Event planner and interior designer Colin Cowie is the certifiable sultan of style. Known for designing and producing elaborate celebrations for high-profile clients such as Oprah Winfrey, Nicole Kidman and InStyle magazine, Colin is the author of eight best-selling books – five exclusively on weddings. Odds are you’ve seen his face grace your television screen, beautifying ballrooms and adding sophistication to any soiree. His newest book, “Wedding Chic,” can be found in bookstores nationwide, and his show, “Get Married,” airs on WE tv.
Colin recently shared his Top 10 Cost-Cutting Tips with Carolina Bride. By making the best use of your dollars and sense, you too can create a lavish wedding on a limited budget.
1. Choose budget-conscious blooms. Baby’s breath and carnations are affordable and beautiful – if used solo. “Americans don’t like carnations, because they always combine them with the wrong flowers,” says Colin. For your bouquets, request carnation-only arrangements. Create charming centerpieces with large nests of baby’s breath and candles. Daisies and sunflowers are also great choices for outdoor weddings.
2. Use candles to create instant ambiance. Elaborate lighting can cost thousands, but scattered tealights placed within square glass containers are an inviting alternative. “They’re mesmerizing and romantic, and they give off the most beautiful filtering light.”
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3. Hire a good DJ, rather than a costly band. “Today’s DJ’s are tomorrow’s rock stars.”
4. Ditch the sit-down dinner. “Keep it chic and sexy with food stations.” Pair each station with a particular libation such as red wine with meat, or port with a cheese assortment. With everyone sampling the fare and socializing, you won’t require as much seating, which also means fewer centerpieces.
5. Marry on an off-peak day. “The most popular day to marry is Saturday. On days other than Saturday you can negotiate a much better rate.” Consider having a Thursday night ceremony or a Sunday brunch affair.
6. “Set up a really groovy wine tasting with wines from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or Chile.” Because of the conversion rate, you can often get fantastic wines from these countries at a fraction of the cost – often less than 15 dollars a bottle. And with your guests sampling rather than guzzling, you’ll cut costs on consumption as well.
7. Stay at home. “It doesn’t have to be your home, but do have your reception in a house.” You will save on room costs and overtime fees, while you can still bring in as much outside help as you need.
8. Choose one. Rather than asking your entire sorority house to stand with you at the altar, pick one close friend to be by your side. “Stick to one each, and a couple of adorable kids.” Remember, it is important to keep your wedding affordable for all those involved – not just you. Relieving some of your friends from bridesmaid duty may be welcome relief for their own wallets.
9. Forget the favors. Don’t worry about spending on things people will take home with them. Instead, invest in the elements of your wedding that will leave a lasting impression. “The memories will be enough.”
10. Purchase your own paper. Scout out local stationery stores for exquisite papers and print your own programs, invites and save the dates.