October 8, 2007
A Thrifty Wedding
On Saturday Mr. Sweetheart and I celebrated five years of marriage. It seems like only yesterday that I planned my thrifty little October wedding. The ceremony took place at a gorgeous state park just before a beautiful early fall sunset. We were married next to a small creek at a native rock shelter that had been built by the WPA during the Great Depression. The only decorations, besides those provided by Mother Nature, were a string of colorful paper lanterns we hung from the trees.
I made the invitations myself using premade blank red cards and envelopes on which I stamped the Chinese character for "love" using special ink. I then covered the stamped area with gold embossing powder, shook off the excess, and used a heat gun to melt it together and raise the design. I printed the wedding info on sheets of vellum and secured them inside each card using a hole punch and a piece of sheer black ribbon tied in a simple knot. No one could believe I had made them myself.
A friend who ran a karaoke business provided the music. Mr. Sweetheart and the wedding party walked down the aisle before me to "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me", by Frank Sinatra, then I made my entrance to "Sleep Walk", by Santo and Johnny while all our friends resisted the urge to cry out, "Riiiichie!". It really is the most beautiful song, and I get teary each time I hear it. It was a short, sweet ceremony during which we read our own heartfelt vows. Finally, at the moment the officiant said, "You may now kiss the bride," as a little joke, "Let's Get It On", by Marvin Gaye began to play loudly.
My dress, purchased only a few days before at a department store, cost less than a hundred dollars. I made my veil using various pieces and trimmings purchased at a craft store, as well as my wedding bouquet which was made from preserved bamboo leaves, curled black feathers, floral tape, a length of red ribbon, and a dozen roses from Wally World. Months before, I had been quoted a price of $150 by a florist for a simple rose bouquet, and knew I could craft my own for a fraction of that cost. The end result was much more beautiful and unique, if I do say so myself. We purchased Mr. Sweetheart a plain black suit at Penney's that has since been pressed into service for numerous funerals, weddings and job interviews.
Rather than make my bridesmaids purchase a dress of my choosing that they would wear only once, I had them buy black cocktail dresses that they would find use for again and again. As my gifts to them, I purchased inexpensive Asian style black and red beaded necklaces, which also helped to unify their look. Foregoing the expense of flowers for them to carry, I gave them red silk fans, ordered online for only $1.99 each, which tied in beautifully with the Asian theme. The groomsmen wore their own suits with inexpensive red silk ties which were our gifts to them along with Sumo themed coffee mugs.
One of my multi talented friends was also chief wedding photographer, when she wasn't performing bridesmaid duties. That's her in the center. Between she and my grandma, also a talented photographer, we ended up with some really beautiful shots, such as this gorgeous black and white one taken before the ceremony where I'm seeing Mr. Sweetheart for the first time all dressed up and looking nervous in his suit.
The reception was held up the hill in the lodge. The cost to rent both it and the ceremony spot was under $300. My wonderful Mama worked so hard to make the whole reception come together. She arranged the tables herself, covered them with cheap plastic covers we had purchased at a party supply store, and decorated the whole room using white Christmas lights I bought on clearance, preserved fall leaves, and red paper lanterns I bought at the dollar store. The night before, my husband's Best Man had helped me solder wire-supported glass votive holders inside them for a beautiful candle-lit glow.
My favors were personalized fortune cookies packaged inside white takeout boxes with shredded red paper and tied up with a sparkly gold tulle bow. My husband is a tiger on the Chinese zodiac, and I am a monkey. The two signs are supposed to clash terribly, so the fortunes inside the cookies read, "Confucius say Monkey and Tiger bad match. What does he know anyway?" They were a big hit, and the favor makings only cost about $75, enough for three cookies per box.
Here is the spread of vittles offered up by my hard working Mama. She and I made mini quiche cups a few weeks before which froze beautifully. Some homemade cheese dip and cocktail wieners supplemented store bought deli trays of cheeses, veggies and sandwich meats served with rolls and condiments. The dishes were plastic, yes, but they were a heavy duty transparent red which looked quite pretty. I found them on clearance a few months before at a party store, along with matching cups, for just pennies each. We served iced tea, coffee, water and had a keg of Shiner.
The cake was the most delicious Italian Cream Cake ordered from a local Italian restaurant. It was a very simple affair--no icing roses or marzipan coating, but it was the tastiest cake I have ever eaten at a wedding, which was just what I was going for. I bought inexpensive black and red paper napkins and stamped each one with the same symbol as the one on my invitations using gold ink.
For entertainment, the same friend who provided music for the ceremony set up his professional karaoke outfit and we all sang the night away. The next day, we left for a wonderful honeymoon in New Orleans which we will never forget. Although it was very inexpensive, our wedding was absolutely perfect for us and quite memorable, as well as deeply satisfying for a DIYer like myself. In fact, I told Mr. Sweetheart that I'm looking forward to renewing our vows in a few more years just so I can plan another thrifty, crafty wedding!