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Jan 16th

How Amie Pulled Off Her Elegant $5000 Dream Wedding for 150 guests!

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

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Amie and Justin Doucette planned an elegant wedding for 150 guests with a $5000 budget.Her story proves that you too CAN have the wedding of your dreams regardless of the budget and here's how she did it!


"We were married on Thanksgiving weekend, October 10th, 2009. It was amazing, family and friends came from all over Canada and the United States. Our wedding was in Nova Scotia Canada, and things here are quite a bit more expensive than in the USA. Our Final wedding cost around $5000.00, the bulk of our budget went into our reception which was held at a Ball Room, at the Grand Hotel.

I pinched pennies EVERYWHERE I could. I spend hours looking at every single wedding site imaginable especially Bronze Budget Bride and I honestly believe THAT is what saved us money in the end.

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My family lives in North Carolina, so thankfully, some things were able to be purchased there like my wedding dress. I know everyone has seen the show Say Yes To The Dress, where ladies go into this amazing bridal store and try and dress after dress until they find, "THE ONE!" well not this girl. For starters, the closest bridal store to where I live in Nova Scotia is 3.5 hours away and wedding dresses are roughly twice the price of dresses in the USA. I just could NOT bring myself to pay thousands of dollars on a dress, it was just not my main focus.

The Wedding Dress

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One morning I spent hours browsing DavidsBridal.com. I looked at EVERY SINGLE DRESS they had on their site. We all know our bodies and we do know what will be right for us so TRUST YOUR JUDGEMENT! I saw THE ONE that I wanted and called my Mother, who was actually at work that day. My younger brother David was home at home however and I have to say that I have the best brother EVER. My 23 year old, hockey player brother drove to Fayetteville North Carolina, walked into David’s Bridal with a picture of “THE DRESS” I wanted and said, “I NEED this dress for my sister!” David called me an hour later and said "Amie…I have your dress, I have your necklace and your earrings!" I could NOT believe my brother would do that for me but he had NO reservations about it, he knew what he had to do and he did AMAZINGLY! He picked out a lady in the store who was roughly my size, and said “I need THIS dress in HER size.” The dress fit me PERFECTLY.I did not have to have ANY alterations done to my dress whatsoever! It was perfect and the total cost was $549.00!

My Wedding Shoes

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A little note on our wedding! My husband’s family is a very traditional Catholic family. I personally, would have been totally fine with jetting off to Vegas and getting married by Elvis since it really did not matter to me, but it DID mean something to my In-Laws so it was a very easy decision, Catholic Wedding here we go! However one day I came across Endless.com, a wonderful shoe website and I found my AMAZING wedding shoes in BRIGHT RED! It was my little giggle through the hour long Catholic Wedding. I didn’t realize that my shoes would be seen while I was kneeling down to pray, lol, it was wonderful! Since I bought them late summer they were on sale and I paid less than $50.00 for them if my memory serves me right!

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The Invitations

For our invitations, I did them on my own. I went to Michaels and bought kits that included everything. Although it did take me a few days of trying different styles of font, I think they came out beautifully! So for any bride doing their own invitations when you type out your invitations, a slight change in the color and style of the font makes your invites look very professional! Do a Google search for invitations and study MANY then do them yourself and you’ll save TONS of money! I had so many friends ask who on earth made our invitations, they had never seen anything so beautiful and they had NO idea I did them on my own! I spent $39.95 for two invitations kits which equaled 120 invites. That was MUCH cheaper than the printer who quoted me $3.40 - $7.80 PER INVITE. You CAN do them yourself!

Flowers

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Another piece of advice, please use real flowers. It is 100% possible to have lovely REAL flowers, at a LOW cost to you. How? Use flowers that are IN SEASON. Do not choose flowers that are coming from far away or that are hard to get and remember that bigger is not always better! We had lovely orange roses, mixed with red berries and greenery and they were STUNNING! Go to a small florist, tell her you are on a limited budget and ask her to come up with what she can for YOUR chosen amount. Everyone knows when you throw the word WEDDING in front of ANYTHING, the cost go sky high, so use the word party instead and make sure to set a limit for everything and stick to it!

I got my bouquet, a toss bouquet, 2 brides maid bouquets, flower girl crown (she threw leaves which was beautifully fall), 3 corsages for our mothers and my grandmother and 7 boutonnières for the guys for $300.00. The little old lady was so sweet; she even sent the extra flowers to be put in our hotel room!

Dec 17th

Easy Holiday Centerpieces

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

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If you are having a wedding this holiday season, these centerpieces would be great for your dinner table and as wedding centerpieces. They are simple and affordable. Almost all the supplies can be found at a dollar store near you.

Dec 17th

Eleven Dazzling Candle Centerpieces

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

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I love the look of candle-light at an event. It sets the mood and adds a touch of elegance. Candles are also affordable and they allow small budget brides to create centerpieces that are dazzling. Candles can be found all year round at your local dollar and craft stores for low prices.

I've added some candle centerpieces for you today that I hope will be an inspiration.

Dec 17th

Favor Idea - Homemade Super Chunky Cookie Mix In A Jar

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

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Looking for delicious, home-made wedding favors for your guests? You can package some Super Chunky Cookie Mix in a jar using the ingredients I've added below that comes to you courtesy of FoodNetwork.com! From the photo you can see how beautiful they will look when you're all done but don't forget to print the recipe for each one so your guests will know how to make them when they get home.

Dec 11th

Did You Find Your Soulmate?

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

Your best friend is getting married and you are happy for her. However, there’s a small part of you that’s a little jealous as you watch her with the man in her life, as you help her pick out her wedding dress, as you see her gush over finding the perfect venue. It’s not because you are a bad friend or because you don’t think she deserves to be happy but because you are single, it is hard to imagine that a wedding will be in the near future for you.

Being single isn’t fun when all of your friends are getting married and starting a family. You start to feel a little left out, like the odd one but there is no way that you’re going to settle for less than your dream guy. That’s okay because there is a way for you to meet him from the comfort of your home.

What about, if you are the best man in the wedding? You and the groom have been “The Dynamic Duo” until he met the love of his life. Now, he is getting married and you know pretty soon that guy’s night out will be a thing of the past. However, you are so happy for him and now that he is settling down, you are ready to meet your soulmate too. The good news is that you can meet your dream girl without having to resort to speed dating, bar hopping or worse.

Where should you start searching for your future husband or wife? Birmingham dating have been made easy for you because with just a click, you can meet a handsome man or lovely lady today. Why spend hours out every week, trying to find the perfect guy or girl, when there are so many waiting for you online at Cupid.com!

If you are ready to find that one that will make soul smile every time you think about them. The one who’ll make you feel invincible. The one who will make you want to be a better you just being around them. The one who makes every day better because they are part it. The one who gives you butterflies every time they are near. The one who makes you laugh even when your world has fallen apart then don’t wait any longer. One click today can lead to “I do” tomorrow.  Go ahead, find your soulmate today at Cupid.com.

Dec 1st

Favor Idea: Homemade Vanilla Extract

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

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I didn't know until today that it's as easy as pie to make vanilla extract. How didn't I know that? Thank God I know now because they would make great gifts for friends and family, especially my mom-in-law who loves to bake. They would be great to give as wedding favors too which is why I am posting the recipe.

To make Homemade Vanilla Extract, you'll need:

  • Vanilla beans
  • Vodka
  • Bottles

Directions:

1. Split the vanilla beans, leaving one end intact.

2. Place in bottles.

3. Top with Vodka.  A good ratio is 1 vanilla bean per 1/3 cup of vodka.

4. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks before using.  The longer it sits, the darker the extract will become.

Find this recipe with more photos here at Bake At 350.

Sep 21st

A Healthy Rhubarb Cupcake Recipe

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

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I love the photo so I thought I'd share the recipe too from Bitter Sweet Blog!

Ingredients For Cupcakes:

  • 2 Cups Chopped Rhubarb, Fresh or Frozen and Thawed
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/3 Cup Canola Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Bean Frosting:

  • 1 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
  • 4 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Paste or Extract
Sep 20th

Favor Idea: Homemade White Butterfinger Cups

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

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Guests love edible favors and Homemade Butterfinger Cups sure sounds good to me.

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I found the recipe at Salt Tree where Amber, the author, used silicone cupcake liners to give these desserts the lovely shape they have in the photos above, however, regular cupcake liners work well too.

What you'll need:

  • 1 heaping cup of white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp shortening, divided
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chopped or crushed peanuts
  • Paper muffin / cupcake liners
  • Clean, small paintbrush
Sep 18th

Want To Pay Less For Your Venue?

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

When choosing a venue it is best to have a budget and a list of questions before you begin your search. First, what type of venue will best suit the type of wedding you are having? If you are having a small rustic wedding then you don't need a fancy ballroom? You can have your wedding in a picturique park. Having a lovely backdrop to begin with will ultimately also save you money decor.

Keep in mind, however, if you are thinking of throwing your wedding at a local park, that government run parks usually do require a small fee for you to hold an event in their park. So check with the parks and recreation office in your area if you are considering any local park. The fee is usually not too much. In my town, the fees run from $75 to $200 but they have decent bathrooms which means no portable toilets.

Also, think about having your ceremony and reception at the same location if possible. It will save you money in the end if you have to pay for a ceremony location as well as a reception space. A church with a dinner hall, for example, would be a great choice for a wedding. Also, a country club with a seperate space for ceremony and reception would be a great choice. When my husband and I renewed our vows in 2014, we booked a beautiful, waterfront venue. Our ceremony was outside, the cocktail hour was on the balcony where guests had a lovely view of the river and the reception was indoors. This saved us not only money but time and our guests appreciated it.

You can also choose to have the ceremony in a space then can be changed over for the reception during the cocktail hour. However, be sure to find out if your coordinator and vendors are capable of making this process seemless. You don't want your guests to be waiting hours for you to turn the room around. Even with plenty of appetizers or drinks on hand, a big lag between the ceremony and reception can take your guests out of a celebratory mood. So, do a run it through if you can prior to the big day to see if finding a seperate ceremony space would be less stressful.

Regardless of the wedding you are having, please remember that banquet halls, hotels and basically any dedicated event space that offer wedding packages may give you the most bang for your buck. Some of these venues already have tables, chairs, linens, special lighting, a music system, projector etc. Some may even have a caterer, bartender and servers on site. Having to bring a vendor in usually cost more than having it added onto a package so do the math carefully.

Don't forget that if you are on a budget, having a low key backyard wedding with just family and close friends is always an option. Wild picked flowers put into vases from a thrift or dollar store make lovely centerpieces. To be honest, I wish we went that route when we renewed our vows. As long as their is love and laughter, it will be a memorable event.

 

Sep 17th

Do You Know Your Appetizers?

By Carlise (Carla) Shepperd

When discussing the cocktail hour with your caterer, terms used for different types of appetizers may be a bit confusing. For example, keep in mind that CRUDITÉS are basically uncooked vegetables that are sliced and served with a dip. Commonly, you would find cucumbers, celery, carrots and sweet peppers used for a crudité. So, it's a fancy name for something you would find at most parties. However, if want crudités served, you can asked your caterer to present them in a small tasting glass with the dip at the bottom with a few pieces of vegetables.

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