Tutera wedding plannerGetting married on a tight budget? You want to surprise and delight your guests with elegant decor for your wedding reception that sets a mood, creates drama and turns heads -- for all the right reasons. You also don't want to break the bank.

Don't fret. David Tutera, celebrity wedding planner and host of We TV's My Fair Wedding With David Tutera, offers insider tips and decorating ideas -- from the flowers to the table settings -- that reflect a personal touch and "give your guests the 'wow' factor without the 'wow' budget," he says.

Less is More

Beware of a common syndrome that's bad for newly engaged couples' bank accounts. "I call it hyper-bride mode," Tutera says. "They spend money as quickly as possible because they're so excited."

Awash in post-proposal glee, many brides-to-be make a mad dash for the wedding accessories store to scoop up trinkets and tchotchkes -- from picture frames and napkin rings for the table settings to favors for the guests -- without first looking at "the big wedding puzzle," and the important larger costs associated with the event, he says.

It's only until after you've considered the basic wedding expenses that you should think about what to spend -- and if to spend at all -- on the little things, he says. "You don't necessarily need to buy every little thing you think is cute because you're getting married."

Instead, ask yourself: "Do you really need favors? Gifts upon arrival? Tchotchkes on the table?" The answer is, often, "not necessarily," Tutera says. "Those things add up when you're on a budget."

Flower Power

The perception that what you'll shell out for wedding flowers, alone, will put you in the poor house often paralyzes couples, Tutera says. "People make a big assumption that if they get flowers, it will cost a lot of money -- so they wait until the last minute."

But they don't have to cost a fortune. "People are going to cringe, but you can do gorgeous things with carnations, baby's breath and gladiolas," he says. These flowers can quickly shed their cheesy image because when their arrangements are done creatively, "they look ridiculously amazing and are a fraction of the cost" of other flowers, he says.

The secret is designing an arrangement that creates a bold burst of a single color. "If you use not only one flower in abundance, but a monochromatic color in abundance, visually, it creates a bigger impact to the eye," he says. "Imagine a glass cylinder vase with a big explosion of baby's breath. It looks like a cloud. It looks ethereal."

Candle Drama

Wedding Candles"Another way to create ambiance with drama and without a lot of money is the abundance of candles," be it pillars or votives, Tutera says. "I'm talking about 20 to 30 candles on a table with flower petals around the candles."

A sea of candles will bring a theatrical glow to a table setting -- a design element you can pull off for very little money, he says.

To save big on candles, check out closeout stores, tag sales and even seasonal inventory sales at local studios and design companies with their own warehouses, Tutera says. "You can buy used candles at a big discount," he says. "Once they are lit, no one would be the wiser."

Thematic Bar Fun

It's also possible to create an interesting and inexpensive food and drink presentation, Tutera says. Just as a monochromatic flower arrangement makes a statement, so can a bar of all red drinks, for example.

This can include everything from red wine and cosmopolitans to black cherry soda, which means you're cutting out the cost of a full open bar while making a fun, thematic statement, Tutera says.

Personalized Favors

Lastly, don't drop a lot of cash on wedding favors. "They only make sense to me if they tell the story of the couple," Tutera says.

And there are inexpensive ways to do just that. One idea is to attach an index card with the recipe for your late grandma's apple pie, for example, to a bushel of apples. "You want to feel like she's there in spirit," Tutera says. "And your guests leave with the ingredients to make an apple pie and knowing more about you as a bride."

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The best wedding budget ever is a "wed-a-thon" wedding. Everything, (and I do mean everything), cost $160.00; the venue, the officiant, the flowers, the centerpieces, cake, 1st dance, bouquet toss, toast, etc... It's a fundraiser for a children's shelter so the $160 that each couple pays, goes to support homeless children and families. Thousands of dollars are raised, and couples who probably would have gone to a justice of the peace, or spent thousands of dollars on a wedding can choose this alternative. www.wedathonforthechildren.com

August 09 2011 at 10:35 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I totally agree with him! I try to tell my brides that the money should be spent first on photography because in the end all you are going to have are memories and you want those to be captured by a great photographer. AND Great photographers don't have to be $$$ either. Then the Food and then your first home! RENT your centerpieces !! Do it yourself brides think they are saving money when truly they are not (Unless they are like Shirleycaniford) who already own things. Ask yourself what you are going to do with 25 lbs of decorative stones, 25 to 30 candle holders, decorative mirriors, ect...Many brides try to sell on Craigs List and get less than half of what they spent. Find a Wedding consultant that knows how to stretch your dollar and give you the biggest bang for your buck! Not all of us are out to see how much of your money we can spend. Find a planner who does a custom package for you. Not a cookie cutter package. If you are in Ohio or Indiana or a Military bride trying to do a wedding between deployments and training call us ! www.theweddingmoms.net and we will be happy to help you !

August 09 2011 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It wasn't for a wedding but I had to do a nice dinner reception at a convention and I called several local funeral homes and got a whole car load of flowers left over from funerals for free. All I did was take the arrangements apart and I had more then enough flowers. No one knew they were left over from funerals.

August 09 2011 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Before buying a bunch of candles for table centerpieces, you should check with the reception venue first. A lot of places don't allow them because an open flame is against fire code. Even if you say you won't light them, some places are afraid the guests will light the candles anyway.

August 09 2011 at 9:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's astonishing to read David Tutera's hints on inexpensive weddings as I'm just in the throes of putting together a wedding reception for my grandson and his new bride. They were married on the beach (destination wedding) with just their family present and so the wedding reception is being held two weeks later. Luckily our front yard has bushy pee gee hydrangeas that are packed full of blooms and I'm using them for all the flower arrangements. Cost--nothing. Since their color scheme was royal blue, silver and white.....I pulled out my blue glassware and it's all serving as vases for the flowers. I found a tall white candle at Dollar General which I'll use for the tables also and sprinkled among them, Walmart's glitter cubes in royal blue and clear. There was no way around paying for the rental of tables and chairs or the DJ and food but saving on the flowers and decorations helped to cover other expenses.

August 09 2011 at 9:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As much as I wanted roses for everyone and on everything, the cost was near prohibitive on our very limited budget. Our color scheme was red and white, so we cut them back to the barest of minimum and filled in with white carnations. The church itself, alas, had to be left bare. The wedding was scheduled for one in the afternoon, and upon arriving, we discovered there had been a funeral earlier in the day. Left behind, after the service, on either side of the altar, were two magnificent floral displays of red and white roses! The priest said the family had decided not to take them with them and asked if we wanted to have them removed (funeral flowers and all). Without any thought at all, both of us said, "No!" What were the chances that we'd walk into a church and find beautiful flowers, in our colors, just left there?! "Funeral flowers" or no, they were perfect! When I show the wedding pictures to others and make mention of the "funeral flowers" that stand in their splendor on either side of us, some people shudder and wonder how we could have had something of death as part of our special day, as if it were some kind of omen. To that I only reply that we have been married for 26 years, and I'd like to think it was a dear husband or wife that had departed, and to have those flowers at the beginning of a new relationship must have made them very happy up above.

August 09 2011 at 8:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to redpenguin's comment

Hey Ya took lemons and made lemon-aid ! That was so neat that you were able to do that. We did a Christmas wedding and used the churches holiday decorations and just added the brides colors last year. It looked amazig !
The bride was happy too :) www.theweddingmoms.net

August 09 2011 at 10:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I prefer carnations. I don't like roses at all. I just want a simple wedding. Been married 2x never had a "wedding" been married by justice of the peace both times. This time I want a pretty dress,but simple. I love the victorian era. But just me,him and our wittnesses. Then a big reception for our friends. There ya go simple and inexpensive at the same time.

August 09 2011 at 7:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good news

August 08 2011 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

shouldn`t this be in the lifestyle section?

August 06 2011 at 3:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

As a florist, I agree that he is absolutely correct. A typical bride sees so many types of things she wants immediately upon getting engaged. Narrowing down to the essentials is key to keeping your wedding on budget. Then if there are additional monies, you can take it to a new level. Also, choose a florist that you are comfortable with and not one that leaves you feeling nervous. You should feel full confidence in any of your vendors on that special day.

August 06 2011 at 11:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply