Wedding coordinator Alison Howard reveals how to make your big day work at any price point.
By Archana Ram, Photography by Acqua Photo
“If you gather a lot of the same flower, it makes a bouquet look really opulent,” Howard says. “You’d save a couple hundred dollars for sure.” Think non-premium blooms, like hydrangeas, and stick with flowers that are in season. Bouquet, $150
Mainstream chains like David’s Bridal, which is collaborating with Vera Wang and Zac Posen on diffusion lines, are a great resource for elegant gowns around $2,000 (or less). If your dress veers on the simple side, add a belt or sash from Etsy.com. Wtoo by Watters “Emerson” gown, $1,600
“Work with what the venue has to offer,” Howard advises. Using the in-house linens, chairs, flatware, and glassware will save you. “On the chairs alone you could save $800 to $1,000, in part because someone wouldn’t have to deliver those chairs, too.” Centerpiece, $50; charger, $6; paper elements (for 100 guests), $675; linen, silverware, and glassware provided by Estancia.
Try grouping a few, not a bunch, of high-end flowers, like peonies. “If you put three of those blooms in one bouquet, it’s pretty substantial,” she says. Bouquet, $180
You can find a mid-range gown at a local boutique like White Flower or Isis. “They’re a little more custom and couture,” Howard says of the dresses, which range from $3,000 to $6,000. Wtoo by Watters “Valentina” gown, $2,000
Instead of using the standard gold charger, Howard suggests a glass charger with gold embellishments. At just $30 per piece, the decorative tablecloth looks high-end. If you can swing it, swap the venue’s chairs with a classic Chiavari for $8 per piece. Centerpiece, $125; charger, $8; tablecloth, $30; paper elements (for 100 guests), $1,075; silverware and glassware provided by Estancia.
Orchids and garden roses are popular, but peonies are the most beloved bloom—at a cost. “It’s really hard to find [peonies] year-round,” Howard points out. “If you want that flower, you’d probably have to fly it in.” Want more pizzazz? Try a lace- or crystal-embellished handle. Bouquet, $200
“Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, and other designer dresses start from $10,000,” she says. Some women also request personal touches added by their tailor or dressmaker. “One bride had a piece of fabric sewn into the inner panel of her groom’s suit with their monogram and wedding date. It was a little love note to him.” Eve of Melody custom dress, $4,590
The sky’s the limit in terms of table accents—from custom cakes at each place setting to taller centerpieces with candle treatments—but it’s the menu that makes all the difference. “It really changes the look of the place setting,” says Howard. Think letterpress, lace, or even a brooch. Centerpiece, $200; charger, $8; tablecloth, $64; glassware, 4 pieces for $9; silverware, 5 pieces for $7; paper elements (for 100 guests), $4,450.