Finance Magazine

A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part Three: Flowers and Food

By Kathleen O'Malley @frugalportland

As the big day approaches, the to do list seems to get longer and longer. There are lots of things that really have to happen last minute. Although some stress is unavoidable, an ever expanding price tag doesn’t have to be one of your worries. One of the largest wedding expenses is food. In general, feeding your guests is considered necessary. After all, the greatest appeal of attending an event is the potential for free food. It’s just science.


Feeding the Multitudes

Catering companies can be a pretty significant expense depending on the size of your guest list. Prices can easily soar upwards of thousands of dollars. Alternatively, creating your own food can reduce your overall cost dramatically. Even if you’re not culinarily inclined, you probably know someone who is. Having friends and family collaborate on planning, shopping, and cooking is a fun way to take care of an essential portion of your reception. It’s likely that most, if not all, of the food preparation will happen within a few days of the wedding so you’ll need to delegate. Have somebody go to the grocery store while someone else makes the salad.

So where do you go to get your food? Stores like Costco, Reeser’s, Winco, and Grocery Outlet just to name a few. I do not have any special affinity towards going grocery shopping so I was fortunate to have a close friend of the family orchestrate this portion of my wedding. Be honest with yourself about what your strengths are and what you need a little help with. Don’t be shy when it comes to asking for help, the people around you most likely already want to provide an extra set of hands.

If it’s important for you to include libations in your celebration, I recommend heading to Trader Joe’s. You’re likely to find great prices on beer and wine for the big day. If you’re planning on having a champagne toast, you can save a whole lot by substituting the real stuff for prosecco. It does the job and your guests probably won’t know the difference.


Another last minute detail that many people like to include are floral arrangements. If you dig around, you can probably find a pretty affordable florist but if you’re willing to take on the challenge, I recommend buying wholesale flowers and arranging them yourself. McMinnville Wholesale Flowers is local to the Metro Area and has an extensive selection of flora that you can order online. Although they offer delivery in the McMinnville area, you might have to make the trek out to the shop. There are other online options to choose from but I found the best prices with McMinnville Wholesale.


You’ll probably get the flowers a day or two before the event and you’ll want to get going on arrangements. With the help of a creative family member, you can produce some pretty amazing designs. I was able to purchase flowers for bouquets, boutonnieres, table décor, and petals for less than 300$ in total. As with most of these other frugal choices, nobody will know the difference.

If professional photography made your list of most important things, you’re going to want to put a lot of effort into finding the right photographer for you. Ask around with family and friends, somebody might have a good recommendation. Avoid the first studios that pop up on a Google search if you are on a budget and a timeline, these tend to be harder to book and they come with a hefty price. Many photographers charge by the hour, think about a time frame that will allow you to get the most bang for your buck. If portraits are important to you, make sure you talk with your photographer about which shots you want and let family members know what time photos will be taken. You might be in a situation where you are a bit pressed for time during the wedding, if this is the case, set aside a short period of time to get as many portraits done as possible and then head back to the party for those fun, candid shots.


When it’s all said and done, your wedding should look exactly the way that you want it to look. It’s about coming together with the people who you are closest to and celebrating and honoring your relationship with your significant other. Have fun planning and preparing with loved ones and don’t let any stress creep it’s way into your celebration. If you let go a little bit, you’ll realize that it’s actually a pretty great feeling when there’s no planning, preparing, or paying left to be done on the big day; there’s nothing left to be done and you just get to enjoy it.


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