes out for sales and second hand shops that sell charger plates. Spray paint them silver or gold and your good to go. Above all, have fun and remember it’s the journey… Mother

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