Wedding Dress

Review: Tightwad’s Frugal Bride

If you’ve been a reader of Out of Debt Again you know that Mr. A and I have been married, divorced and married each other again.  Last month, had we stayed married since the first, it would have been our 25th anniversary.  Of course that doesn’t count, since there was a fifteen year gap in between the divorce and our second marriage.  So in October we will celebrate our fourth anniversary for our second marriage.

Speaking of marriage… fellow blogger Emma Lotto aka Tightwad recently asked if I would consider reviewing her e-book Tightwad’s Frugal Bride: How to be Fabulous for Less on Your Big Day.  As a frugal bride myself – our wedding was under $3000 – I told her I’d love to take a look.  Emma has also given me permission to give away one of her e-books to my readers, so stay tuned to enter the contest.

Emma covers a lot in this 63 page e-book, here are just a few topics from the table of contents:

  • setting the date
  • venue
  • stationery
  • bride
  • bridal party
  • groomsmen
  • ceremony
  • photos
  • food
  • cake
  • drinks
  • wedding night

One of the tips I really liked for photo taking: if you have hired a professional photographer put together a list of photos, where they will be shot and give a copy of this list to everyone in the wedding party (parents, groomsmen, bridesmaids, etc.).

Some of the tips I really liked:

  • make your own accessories, like the table decorations and wedding veil
  • buy your wedding gown used
  • organize your own music on a CD or MP3 player
  • disposable cameras on the tables for guests to snap shots
  • choose a honeymoon destination close to home
  • ask friends and family to cook for your reception
  • have a family member bake the cake

Of course much of the reason I liked these tips were because they were frugal things I’d done at my own wedding.

I made all the table decorations myself: I shopped thrift stores and bought clear glass juice glasses – I found a matching set of 18 glasses.  I used fake flowers in my colors along with silver ribbon from my Target 90% off Christmas stash.


Wedding Flower Centerpiece


Tightwad said consider buying your wedding dress second hand, but she didn’t specifically mention thrift store shopping.  I found my dress at Goodwill on 50% off day.  It cost me $25!  My dress was gorgeous, the front was fully beaded, the skirt was plain so I went to a fabric shop and bought a $3 beaded piece and sewed onto the back at the hem which really dressed it up.

The hem line was a little wrecked, it looked like the bride had danced all night long in a parking lot, or maybe the dress had been used for trick or treating on Halloween.  But after spending a few minutes with Google I learned I could wet wash my gown all by myself.  It fit perfectly except that I had to take up the sides along my ribcage.  I felt like a princess on my wedding day!

Wedding Dress


I considered a live band, but in the end I ended up choosing some of Mr. A’s and our favorite songs to play at the wedding.  I asked a friend to play the songs at the correct time and was very happy with the way things worked out.

TIP: Definitely make several copies of your play list.  I know of a young bride who lost her MP3 player in the rush of the wedding and she was in tears because there was no music for the dance.  A new copy had to be put together which held up the wedding reception for about half an hour.


My mother-in-law bought a disposable camera for every table, while I thought this was a fun idea, the room we were married in and had our reception had fluorescent lighting so the photos all had a strange olive green hue.

TIP: Consider the lighting for your venue, and make sure the disposable cameras include flash.  Use Costco to develop the cameras and don’t request doubles because a lot of our pictures did not turn out, they were too blurry, too dark or were accidental pictures of the table, floor, etc.  However, even though some of the photos came out blurry and grainy, I was able to Photoshop a few and come up with some beautiful artistic photos of the wedding like the one below.

Wedding Photos - Grainy


We chose a resort less than 25 miles from our home to spend our honeymoon. It was peaceful and relaxing and we were so close to home we didn’t have to worry about taking a lot of stuff with us.


When my boss saw that I was struggling to figure out the food situation, she stepped forward and volunteered to put everything together.  She told me she had assumed my mother or mother-in-law would be doing my food, which is why she had waited. When I gave her the go ahead, she went around to my coworkers and collected $20 from everyone for the food.  Wasn’t that sweet of her?  And the bonus in all this is that she is a weekly grocery sales shopper and she bought everything on sale!  She made the salads herself (potato salad, cole slaw, bowtie pasta, macaroni salad), rolled the deli meat into little tubes, cut up the vegetables, and just made a beautiful spread for my just under 100 guests.

Wedding Deli Cuts


Mr. A baked the wedding cake!  He also made the groom’s cake.

TIP: Make sure your cake maker has your wedding color – go to Home Depot or a paint store and pick out those little paint color thingies so you can show your cake maker the colors you want. Mr. A heard “purple” and make our wedding cake such a dark purple that it was almost black!  It was a magnificent cake with four layers! We did save the top layer and had some of it at our one year wedding anniversary.

Wedding Cake

Tightwads asks readers of her e-book if they would like to add any wedding tips of their own and here are mine:

  • Consider buying your dress from a thrift store. I have seen some gorgeous dresses for very reasonable prices. At times I’ve wished I had room to store some of these beauties, wet wash them and list on eBay for much more than they sell at the thrift store.
  • Check to see if any of your friends or maybe even coworkers are Flickr buffs. It turns out one of my coworkers was an awesome photographer and had a Flickr friend who was willing to come shoot photos of our wedding.  They gave me a CD of all the photos they’d shot for us.
  • Use fake flowers for your decorations, boutonnieres, and real flowers for your bridal bouquet. I also made corsages from real flowers for my mother and mother-in-law, and I also gave them each a single rose from my bouquet just before ending up at the altar with my groom.
  • If your employer has a large room that might work for your wedding or reception, ask if you can use or rent it.
  • Consider having your wedding and reception in the same room.  At first we were going to have chairs set up with a traditional look of pews, but in the end we just sat everyone at the tables where they would be sitting for the reception.
  • Consider the lighting for your reception if you are planning to use disposable cameras – make sure they have flash. Don’t order doubles just in case a lot of the photos don’t turn out.
  • If you use a CD or MP3 player for your music, be sure to have a backup or two in case the original is misplaced.
  • Make sure your cake maker has your wedding colors – don’t just say lavender because they might envision dark purple! 🙂

And now for the contest rules.

Here is all you need to do to win your free copy of Tightwad’s Frugal Bride: How to be Fabulous for Less on Your Big Day:

  1. Share a comment with a memory of your wedding, or share your favorite frugal wedding tip in the comments. If you’re not married, share which of my frugal wedding tips are your favorite.

The contest will run until September 17th, 2011 at midnight.  Winner will be chosen using




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3 thoughts on “Review: Tightwad’s Frugal Bride

  1. I actually wrote a post about our own wedding! If you don’t mind me sharing, here’s the link:

    Our biggest money-saver was limiting the guest list. This is not something a lot of brides & grooms are willing to do (Lots of family & friends I suppose. Some people have actually told me they want more gifts, sheesh). Not only did it save us a lot of money, it allowed us to splurge in other areas. It also helped us maintain an intimate atmosphere – important to us.


  2. Limiting the guest list is tricky, but it does save heaps of money. I was then able to fit into a smaller and more affordable venue – that actually was way nicer.


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