5 Creative + Budget-Conscious Wedding Cake Ideas

There are many ways to stay within your wedding’s budget and still have the dessert of your dreams. While many couples already know that you can cut a small cake and then serve your guests slices from a sheet cake kept behind the scenes, there are still other ways to cut wedding cake costs without sacrificing design and taste.  We asked some of the country’s top wedding cake bakers for their advice on how to have a show-stopping cake without breaking the bank. Here’s what they had to say:

Don’t Be Afraid to Skip the Cake
Just because everyone has a wedding cake, doesn’t mean that has to be the dessert you serve.  You can get a small cake for your photo-op, and then have others dessert options served to your guests either at their seat or from a dessert buffet. Andi Compton, Wedding Coordinator for Now That’s a Party, admits guests were pleased with the other options served at one wedding he planned.  “One couple ordered an 8″ cake to cut,” he explains, “and afterwards, the caterer brought out trays of baklava and brownies. There were no leftovers and lots of happy guests.”

5 ways to save on your wedding cake

Mix and Match Your Cakes
Courtney Geigle, co-founder of My Wed Style, a curated wedding marketplace, says to consider
creating a mix-and-match cake bar where guests can have a slice (or a few slices) of their favorite flavor(s). “Not only does it mean that you will only need one personalized cake for you and hubby to cut,” she says, “but it will also cater to the tastes of all your guests.” Adding, “This is a great way to include a gluten-free or vegan option without having to make it the only choice for all in attendance.”

Photo: Bobbi Brinkman Photography

5 creative ways to save on your wedding cake
Stack ‘Em Up
One way to infuse your personal style into your wedding is by serving your personal favorite wedding dessert. If you’ve never been a cake lover, there’s no rule saying you have to have one at your wedding.  Stacking donuts, cupcakes or even mini bundt cakes is unique and fun, and can also help save your money.  Jodi Jackson of Savannah Wedding Dreams is often asked how to have a great wedding cake that doesn’t break the bank, and advises couples to have a tower of their favorite desserts, or a dessert bar with pies, small cakes and cookies as a tasty alternative.

Photo: Sweet Peony Photography


Ingredients Make the Difference
There are ways to get an elegant and affordable cake just by swapping out a few ingredients that may push you over the edge. For example, buttercream icing will be less expensive when compared to fondant.  Just keep in mind that a buttercream-iced cake is best for weddings held in cooler climates, or at least an air-conditioned room, because in the heat a buttercream cake will start to melt or “sweat.”  You can also opt for fresh flowers instead of sugar ones, which take more time to make and therefore are more expensive too.  Just make sure the flowers you choose have not been sprayed with any pesticides.

Photo: SLF

5 ways to save on your wedding cake

Consider Your Local Grocery Store
While your caterer is handling the main meal, did you know you could save a lot of money relying on your local grocery store for your wedding cake?  Check to make sure it’s ok with your venue to bring your cake from an outside vendor, and if it is, go for it!  “What most brides don’t consider or know, is that their local grocery store bakeries will gladly produce a plain iced, round-tiered cake, the staple of almost any wedding cake,” says Jessica Herrington, an Event Stylist with Clinkery.com. “This option leaves you, or your florist, the opportunity to quickly adorn the cake with a sprinkling of real flowers or berries, a wide ribbon around the base of each tier, and your own cake topper.”   And if you’re looking to replicate a naked cake, which is a big trend in weddings, that too can be produced at the grocery store level. “The process for ordering is a little different but the result is surprisingly impressive and economical too.”

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6 Beautiful and Budget-Friendly Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

6 budget friendly centerpiece ideas

There are so many details that go into planning a wedding. The venue, the gown, the florals, the food and the music are just a few of the dozens of products and services couples need to design and execute their wedding ceremony and reception.  Add them all up and you may go over budget before you say ‘I do.’  To help you stay within your wedding budget, you may have to make some compromises, but there’s no need to sacrifice beautiful centerpieces based on budget.  Here are 6 money-saving tips to help you have a gorgeous wedding reception without breaking the bank.

Pick In-Season, Locally-Grown Blooms
Did you know not every flower costs the same amount? And staying in-season with your flower choices can save you big time. That means picking flowers that grow locally (nix the tulips flown in from Holland) and are easily available during the month of your wedding. Nicolette Lynch of Festive Designs in San Luis Obispo, California explains, “Sourcing flowers locally is always something I prefer to do. The cost is lower for me, and then I can transfer that savings to the couple as well. I also find that because the flowers don’t have to travel as far, they are fresher and in better shape.”

If you’re set on a certain type of flower at your wedding consider the bloom when choosing your wedding date.

Photo: Amanda Julca Photography, Courtesy of Violet & Verde

Keep An Open Mind
Bridget Reale of Violet & Verde in Brooklyn, New York cautions that couples should consider their florist’s suggestions, because they might surprise you. “I’m always hearing, ‘I don’t want carnations or regular roses’ but garden roses are much more expensive to a standard rose and there are lots of really beautiful standard roses most people aren’t aware of,” she explains.  “Carnations also have some really great options like antique colors at a fraction of the cost. It’s all about how the arrangement is designed and the flower selection as a whole.”

Other flowers that are affordable and surprisingly, quite lovely at a reception include:  daisies, baby’s breath, Queen Anne’s Lace, sunflowers and chrysanthemums.

6 beautiful and budget friendly centerpiece ideas open-mind-babysbreath-Sarah-Kathleen-Photography-v3 open-mind-babysbreath-Sarah-Kathleen-Photography

Photo:  Sarah Kathleen Photography

Consider Atypical Containers
Not every floral container has to be the same. In fact, centerpieces can be more interesting if they are all variants on a theme, which can bring costs down too.  Scouring flea markets for antique treasures or getting mason jars and filling them with sophisticated flowers keeps a vintage-vibe chic, while also replacing the hefty rental fees of large crystal containers.  For an outdoor wedding, consider non-traditional vessels like milk jugs or baskets that when used creatively can be beautiful and not exorbitant.

Festive Designs’ Nicolette Lynch also recommends providing your own containers. One trend she shared is the use of wine bottles. “We are seeing a lot of wine bottles being used as vases.  Their clean lines and simple shape make them very versatile. They can be spray painted, tied with twine, bejeweled, and so much more.” Couples, and their friends, can “collect” the bottles over the course of their engagement, saving them from family dinners, a night out with the girls and romantic evenings together.

6 beautiful and budget friendly centerpiece ideas

Photo: Tina Loveridge Photography

Candlelight Can Be Quite Romantic
Candles, either tiny votives or large pillars, can help set the tone for your wedding, while also being a useful and inexpensive wedding centerpiece. “A few big pillar candles with some floral accents can make a great centerpiece,” says Nicolette of Festive Designs.  “We have a lot of brides who want a combination of candles and flowers to create some variety throughout the room. It’s always such an elegant effect.”

You can use candles exclusively or in conjunction with flowers for romantic-inspired décor in a variety of styles, shapes, colors, heights and widths.  They can be used everywhere one would use florals at a wedding, from the ceremony to the reception, as long as they adhere to local fire safety rules.  And to help keep costs down you can search the Internet and buy them in bulk yourself.

6 beautiful and budget friendly centerpiece ideas
Photo: JoPhoto

Use Non-Floral Elements
Another way to keep centerpiece costs down is to add non-florals to the mix.  Fruit can be a colorful, affordable and attractive alternative to flowers.  For example, a springtime affair with shades of yellows and greens can easily incorporate limes and lemons either on the table surrounding the arrangement or in tall vessels filled with fruit slices. Citrus props are pretty and take up more room than using florals alone.  Also, by using fruit you add another texture, which adds dimension to the centerpiece, upping the sophistication-factor instantly. Other fruit ideas include blood oranges, apples, pomegranates and figs.

With the farm-to-table trend staying strong, another inexpensive (yet totally sensible) addition to centerpieces are herbs.  Fragrant and pretty, the addition of rosemary, thyme or other herbs ensures a few things:  texture, fragrance and keeps centerpieces from looking cookie-cutter.

And believe it or not, balloons are becoming a staple at many wedding ceremonies and receptions. And we’re not talking about the primary-colored balloons you’d see at a kid’s birthday party, but small, medium, large and oversized styles that coordinate with your wedding palette.  They’re modern, quite chic, and keep the décor and party atmosphere fun and unexpected. You can also opt to use giant lettered balloons in the monogram of the couple, either their married last name or their first names and mark their seats or sweetheart table, or large numbers to number each table.

6 beautiful and budget friendly centerpiece ideas

Photo: Credit:  Gemma Clarke

Double-Duty Centerpieces
You can also skip the flowers altogether and opt for favor or food centerpieces.  Stack small, beautifully wrapped packages in the center of each table with a note letting guests know they should take one with them before they leave at the end of the night, fill the table with family style baskets of breads and small bowls of olives for them to enjoy with their meal, or use small potted plants and ask guests to take one with them when they leave  For dessert-themed receptions, place trays or cake stands with some of your favorite sweets such as mini cakes, pies or donuts for guests to enjoy.

And if you’re set on using floral centerpieces, another way to keep costs lower is to use the ceremony décor at the reception. With a little creativity, guests won’t even realize the succulents they saw on the border of the aisle are now decorating the reception tables.

6 beautiful and budget friendly centerpiece ideas favor-centerpieces-caro-weiss-2 favor-centerpieces-caro-weiss-3

Photo: Caro Weiss Photography, Floral Design: Archipelago

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Plan Like A Pro | Sally Conant from The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists

Wedding Dress Cleaned by the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists

Sally Conant

PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com has been a proud partner of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists since 2010.  This network of wedding gown cleaning specialists will provide expert care for your wedding dress, both before and after your big day.  The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists is such a trusted resource, that over 70 top designers like Romona Keveza, Rivini, and Paloma Blanca sew Association care labels directly into their wedding gowns. And they’re always who PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com recommends for your wedding gown care.

We’re delighted to share some of Sally’s expert tips and care advice today…..

What can a bride do to ensure a PreOwned gown looks absolutely perfect for her big day?

Look your gown over carefully for stains and soil.  If your gown was not cleaned after first bride’s wedding –  or not cleaned properly –  it may not look its best. Some brides worry about cleaning a dress before the wedding, but a gown care specialist can do it safely.  Brides who wore a used dress and then come to us after their wedding for a cleaning so often say they wish they’d also had the dress cleaned before too!

Alterations can give your dress an absolute perfect fit making it look its very best.  Do remember, if your gown needs cleaning, to have it cleaned before it is altered. Very often gown care specialists offer both cleaning and alterations.

Even if the gown you chose arrives well cleaned and fits you perfectly, it will—no matter how carefully it is packed—need to be pressed.  Photos will record every wrinkle so be sure to arrange for pressing on a schedule that suits you whether it is days or weeks before the wedding.

Wedding Dress Cleaned by the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists
Listing 82148, cleaned by the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists

How soon after her wedding should a bride have her dress cleaned?

The sooner you have your gown cleaned, the easier it is to remove the stains from cake and wine and grass, but unless you were unfortunate enough to drench your entire gown in red wine or you tramped through mud, you might want to take some time to enjoy it.  The day goes by so fast most brides want to re-live the experience of wearing such a beautiful gown.

However, especially if your gown is silk, waiting six months to a year to find a Specialist to clean your gown is not a good idea.  An experienced cleaner can still give you a good result, but aged stains from liquid tans, wine, and perspiration are tough so the sooner they are attended to, the better.

Junko Yoskioka cleaned by The Assocation of Wedding Gown Specialists
Listing 49107, Cleaned by The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists

What’s the difference between cleaning and preservation?
Cleaning removes stains from your gown while preservation prevents oxidation from air and light so it does not turn yellow.  The two work together because the most important part of a successful preservation is a clean gown.  If all stains, both seen and unseen, are not removed before preservation, your gown will have dark brown spots where the sugar in latent stains has caramelized over time.

Some will tell you storing your clean gown in a bag is sufficient, but I have seen gowns that yellowed after a few years, and hanging is not good for your gown because it will, especially if it is lace, stretch out of shape.  Storing your clean gown with lots of acid-free tissue in the folds to prevent hard creases in a completely acid-free wedding chest is your best bet.


Want to consult an Association of Wedding Gown Specialists in your area?  Use their member locator here.

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Plan Like A Pro | Annie Lee from Daughter of Design

Annie Lee, Daughter of Design

Annie Lee, Daughter of Design

We’ve long been fans of Annie Lee and the gorgeous weddings she plans at New York City’s Daughter of Design.  Annie’s signature is understated elegance and her work can be found everywhere – Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, Brides, and People Magazine to name a few.  Daughter of Design planned the 1st New Year’s Eve wedding in Times Square, 14 Valentine’s Day weddings atop the Empire State Building, and the 2012 Fall Knot Gala at the New York Public Library. Her talents made these events, and all that she plans, both personal and unforgettable.

We’re so lucky to be able to share some of Annie’s thoughts on trends, personalizing your wedding, and more…

What’s one of the favorite weddings you’ve planned?
When I worked at the SF Opera I would always think how beautiful it would be to have a wedding there. So it was a great honor to be one of the select few weddings permitted to be held there a few years ago. What made this full-circle moment even greater was that it was for the wedding of a dear childhood friend of mine.  They are expecting their first child any minute now too!

San Franciso Opera House Wedding Planned by Daughter of Design 2-Daughter-of-Design 3-Daughter-of-Design 4-Daughter-of-Design 5-Daughter-of-Design 6-Daughter-of-Design 7-Daughter-of-Design 8-Daughter-of-Design 9-Daughter-of-Design 10-Daughter-of-Design

Photos via Daughter of Design

What trends are you seeing for 2014?
We’re shifting back to a more luxury setting over the rustic one, not quite the OTT of days yore but more in an understated way. Quality tableware and accessories that aren’t necessarily bling bling though. Like cut crystal glass and other things that symbolize refined luxury but not so in your face.

Daughter of Design 12-Daughter-of-Design

Bouquets are finding a nice home somewhere in between tight round ball and crazy bunch of field flowers. I have been calling it the “Amorphous Bouquet.” Sort of like a cascade but more interesting and artistic but still manicured to keep it elegant.

Amorphous Bouquet via Daughter of Design 14-Daughter-of-Design
Photos: left: Dasha Caffrey  right: Burnett Boards

I’m seeing less busy on the table, less chackies and knick knacks. Even the centerpieces aren’t so overgrown and more concentration are going into better hardware like flatware, chargers, plates and let them do the talking.

Daughter of Design

How can a couple really personalize their reception and make it their own?
The design obviously should mirror and echo your personal tastes. People should get the same feeling as if they were walking into your home and seeing how you decorated that. However that all said, to me the #1 way to personalize a wedding is through words. There is NOTHING like personalized vows, a heartwarming toast or gracious thank you speech that makes people feel like they are closer to you and know you better. Best part it’s free and there is only one of its kind so is very unique.

Like this gorgeous wedding…..the part with his speech – you’ll see why!


What’s your best advice for saving on wedding expenses….without looking like you did?
One of the biggest and fastest savings you can make without anyone even having a second thought you did it for the budget is to select a DJ over a band. Bands can be 70% more expensive! Thousands right there.

Want more inspiration from Annie?  Get it here and here. And find her Learn to Speak Wedding flashcards here.

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