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An Inexpensive, Yet Beautiful, Wedding: One Brides Story

Most girls know by the age of 12 what kind of wedding they want. They have everything picked out, from what their wedding dress will look like to the husband they will marry. I didn't have a clue. And I still didn't have a clue at the age of 28, when the saleslady at the wedding shop was asking me what I wanted for a wedding dress.

One thing that I did know was that I wanted an inexpensive wedding. While I didn't want to have a "garage sale wedding," I also didn't want to spend the average of $20,000 either. But still, I wanted the white dress, the nice reception, the food and DJ. So I had to find a way to make it happen without going broke.

In the end, I kept under my wedding budget of $5,000. Here's part of how I did it:

The Cake
People warned me that making my own wedding cake could lead to disaster due to stress and inexperience, but after looking at a lot of prices of wedding cakes, I figured I could do it myself for half the money. I went to the store and picked out my cake accessories, including the frosting. I also picked out designs for the decorations on the cake, purposely choosing very simple ones for a classy look, and to save me from getting in over my head. I planned what days I would bake and what days I would frost and decorate. I even planned what I would do with frozen food so I had room for the cake (I stored it in my parents' fridge, much to their surprise.) On the big day, I had a bridesmaid drive while I held one of the cakes in my hands and the other with my feet, making sure it didn't slide all over the floor of the car. At the reception, we assembled the cake. It actually turned out really well, and a few people didn't know that it was homemade.

The Centerpieces
I was pretty proud of my centerpieces. Instead of doing the traditional flowers or candles, I bullied my fiancé into taking pictures of us during our one-year engagement. All these pictures showed how we spent our time together: kayaking, fishing, going to our drive-in movie, going to the State Fair, and even celebrating the holidays together. In each picture, we held up a sign. The first picture we took said "Table 1"; the second picture was "Table 2" and so on. (We also would find people to take the pictures for us so that we were both in it.) While this could be embarrassing sometimes (passersby would call out "Table 1!"as we waited for the Good Samaritan to hurry up and take our picture), I was really glad we did it. We printed the pictures out on our computer and framed them in 8x10 clear photo frames. Then I decorated each frame with some lace and flowers on each corner. On the long-awaited day, we placed each picture in the center of each table, so the guests would know where to sit. The guests had fun milling about as they waited to eat, looking at each picture.

The "Limo"
Or I should say, not the limo. I had always wanted to ride in a limousine, having never had that luxury. But it was so ridiculously expensive; you had to rent the limousine for a minimum of three hours, but we really only needed it for the ride to the reception. I was really disappointed at the thought of riding off in my fiancé's Chevy truck (no offense, Dennis). But we put our heads together and came up with the idea of renting a luxury car—a Cadillac Seville. At first, I wasn't that excited about it, but when I saw the car and the leather seats and all its "fun stuff," I was happy. Plus, we got to rent it for two days whereas we'd have the limo for only a half hour. The best part was that it was actually a reasonable price. Dennis was pretty sad to see it go.

I could have cut costs by a lot more, but I think it all comes down to what you want, and how much you want to spend on what you want. There was a piece of advice everyone constantly told me while I was engaged: "Plan your wedding, but have fun with it!" And I did.

Becky Arganbright recently launched, where you can read more about her inexpensive wedding, as well as money-saving wedding tips.

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