Flowers & Decorations
There are a lot of ways to save money on flowers. You can carry single blossoms instead of bouquets, use dried or silk flowers instead of real ones, let the florist use what's cheapest at the time of the wedding or even have no flowers at all (which is certainly the cheapest way to go but few of us would care to do it!). Let's look at a few of these options.
Carrying a single flower has become quite popular. A large flower, such as a calla lily, can look very elegant. Or your bridesmaid's can carry single flowers while you stick with a more traditional bouquet. If you choose single flowers buy small bud vases for the head table. Each bridesmaid can put her flower in a vase and they will double as table decorations.
If you choose to use dried or silk flowers you can buy them well in advance of the wedding (hopefully when the craft store is running a sale) and assemble the bouquets ahead of time. Store them in plastic bags to keep them dust free.
Letting the florist use what's cheapest saves you money but you can't be sure what you're going to get. Choosing this option is not for you if you love a certain type of flower and feel that you must have it. You also won't get much of a price guarantee with this method so if your budget is very strict it might not be a good idea.
Be sure to shop around for a florist. And don't forget that there are other places besides flower shops. My sister had her flowers done by a lady who worked out of her home. The price reflected the fact that she had no overhead. Larger supermarkets also have full service floral departments. Their prices tend to be lower because they order in bulk. Another plus is that they don't require a downpayment so your money can stay in your savings account a little longer and gather a few more cents in interest!
We've also heard of brides carrying a prayerbook or rosary instead of flowers.
Decorations don't have to be flowers either. Plants and candles make nice centerpieces and can be matched to your wedding colors and/or theme. For a December wedding use pine branches or garland. Tiny Christmas tree lights in various colors can be used any time of year. If you have some kind of collection (seashells, hats, castles, whatever) use it! It will be unique and reflect your personality!
When you buy your decorating supplies stay far away from the "wedding" section of the store. The same strings of tiny pearls that will cost 24 cents a yard in the sewing department are available packaged for weddings at three times the price and must be bought in 10 foot lengths. Ordinary tulle is about half the price of wedding tulle and you can rest assured that your guests won't know which kind is decorating your bubble bottles or Jordan Almonds.
A reader sent us this idea for artificial flowers: "My fiancee and I are on a low budget. I bought my bouquet at a craft store. I just got a plain white one. A friend of my decorated it for me. She painted some of the flowers red, some pink, and left some white. (Our colors are red, white, and pink). She also added baby's breath. The total cost came to around $15.00."
Reader Ivette Cuadra made these ribbon bouquets for her bridesmaids: "To make the bouquet, draw a circle on a piece of card stock with a compass. Cut out the circle, scalloping the edges. Cut a 1-inch X in center. Tie each ribbon in a loop. Thread the ends of the ribbons from the top through the X until the knots rest on the surface of the card stock. Gather ribbon ends together, and, starting just below card stock, wrap an additional ribbon around them to create a 4-inch handle. Secure that ribbon with two straight pins. Trim ribbon ends to various lengths, then finish by trimming ends at an angle or by cutting notches into each end."
Anee Lee writes:"There is a store called Produce Junction by my mother's house. They receive fresh produce and flowers from local farms each day, and the prices are outrageously low. For a bundle of 25 large roses, it costs $6.50! If roses are that low, imagine what the other flowers are! Your wildest guess is probably right. We're going to ask the closest friends to clear out several storage space in their fridge, and simply buy out the colors we want for several days before the wedding. The flowers that do not make it into a fridge will be placed in vases with the $.25 fresh flower packets, and placed all over the house for everyone to get into the mood of a wedding. Please let others know of the huge savings farms can give you, if they find a store like mine, or actually decide to personally call!
Another idea I had, was to snip the buds of roses that are wilting, and to place the bud into a bowl full of water. All of the rejects from the bouquets can turn out to be the center of attention as centerpieces during the reception."
Ashley Padilla sent this suggestion for a frugal flower substitute for your bridesmaids: I am on a tight budget for my wedding, so in order to compensate for ordering bouquets for my 9 bridesmaids, I am having them carry lit candles down the aisle. It truly is a cheap and beautiful way to set the night aglow.
Here's a pretty way to decorate tables sent in by one of our website visitors: An easy way to decorate tables for a reception is to go to Super Walmart or a grocery store that has a floral section and ask them if they have old roses that they are going to get rid of - it does not matter if the petals are falling off. They will usually sell them to you at a discounted price. Take the petals off and sprinkle them over the tables. It creates a wonderful smell.
This idea for centerpieces comes from Suz, one of our website visitors: I made table centerpieces with a $3 ring of silk daisies, and added a small white pillar candle for $2, glued white heart shaped paper doilies to the candles, then made my own printed picture (with paintshop pro) of 2 hearts, with my and my fiance's names and wedding date on it, cut it out and glued it in the center of the heart doily, and will use them as table decorations, then after the reception, they will be gifts to each couple on the tables.
Braden Clemeshaw suggests..."Get married around Christmas. Typically the church and sometimes the social hall will already be beautifully decorated in deep red, gold, and with greenery. If this matches your wedding colors, you save tons on church flowers.
This centerpiece idea is from Amy Kinney: I went to the local dollar store and bought short pillar candles and wicker cornucopias, one for each table, spray painted them white, and filled them to "overflowing" with plums, apricots, grapes, and mini-gourds (end of September wedding). Then I took some oak leaves, spray painted them in the colors of the wedding, and laid them around the middle of the tables with the centerpieces, with a candle beside the cornucopias... decorations for 10 tables cost a total of $30.
Dalela Cruz says: So far I have saved over $250.00 for my wedding. I did this by shopping at after Christmas sales. I bought ribbon and Christmas lights at 90% off the original tagged price. I bought 15 boxes of lights and 40 spools of gold robbon for decorations.
From an anonymous website visitor: My son and daughter in law were married at a state park. We found a very inexpensive ($15) metal flower arbor at a Menards store to use for the ceremony. We wired white rose wedding garlands purchased at WalMart to the arbor. Then white tulle was woven through the horizontal bars of the arbor. Finally, we placed white flower urns (purchased at KMart) at the bottom rungs of the arbor. The urns had been planted with flowers that were of the wedding colors. This would be very pretty for an indoor wedding/reception also. Tiny Christmas lights could be woven through the arbor's bars for a night time wedding.
Table decorations at the wedding reception were burgundy floating candles with silver glitter sprinkled in the water. Foam blocks were covered with silver or burgundy mylar; small burgundy and silver balloons and curled ribbon were attached to balloon sticks and pushed vertically and slanted into the top of the foam blocks. Wedding confetti was sprinkled down the middle of the tables. Plain place cards were dressed up by hot gluing on tiny fabric roses purchased at WalMart. The tables looked very pretty.
I made corsages for the kitchen help by sewing lace around a small cardboard circle, then hot gluing on silk flowers and leaves. These were as pretty as florist made corsages.
From Tracy: Flowers cost a fortune, so we went to Walmart and bought a large fish bowl ($3.96) , put rose petals (which we bought when the roses were starting to wilt so they were dirt cheap) and floating candles (walmart charges 66 cents a candle) added water and it made a stunning centerpiece. Plus with the candles we had as party favors, the table looked unbelieveable. (we also passed out personalized match books so the guest could light the candles if they went out.)
From Lauren Holby: The internet has been my main tool while planning my wedding, mostly because I can do a lot of surfing while I'm at work. I'm making my own everything. For all of the bouquets, I'm using silk flowers. But I am the ultimate in cheap, so I have looked for sites where I can buy silk flowers in bulk for wholesale prices. I'm still shopping around, because each site I visit has better prices!
from Ruth Clinton:I recently went to a wedding which had a small wedding cake for the bridal party and then at each table was a small round decorated cake in the center, sitting on a round mirror with a small flowers placed on each side. This cake was just the size to serve all the people sitting at the table. This took place of the center pieces for the tables and was then served along with the drinks which were served by friends of the bridge & groom.
From Michelle: My reception will be in the local Vigoro Hall which although neat and tidy, will need some dressing up. One area I want to use to add atmosphere is the ceiling, so I am going to use curling ribbon hung down from the ceiling, lots of it, in the colours of the wedding. This sort of decoration is popular here in the shops around Christmas time and at $2 Aus for 300m I can't go wrong! I was originally going to use fairy lights but in my small town in Australia, the only one's suitably priced are too short and would require extension leads and dozens of adaptors.
From Stacey Stringer: A friend of ours was married and I played a big role in helping her to plan what had to be a very very inexpensive wedding. She used many of the ideas from my wedding but with a much cheaper approach which looked just as nice. Here's one example: My seating cards (medium price) were 3 square wooden 4 inch deep boxes filled with sod which we purchased at a garden centre. We used packets of flowers seeds with each couple's name & table # on it. (Names/table # were printed on a plain white label and affixed across the bottom of the seed packet).The seed packets were leaned up against golf tees (the extra long ones) in the grass boxes. It was a really pretty way for guests to see where they would be seated and they got to take their seed packets home to plant in their gardens. We seated 50 couples for under $100 AND they doubled as favours as well. For her seating cards (even cheaper!!) we substituted the wooden boxes for the long horizontal flower boxes that her mom had laying around in her garden shed. Friends and family collected magazines with pictures of all different kinds of sunflowers in them (her wedding theme was sunflowers) and her nieces used fancy-edged scissors to cut them out. We attached the pictures to heavy white paper with guest's names and the table number on them and stuck them on popsicle sticks. These were "planted" in the flower boxes which were just filled with dirt. This cost us less than $10 for the popsicle sticks and metallic pen and we seated over 300 people.