Week of Weddings: Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck

Kara Thorson & Laura Bianco
My Bellissima, 13  1/2 James Street, Morristown, NJ 07960, www.mybellissima.com, 973-998-5817

When it comes to getting more bang for your buck, there are definitely certain aspects of your wedding you should splurge on, but others you can afford to keep simple in order to cut costs.  Every bride has a specific element that is most important to her (the food, the flowers, the photography, etc).  For this reason, she should examine from the get-go what matters the most to her and her fiancee, and not "skimp" on that portion of the wedding. To save and add extra meaning to your special day, make a donation to a meaningful charity in lieu of cheesy party favors.  It will probably end up being more cost-effective and definitely more worthwhile!   

Esther Cohen

Small intimate weddings are really trendy these days.  They not only provide a "bang for the buck" so to speak but the most important people in your lives are the ones that are present.  So instead of a photo album 10 years from now filled with people whose name you do not remember, or who have divorced the spouse they are sitting with in that picture, your album has pictures of your families and closest friends.  Many of our wedding couples book all the rooms in the inn for the weekend providing an opportunity for families and spend to spend some quality time together as well.  We often have a casual rehearsal dinner for our bridal groups on Friday night followed by the big event on Saturday.

Want more bang-book during the holidays for  a themed wedding.  The inn will be decorated in Victorian Christmas style so costs on centerpieces and arrangements are taken care of.  You can use an ipod or cd full of Christmas songs as your music.  Order a red velvet cake! 

Jennifer Bunce, Chef & Owner
The Hudson Cakery, Jersey City, www.hudsoncakery.com  
By Appointment Only: 201-209-9121

 Here are some cake trends in regards to getting the most for your money:

1. When shopping for your wedding cake, since most bakers charge by the slice, simply tell your baker a smaller guest amount. You'll still get a beautiful cake but it will be just be smaller. Then you can have the caterer serve mini desserts on each table, family style to complete the meal. Most caterers throw in this option at a very minimal cost.

2. If you do want the cake to serve the entire party, then just get a simple cake without 400 handmade sugar flowers. The extra design details like sugar flowers, figurines and toppers, tend to increase the cost.

Rachael Citron and Heather Balczarek
Glass Slipper Weddings and Events, Matawan and Tinton Falls, NJ, www.GlassSlipperWeddings.com

The best advice we can give is to figure out what means the most to you as a couple. Don't spend a lot of money on something that might impress everyone else - do what makes YOU happy! Are you both music lovers but couldn't care less about flowers? Put more money into the band, hire a string quartet, and go with silk flower arrangements. Are you big foodies who love to cook and sample exotic dishes? Splurge on an amazing caterer who can do both "comfort food" and new taste experiences. Don't really like fancy clothes? There's no rule that says you have to go super-formal with your dress and tuxes. Get something pretty and inexpensive, and spend much more on things like favors or photography!

Danielle Nutt, Owner
The Bridal Suite, 2607 Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Rd., Hamilton Square, NJ 08690, www.thebridalsuiteofhamilton.com 
(609) 588-4976

If you are shopping with an eye for a designer gown but don't have the designer pocketbook, here's what you can do.  Research a designer that offers custom design changes.  The Bridal Suite offers a mid price point bridal line called Casablanca (retailing between 600-2200).  This designer will change or modify any gown to your specifications.  Fabric, embellishment, silhouette you name it and they will do it and at a reasonable price!  The custom options from the designer also provide the bride a unique opportunity to order the dress to her measurements instead of picking a size from a chart.  Custom cutting a bridal gown to the body shape and height of the person wearing it reduces the amount of alteration significantly and in some cases it eliminates them altogether. 

Kati Angelini, owner
Kati's Kupcakes, http://www.katiskupcakes.com, 609-332-2172

I think most brides are certainly looking for something trendy, unique and eye pleasing for their dessert at their wedding. Cupcake towers certainly fit the bill there and are very economical for couples, while at the same time they offer guests more options than a single slice of cake. By going with a cupcake tower, couples can offer guests more than one flavor of cake. Typically with a wedding cake, the waitstaff/serves will deliver each guest the same type of slice. Cupcake towers offer more variety by offering guests several different flavors. In addition, they are typically much cheaper than custom designed wedding cakes. My cupcakes start at $2.00 a piece and specialty toppers are an additional .50 cents. For just $2.50 per person, brides and grooms can treat their guests to a tasty, beautiful, unique dessert! I'd say this is a great way to get more bang for your buck. Choosing cupcakes at weddings has become very popular and a nice alternative to traditional costly wedding cakes!! We specialize in putting the cupcakes on beautifully decorated towers to coincide with the theme/wedding palette of the special day!

Marielle Wolf
The Inn at Lambertville Station, Lambertville, NJ, www.lambertvillestation.com 
609-397-8300, marielle@lambertvillestation.com

Always splurge on the photography; a professional is going to be more willing to get those shots that you wouldn't think to ask of family or friends.  Save on your centerpieces, you can do something really nice with a bowl, some candles and flower petals or stones (all available at local craft stores and dollar stores).  These simple but classy centerpieces are a nice elegant and romantic touch for all weddings!  

Tara Clapper
Freelance writer, author of Atlantic City Wedding Planning Examiner
2009 LBI Tall Ship bride

I see more and more brides buying flowers locally and trimming them themselves. It makes for a good get-together the night before the wedding. The bridesmaids can help her cut flowers and wrap ribbon around them. This is a great way to save money and support a local greenhouse. 

Andrea Lockhard, Principal
ACL Event Planning, www.acleventplanning.com

If you’re already interested in an indoor ceremony and reception, you can save substantially by booking your favorite venue during non-peak seasons. This means getting married during January thru March or November thru December. Many fine venues offer discounts during these months and generally Friday and Sunday weddings are less expensive. You may balk at first at the colder months, but consider that once you and your guests arrive at the venue, you’ll be there for the rest of the day and really won’t care what the weather’s doing outside anyway. Additionally, venues are currently offering value dates for the balance of 2010. Since we’re halfway through the year and they’re not guaranteed to book dates for the rest of the year, these venues are willing to give a nice discount on most dates thru year-end. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

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