Tips from real-life brides who planned and executed the big and small details of their dream wedding.
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The Location: Casa Loma in Toronto, Ontario
Mariana's Story: "I am a designer in the fashion industry. While I was on a limited budget, I was not willing to compromise on style. The things that cost the most in the wedding industry are custom-made, or that's what we are told. I wanted everything custom, but it ended up costing less because I designed it or made it myself. I think anyone with a creative mind, and lots of helpful friends and family can do this."
Be your own fashion designer: "For my gown, I designed a simple dress with an embroidered detail which was sewn by a friend. For my bridesmaids' gowns, I knew I HAD to go custom because each of them have wildly different body types and no manufacturer could produce a dress that suited all of them. Even if I did find something in a store that would work for all of them, tailoring each dress to suit each bridesmaid would be expensive."
Show vendors your designs: "I knew exactly what I wanted for my wedding cake, so I drew it to scale, showed my design to several pastry chefs and asked them to bid for the job. I did the same thing with florists; I showed them a photo of an arrangement my husband made, got multiple bids and got exactly what I wanted for a price that fit my budget."
Create your own invitations: My husband and I printed our own invitations. You really don't have to be a professional designer to do this; you just need a good home printer and a sense of color. I went to the most expensive stationers with a sketchpad and noted everything I liked, then I went home and put together what I wanted. Add elements with high-impact, like ribbon and three-dimensional items. The paper-punches that you can buy at any craft store are great for this. Even a toddler can use them, but once you glue the punched design on paper, you instantly add a graphic, hand-made look.