smart spending

Celebrity-style wedding on a budget

Take these celebrity ideas and personalize them to fit your style.

And if the groom also loves McDonald's, it's a fun hors d'oeuvre that isn't at all expensive to add.

Instead of a full bar, you can pick a signature drink. One celebrity couple's favorite cocktail was a pomegranate martini. They served a nice white wine at the table and champagne for the toast, but at the bar it was only pomegranate martinis. It was their drink.

"It was the biggest hit at the reception," says celebrity wedding planner Souza.

"It wasn't terribly expensive but it was a personal touch that was memorable," she adds.

Favors for guests

On a tight budget, wedding favors are the first thing to go. But if you really want to give a favor, select something that's very personal.

"One very wealthy client had handmade silk boxes. On the inside was the story of the couple's romance as well as their wedding invitation. They cost $400 each," Souza says.

But sharing a little bit of your love story is a beautiful touch that could easily be done inexpensively in a variety of ways. You could add your story to the "Save the Date" card and print it yourself on your computer. Or, you could have it printed. You could put your wedding story inside an inexpensive picture frame to use as a favor or even use the frames as place cards, suggests Souza.

Bottles of wine often serve as generous wedding favors, but buying enough bottles of wine nice enough to double as a gift could break the bank of a non-celebrity couple. Personalizing a less expensive bottle of wine gives guests a keepsake and copies a more extravagant gesture.

"You can have labels made up and then put them on other bottles on wine that are in your price range," says Oliveira. Weddingchannel.com offers the service, but computer-savvy couples could make their own on a home computer.

Ambience

"Candlelight creates ambience," says Souza.

Instead of expensive candle holders, you can buy really cheap juice glasses and put candles in them. You can hit the stores after Christmas and buy jewel-toned candle holders on sale. You can also buy red cut-glass dishes in Target's kitchen section and put water in them and float candles. Don't be afraid to spray paint votive cups in your chosen color either.

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Flowers

With a sky's-the-limit budget, heaps of gorgeous flowers are available year round. Most people, however, are unable or unwilling to spend a small fortune on exotic garlands to bedeck their wedding hall. That doesn't mean flowers must be absent from the ceremony and reception, it does mean scaling back according to what's in-season or in your price range.

"If the flowers are not in-season and locally grown, the cost can triple," says Oliveira. "If you love peonies, they're in-season in May so that's the best time to have your wedding. Or you can have masses and masses of a less expensive flower that looks similar to what you like. For instance, dahlias are a lush flower but much less expensive than say roses, and tulips are cheaper than peonies. If you're trying to recreate a celebrity look, like if your celebrity had masses and masses of white flowers, you can choose a dahlia or a daisy that are virtually pennies on the dollar as compared to the higher end flower, so you're getting the same look -- millions of white flowers -- for pennies."

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