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Cheap Ways to Tie the KnotCheap Ways to Tie the Knot
(Relevant Books, 2006)



Read an excerpt of Cara's book on how to have a fabulous reception.

Quick Tips from Cara

Focus on three key areas for decorations rather than wall-to-wall décor. “Instead of having decorations all over the place, we focused on three different places like the guest book area, the altar, and we had some nice things at the end of the pews.”

You don’t always have to go pro. “If you’ve always dreamed of having a string quartet play at your reception but they’re $400 an hour, think about hiring local music students to come and play who would do just as good.”

Ditch the designer ideas. “If it is the designer gown or the designer wedding cake, find someone who can make something similar for ¼ of the price.”

Do-It-Yourself. "A budget bride can save big by arranging the bouquets and arrangments herself."

Think outside the 'prepackaged' box. “Go a step beyond what everybody else buys for their wedding.”

Advice for Mom and Dad
Don’t get caught up in the emotion of the day. So many parents don’t want to withhold any good thing from their kids. It’s almost doing them a disservice to spend that much money on a wedding, when if they have that extra money, they could help them put it as a down payment on a house. Just talk with them and set a limit on what you’re gonna give.

Tales from the Bride: How to Have a Wedding on a Shoestring Budget

By Jennifer E. Jones Producer

CBN.comAuthor and magazine editor Cara Davis got married in November of 2003 to a man named Jeff whom she met at church. Like most 20-something American women, she’d dreamed of her big day all her life. However, she hadn’t necessarily prepared for it financially.

“When it came time to plan the wedding, I was working paycheck to paycheck and hadn't saved up money,” Davis tells

Lucky for Davis, her mother had some money set aside for her special day.

“She told me how much she could spend. When she says $5,000, I’m thinkin’, sweet! That’s a lot of money! When it came down to planning the wedding, I realized that was not going to go far at all.”

Davis became a woman on a mission, determined to squeeze her big dreams into a budget. And she started with changing her mind.

“Like any other girl, I’ve been dreaming of my wedding day since I was 13 years old -- before I even liked boys,” Davis confesses. “So I definitely had some expectations, but when you’re 13 and planning a wedding, everything is Pepto Bismol pink, pastels, ribbons, and totally girly. When we picked our wedding date in November, it really reflected how I had changed over the years with the antique golds, fall colors and all those kinds of things that seemed more appropriate. [It was] just more mature to approach this day with more reverence and a sense of the sacred.”

With a grown-up outlook on her wedding, Davis found multiple ways to cut spending. One tactic was employing friends rather than big businesses.

“We found a lot of people wanted to help out with the wedding,” says Davis. "We found things that they were good at that they could contribute. It just made the wedding more meaningful.”

Everyone knows that the biggest budget buster can be the dress. “The average costs is $800, [and] that’s not even the price of designer gown,” says Davis.

She went the usual path of most brides-to-be and dog-eared dresses she liked in bridal magazines. However, her dream dress came from an unlikely source.

“The day after he asked me to marry him, this pattern for a suit that I had seen a year before just came to my mind. The pattern was a black formal suit. It had a tiny bit of a train in the back, and I saved it on my computer. I thought about that suit, and I obviously didn’t want it in black. I took it to a fabric store and found some raw silk from Asia.”

The silk she wanted was $18-a-yard. However, she talked to a saleswoman who let her in on an upcoming sale. “She said it was going to be half off in two weeks. So I came back.”

By waiting, she found the silk in off white with gold designs for half the price, and she found a seamstress who was able to take the material to make her dream dress.

“I didn’t have a picture of [the gown] other than what I could imagine it looking like in my head. It ended up being exactly what I wanted.”

Davis details all the lessons she learned from planning her own wedding in her book, Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot. There she shares valuable information about everything from dealing with vendors to picking out rings – all for the bride on a budget.

“Try to think of ways to have the same effect but cheaper,” she explains.

For example, Davis wanted a wedding cake she’d seen in a Martha Stewart wedding magazine that was sure to be around $3,000. Instead… “A lady in my church who did wedding cakes replicated it herself for $150.”

Davis says that a common mistake most brides make is letting friends and family members drive them crazy with demands.

“I think it’s [about] knowing what you want. When people have those other ideas, it’s worth it to listen to them, but if they’re not contributing to the wedding -- if they’re not helping pay for it -- then I really don’t think they have any say in it.”

She adds, “We quickly learned that our wedding wasn’t our wedding. It was amazing how you have to keep so many other people in mind whether it’s awkward family situations or making sure that you ask certain people to do something in your wedding. The last thing you want is people mad on your wedding day. You have to walk a fine line but it’s a good lesson in what marriage is like. You’re not putting yourself first anymore. It’s a huge lesson in serving others.”

Davis knows that weddings can be a dream-come-true without nightmare credit card bills afterwards. All a bride needs to do is know what she wants and be committed to getting it for less.

“You have to ask yourself, what is it about this certain thing that is so important to me? Why do I want it? If it’s the look or the feeling, there’s gotta be a way to replicate that for cheaper… I found that it wasn’t hard to do. The thing you have to do is focus on what’s priority.”

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