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3 February 2009

A simple wedding

There was good news here recently. A couple of weeks ago I told you that my elder son Shane and his lovely girlfriend, Sarndra, will marry this year. Their original plan was to go to New Zealand for a few months, return here in September, marry and go to Spain to live for a while. Well, things have changed. The wedding will now be in June!

And it will be here at our home. : - )

I was really proud of them when they told us they wanted a frugal wedding. The price of the average wedding in Australia now is $35,000. I doubt I'm the only one who thinks that is madness. All that money for a one day event, all that thought and preparation going into a dress and a celebration, all that debt starting a new life. I think they should focus less on the wedding and more on the marriage.

So, Shane and Sarndra started talking about being married in a park or on the beach but after Hanno and I talked about it, and offered our home as the venue, they jumped at the chance. Sarndra was a bit hesitant, thinking it would be too much for us, but we quickly talked her around. Here they can fashion a day exactly to their liking; we have three fine dining chefs to cook - Shane, Kerry and Shane's friend Nathan; my sister is a florist and she has offered to do the flowers and my step son is a photographer. I can bake a good cake. If we can't create a wedding, who can?

But it must be beautiful too. There is no point in it being a frugal wedding if it's not a day they'll enjoy and be proud of. So now I'm trying to come up with some ideas to help them plan their big day. I started looking online and I thought, why not ask my blog friends! I'm sure many good ideas will spring from here.

The wedding will be at the beginning of winter, although we have mild winters here, no snow, very little rain and it shouldn't be too cold. We'll hire a marquee and have that set up in the backyard, with tables and chairs for about 50 people. The ceremony will be in the front garden, probably under our wisteria/rose arch - being winter, the wisteria will be bare, but the Cecil Brunner rose might be flowering at that time. Our next door neighbour, who is a florist, said we can use her coldroom for food and drinks.

Do you have any ideas you'd like to share with me? I'm starting an ideas book to show Shane and Sarndra when they visit. They're going to New Zealand at the beginning of March and will return at the end of May, so I'd like them to decide on the look they want before they go so we can work on making it happen while they're away. Remember, it must be frugal, beautiful and simple. So now it's over to you - all links, flickr photos and your ideas are welcome and appreciated. I want this to be really special. :- )


  1. Oh Rhonda, what wonderful news! What special memories you will all have to cherish! I'm excited for you all.


  2. how exciting for about lots of bunting sewn by yourself and maybe dry flower petals now, to scatter?
    alison young

  3. No ideas, just wanted to say congratulations. What ever you decide do, I am sure it will be beautiful.

  4. Hi Rhonda, blessings to the soon - to- be-weds. Although British, George and I married in Perth WA 2 years ago, It was simply beautiful as we were able to (with the celebrant ) able to write the service exactly as we wanted, which in our case involved the wedding being really funny. It was beautiful day and it was great to see our relatives doubled up with laughter, which is exactly what we hoped for!

    One thing which we did (celebrants suggestion) was that we had two jugs of water, one coloured yellow, one blue, made with food dyes and part way through the ceremony a member of each family poured the contents into a third jug mixing the colours to green. This symbalised the joining together of the two families and not just the married couple. I thought it was a lovely way of making everybody feel part of the day.

    Best wishes Babs

  5. Rhonda, I haven't taken the time to say congratulations on your impending mother in law status.Very exciting.
    Stephen and I were married in my parents' garden in the home that I grew up in and it was a wonderful day.
    We hand wrote our invitations on simple but good quality paper. We only had to write about fifty as we had a small wedding. This way we didn't have to fuss around with printers and so on not to mention it was a much cheaper option. The invitations seemed more personal too.
    I made my dress and my sister's dress too and they were just right.
    Our wedding rings were estate jewellery so they were less expensive than new ones and lovely coloured gold.
    For our honeymoon we went to a beautiful bed and breakfast cottage here in Tassie - perfect.

    I felt like a princess on my wedding day and the wedding didn't make anyone a pauper.

  6. Hi rhonda, Hubby and I were married on a boat out on Lake Taupo . The whole wedding breakfast and all was 500!! But my comment was that Photography is so important..I rung around the papers and the camera shops to see if there was a photographer there prepared to take lots of quality photos instead of hiring out a "proffessional" photographer. There was ans that is what we did.
    Just my little two cents worth. By the way for all the frigality of our wedding everyone has always said how lovely and memorable it was..
    Love Cherry

  7. Congratulations to all of you! How lovely and exciting that you will have their wedding at your home. Wonderful memories to cherish forever!!

    I perform wedding ceremonies here in Florida, US, so I have seen many simple and elaborate wedding ceremonies. I'll jot down a few ideas that stand out in my mind.

    -Have pictures of absent or passed family members near the altar. This honors those people, even if they can't be present.

    -Use native flowers for bouquets, even using live plants if that is important to you.

    -Make centerpieces and other displays from what's in bloom, or being harvested from the garden. I've seen several weddings where they used citrus (oranges and grapefruit) piled high in bowls as centerpieces. One lady mixed in some white roses, the other entwined white ribbon through the bowls.

    -If things are somewhat informal, use hay bales for extra seating. Cover the bales with tablecloths or sheets to dress them up a bit.

    -Be sure to use birdseed instead of rice if you "shower" the couple after the ceremony.

    -Wedding dresses can be rented, borrowed, or bought from consignment/thrift/op shops. If the bride is less into tradition, any pretty dress makes a lovely bridal gown.

    -Sheer curtains and light colored sheets work wonders to create a romantic look around waiting areas, cover tables, surround the sides of a tent or gazebo, and they can be festooned down the sides of an arch with white lights to create a lovely ambiance for the ceremony location itself. Much cheaper than tulle and reusable!

    -If you don't have enough of one particular type of dish, choose others in a similar color or pattern for dining. One reception I attended had purchased lots of plates in the bride's colors (pink and white) and used those for guests to eat dinner. None of them matched, but they looked lovely and elegant together.

    I have tons of other ideas, but this comment is horrendously long already! :)

    Congratulations and good luck, again!!

    Melissa in FL

  8. Hi Rhonda,
    Congrats on the news! I'm sure it will be lovely in your garden.
    Just wanted to say what a peaceful place your blog space is here. I come every couple weeks and catch up on things, and it always brings some peace to my soul. It helps my mind slow down after a busy day!
    Thank you.

  9. What wonderful news Rhonda. Congratulations to all. The most charming wedding (apart from my son´s) I have attended was in a garden here in Sweden. The festive atmosphere is there right from the start. People are more relaxed and feel part of the family I think.
    Just a thought: are the happy couple are still thinking of living in Spain for a while? Thinking of working there too? If so, are either of them EU citizens? If not, if they intend working there they would need work permits or use an international work exchange scheme. Before I retired I worked as an international recruitment adviser here in Sweden. I met many young people from outside the European Union who did not know they needed to fix work permits in advance. I felt so sorry for them. Hope you don´t mind me bringing this up....
    When I take my long walk tomorrow I will think about you and your family and - who knows- maybe some bright wedding idea will come to me.
    Ramona K

  10. Rhonda as you may remember Simon and I married in November 2007. Total cost including outfits for myself and Simon $1,200.
    $300 under budget. It can be frugal and still a wonderful day.
    Love to you all

  11. How exciting! Our son and his wife got married at our house, too. We live in the country and Matt had always wanted a "pig picking" for the reception, so the reception was pretty simple and was held in our barn. The wedding was outside at the edge of our woods. Aimee wanted red flowers so I formed chicken wire into cones and stuffed red roses (bought at our local discount rose vendor for a small price) in little water containers between the holes tocover the wire. A simple ribbon was used to make the ties and I hung the cones from the chairs that bordered the "aisle" which was really just a lane between the rows of chairs for the bridal party to walk down. Matt and Aimee said their vows in front of our twig arbor, which usually held a twig swing. I decorated the arbor with more roses, ivy and some seasonal flowers. Weeks before the wedding, I stuffed spaghnum moss into wire frames and planted small red geraniums in the moss. They grew just fine and by the time of the wedding, they were filled in so pretty. It didn't cost much for that. I also formed barbed wire into heart shapes and hung three roses on each of them. They adorned the barn doors leading to the reception. Simple sheets formed the backdrop for the disc jockey and after the reception we gave the sheets to Matt and Aimee as part of their wedding present. The BBQ was catered by a local restaurant, but we didn't need waiters since everything was served buffet style. We rented a porta jon which was a bright blue color and we nicknamed it The Blue Room. We stuck in a corner behind the barn and I decorated it with a flowerpot that was motion activated. It played "In the Mood" every time anyone entered the potty. Another barbed wire heart with roses decorated the outside door and potporri strewn on the floor kept everything smelling nice. Guests parked their cars in the upper pasture and walked down to the chairs. A simple arrangement of ferns that I already had were set on stumps of various heights with a twig table to hold the guest book. No big expense there. The cake was a wedding present from one of Aimee's relatives and that saved a great expense.

    Just reminiscing about the wedding makes me happy. We truly did not spend a lot of money and were able to give Matt and Aimee some $$ that they used toward the down payment for their first house. It certainly is possible to have a beautiful wedding without spending a fortune. I believe everyone had a good time and the pastor remarked that he couldn't remember a more beautiful wedding. I can just imagine with your lovely garden that everything will be absolutely gorgeious. Who knows, you might even want to decorate the chook's a very stylish way, of course. LOL.

    Diane from North Carolina

  12. Congratulations! That sounds like great fun.

    I am getting married in the beginning of May. Actually we are already married but only at the courthouse as it was a rush job because I needed to submit my application for a residence permit. That will be 7 years ago in June.

    Now we are getting married in church (finally!) and having the party we didn't have last time. It will be expensive for my family because they will have to come to Europe (they are in the States) to attend, but on the other hand we are not expecting them to foot the bill for the celebration, either. It will cost us some money but it will not be an expensive or lavish wedding by any means.

    I don't really have any tips as such, since it definitely already sounds like you are on the right track, but one thing we are doing now that appears to be keeping the costs down is using our network. The "caterer" is one of my sister-in-law's acquaintances who does food on the side. The girls who are going to help clear the tables and stuff are likewise some of my sister-in-law's school friends. So on.

    The other thing, which I'm sure you don't need to be told either, is to keep it seasonal. Our food theme is early summer in Denmark (where we live) and the catering guy says this is saving us money as opposed to other more exotic dishes, plus we will be able to get fresh, delicious food (lots local) because it "matches" the actual season.

    You said that June is early winter for you, but maybe you can stretch it and do a sort of "Indian summer" theme, both in terms of food and decorations? (Gorgeous colour options there, too!)

    Have fun planning!


  13. I have been reading the blog:, and she is planning her daughter's wedding and has a couple of posts about what she has planned.

  14. Hello everyone!

    Thank you all so much for your ideas. It's really a wonderful way to help us start thinking about what is needed for our little wedding.

    The ideas so far are fabulous! I think I'll just print out the comments pages, paste them into my ideas book and let Shane and Sarndra read them for themselves. There is a lot of good will and warm feelings coming through along with the suggestions. I really appreciate you taking the time to write.

    BTW, Sarndra has already bought her dress.

    Ramona, they do want to work over there. Shane has dual citizenship - Australian and German. He was born in Hamburg. So I guess that will allow him to work but will it also allow his wife to work as well? She is a New Zealand citizen. I must admit I didn't think of those legal details. My sons have taken advantage of the youth exchange programs in the past but I think they stop at 26. They are now both older than that. Thanks very much for your comment. I'll talk to Shane about it.

    I can't comment again today because I'll be working today but please keep these wonderful ideas coming so I have a feast of reading to come home to this afternoon.

    Thanks everyone, I really appreciate what you are doing for our family. :- ))

  15. Rhonda I experienced this when our daughter married at our home when we were living on 5 acres at Eumundi. We hired a Marquee. My only advice is to appoint a trusted friend or family member (not you) to be the chief organiser on the big day. This will leave you completely free on the day to `be in the moment'. Even the simplest of weddings can be stressful on the day when you are the Parents of the Groom and the hosts as well. Having someone else to handle those `little problems' when they arise is such a help. This will be so special and exciting for you.

  16. Hi Rhonda,
    Congrats, this is very exciting for you!
    One frugal thing I did was my dress. It was a beautiful designer dress with a train and beading and I bought it for $130 on ebay! I had to have it adjusted but it was an absolutely beautiful dress for under $200.
    Like Nomadic suggested, I used native flowers, our flowers are lovely. At the end of the day though it will be the bride who decides all this.
    Good luck with the plans.

  17. My offer still stands for the habedashery and grovery thing. It is the inside of the marquee that counts so try borrowing one from one of the local schools, real estate agents, surf clubs offer to give thema donation for the use of it and then dress up the insde where the guests will be seeing it with tulle.


  18. Hi Rhonda

    Congratulations to you all. A couple of years ago my husband and my self catered for our daughters wedding and all up it cost us $1500 NZ dolllars and that included the wedding dress which was just an evening dress with a lovely shawl. We had a buffet of ham, chicken, heaps of salads and boiled potatoes and fresh bread rolls. The deserts was fruit salad, trifles, pavlovas and choc roll and there was also a lovely wedding cake that the grooms mother made and decorated everyone said that it was such a lovely stress free event. We did all the food prep ourselves and brought the food from the local supermaret where I always shop. Our daughter purchased flowers Cala lillies from the local grower and they cost her $20 the matron of honour purchased her own outfit which was also an evening dress.

  19. That is great news!
    I wanted to suggest a dress made out of curtains - my cousing had such and it was absolutely adorable - but now that I read Sarndra has already bought hers, it is of no use. :-)
    But what might be of some use is my suggestion on using glass jars (the same ones you use for canning) to hold your flower decorations. You already have them and it looks lovely - much more flowers fit into them than into most regular vases!
    Or use bowls. A friend of mine did this in a holiday camp when we were asked to decorate the room where we dined and met for program. She used just what we found on one of our walks - moss, apples, some red berries, clover. And it looked awesome! Here are my photos of it:
    And you can use bedsheets instead of tablecloths...

  20. Congratulations, Rhonda... that's terrific news. Sounds like you raised your son right (and he's got good taste in women).

    My husband and I had an extremely frugal wedding outdoor wedding (14 years ago this past Christmas). I baked the cake and a friend decorated it for me, I had my dress made very reasonably (the whole thing cost about $120) and I chose a pattern and fabric that I would be able to wear for special occasions later. My husband and I provided most of the food and a few friends and relatives brought covered dishes to the reception.

    The decorations were very simple... we decked the trees with white tinsel lights, made some three-pronged candles (which we stuck into 3-foot tall pipes in a ring around the altar) and floated some dark green candles in the birdbath. The ceremony took place after it was fully dark, and it was incredibly beautiful.

    Total cost, including the plain gold bands, was under $500... and people are still talking about what a great wedding it was.

  21. Hi again Rhonda
    Re working in Europe: I was a Eures adviser and here is the English version of our official homepage. For all other EU languages see
    I retired a year ago and haven´t checked it out for a while but there is useful info about formalities etc under "Living and working". As an EU citizen working or looking for work in a member country Shane has the right to take his wife regardless of her nationality. However, surprise, surprise, it is not so simple especially if he doesn´t find work quickly - or if they decide to go to a country other than Germany.
    If you would like a few tips, let me know and I will send my email address - or the other way around
    Ramona K

  22. Congratulations to them both!

    Our wedding was done for about £1500.

    We held it outside at our parents, as you are doing.

    As we had under 40 guests, I calligraphied our invitations on a few boxes of Crane cards and wax sealed them for a special touch.

    Instead of a large reception, we had a barbeque. It was so much fun. I did some of the catering to cut down costs--dessert consisted of fondues (chocolate, and marshmallow), fruit, and pound cake. Big hit. We also rented china for the day, which was good value.

    Instead of rice, I made up some bubble blowing solution, put it into pretty jars and provided bubble blowers; The guest showered us with bubbles, and the children there had a blast.

    I also asked the guests to bring a camera to the wedding and take informal pictures. They loaded up the pictures to a Picasa page, and we selected the ones we liked for our album, and had it done online by ofoto (Kodak) We could put captions under the album, select the cover, everything, and it was inexpensive and the results were great.

    My husband was left some jewelry by his great aunt, and I had her wedding diamond reset into a ring, and I wore her pearls on the day.

    The honeymoon was a caravan trip to Cornwall and Devon. We had a lovely two weeks, and since we already had the caravan and did our own catering, it was inexpensive, out in the beauty of nature, and private, just what you need for a honeymoon!

    Congrats again. (and yes, Sarndra will need to get a marriage visa to work in the EU and Britain. As a Yank who married a Brit, I went through the whole process and will be a citizen in about six months.

    Am of the bread

  23. This blog overflows with good news lately. :)

    My suggestion is along the lines of the idea book and other plans. You'll need to keep in touch while they are in NZ and exchange ideas. A private blog would let you exchange ideas and photos easily as all parties could post.

  24. Wonderful! I know you'll all have a beautiful day. You may find this website helpful - for eco weddings, and weddings that don't cost the earth. It's great for ideas!
    Best wishes,

  25. Hi Rhonda
    Many congratulations!
    We had a very simple wedding but 20 years have passed, so a few things a out of date. My silk flowers would probably be a hand tied bunch of local flowers nowadays.

    I took advantage of the something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue for my outfit. My uncle bought me a beautiful cotton wedding dress in the Laura Ashley sale for £25. My head dress was borrowed from my friend but personalised with some extra blue flowers & ribbons woven in by me. My shoes were awful because I wanted them high enough so that I didn’t have to take up my dress. Ouch, long day in high, cheap shoes.

    Our wedding bands were £9 each but if I had the time over again I wouldn’t bother with rings. The marriage was more important than the jewellery.

    My sister in law drove us to the church, as they had the smartest car. We didn’t hire cars.

    Of course I did my own hair and makeup.

    For the reception we hired the hall behind the church. Again we didn’t have to worry about cars. My best friends mum made us a flower arrangement for the top table. We hired the table linen, china and silverware from a local catering company and decorated the top table with some ribbon. We made the buffet ourselves (nothing stops you have wedding nerves like cooking chicken legs until 3 in the morning!). We bought the meat for the buffet from a local butcher. We then cooked it but he agreed to slice it for us with his flashy meat slicer. We made endless plates of different salad, green salads, potato salad, coleslaw, warm bread, cold meats & cheeses. I made desserts for all but sadly I can’t remember what. My husband also made Arabic shortbread biscuits to be served with the coffee. We supplied wine and soft drinks on each table. We skipped wedding cake as we don’t like it.

    My brother in law took photos and my sister filmed us on the camcorder, which my brother in law later made into a lovely little film for us.

    Our friends and family help with the decorating the hall and making the food, and of course making it a great day for us.

    Love from Lizzie

  26. I love the idea of a wedding that is like an old fashioned tea party. Embrodered tablecloths, old, mis-matched china, old fashioned glasses, tea, home made lemonade sandwiches and scones. The china, glassware and tablecloths could probably be gleaned (at no cost) mostly from Freecycle (if it is active in your area) with a promise to Freecycle or thrift it afterwards.

    Hoe made bunting is lovely for a party, but start early, cut it with pinking shears rather than hemming it and get all the help you ca with cutting out the triangles.

    I have been planning my daughter's weddings for years (just wish they would decide to get married!) I think it must be wonderful to have a home big enough to hold a wedding, not something you can do easily in England!

  27. What wonderful news Rhonda. Its going to be so fun to see it all come together, and now we can all be part of it too. xx

    I loved Alison Young's idea of bunting, and thought how nice it would be if we could all do a blog project, instead of a swap, all of us making something like bunting, in a set range of colours, so that we could all contribute something to the wedding day.

    I bet we would all love to help if there was something that you need a large quantity made, we could lighten your load a little.

    Just a thought...
    Lv Steph xx

  28. Hi Rhonda,

    I am a wedding coordinator, send me your email address and I will email you heaps of ideas. I did a frugal backyard wedding a few years ago. My email address is

    Kind regards,

    Vanessa Schenk.

  29. Some of the prettiest bouquets I have seen is from a wedding where the bride went out on the morning of the wedding and picked red gum blossom from the street trees. The wire tied together with ribbon and looked wonderful all for the cost of the ribbon.


  30. How exciting for you Rhonda. I agree with you so much about spending so much on one day. That amount could go towards a home deposit or traveling. I know you will do a sterling job.

    just a note. We are starting our buddy posts this Friday. I'm very nervous but thought if I waited until all my fears were gone I would never start. We are just going to play it by ear to start with, tutorial posts on any subject on Fridays with a link to each post.

  31. Ideas! :)

    Keep it simple. Use cloth for covering tables, and for napkins. Skip plastic and paper if you can scrounge up enough plates and silverware for all the guests. Stick with white and clear crystal/glass. Maybe use some of those clear little holiday lights, or candles in something that they won't be blown out by breezes. Maybe add a bit of tulle and silk flowers to the chairs for a bit of whimsy. Decorate an arbor/arch for the couple to stand under while exchanging vows.

    Put the biggest effort into the after-I-do part, the tasty snacks and music and mingling.

    Don't forget to make sure someone is around taking pictures, that knows what they're doing.

    If you hand-write invites, be sure the person doing the writing has pristine handwriting, so that people will be able to read them.

    Maybe pick a 'theme' like butterflies, and then make stencils and stencil it onto things like napkins or wine glasses or the buntings.

    Skip the plastic bottles of bubbles, and those "ring the bell to make the bride & groom kiss" bells. The bells are especially annoying. heh

    Bird seed is cheaper than the pressed wedding rice, but the pressed wedding rice comes in pretty little heart shapes...

    My spouse & I are bookworms, so for 'wedding favors' we made bookmarks and put them in the programs. (I found recycled paper blank bookmarks at a craft store, and decorated them to my heart's content). Other neat ideas I've heard of are little pots of jam, or packets of seeds, at people's place settings.

    I guess a lot depends on time of day, what sort of food (cake, a meal, etc) you want, and don't forget that the simpler things are, the less sad it will be if the weather gets nasty and everything moves indoors.

  32. hi rhonda! you are going to have so much fun with this. :)

    my cousin had a really fun "wedding favor" that i thought worth sharing. instead of having little gifts for guests they had a cookie bar/station set up... it was really beautiful. a table filled with huge lidded glass jars and each was filled with a different type of cookie. there was at least 6 jars on that table. my cousin's bride baked and froze all of her family favorite recipes leading up to the wedding day, had the table set with pretty linens, there were serving tongs and little bags to put your cookies in as you were leaving. many of their guests were from out of state so it was extra nice having a snack for the hotel room. ;)

    and yes... bunting has already been mentioned. what an impact that could make!

  33. Two of my sons had weddings along these lines
    A marquee for the garden is wonderful - as the venue is free that would be great. We hired a bartender - and had a beautiful coffee urn with china cups etc. I bought the cake - it was expensive but it was not something I could have made and iced myself although I am a good baker. The reception lasted nine hours are we all enjoyed every minute. We served the food ( a buffet which is alot more exciting than chicken and two veg) inside and everyone migrated out to the marquee.
    Keep it simple but get the best you can afford of what you do decide on. No syrofoam cups etc or garbage pails in sight.
    The kids seem to do it all themselves these days
    it seems so let them !! Your new daughter in law will call the shots so be lead by her.

  34. For the rose arch ask your friend the florist to see about getting some fake roses to wind around it. It will look beautiful.

    Try to source everything local so you support the local businesses and you probably will get a good deal.

    Why not see if the guests are good at something and they could offer their "services" as a wedding gift thereby not spending a lot of money. For example, someone could take photographs (must be good at it), someone else might take a video of them, someone else can do the party favours (if they are creative), someone else can bring the champagne, someone else can do the music etc, etc.

    That's what we did for our wedding and it was so lovely as everyone wanted their "gifts" to be special for us.

    Hope that helps

    Lisa Kartanou
    from the UK

  35. Mulled wine! Not only is it an absolute delight in cooler weather, but since it is served warm and spiced I find that the price of the wine is virtually irrelevant. The cheapest cask wine makes a lovely mulled wine. I think that would be a very nice welcome drink.

    You remember The Big Book of Little Projects (knitting and crochet) that you leant me? There's a book 2 out (which I have after you inspired me with the first!) and it has some patterns for knitted bridal thingies... what are they called?!!! The good luck charms hung from a bride's wrist anyway... hearts, horseshoes etc. There are some beautiful white/ivory yarns around too, the cheap baby yarns with threads of silver running through them... attach a ribbon and they're done. Let me know if you'd like any patterns :-) The book has hanging Christmas tree decorations too, for the record!

  36. Hi Rhonda

    Very exciting news! I had a frugal wedding 12 years ago and I rank it as the best wedding I have ever been to (ok I am biased!). One tip with photography - we had a professional for an hour or so after the ceremony. For the rest of the night we asked three friends who were keen amateur photographers to take photos for an hour or so each. The best photos are those my friends took - they were more personal and not posed. While lots of people will take photos anyway I recommend allocating the responsibility to a few people you trust. And limit the time they have to take pictures so they can enjoy the night too.

  37. We hired a family friend who is a professional photographer, but we also printed little business cards at home that said "If you've brought a camera, please share your memories with us!" and it had our email and mailing addresses on it. Months later we had family sending us pictures they'd found when developing film they had finished off. We used a pillar candle in the center of each table placed on a 12" terra cotta pot base plate and surrounded by a plain glass hurricane cylinder - we used all different ones to make it look more casual and around the outside of the glass we filled in with little stones and or sand. Around that we sprinkled a few flower petals just to add some color. It was beautiful and very inexpensive. I also purchased my wedding dress off of the clearance rack! After all, it's only worn one day and most important is how she will feel in the dress, not how much it costs!! Congratulations to you and your family!

  38. What wonderful news! We have had 2 weddings in 2 years. We did much of it ourselves. If youare planning to give favours give something homemade. In our case we gave mini jugs of maple syrup, as our family makes it. Another family we know, who owns greenhouses gave away forget me not seeds, and another tiny pots of homemade jam. A very inexpensive table decoration is rose petals, simply scattered over the table, which are cheap to free from many florists. Our second daughter did this and it was lovely. We made both weddings invitations ourselves with scrapbooking/cardmaking supplies and the computer. Check with friends who have children who have married recently, or the newly wedded "kids" themselves, odds are good that they have tulle, mini lights and all sorts of other decorating items stashed away. Most of the decorating we did was from borrowed or given supplies. Our cakes were both made by a friend, and free (they were her gift) another friend volunteered to do a wedding video. If there are any young children attending, a coloring book and some crayons at their table will be very appreciated. Hope some of these suggestions help, have fun!

  39. hey Rhonda
    thats fab news. i would like to help with making the bunting. If you decide on a colour i am sure there are many people here with basic sewing skills. maybe we could all help make it. After the wedding it could be turned into a quilt.

    mary doll

  40. We did our July (USA) wedding in my mother-in-law's yard/patio. Instead of purchasing premade bouquets from a florist, I visited a local nursery about 6 weeks before the wedding. I bought a bunch of annuals and potted them up myself in big pots. I used petunias, verbena, alyssum, geraniums, and asparagus ferns. They were absolutely gorgeous! People oohed and ahhed over them. The best part is that we gave several of them away -- one to each set of parents, our host couples, our grandparents, etc. They lasted all summer and were beautiful. We kept it very intimate -- 75 guests compared to most 200+ guest blowouts in these parts. Neither one of us likes wedding cake so we had homemade from scratch wedding pies! Apple, cherry, coconut cream, and peach. This was a huge hit. For favors we handed out packets of wildflower seeds and attached a computer generated tag that said, "Thang you for sharing our special day with us. Plant these seeds and say a prayer for us when the flowers bloom." Another big hit. There is so much you can do to make a lovely wedding on the cheap.


  41. My husband and I were married frugally 8 years ago, and almost everything, from catering to photos, videos, and music (two of my former students were harpists) was done by friends. They got more pleasure from helping than from the gift-giving. My mom made my dress (with a cotton under-layer for a hot Tennessee June wedding) and veil. I wore white silky slippers instead of heels, for comfort. We used tea candles in small glasses on the tables, and had enough left over for romantic, candle-lit dinners for years afterward. It was a wonderful day. Photos used to be online, but I can't find them now.

  42. Such wonderful news! I am happy for you and your family! How exciting also to have the wedding at your home. We did a very modest beautiful wedding in May here in the states seven years ago. A brunch with just a pianist. Everyone still tells us it was modest yet elegant. I am SURE you will capture both for Shane and Sarndra. I look forward to reading the suggestions here and to follow your families plans! Best of luck to you all!

    cathy c

  43. how about doing a lovely garden party with afternoon tea? lots of tea, lots of sandwiches and lots of cakes. you've got loads of time to scour charity shops and auctions to get proper china teacups and saucers, they don't have to match the more colourful the mix the better :)

  44. Who spends $35,000 on a wedding?!
    We spent $1000 20 years ago. We
    got married in the registry office
    with just a few family and close
    friends present. We had the
    reception at a sports club my

    husband belongs to. A friend did
    the catering, another friend
    organised a bush band and my
    husband's brother in law and
    another friend did the photos. If
    you ask around, you'll find lots
    of people have special skills
    they're happy to share. We had
    100 people, wonderful food and
    all the booze they could drink.
    I bought a nice dress and black
    pumps I could wear again - I wore
    the dress for years (it's
    too small now unfortunately!) and
    I still wear the shoes. Because
    we were marrying late (I was 30
    and my husband was 40), we didn't
    expect our parents to contribute
    and we decided instead of a big
    wedding we would spend our money
    on the honeymoon. If I was
    doing it again, I don't think
    I'd change much.

  45. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding. I will definitely be looking out for ideas! I think the sentimental things are the most important -- a family heirloom, a warm toast, flowers with personal meaning, etc. Might be interesting to find some old family wedding photos.

    I have been enjoying your blog as a respite from the cold here!

  46. Congratulations! I let all of my bridesmaids pick out any dress in any color. I wanted them to wear a dress they felt like a million bucks in. The flowers they carried were all the same. It was wonderful because a little of each woman's personality stood out. The wedding photos are amazing. I chose to use a large white photo mat instead of a guest book. Each guest signed the mat with best wished for us. We put our wedding photo in the middle. It hangs in our bedroom. My Grandmothers hand made mints were also a big hit. Laura

  47. Such wonderful news!
    My husband and I were married by a friend at a local park and we just walked through until the right spot struck us that day.
    Since I'm not sure of the time frame and if there would be more than yourself working on things. I was thinking of at least a hand knit or crochet shawl for the bride and possible the mothers of the bride and groom and if there are grandmothers for the bride or groom. If possible, buy local yarn or from a thrift shop...or buy a sweaters or blankets from thrift shops that you can unravel and re-use the yarn

  48. Hello Rhonda
    Oh how lucky you are and congratulations to the happy couple. I would love to help with bunting if you needs it,or any other task that needs doing, just say the word.
    Enjoy the preparation as much as the day itself.

    With best wishes to you all.


  49. Another good idea is to have an actual breakfast or brunch. Mornings are so beautiful in this part of the world.

  50. Hi Rhonda. Its been awhile, had a working trip and then came down with a cold after so have been out of commission. Just wanted to say hi and congratulate you on the upcoming wedding for your son. You have every reason to be proud! Its good he is having it at home and that you get to be part and it will all be frugal and wonderful! I dont know if you have what we have here its like a vine with small leaves we weave together to make trimmings that we use to form an aisle and to make the arch...I will try find a picture from our cousin's wedding that we helped put together - all decorations were made from local flowers and other plants, and had it at the beach - was nice and more frugal then it could have ended up being.

  51. Congratulations on the wedding plans. We did our wedding for $2,000 about 5 years ago. Here's some of the things we did.

    - My husband's a chef too! He borrowed 4 portable baine maries from his workplace (the one's with candles underneath) and we put at least 3 different wet dishes out with one baine marie for cooked rice. People served themselves. My mum kindly offered to refill the baine maries during the reception.

    - As he worked at a functions venue, he was also able to borrow tablecloths, cutlery, plates and wineglasses too. A detailed inventory was done and we payed to replace any damaged items, and for dry cleaning of the tableclothes/napkins.

    - I made my 3 tier wedding cake out of 3 different sized round cake pans. I used store bought mud cake mixes. The icing on the cake, literally, came from a local cake decorator who bought a box of royal icing through her suppliers.

    - I had to hide a pregnancy bump so my weeding dress was a medieval style that hung under the breast. I bought the pattern from my local Spotlight store, found in the costume patterns catalogue. My bouquet was also made out of fake antique roses with sprays of dried wheat - from Spotlight.

    - Table decorations were stand alone giant candles, sat on a paper doiley. I made fake carnations out of tissue paper which surrounded the base of the candle. I bought some gold paint to colour the edges of the carnations too.

    - Instead of having dolls of the bride and groom on the wedding table, my sister did up two of her stuffed white "Bundaberg" promotional bears. One wore a top hat and tuxedo, the other a viel, organza skirt and miniature boquet. I loved those two little bears.

    - The best part of all was finding our wedding march musicians. We were visiting our local Sunday markets, to see two young teenage girls busking with their violins. We loved the music they were playing and my husband got the bright idea to see if they'd play at our wedding. We organised with their parents if they could attend on the day (with payment) and it put a beautiful atmosphere in the venue, as guests were waiting for me to arrive. We gave them a certificate of appreciation afterwards too.

    Just a few ideas there. We did stacks more but I can't remember a lot. It seemed to happen so quickly!!

    The best part is, only 3 months later we were the proud parents of our beautiful baby girl. So we had a very good reason to do our wedding on a budget. It was for her future as well as ours. :)

  52. oh and another wedding, as the bride walked down the aisle participants/guests/family/friends gave her, as she passed them, flowers and other plants and just before she got to the altar the put a ribbon and that was her bouquet.

  53. Hi Rhonda,

    Collect glass coffee and jam jars, you can use these as hurricane lights. ask people to collect them for you at work. Ikea sells tea lights for a very small price in bags of 150. You can mark out path ways (save some of your garden).

    Also I agree with others, pay someone to take pictures, but only for the formal ones. Then afterwards let everyone have a free for all taking pictures of everything they like. then have someone go around and borrow everyones camera, have you PC booted up and buy yourself a digital card reader, very cheap now. And take everyones pictures off of their cameras before they leave.

    Everyone always says, oh I will send you the pictures. Then life gets in the way. and they forget and no one likes to keep asking do they.

    Another idea I have thought about for all of my family gatherings now, is to set up a digital SLR in a room with a chair and a back drop of white sheets, with white sheets on the floor. Get people to take their own portraits and sign a guest book in that room. 2 birds with one stone. we have a remote release 'clicker'.

    we bought ours on ebay, £5. Bargain and well worth every penny as there is no one who isnt in the picture that way. fab!

    I hope this is of help.

  54. This sounds lovely!

    A good friend of mine is using live edible plants for favours-like mint, rosemary-little herbs. If you started them yourself they could be ready in time and very cheap, nice smelling, add a touch of green, and still be useful. Although not very traditional!

  55. Oh this will give them memories ...and relaxing times. Even though we had our wedding in a hall, my mother and I did my wedding. The crazy woman did the cooking (there were 200), but she's a caterer and good at it. The part that I will always remember is the Sweets Table, covered with all kinds of goodies from friends. It was beautiful and so yummy. There was a simple Japanese flower on each inexpensive. Another hint: hire workers to clean, fill, etc. You will be able to talk with people!

  56. I'm sure you will have a lot of fun planning this wedding. It will be great to see how all your knowledge and ingenuity make this a memorable event on a sensible budget.
    My suggestion probably doesn't fill the "frugal" bill because it involves spending money, but I put it out there for your consideration. My parents have had heaps of celebrations for 50-60 people at home for engagements, 21st parties etc. Each time, they engage the services of someone to help serve drinks and food, and clean up progressively, for a few hours at least. This needn't be expensive. Perhaps you know a young person with a little hospitality experience who would be able to fill the bill. This means that you and Hanno can concentrate on talking to your guests and enjoying the day. My mother is a frugal person, too, and she believes this simple measure saves her sanity every time!
    BTW, my father thinks that we should all save the celebrations until people are married 25 years at least. Then they really have something to celebrate. LOL. Regards, Paola,

  57. Congratulations great news!
    Can I just say though that alarm bells did ring in my head when I read what you said about organising it all. We wanted a very simple wedding but dear Mom in law helped too much!! She was so thrilled and kept coming up with ideas none of which we wanted but I was too young and afraid of upsetting her so I was unable to object. I tried saying it wasn't really what I wanted but she would say this is a good idea or what did I think about this and before I knew it it was organised for me.
    I've regretted it ever since that I didn't have the wedding I wanted. My idea of a simple wedding ceremony on the beach ended up in a marquee on my mom in laws garden. So however thrilled you are please try not to run away with yourself with ideas, perhaps Sarndra is like me, afraid of upsetting you. You said she was 'hesitant' and you 'quickly talked her round' so doesn't that tell you something already. I said to my mom in law that I didn't want it to be too much trouble for her as a way of not having her ideas but I was also 'quickly talked round'!!!
    I'm sure you are as well intentioned as my mom in law was but our exuberance can sometimes prevent us from seeing what the other person truly wants.
    Good luck.

  58. Hi, I got married in 2007 and our whole wedding cost $3000. We had no savings for it, because once we decided to get married (finally) we couldn't be bothered waiting.
    My main tips are for the couple are to do what is right for them, not what others "expect", most of the time it was more about what we wanted not to do, that made it "our" day, which people couldn't understand.
    Too often other people felt "sorry" for us because we didn't have much money and tried to foist their "help" on us. They thought we were doing without some things out of necessity, not choice.
    For example, I didn't want frills or a floral theme, (or a theme of any kind), yet "helpful" aunties and friends would offer me an ugly fake bouquet (shudder), or gaudy bows to "decorate" the church, because that is what you "need" for a wedding to be a "real" wedding.
    (I was also given a "pretty" basket with an ugly, evil doll sewn on it for my non existent flower girl to carry down the aisle, I managed to "accidently forget" that in the bustle of the day lol!)

    Here are some things we did that were right for us:
    # I bought my dress off the rack: $300 from Noni B (some dresses can be many thousands, for something you will only wear once!)
    # Husband and son only had to polish their shoes and buy matching ties. Lol
    # We didn't have bridesmaids, flower girls and our son was our best man, so no matching outfits, no worries about leaving out someone important, no expensive thank you gifts etc.
    # I didn't bother with flowers, or a veil. My MIL bought my make up (her gift to me) and my best friend did my hair in simple curls. (I did splurge on a manicure and pedicure, I'm a gardener, so i had to disguise my black fingernails somehow lol.)
    # We got our wedding bands custom made, which was surprisingly much cheaper than a store. $500 all up.
    # My engagement ring was on sale and "vintage" -$600 (2nd hand lol, I'm not superstitious)
    # I made my own wedding cake! and it looked and tasted soooo good! (gasps of horror from the aunties, "oh the poor girl had to make her own cake, and it wasn't even a fruit cake!" lol)
    # we kept our guest list to 60 people, it ended up "blowing out" to about 80
    # A good friend let us use his restaurant for the reception, but that wont happen for most people lol, a buffet/bbq lunch would have been our second choice.
    # For our honeymoon, we spent a week in Maleny in a self contained cabin, which cost $1200. No airfares, no expensive room service or restaurants, just a cosy fire, a balcony with a country view and a spa bath in the en suite ;)

    I'm sorry I took up so much of your space (chagrined grin)Hope I helped.

  59. So many good ideas already

    Ask at the local college for art/photography students free or at cost for you and they get a huge experience early on in their career

    Ours also does catering and waitressing etc

    If you can make card for invites choose a simple design so not too time consuming

    Hurricane lamps and floral garlnd on tables look nice as do bowls of sugared almonds but i like the other persons idea of citrus fruit too

    Oh and fabric for dressing tables etc use bedding or if you want bright saris are lovely we have a shop her sells them cheap and its a lot of fabric

    Good luck i am sure it will be beautiful

    Sharron in the UK

  60. How about a thrift shop wedding dress?!
    Some friends of mine bought an old wedding dress at a thrift shop, put it in a cold bath with a load of bleach, then customised the result with more modern trimmings. It looked stunning and cost them almost nothing.
    It was so lovely that her sister-in-law wore it a year later at her wedding.

  61. congratulations! When my husband and I got married a year ago the biggest cost was the venue in the camp grounds then the rental chairs. My mother bought some bouquet flower to make the small pin on flowers and our bouquets the night before, my mother and I fixed all the food the morning before, my brother in law did the photography, we had bird seed for the stuff you throw in the air at the end. I can't remember the exact amount but it was under well under $1000

  62. I also had a simple budget-conscious wedding and it was lovely at my parents' house. For flowers, try ordering them from and arranging them yourself. My mother, sister and I did that the day before the wedding and I couldn't have been happier. We arranged the flowers in baskets that we set along the walkway underneath the tent.

    Also, I purchased a very inexpensive garden arch from a craft store (about $15.00) and decorated it using dried flowers and a hot glue gun and then just draped tule over it. It was inexpensive and really pretty. It might work for your "bare" arch. Best wishes

  63. How wonderful, Rhonda! Ah, wedding plans... it's hard to believe I've been married for *almost* a year now. :o) I completely agree with what you say about going into debt for just one day. So pointless!

    When we got engaged, we wanted a super super simple wedding, but there was no way around inviting all my husband's extended family without them being terribly offended. So we had 110 guests, which is very small for an Israeli wedding. :o) 300+ guests is the average.

    Since the custom here is that each guest brings a contribution of money for the newlyweds, and we settled for a modest banquet hall, all our wedding expenses were covered. We didn't have any "extras" such as fireworks and such.

    I got a bunch of jewelry from my father-in-law for my engagement, and to this day I think the money would have been better spent on kitchen cabinets (which we can't afford right now).

    I'd better stop now because I don't really have any advice to give, I'm just blabbering. :o)

  64. Hi Rhonda,

    What a joyful event to help plan!

    My husband and I planned a lovely frugal wedding but due to circumstances beyond our control had an even more frugal wedding...which was absolutely wonderful. So I'll share a little of each.

    We planned a simple wedding/barn dance. Our dear friend is a minister and musician and he offered to be the celebrant. My cousin has a band that plays contra and country dances and he offered to play for free. We hired a historical dance hall owned by a local town for a very inexpensive rate. The food was to be potluck brought by the wedding guests with a lovely cake, served buffet style, and a contra dance with a dance caller for the entertainment.

    I purchased some lovely cream silk damask at the fabric store to make my tea-length dress and found some beautiful silk yarn and an unusual jacket pattern to knit.

    Our nieces and nephews were to be our wedding attendants, boys in tan /kahki pants, white shirts and vests, girls in a variety of dresses all the same color.

    We were just purchasing a house and moving and unfortunately, I broke my leg badly the day we closed on the house and had to have surgery and had complications. Leading us to spend time and energy on every day survival and other things than wedding. Many things we were expecting to do ourselves for the move fell to hired help and cost a lot of money. So we made the difficult decision to revise our wedding plan.

    Due to the chaos, we decided to go from awedding for approx. 100 people to a wedding for 6 people.

    We were married in our home. I was just hobbling around with a cane and couldn't have managed a walk down and aisle nor any time on a dance floor. Since I wasn't able to sit at the sewing machine, we each bought a few simple but nice pieces of new clothing to wear (a lace top and long skirt for me, and new pants and a dress shirt for Michael...and he wore a knitted vest I'd already made him). We made our own wedding feast (roasted chicken and vegetables) and I made a small old-fashioned wedding cake.

    The minister and his wife came as did our best and closest friends. Since we are all musicians, each couple brought a song and a reading to contribute to the simple christian ceremony. All six of us cried because we were so close to every word of the vows, every wish and prayer were spoken aloud and I never once had to worry about how I looked in my dress, whether the guests and attendants were all doing okay and whether I'd remember any of it afterwards.

    I truly believe a simple ceremony and event that is relevant and connected to who the bride and groom really are is the most lovely choice of all. No matter how small or simple.

    Blessings to you all!

  65. We had a beautiful simple frugal wedding. I wouldn't change it for anything. :)

  66. We had a frugal wedding.

    I bought silk and had a silk suit made by a dressmaker rather than a dress. We borrowed an open top sports car for me to arrive in. My brother-in-law took the pictures. We had a lunch for about 30 at a hotel, but then the evening was in my sister's garden. We borrowed patio furniture from all her neighbours (and invited them for the evening). The food was self catered and served in her double garage on tables borrowed from a local school. The drinks were kept cool in ice in the bath! (People arriving were told "the food is in the garage, the drink is in the bath!"). The garden was made festive with bunting and helium balloons. My cake was our wedding present from my sister.

    That same summer we attended a lavish do that must have cost many £K. They are long separated, we are still together.

    And best of all, many of the guests commented that they had had a lovely time because the atmosphere was happy and relaxed, rather than everyone being uncomfortable and on their best behaviour at some expensive venue.

  67. Woops, sorry Rhonda. I was very unclear. Yes, Sandra can work in an EU country (e.g. Spain) without a work permit as she will be the wife of an EU citizen. BUT Shane will have to get a job first. Having a job entitles him to become a resident of that country, having the same rights as citizens of that country. Sandra as a NZ citizen can then register as a resident as part of his family and can then take employment. The procedure would be slightly different I think if they were to settle in Germany.
    I´ll send over a list of "things to think of" if you send an email to

  68. Congratulations to the young soon to be married couple and also to you and Hanno. I would just like to say thank you to you first Rhonda for your blog which has been a wonderful help to me. I had a frugal wedding 28 years ago much to the amusement of my friends, but we really loved it. An aunt made and iced the cake Mum and my sister did all the food and table flowers. We hired glasses and a bar and the only disappointment was the photographs. My father in law and his friend said they would take them and give us an album but all we got were snapshots and it still disappoints, so I would say to ask someone who knows what they are doing to take photographs. An idea I have seensince and wished I had done was to get a plain white tablecloth and ask all the guests to sign it then later embroider over all the names for a very special keepsake. I hope you all have a lovely time planning and a beautiful day.

  69. Congratulations to the young couple!
    One of my favorite wedding appetizers is champagne jelly, served in a wine glass, with some fresh cheese or cream cheese and crackers. And it's easy to make. You may also consider canning it in small decorative canning jars for party favors. It is delicious. I found one recipe here:

    I look forward to the preparations!

  70. You probably will need outdoor toilets right? Place a table close by for washing hands..use empty laundry jugs..the ones that have the controlled spouts on the side at the bottom..anyway add some water to these jugs, there is enough soapy residue left in the jug to make it soapy enough for washing. You can have 2 jugs and have a 'his' and 'hers'. You can also fold and place washcloths for drying as well as a bin to throw them in. Mind you this would take a lot of

  71. Hi Rhonda. I love reading your blog and can't wait to read more about the upcoming wedding. I love reading
    These sites also has some great links to other blogs that talk a lot about planning frugal weddings. Good luck!


  72. what wonderful news! I have tried to comment before but am not very technical so hope this works! I would advise getting someone who knows what they are doing to take photographs as I know to my own disappointment it causes alot of heartache if you have few memories in print! Another idea I have seen is to get a new plain white tablecloth and ask all the guests to sign it, then later embroider over the names for a lasting memento. I hope you all have a lovely time with the planning and a beautiful day.

  73. Hello Rhonda,
    someone may have suggested this but I'll still suggest anyway. Get everyone to bring a camera to the wedding and to take lots of shots. Even though you have the professional photos, you will get lots of candid shots, from all the different groups at your wedding.
    This will be great for all the stuff you miss at the happy couple, and will provide lots of laughs in the comming years.
    Congrates on the happy event.

  74. Hi Rhonda, what fabulous news. You may have had these suggestions already;
    - Use glass jars for your flowers and then swap flowers for candles in the evening (or have both, but in seperate jars of course!). I used some old organza curtain material in the jars to hide the flower stems and then tied a ribbon around the neck of the jar.
    - We had a 'welcome' table at the entrance to our venue. I bought some fine craft paper (I think it was called 'angel hair') and cut it into rectangles using fancy edged craft scissors and asked guests to write a 'thoughts for the bride and groom' message on them. I also had a nice box on the table for people to leave their wedding cards - otherwise they aren't sure who to give them to. We also got some cork pin boards, covered them in nice paper and made a photo montage of each of us, from childhood to the present day. That caused a lot of amusement.
    - We bought some table top games off ebay - very cheap - such as solitaire, chinese chequers, tic-tac-toe, etc. These helped to keep people (especially the kids) entertained.
    - Flower petals scattered on the tables look lovely.
    - Organza/tulle swags with ivy twined around is nice on the top table.
    - Fairy lights look lovely, especially in trees.
    - I bought some nasty plastic framed mirrors from the £1 store, removed and recycled the frames, then used the mirrors as display plates in the center of each table.
    - My entire outfit, from shoes to tiara, was purchased from ebay and cost less than £200 - including the dress!
    - I had a second hand wedding ring - 18ct gold but only £35.
    - Do consider a professional photographer for at least part of the day, then get all your guests to upload their photo's onto picasa etc.
    - I kept all the envelopes from the cards and then cut out our names with fancy edged scissors. I then glued these onto a photo mount and framed a wedding photo with it. Our names, in everyone's handwriting, look lovely around the photo. Hope that makes sense.
    - I made all the stationery using plain cream card and some craft punches to cut out the corners.
    - I bought a large batch of artificial roses plus diamontes and crystal pins from a floristry supply shop. These did all the table flowers, the cake flowers and my bouquet. They were made of foam, sounds horrible but they were so realistic. I sold the flowers (minus the bouquet) on ebay afterwards and recouped 75% of their cost.
    (Apologies for taking up so much space - hope these are of help).

  75. Congratulations - what wonderful news. It's really great that Shane and Sarndra want a frugal wedding - it must be terrible to start life together with a large debt. I don't have any useful suggestions, but the fact that you have the space to hold the wedding in your own garden gives you so much scope. As you are so involved in your local community you will probably be able to borrow many items you'll need (such as chairs, cutlery, crockery etc) from friends and neighbours. Good luck with the preparations. ;)

  76. I could go on and on about wedding tips. I am a florist, but always look for ways to cut expenses for the wedding couple. I have a post with pictures from my brothers wedding (Love is in the air -1/4/09). I did all the flowers and centerpieces for 10 tables for less than $500. The arch alone would retail for $3000+, but I made it all myself.
    All of my coworkers have had a family member to get married in the past 3 years and we have used the same candles at each wedding. If you light the candles before everyone arrives, noone will know they were previously used. We simply change the color of ribbon on each vase to the brides chosen color. If you look my post you will see the candles in front of the arch. We have used these candles for centerpieces during receptions, to line sidewalks and stairs, and to outline the swimming pool at various themed weddings.
    I don't know how your seasons relate to ours in the US, but almost all the flowers we used for the November wedding are available year round in different colors. I even mixed a few silk sunflowers in the arch-nobody could tell the difference. I purchased them on sale and will make something for my house out of them. You can incorporate other flowers and greenery into your preexisting arch to keep it from looking bare.
    For my wedding I did not send out invitations. It was announced in the local paper that friends were invited and we personally invited others. I felt if we didn't see or talk to people while we were planning our wedding that they had very little business being there anyway.
    I hope some of this might help you out. I might even right up a post about this subject soon on my own blog.

  77. Congratulations to Shane & Sandra :-D

    We got married on my husbands familie's farm. We did it on a budget and it was the best day ever!!

    We had a morning cermony as it's a bit cheaper to cater for lunch than dinner menues and it was a really nice time of day for people to relax around nibbles while we did photos etc. Plus it's not too hot in the morning. And the day just didn't feel rushed. We had my dress made for $250 & bought our maids dresses from a Jaquie E rather than a bridal shop. My Aunty did the flowers (she's a florist) We did our own hair and makeup. The big cost was the catering but we went for a spit roast mob. We were also fourtunate not to have to hire a marquee. In all I think our wedding was around $2500 for 50 people and I wouldn't have changed it for the world!!

    Have fun planning! :-D

  78. I had the ultimate frugal wedding. We invited everyone over for housewarming/baby shower and gathered everyone around in the front yard and suprised everyone by taking our vows then and there. (A friend married us) for food we did a huge split pea soup and fresh bread, sandwiches and other nibbles.
    My best advice I have is not to invest in bridesmaid dresses. Have the brides made wear simple black dresses (everyone has one) bring it all together with a simple flower.

    Congrats Rhonda

  79. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    Here are some of my ideas. I only have my own wedding to go on which was 11 years ago, but we were on a tight budget, and it was very much a family affair too with lots of cousins, aunts, and my immediate family chipping in to help out. And it was such a beautiful wedding that we still get people commenting on it even all these years later.
    *When I was looking around for ideas I went into New Zealand's top wedding dress designer and planner's store in Auckland. As you said Sarndra is a kiwi girl originally, she may have heard of Kevin Berkahn. There was no way I could afford anything in his store, but it was great for ideas, but he happened to be there when I went in, and not busy, and he gave me all of this free advice! One of the things he said to me that I really took to heart was that he saw so many girls transform themselves on the wedding day into such creatures of perfection that they didn't even look like themselves anymore. He said he thought the natural look was better, fresher and more lovely for a wedding. I say this, not because I think you'll all do the over-the-top look, but just because it was a nice thing for a top designer to say, and interesting, I think. I ended up taking his advice and wearing my hair down with flowers and simple makeup, and now I'm so glad I did.
    * The man I married was a confirmed bachelor at the time, and already had a home with everything, so we didn't have much of a need for household wedding gifts, and one thing his family did for us, which was fantastic, were to pay for some of the things we wanted for the wedding, but couldn't afford. For example, his sister paid for us to have vintage cars. Someone else paid for the drink at the reception as a wedding gift.
    *At our reception as everyone was eating, I had some children of friends of ours play their musical instruments. A little boy of 9 played his violin, and another friend played her harp. They weren't perfect, but it was lovely and charming, and everyone enjoyed the 'live' background music.
    * For table centerpieces I used terracotta pots with florist's foam in them, and made little topiaries from evergreen branches and poked white flowers randomly into the evergreen.
    * I had 2 little flowergirls and between them they carried a swag (or rope) decorated with flowers. After the service, we used the swag to hang across the front of the bridal table.
    Here's a picture ... scroll down:
    Hope that works.
    * Also, one thing that my husband's Aunt made it her job to do on the day of the wedding, was to organize a guest book which she made and decorated, and then at the reception took around to all the guests and got them to sign. It's really lovely now to look back on what people wrote, especially my grandparents who have since passed away. She handed the book to us as we left at the end of the night, and we had such fun reading over it on our honeymoon.
    I don't want to make this too long a comment, so I'll leave it at that now. What fun you have ahead of you - such a joyous event! Enjoy!
    Rachel L

  80. My wedding (in 2002) cost me just over £500. Mind you there were less than 20 people there including us! But that's just how we wanted it - very small and simple.

    I was lucky enough to find what I wanted very cheaply. I'm not superstitious either, and my 'vintage' engagement ring cost £50 from an antique stall at the local market. I was incredibly lucky to find a dress that fitted the bill perfectly from a sale rack outside a very exclusive boutique. It had obviously been there quite a while as it was only £12.50! Yes folks, that's twelve pounds and fifty pence. With the other accessories, my outfit totalled approx £75, the shoes taking up £50 of that. Mum made the cake which I wasn't too bothered about the details of so long as it matched the theme colours, and it was lovely. I negotiated a sit-down meal for £10 per head. Bought hubby a new suit and shirt. Other accessories were made up my moi from pieces of silk offcuts and pieces of ribbon I picked up for next to nothing at the fabric shop, and I did my own flowers. The flowers on the table at the reception were just what the restaurant already had in. Like I say, those details just didn't matter to me at all so I didn't worry about them!

    I've rambled long enough now, but just to give you an idea of just how cheap things can be with some imagination and it helps to not demand 'perfection' and everything matching as many brides these days do. Billions of disposable things like embossed disposable napkins are also, in my opinion, unnecessary and environmentally very unsound. Its things like that that cause the huge bills!

    Love to the happy couple and good luck on the day. I look forward to reading about it in June, and the plans in the meantime!



  81. Rhonda
    Congratulations again. I think it is very generous of you to offer your home for the wedding. I can feel your excitement from here.

  82. Hi Rhonda,

    Pete and I had about 120 people at our wedding and it cost us $12000 - we had it in a marque at Mum & Dad's, we had "Roving Roast" caterers, we were married in the garden - a testament to Mum & Dad's love of gardening and beauty - my dress was made by a seamstress for $500 (included in our $12000), Pete and his brother got a 2 for one deal on wool suits they could wear again for work, my sister (my only bridesmaid) was bought a $150 sundress that she was able to reuse, my friend took photos for us and my sister's then boyfriend's sister sang as Mum and Dad walked among our friends to the celebrant (who is a very close family friend) and the Catholic priest who did a blessing to appease Pete's very Catholic family. Our main cost was hiring the equipment and food but both being from BIG families we achieved what we wanted and had a ball!

    Sorry to rant but I just wanted to share that we had EVERYTHING we dreamt of/wanted for $12000 with 120 people by doing it simply! The only regret was the few people we forgot to invite who never said anything!

    Help from family & friends was not only welcome but essential and it served to make our day a day for all and a whole heap of fun! Enjoy helping Shane and Sarndra!

  83. What fabulous news and how exciting to be hosting a wedding!
    We had a traditional white wedding 10 years ago and paid for all of it ourselves, $5000 total. We had 100 guests. The thing that made the price better was having the reception at a small town bowling club at $13/head for nibbles, mains and dessert. Also the drinks were very reasonable - we spent $500 over the bar for softdrink, beer and wine.
    Some of the things that helped with the cost were - a friend from the army borrowed table linen that they use for functions so we had cloth tablecloths for free instead of paper table coverings; we didn't hire cars for the church instead requested the use of a local mini bus so the bridal party could travel together - the bus driver was so thrilled with the idea that he refused to take payment; my husbands mother made the cake; a family friend lent us gauzy white curtains to hang behind the bridal party so photos would look appealing; my uncle took our photos and we developed them ourselves - in insight now I would get a second photographer for variation, a friend used our video camera to record the wedding and bits of the reception; we bought mass produced stationery and I used a caligraphy pen to address the invitations and name places; we bought and folded the serviettes on winter nights leading up to the spring wedding; I bought on sale and potted miniture rosebushes for table decorations and these were then used for all our helpers as thankyou gifts; the morning of the wedding we cut lengths of banksia roses and lay these on the tables between the miniture roses; I spent a few months prior to the wedding gathering photos of everyone to attend and put these in an album with details such as name, place of residence, relation to bride/groom, occupation and interests etc this was done because neither side knew each other and I wanted to help spark some interest and conversation between them all, I also mixed up the seating alternating between groom/bride family/friends; we didn't have a registry as my husband was against it - he said it didn't matter if we doubled up on things as we would use them eventually, we doubled on a set of knives and electric wok, and have used all of these. We stayed at the pub for our wedding night; photos were taken on the pub balcony and near a an old falling down shed - then we drove about town and ending up having some of the best pictures taken at a set of cattle yards just out of town. mm what have I missed. clothes. I bought my dress on sale, mum had intended making it but six months before the wedding I moved 9 hours drive away and she said the reduced price would be about what I would have paid for fabric; she did make the bridesmaids dresses for me.
    I can't think of anything else at present to add, except that we had a lovely wedding and now, with this experience I would do things differently. I would have an outdoor wedding and request the guests bring something to offer food wise and overall it would be more informal. It was our family and friends pulling together to help us that we had such a lovely wedding for a great price. I remember fondly the six months prior to the wedding saving everything I had for it, it was great feeling putting aside that money and watching it grow; then to be able to say we paid for it and our honeymoon ourselves. We spent 3 weeks in a campervan going around New Zealand. We had wanted to visit castles in Europe but the prices were horrendous. The castles have waited this long for us and they will continue to wait a bit longer.
    I hope you have been able to get something out of my jumble to help.
    Bec xxx

  84. Rhonda thats so wonderful about their wedding. My husband and I were married in August just gone and had a very strict budget of $5000 which I though was even to high. I made everything myself and would be more than happy to give you any links and photos that I have as well as any other info that you might find handy. We were actually featured in a Thats Life magazine not long ago for our money saving ideas :)
    So any help you need just let me know (I am not to far in distance from you so I know the area and many suppliers as well)
    Liz :)

  85. My Husband and I were married at his parents house in the beautiful garden my husband had landscaped for them.We also had a frugal wedding,it was so beautiful and so enjoyable.My mum made our wedding cake and every one else pitched in to make little things for the wedding.We had been living together for 7 years so did not need a lot of things we would never use again,we instead asked our guests to contribute to paying for dinner at a fancy restaurant for our reception.Everyone was very happy to do this and we did not end up paying for even our own dinner,lol.
    I would have never considered doing it any other way,we had so much fun and the day was so relaxed.
    Congratulations to your son and future daughter in law,I hope their day is as enjoyable as ours was and their marriage wonderful.

  86. i love this posting because more than likely i will be planning my own wedding in the next few months for our summer months also. i have for several years tried to think of the simplest, most frugal way to do so because just as you said so much stress, money, environmental waste goes into wedding days when really in my opinion it should be a happy celebration with the focus being on the long lasting marriage. that being said i've always planned to have my brothers take the photos (both are great photographers), my uncle do the music, have a potluck dinner out on the lawn of the church, only guests that are meaningful to the groom and I, avoid the stress of choosing groomspeople by just having it be the two of us or maybe 1 person a piece, having my aunt provide simple flower arrangements from her garden, no gifts, and the cheapest, most basic, yet pretty dress possible. i don't expect perfection. i'm hopeful for love, happiness, a few hiccups, and a good relaxed time together with dear family and friends.

    I hope for something simple, loving, and wonderful for Shane and Sarndra too!

  87. Congratulations!
    What a wonderful time of year for a wedding celebration.
    Just a quick suggestion marqees can be very expensive to hire. I had a quote of $750 recently. An option might be to get in touch with the local SES and see if they have one. They often have one for displays at shows and markets etc. They will probably let you have it for a donation and that should save you a fair bit of money, and help out the local SES. You could then decorate it beautifully with bunting and fabric and flowers.
    Just a thought, I'm sure it will be a wonderful day for you all.

  88. We had a fairly frugal wedding as well. We got married in a garden so we didn't bother with ceremony decorations at all. For our tables we used lollipops in small flower pots surrounded by tea light candles as centerpieces. The lollipops double as favors although we also made small paper bags with a couple homemade cookies for guests to take home.

    My dress was purchased used and still gorgeous. All the flowers were simple and in season. We did include some fake flowers purchased at 50% off sales. It took a bit more work but I think it's well worth it.

    You can see pictures here

    Hope this helps and that they have a wonderful day!

  89. Candles, candles, candles make it elegant! In the church we are in many folks do children's tables for the reception which have inexpensive coloring books and crayons and snacks prepared ahead of time so children are kept busy during the festivities.
    We had birdseed thrown at us as we left the reception instead of rice so if it rained it wouldn't swell up and be a mess on the ground.

    We also had a single rose for each of the bridesmaids in my wedding and I had about six loosely laying in my arms...simple.

    I just found your blog and love it!

    Jill, in washington state, married 27 years and mom to 8 children!

  90. I didn't read through all of your comments, so someone may have shared this link already... ~

    When I still though one day I might get married to my love, I would go there to dream of "love & simplicity."

    I'm sure the ceremony will be beautiful. What a wonderful thing to choose the parent's garden for a venue!

    Bright blessings to you!


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