So we’ve sent out our Save the Dates, we’ve decided on an invitation set; now what? If you’re a bride with simple desires like me, you may not have thought about the need for a wedding program or an info packet to include in your wedding stationery set. Once you started looking at websites and seeing reception cards and color-coordinated napkins (or better, funny napkins), it can get a bit worrying. How are we supposed to afford all of this!?
Hold on tight because there is good news, it is totally affordable and easy to have every speck of paper you feel should be included in your wedding. So let’s talk about some options for place cards, programs for your ceremony, and other bits and bobs that may be a bit jumbled around at the moment.
First and foremost: Wedding Programs
The Wedding Program is typically handed out to guests by ushers (or a fancy basket arrangement) as they enter the ceremony space. It can contain information about the timing of events, what will be contained in the ceremony, as well as information about your bridesmaids and groomsmen. I’ve even seen some that included information about where and when the bride and groom met. While these little bits of info can be very informative and useful (think hand powered fan at a warm outdoor ceremony), they are rarely kept by guests. Generally, at the end of the ceremony and reception, trashcans will be littered with the adorable programs, painstakingly arranged by the couple and paid for out of an already tight budget.
So what is the solution? Look for coupons to printing companies? Print my own at home? No, it’s very simple. Don’t provide paper wedding programs to each individual guest! If you do a quick search on Pinterest, or even just Google there are tons of ideas for a budget-friendly Wedding Program alternative. From rustic painted directional signs to chalkboard listings hanging at the door, it is easy to create a way for guests to get the information they need without wasting precious paper or money!
My fiancé and I are planning on finding pictures of each of our friends in the wedding party and writing short paragraphs about our friendship. Then using Walmart’s super budget-friendly printing service we will print out the info and the picture, and use matching frames found at the Dollar Tree to display our connections at the entrance of our ceremony space. For a timeline of events, we took a piece of white cardstock, rubbed it down with old coffee grounds to give it a bit of an aged look, and wrote out what will be taking place during the ceremony.
Off to the Dollar Tree we went again to find a slightly larger frame and voíla! We have a wedding program that gives guests the information that is important, and fun while saving money, and the trees!
Place Cards, Place Cards, Place Cards!
Are you having a sit-down dinner? In the past, formal reception sit down dinners required place cards to ensure that each guest got their proper meal selection. That’s not the case quite as often these days, as an expensive sit-down reception is not on the budget bride’s mind. Buffets and family style meals are a little less formal, and they provide a more family-friendly feel, as well as a big break to the wallet. Not only are these types of meals saving money on the catering, they are saving money on paper products!
If you are having a cocktail reception or a buffet meal, there really is no need to have a formal place card, but still, you may want to have an individualized way to welcome your guest! This is where a lot of people think of their favors. Wedding favors are often used as a small token to thank guests for coming to your celebration, and to give them a small token to remember your special night, so why not use this opportunity to welcome them to the reception as well!
Put your favors on display with a small handwritten tag! You can buy pre-cut gift tags for very inexpensive at a lot of retailers, such as JoAnn Fabrics, or Michaels, or even Amazon! Spend a few dollars on a nice sharpie and get to work writing in your guests’ names! If you are doing a seating chart or even simply assigned tables, you can even print their seat number or table name on the back of the tag. This makes your gift seem very personalized since you took the time to remember and think of each guest.
What else can I possibly need?!
It may not seem very expensive to get 4 paper napkins with your last name in script around the edge for one dollar, but how many guests are you planning on having at your wedding. How many napkins will each person use? Don’t forget to keep the cost of printed napkins in the perspective of what they are: disposable rags for guests to wipe their dirty hands and faces on. Also, keep in mind, a lot of caterers will even provide paper napkins at no costs when you have them cater a buffet for your event!
Take a moment to think about the bits and pieces of paper that add up and accumulate for guests at a wedding. Think about weddings you have been to. Do you still have the place cards, the program, the daintily printed coaster? I bet you don’t have even one. Prioritize your budget, spend the money on what you want to spend it on, but I would argue that you would much rather spend it elsewhere.