The number of wedding shows out there climb every year. Off the top of my head, I can think of the following: Say Yes to the Dress, Four Weddings, Bridezillas, Platinum Weddings, My Fair Weddings, and Wedded to Perfection. That’s six. And the number is clearly rising.

So when I see these shows…because, as the About page says, I love weddings, I can’t help but think that a lot of the tricks that are used for the crazy expensive fetes can easily be duplicated for a fraction of the cost.

Which brings me to the point of this post:

Little touches that don’t cost much, but make the wedding less generic.

Colored tablecloths, unusual stemware and flatware

Yep…it really can be that simple. Think about it: what’s more boring than white linen with white china? You’d probably get more creative at home for a holiday dinner.


There are event rental companies in every city that have bolts upon bolts of colored linens, detail-peppered china, stemware and flatware. You can literally create hundreds of combinations. The easiest and cheapest thing to do is to rent some table linens in one of your colors!
Much better. And look: the combination of colored table linens and gold chargers is enough of a “wow factor” that you don’t even need big fancy centerpieces!

Unusual Vases

Check out the following photos:


Stunning. Simple. And totally transformed by the curvy silver vase.

In almost all cases, you are more likely to see floral arrangements in a classic, glass vase with clean lines: cylinders, simple flutes, and squares.

But oh, what a different effect the curvy vase or urn accomplishes! It breaks up the all the strict lines of a table and is just a breath of fresh air. And you don’t have to have the same vase for every centerpiece. Let one element be the unifier: a bunch of curvy silver vases, or a few shallow urns…no matter what, the uniformity of the flowers and greenery will tie it all together.

Urn wedding centerpiece

The Signature Cocktail

This is one covered by all the bridal mags and blogs, but I’m going to actually sell you on it. The cost of providing alcohol is a major one: a lot of people feel that they have to have an open bar, because guests will get upset if they can’t have their usual libations of choice.

A few things to remember: an open bar is like going to any other bar, but without having to pay for anything. Guests know the bar is stocked with all the main liquors and mixers, and will order whatever they like. The costs of an open bar is having a supply of all those different alcohols and mixers.

You can cut this cost (assuming your venue or catering company will let you – this is something to discuss before booking the reception site or caterer) by serving a few signature cocktails. Choose something crisp and vodka-based, something fruity, and something your guests are unlikely to have tried before. The selection should enable everyone to have something to suit their tastes, and you won’t have to stock a whole bar.

Keep in mind that if you are serving a sit down meal, a choice of red and white wine is expected. You can skip that by having an hors d’oeuvers selection instead of a meal.

Pipe and Drape

This is THE #1 way to transform any reception site. Pipe and drape is when you use yards of white fabric, attached to an aluminum frame to create walls, ceilings, room dividers, etc. Using them in combination with colored gels and floor lights creates all the color ambiance you see in the wedding shows. Think blue gels for a winter wonderland theme, pinks and reds are always flattering, etc.

Do a little research and see what options are available near you: you don’t have to outfit the whole room with them. Carefully placed accents (spaced periodically around the perimeter of the room, by the band/DJ area, by the head table, etc.) will give you that same effect at very little cost.

Aaaaand boom. Easy, cheap (but not cheap-looking) ways to avoid The Generic Wedding.