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Put on a Memorable Wedding without Spending a Small Fortune

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A wedding is perhaps the most expensive endeavor many people will ever face. Some couples get lucky and the bride’s parents agree to pick up all the expenses, but more often, the bride and groom are footing at least a portion of the bill themselves.

Once you start adding up the cost of invitations, the reception, rental, flowers, entertainment, food, the cake and mementos for your guests, the numbers can become astronomical. According to Bride’s Magazine, the average cost of a wedding today is more than $19,000.

Since most couples don’t have that kind of money to spend on their special day, they end up improvising, and don’t necessarily achieve the memorable celebration they dreamed about. “A wedding is the most important day in a couple’s life and should be a joyous event, not something that breaks the bank,” says Loann Campbell, a wedding buyer who works with Michaels Arts and Crafts stores -- one of the nation’s largest providers of wedding supplies. “There’s so much you can do on your own to save money and Michaels stores around the country have the little details, as well as the ideas and inspiration to help you create the perfect wedding.”

Among the possibilities: you can create your own invitations, place cards, thank you cards, decorations that will adorn the reception hall and cake, wedding favors, and even the bride’s veil.

• Invitations

The style of your wedding invitation will set the tone of your wedding, letting guests know if it’s an elegant, formal affair or a more casual gathering. According to “Bride’s Millennium Report: Wedding Love & Money,” you can expect to spend about $327 on invitations, announcements and thank you notes if you purchase them from a custom printer. Making them yourself will cost just a fraction of that amount and allow you to express your personal style.

“We have a large selection of decorative papers, inks and rubber stamps at Michaels that allow people to include a personal touch on their invitations,” says Campbell. “You can create something yourself that will have a custom look, at a fraction of the cost.”

Invitation kits are the most economical way to go. Between $30 and $50 -- depending on the type of paper you choose: card stock, sheer vellum, or hand-made -- you can get 50 invitations and response cards with envelopes for both. The invitations can either be hand-written, printed on your home computer, or stamped, eliminating the need for an expensive printing service.

• Flowers and Decorations

Flowers are another item on which a significant amount of money can be saved. Instead of ordering live flowers, which cost an average of $750 for a wedding, consider purchasing silk ones. They won’t wilt, don’t need to be kept in water, and look great in everything from bridal bouquets to table centerpieces and cake decorations.

In addition to flowers, many brides choose to have candles on the tables, which is another great opportunity to personalize. “Handmade votives are a nice touch and wonderful way to include the couple’s names and wedding date,” says Campbell. “Placeing them in etchable glass votive holders serves to further emphasize the personal touch for guests.”

• Bride’s Dress and Veil

One of the most frequently overlooked areas to save money is on the bride’s wedding dress and veil. Check out consignment shops for vintage or second-hand wedding gowns. If you find one there, you can expect to spend between $200 and $600. The average cost of a new wedding dress is at least $800.

You can also save on the bridal veil. A purchased one ranges from $150 to $300, depending on the length. The cost of making your own is $30 to $50. All you need to get the job done is a piece of tulle, and a tiara or hairpiece. Tulle veils sell at crafts stores for less than $20. Tiaras sell for between $20 and $40; hair accessories are available for a lot less.

“Making a bridal veil not only saves money but also gives you the chance to design just the veil to compliment your dress,” says Campbell.

• Mementos for the party guests

It is customary for the bride and groom to leave small tokens of appreciation on each table for their guests. This is another place where the bride can add her own personal touch by making them herself.

Among the more popular do-it-yourself favors: handmade soap nicely wrapped in tulle and tied with ribbon, etched champagne glasses, embossed candles, and reusable picture frames, which can be personalized with a removable photo of the bride and groom, or used to hold place cards.

• Keeping the Memories Alive

One of the areas you won’t mind spending a lot of money is photography. When it comes time to frame all the wonderful memories of your special day, you may want to return to Michaels and take advantage of the store’s first rate custom framing services. Michaels offers an extensive selection of innovative frames and mats, and the expertise of certified custom framers, who can help brides transform memories into a masterpiece they can treasure for a lifetime.

Another way to capture wedding memories is scrapbooking, which is becoming more popular day by day. Scrapbooking is a unique way to capture not only the pictures from the wedding but also lets the bride hold on to feelings and thoughts from the special day.

For ideas, information and inspiration be sure to check the Michaels web-site at www.michaels.com.

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