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Wedding Planners Share Tips on Planning a Wedding on a Budget

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009; 7:28 PM

Laura Weatherly, founder of local wedding planning company Engaging Affairs, dishes with associates Sara Muchnick and Amy Guthridge about tying the knot in style.

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-- Holly E. Thomas

How can a couple stick to a tight budget without sacrificing style?

LW: "Have a Friday wedding, or pick an off-season date. Don't pick a Saturday night in June and look for deals."

SM: "Try a dessert and hors d'oeuvres selection instead of a traditional sit-down dinner." She adds that brides should look for venues with historic details or interesting design elements: "The more character your venue has, the less decorating you have to do. All you have to do is highlight the decor, not create it."

Describe your ideal wedding venue.

LW: "The Mellon Auditorium. It's very D.C., very striking. I've had some of the prettiest weddings there."

AG: "DAR -- there's the library, the ballroom, and you could go outside for dancing on the terrace. Each space is so different, and it continues that 'wow' effect for the guests."

SM: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It's right across from the White House, and I think if you're bringing people to the city, you want to give them something they can't see anywhere else." (Muchnick plans to be married there in November.)

What's the No. 1 secret to planning a successful wedding?

LW: "If budget is an issue, realize that you have to make choices -- you can have a very simple wedding for all your family and your 70 friends, or you can have the wedding you really want for 50 people."

What's the most important detail not to overlook?

LW: "Photography, without a doubt." She adds that some photographers let brides defer ordering an album, which helps spread out the expense.

AG: "I have my grandparents' wedding album from 53 years ago, and I still look at it. So not only will you have it, but also your kids and grandkids."

For the ultimate stressed-out bride, what's your best advice?

SM: "Get on a timeline. If you know what you're doing and when it needs to be done, you'll be able to calm yourself when you wake up in a cold sweat. You have things you need to accomplish each day, each week, just like a work schedule."

LW: "Break down the big things, like choosing a band -- break it into smaller tasks, such as 'get proposals from bands,' etc." And remember not to get lost in the planning. I had clients that did 'No-Wedding Wednesdays,' where they had to go out and do something fun and not talk about the wedding, not even once. It's easy to get lost in the planning and miss the point of getting married."

Read more about their favorite wedding trends here.

Find more advice and ideas in our special section: Wedding Week 2009


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