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Wedding packages and dress rental

No holds bride: Sara Stoquert

for The Brooklyn Paper
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I envisioned a horse-drawn carriage, fine china, a view of the ocean, and steak and lobster on my wedding day. Instead I got a limo, borrowed white china from my aunt’s collection, a view of a busy street, and chicken and potatoes. But it was an amazing day and I wouldn’t change a thing — not even for an ocean view.

My wedding wasn’t a Disney princess’s fantasy. It was a real life experience that was charming, heartfelt, and genuine. And how did I pull it off? Here is some real advice:

Make a list, check it twice

Make a list of individuals you would like to invite to your wedding then cut it down to those you can actually afford to invite and there’s your actual guest list. Once you have made the final decision, have everyone’s name, phone number, email, and address saved somewhere handy (possibly on an Excel spreadsheet or Goggle doc). That way you have all the contact information on hand for save-the-dates, invitations, and thank you cards. It sounds so basic, but a lot of people forget to do this, and believe me, it will save you so much time!

It’s all about the packaging

Try to find a banquet hall that has discounts for packages. I was able to get the room, decor, food, DJ, and even my wedding cake all included at one set price per person.

Is a picture worth a thousand dollars?

Finding a reasonably priced and experienced photographer can be quite a task. I found out that the local university had photography majors available for minimal cost. The student I hired was excited about the opportunity and meticulous about his work. Our photographer was able to capture all our memories for us and did so at a cost we could afford.

Double your fun

I had family and friends that could easily afford a gift and those that could not. Because of this, I registered at two places, one that was higher end and one that was more affordable so that all my friends and family could buy us gifts.

Try do-able DIY

I made my own invitations — thank you Office Max! I found the blank versions of invitations that I wanted and downloaded the software that went with them. I was able to create beautiful announcements for half the cost of going to a professional.

Also, it helps to look online for save-the-dates. Many places have free save-the-date email invites, which can save you a bundle.

Spend less on the dress

Every bride has a different idea when it comes to her wedding dress. I personally didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars for a gown I would wear (and later spill wine and cake on … long story) for a few hours. Many local dress shops have affordable dresses within smaller budget. A friend of mine actually rented her wedding dress, so that’s an option as well.

“No holds bride” is our feature where real brides give real advice about wedding planning. If you’re a former bride who has a thing or two (or three of four) to share about this subject, email ewanshel@cnglocal.com for more information.

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