This past May I was asked to help plan a rehearsal dinner. As many of my readers know, I love any excuse to coordinate a brunch, BBQ or dinner party, so, when I was asked to help, I was thrilled! Like I couldn’t sleep because I had so many ideas/ excited before christmas morning type of thrilled!
For any event, a good place to start is with the catering/food. So, as the catering was decided upon, the theme for the dinner became a “backyard BBQ under the stars”. The bride’s wedding theme was Peacock, so we tried to follow suite by incorporating the theme throughout the dinner.
For most weddings on a budget, you have to determine where you should and can cut costs. Creativity and DIY projects will be your savior! Mostly everything for this dinner was either created and designed by me, bought from the Dollar Store, Trader Joe’s or borrowed from friends. Not including food, drinks, and ice, the total decor budget was around $200. And, even that is on the “over-the-top” side. Meaning, we could have scaled back the candles and a few other other details.
I have complied a few tips and tricks to help brides and other planners when coordinating for a large occasion. The following are my suggestions on where to splurge and where to save:
- Decor – With the good ol’ Dollar Store, you can really “fancy” up your event with candles, pictures, signage and other DIY projects all from materials found at your local store. Don’t go crazy buying a million and one glass containers for centerpieces or custom banners, instead make your own with items you already have and fill in the blanks with materials you can find for just $1! Ya really can’t beat that price!
For example, I created a garland over the food table with a big branch found on our property, wrapped white christmas lights around the branch and strung white crape paper (which I found at the Dollar Store) to create a whimsical effect. Then, I created signage (as you will see below) out of extra cardboard I had, spray paint, card stock paper, my Circuit machine and false foliage. Lastly, I made candle holders out of old stumps I found around our property as well. I cut the wood different sizes to give the tables more height and place white candles on-top (also found at the Dollar Store).
- Food & Drink – Do NOT skim on your food. Please… for me! Food first and foremost should be your #1 priority. Who cares if you have a million twinkling lights if the food sucks. So invest the time and find a good cater, deli, etc. and provide guests with a GREAT meal. Make sure you have options for beverages, accommodate if there are kids and people that do not drink alcohol, and always serve lots of water!
- Tables/linens – This can go one of two ways. You don’t want to spend a fortune on chairs, tables and linens. Because, they do add up. But with that said, there is nothing better than having linens over plastic table cloths. I understand at the Dollar Store you can purchase plastic table cloths for again, $1… Which is a great option and one way you can cut costs. But, if you are already saving on decor, go rent some nice linens and try barrow tables and chairs from a friend Or, better yet, another wonderful DIY project. Grab old pallets from behind your local Home Depot, get some blankets pillows and instantly, you have your dinner ready al fresco, picnic style.
- Place-setting – Personalized touches really go a long way. There are so many simple, inexpensive ways to spruce up your place-setting with fresh herbs, ribbon, name cards, flowers, and the list goes on. My go-to is to buy decorative, heavy-duty, high-quality paper napkins, folding them and creating name tags for each individual, or adding an extra element like the couples initials (like I did below). Also, think of tactical ways you can continue to dress-up your tables. For example, using my Circuit machine, I designed and cut out center placemats from white pearl, card stock paper. The beauty of these, is that you can always spray paint them later and rescue them at another event.
- Flowers – Next to excellant food and drinks, I would have to say above all, a few nice arrangements of flowers will take any event from mediocre to amazing. There is something exquisitely beautiful about fresh, REAL flowers. I usually use a mixture of false and real flowers, but always fresh, real bouquets for the tables and around the evening. If you are doing an arch, banner, poster, etc. false flowers armor realistic and cost effective. But, with farmer’s markers and Trader Joe’s, you have no excuse to not have some fresh flowers. Both options are so inexpensive and have wonderful selections! Especially Trader Joe’s. I can usually spend less than $60 and create 10+ arrangements, all different sizes color and textures.
- Venue – Often, it makes most sense to have the reception dinner at the same location as the wedding. But, in other circumstances, you can cut costs way down by doing the reception al fresco, BBQ style in someone’s backyard – like we did . There is nothing more elegant and chic than white lights strung throughout the space, candles lit, and the clear sky as your backdrop.
I’d love to hear from you by telling me in the comments section below: