Being a bride on a budget was a challenge, but one that I welcomed. I was able to exercise full creative control and make our wedding memorable, relaxed, low-pressure, and most importantly, FUN. The last thing I wanted was a black-tie affair at a church with a reception area, miles away. I wanted my wedding to be outdoors in the yard of a private home with the reception area in the same place. I had a Southern BBQ themed buffet dinner and gourmet cupcakes for dessert! Because the wedding was going to be outdoors in the middle of July in the high desert (what was I thinking?), I chose a lightweight off-white floor length lace dress and a shorter version for the reception.
Having been a recent bride, I can understand how difficult it is to pick the perfect gift for your bridal attendants. I say ‘attendants’ because I had four bridesmaids – cousins with whom I grew up, two bridesmen (my brother and another close male friend) and my Man-of-Honor, who was my best friend growing up and still is to this day. Our friendship is old enough to drink AND rent a car.
I am a very laid back person, so proposing the members of my bridal party was not an elaborate affair. A simple phone call was all it took. There were logistical reasons, too. Every single one of them except my Man-of-Honor lived out of state, and with my short engagement, there was simply no time to plan a brunch or hand-deliver a gift. I do, however, recommend proposing over a drink, so let the wine flow whether you are on the phone or in person!
Now, had I a longer engagement (and more money, let’s be honest), I would have planned something a little more special. Given that I’m the kind of person who cannot stand stuffy puffy events, I would have planned an evening at an entertainment restaurant with arcade games. I would have had an open bar and appetizers menu, because what is a celebration without TONS of food? For my ‘proposal gifts’ I would have given each lady a cocktail ring in a ring box with a little note taped to the inside asking “Will you be my bridesmaid?” The same for my bridesmen, but instead of cocktail rings, I would have given them a box with cufflinks. Life is full of shoulda-woulda-coulda’s, so if you are able to do what you could, you should do what you would.
For their wedding attire, I made sure my ladies bought dresses that they could wear again. My bridesmen wore tan suit pants, white shirts, and received matching ties that they could also wear again. I did not want to make my wedding a chore or ask of them something they could not afford to do. The idea was that everyone was relaxed and comfortable.
I wanted to make sure the gifts I gave my bridal party fit each person’s personality, but were also useful. My bridesmen, in addition to their ties, received some very nice tie clips that my husband helped pick out, one with a crystal accent, another with the metal engraved in a cord detail and the other with a black enamel offset by gunmetal stripes. My bridesmaids each received really cute clutch purses. Two of them have very similar tastes, relaxed like me. I picked out quilted beige clutch purses for them that they can use during the day or night (I actually have the same one!). Another received a clutch wrapped in dark grey satin and finished with a floral pin detail – dramatic, just like her (don’t tell her I said that). And my youngest bridesmaid is definitely a low-maintenance personality, so she received a simple chocolate brown satin clutch with a band of rhinestones on the clasp. They loved them all! The whole point was to make sure that the gifts I gave were able to be enjoyed after the wedding. To me, there is no point to a gift unless it can be used. Having my closest family and friends standing with me as I took my vows meant so much to me and I wanted them to make sure they knew that.
I wish I could relive the day of my wedding again. It was not perfect (but what is, really?), but it was my husbands and mine. Listen to your heart, and plan the wedding YOU want. Even on a budget, your dream wedding can come true.
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