This Just In

Getting’ Hitched

Do you love the Old West and the Open Range? You don’t need to live in the country or in the mountains to want the romantic charm of a Western wedding. In carrying out your theme and creating the setting – making guests dream of wide open spaces – here are some of favorite ideas.

  • Give your guests the first glimpse of your special day by having your wedding invitations designed and formatted as a WANTED poster.
  • Hang a horseshoe, a symbol of good luck, over the door where you’re getting married or at your reception site.
  • Hire a horse and carriage to transport you in style to your ceremony and reception, or arrive on horseback.
  • Walk down the aisle to the music of a guitar and banjo.
  • The Groom and Groomsmen can be wearing black Wrangler pants, white western shirts, and perhaps a vest. And don’t forget the cowboy boots and cowboy hat.
  • Your Bridesmaids could wear traditional bridesmaids dresses with gingham-printed sashes or trim stitched on, and decorated parasols as their “bouquets”.
  • Build a hitching post and place “his” and “her” saddles upon it.
  • Have the minister officiate mounted atop the “Pastor’s Horse” (usually a mule), as in the example at right.
  • Decorate with bales of hay (that can also act as extra seating) and create a gift table by pushing two or three together. Drape lassos on fence posts (or hooks).
  • Create an old bar scene by setting out silver galvanized buckets filled with ice cold beer.
  • Cover the tables with crisp linen tablecloths, topped by square of red and white or blue and white gingham cloth. Wrap the silverware place settings in bandanas that will also double as napkins.
  • Have fun with your table centerpieces – perhaps cowboy hats filled with wildflowers, such as daisies, sunflowers, buttercups and black-eyed susans. Or you might want to use reproduced railroad lanterns that can serve as additional light when night falls.
  • When it’s time for dinner, ring the dinner bell.
  • Keep the “home-fix-n grub” simple. Serve buffet style. Some of the items on your menu could include a big vat of chili and honey corn bread.
  • Host a wagon ride around the area. For kicking up the legs, hire a country-western band or have a DJ who specializes in country western music.
  • If your area permits it, light a bon-fire at dusk.
  • And as your guests depart, give them old-fashioned stick candy in mason jars as a take-home party favor.
  • Yippee yahoo! Enjoy your hoedown.

Stretching Your Wedding Dollars

Tradition calls for the bride’s family to pay for most of the wedding, but lately this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Now that more couples are waiting until their mid-twenties and thirties to marry, they’re also likely to pay for part or all of the wedding themselves, even if it means having a longer engagement or a less elaborate affair.

To be sure, a wedding is no minor financial undertaking. All of the elements of a wedding – the music, flowers, dress, reception, photographer, and favors – add up quickly. To stay within your budget, be sure to set your priorities early, and throughout the process of planning try to remind yourselves of what is most important to you. Here are some of suggestions to help you keep on budget.

Schedule your wedding for early November or January (off-peak months) instead of the high season of the holidays or in the summer. Fridays and Sundays are typically less expensive than Saturdays while morning and afternoon weddings are often more affordable than evening affairs.

Choose fewer attendants or invite fewer guests. The more attendants you have, the more you’ll pay in gifts, flowers, and perhaps accommodations. Include close friends in other aspects of your wedding instead. Also, set guidelines for your guest lists. For example, don’t encourage single guests to bring dates, or determine not to invite coworkers.

Skip the full bar; instead serve wine and beer and perhaps one signature drink, such as a punch or a favorite cocktail. Compare the costs of bringing in your own wine and paying a corkage fee with buying it through the caterer, which can cost twice as much.

Eliminate reply cards, and instead insert a small blank stationery note for guests to reply instead. You’ll save money on formal printed stationery and postage, plus you’ll receive some wonderful keepsakes.

Choose flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding, and include berries, herbs, and other botanicals in your arrangements in place of costlier blooms.

Tap the talents of people you know. A recent bride was able to stick to her budget by enlisting the help of family and friends – among them, a professional cake decorator and disc jockey. Her mother, aunt, and grandmother helped her make her dress, and another friend officiated. Think twice however about cutting corners on photography. After all, when the day has come and gone, you will cherish your photographs as much as your memories.

Don’t “borrow” money by charging it on a credit card (ask yourself if you still want to be paying for this wedding in five years) – however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them at all. In fact, it’s a good idea to pay as many wedding costs as possible with your credit card, paying off the balance every month. Not only can you earn frequent flyer miles – perhaps to use toward your honeymoon – but if you have the right type of card, you may also protect yourself from vendors who don’t deliver (check your card issuer’s policy).