Family and Relationships


More Brides Throwing DIY Weddings

May 14, 2009 03:55 PM
by Shannon Firth
The recession has thrown a wet veil over some couples’ wedding plans, but tips from “recessionista” planners help brides navigate the taffeta jungle.

In a Bleak Economy, Couples Show Caution

Alicia Rockmore, CEO of lifestyle consultancy Buttoned Up gave future brides a wake-up call when she told Newsweek, “The happiest day of your life should not be your wedding.”

Rockmore noted that more couples are siphoning funds from their “big day” budget for future expenses, such as children, but if baby bassinets and college funds aren’t on your agenda, feeling pinched by the recession is a strong enough reason to keep your credit card in check.

Madlen Read, an Associated Press writer, puts it best: “Unlike Cinderella and Prince Charming, who didn’t have to worry about a mortgage on the castle, more couples are finding it hard to swallow the average pricetag of items.” She gave examples of several items, including wedding gowns, which can cost around $1,300; flowers, which can cost $2,000; and even the wedding cake, which can run approximately $500. 

Last year, according to, the average wedding cost $21,814. For 2009, industry experts predict that figure will drop to $20,398, which will mean a nearly $4 billion loss for the industry, The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer noted.

In response, dress shops and entertainment agencies are advertising hard-to-believe discounts and entrepreneurs are making inroads into a niche DIY market. For their part, brides are making their own invitations and buying already-worn gowns. They are exchanging three-course dinners for a simple cocktail hour or brunch and a weekend celebration for a weekday event. Tracy Thorpe, a special events manager for Second Empire in Raleigh, helpfully notes that restaurants will drop a room rental fee if the wedding celebration happens mid-afternoon rather than late evening.

One of the simplest ways to save money is to trim the guest list. Sheila Ogle, owner of the Matthews House, told the N&O that brides know what it means to compromise. She said that she tells them they can have 50 guests “and a really nice wedding,” or 200 guests with “three things on your food table and no wine.”

One ultra-savvy bride Newsweek profiled, Michelle La Rocca, roamed reception halls in search of used vases and candles for her own wedding centerpieces. Instead of buying lavish wedding souvenirs, she used store-bought candy, delicately wrapped and tied with a bow. Though La Rocca was hesitant at first, she bought her dress at a discount bridal store. Afterwards she told the magazine, “I don’t regret anything.”

How to Plan a Budget Wedding

One excellent resource for planning a budget wedding is, which allows you to create personal pages that store all of your purchases in one location. The site offers a budget calculator and save-the-date cards you can email to guests.

FindingDulcinea’s “7 Sites for Planning a Budget Wedding” offers advice for finding pre-owned wedding dresses, creating DIY wedding invites and floral arrangements, as well as creating your own music list.

Related Topic: Saving money with a wedding planner

Desiree Koser of York, Pa., told that before hiring Rachael Glorioso, a wedding planner who specializes in making weddings affordable, she nearly signed a contract for a $13,000 package.

Then, Koser said, “I just snapped. That was way too much money.” She says her wedding will be “elegant,” but her new budget is $6,000. Koser plans to save money by having the wedding on a Friday or a Monday, and by making the menus, invitations and save-the-date cards herself.

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