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Saying 'I do' on a budget

Chris Kenck and Krista Baumann were married in a short, small ceremony at the Lodge on Lake Detroit last Friday afternoon. (Brian Basham/Tribune)1 / 4
Mother of the bride, Dianna Baumann, said a majority of the wedding's budget went to lodging and catering for the guests. (Brian Basham/Tribune)2 / 4
Wedding invitations, offer a variety of styles for different price ranges. (Brian Basham/Tribune)3 / 4
Brooke Hestdalen, an Affairs by Brittany employee, tries on a wedding gown Monday, as owner Brittany Krueger looks over to compliment her on how the dress fits her and gives her veil suggestions. Krueger said this year, brides are opting for more simple but still elegant gowns that go along with smaller, more intimate ceremonies. (Riham Feshir/Tribune)4 / 4

Many brides and grooms-to-be don't have to sacrifice much to turn a dream wedding into reality and still do it on a budget.

Summer is the time for wedding bells not blues, and luckily, the smaller the community, the more affordable weddings are.

Some couples have always planned on having small celebrations, therefore more affordable receptions. Others have been cutting back on expenses that come with the big day as a result of a down economy.

Amy Hennis and Thomas Nolan were one of many couples who tied the knot this summer in the lakes area. Their total wedding cost no more than a couple thousand bucks.

"All I've really paid for right now is my dress," said Hennis, a Detroit Lakes High School graduate.

The exclusive ceremony she held Saturday on a Vergas lake allowed her to cut down on fees for a venue. She also opted out of serving alcohol, which saved a large amount of money, she said.

But what she really couldn't do without is a DJ. and luckily, he's letting her pay in two installments.

And when it comes to photography, that's where skillful friends came in handy -- a close friend and her husband offered to take the couple's wedding photos for free.

"People have been very, very helpful otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do any of it," Hennis said.

One of her bridesmaids also helped ease up the wedding planning by shopping around for the most valuable deals when it came to the decorations for the reception.

She also gives her new husband credit for helping out with the invitations and the wedding program.

"He's been more helpful than I thought he was going to be," Hennis said with a laugh. "I've given him plenty of chances to back out but he said 'no I wanna do this.'"

Robbie Schoenberger, a special event decorator whose work is predominantly weddings in the Detroit Lakes area, said it's easier to stick to a budget when the options are limited.

For example, in a bigger city, there are greater opportunities for elaborate ballrooms and fancy mansions. But smaller cities have a few locations that end up meeting couples' needs with a few special touches.

"You're going to use the venues that you have and make them decorated and beautiful with what you can work with," Schoenberger said.

She added that many couples this summer chose in-season flowers for homemade centerpieces, in addition to unique party favors that don't end up breaking the bank.

The primary thing is to establish a budget and live within that budget, she advised. Prioritize what's important: is it going to be a five-course sit down dinner, buffet or cake only reception?

"Many people who are on a tight, tight budget will opt for a cake only reception and that's still doable -- and they can still have a beautiful wedding," Schoenberger said.

A bridal gown and a tux are also top priority, of course, but there are ways to save money when it comes to those necessities.

Brittany Krueger, owner of Affairs by Brittany located in Detroit Lakes, said simple but still elegant gowns have been the trend in recent years and they also go well with the small, intimate wedding themes.

Before the recession hit, brides had no problems spending anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 on a wedding gown, Krueger said.

"Now it seems like when they come in, they're very budget conscious," she added.

Grooms are also watching what they spend on tuxedo rentals, which is why they're moving toward buying suits that they can wear more than once.

Some of the brides have become less picky about the type of shoes their bridesmaids will wear, Krueger said. Additionally, some will also choose to order a formal white or ivory bridesmaid dress and wear it as a wedding gown.

"I never thought I would be able to afford a wedding ever," Hennis said. "This is not how I envisioned it but it's better than what I thought.

"I didn't think I would have enough money to pay for anything, even a dress."

And for the future brides out there, Hennis gives a little piece of advice:

Tell people up front that you're on a budget and you can't spend more than what you planned on spending, and get as many friends and family to help you as much as possible.

Finally: "Keep in mind it's about the marriage, it's not about the wedding day."