Wedding Question: How to Help a Friend Budget

One of my friends is getting married in about six months, though she just got engaged. She hasn’t booked anything yet but she keeps talking about how she wants the perfect dress, amazing flowers, and a ton of food and alcohol. And she wants to have 500 people! I just don’t get how she can do that given that she doesn’t have money and neither does her family. How can I help her budget this in a way that makes sense?

a bride shares her big moment with her close friends! photo from The Wedding Lens!

Good question! Wedding budgeting is a bit overwhelming and it’s easy to just skip that part and get on to the fun planning parts! But budgeting is key!

Explain to your friend that you really need to work out a budget for everything. Some people think this means sitting down and deciding how much they have to spend on each thing. And that’s fine! But it’s a good idea to know what may be expected. So start by checking out our guide to create a wedding budget.

Help your friend by taking a look at the average cost of weddings in the locale where she’s getting married. The average cost of a wedding in the US is probably around $30,000, but it depends on where you are. Some regions it will be higher, some lower. If you can help her see that her idealistic dream is going to cost her a pretty penny, maybe she’ll either change what she wants OR she’ll find a way to afford it all.

Get an idea of what the expenses will be and how many things there are to plan and pay for. This will also help shed some light on a realistic budget.

The most important thing that you should do is help support your friend. When she realizes that she wont be able to afford what she’s dreamed of, she’s going to be pretty upset and sad. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s not and how she feels about her wedding is real. Be sure you make her feel good about the positive things — the friends and family who will be there to love her and share in the joyful occasion.

Hope that helps! And if she’s needs some good cost-cutting tips, check out our cheap wedding tips.

Got other wedding planning questions, just ask! Email

~ Natasha

Wedding Roundup: All Things Food & Drink!

Plates & glasses ready to be filled! Photo from The Wedding Lens!

A lot of wedding planning stress stems from finding the “right” foods and drinks — among everything else. All of it relates to budgeting, passions, and tastebuds. In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought this would be a great time to roundup all the posts we’ve done on food!

Wedding Question: What Food and Drinks Should We Spend the Most Money On?

Picking Wedding Reception Food!

To Buffet or Not To Buffet: Food at the Wedding Reception

What To Do About Menu Cards

Choosing the Drinks!

How to Have a Dry Wedding

Do you have wedding food or drink questions? Email me!!

Til then, happy eating & drinking!

~ Natasha

Wedding Question: What Food & Drinks Should I Spend the Most Money On?

Photo from The Wedding Lens

We just received this question from a reader: I am in the process of figuring out the food and drinks for my wedding. I’m not (yet) over budget, but I’m having a hard time figuring out where I should bother to put in the extra money and where it will make no difference! What is it that people notice the most and what won’t they care about?

Great question! It’s always hard to know where the extra money on food and drinks will make the difference. Here’s my advice:

First, spend a little more on great appetizers & h’oeuvres. People remember the first bits of food they eat — because it’s usually right after the ceremony and before the alcohol kicks in!

Second, spend a little less on the main courses. You can do this by having a buffet or by selecting less expensive options with your caterer (or at the restaurant — depending on the venue). Most of the time people dont expect fabulous main courses. And by then, they’re chatting and drinking and ready to dance! Usually chicken and fish dishes are less expensive than steak, but that’s not always the case. And, of course, be sure it’s something you don’t mind eating!

Third, save some money on drinks and alcohol by sticking with beer and wine (or just wine!). Once you start getting into purchasing hard alcohol and mixers, things go downhill for the wallet. If you do decide to purchase hard alcohol, try to make purchases that mix well with the non-alcoholic beverages you’re already going to have. For example, if you’re already going to have cola, go for a rum to mix with that cola! You get the idea.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

~ Natasha

How to Tell People Where You’re Registered

Despite all of the blog posts on gift giving and gift etiquette that I have written, I just received word that I never explained the best way to ask for these gifts!

Photo from chatiryworld

Photo from chatiryworld

So here’s the scoop. The old tradition is not to put the registry information in the invitation. But it IS okay to put it in the invitation to a wedding shower. I’m not clear on why it’s ok for one, but not the other. Either way, some people still feel uncomfortable with including gift info in the invitations and some people do not have wedding showers. If you do not want to include the registry information with the invitation, here are some options!

  1. Website. Create a website for your wedding. (I’ll write a post on this soon — but The Knot has free wedding websites). List the website on your save the date or invitation. For example “for more information, check out our website…!” Then, on your website, list the places you are registered. This is also where you can let guests know you prefer cash or gift cards, by writing something like “no boxed gifts.” Or, you can tell people not to get you gifts or that you’re prefer that they donate to something in lieu of gifts.
  2. Word of mouth. When people are ready to get a gift for you, they will ask someone else where you’re registered, especially these days. Your long lost cousin might ask your aunt — and hopefully your mom or dad will have told your aunt where you’re registered. Basically, make sure everyone close to you knows.
  3. Question & answer. Just because you can’t volunteer that information doesn’t mean you can’t answer the question! When Uncle Andy asks you where you’re registered, tell him!

So what if no one asks or you dont have a website or your guest doesn’t have access to the website? Well, I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do if you’re not including the info with the invitation. Truth is, if someone wants to get you something from your registry, they’ll ask and they’ll find out. If they have something else in mind for you, they will probably get you that instead. And, if they’re at a complete loss and don’t feel like asking, then maybe they will end up giving you cash or a gift card — so you can go out and get what you want from the registry!

Regardless of what you end up receiving, be sure to say thank you!

Good luck!

~ Natasha

Summer of Wedding Blog Posts

In honor of the 4th of July weekend (and just passing our first anniversary as a blog!), here’s the top Blogs Posts on TheWeddingsLens Blog — as rated by YOU! Well, okay, I’ll create a list of our favorites too. Since you asked.

  1. How to Choose the Right Wedding Gown  (which is actually right up there with Colorful Wedding Dresses!)
  2. 75 Cheap Wedding Tips
  3. How to Create a Seating Chart
  4. How to Write Wedding Vows
  5. Which Flowers are in Season for a Wedding
  6. How to Ask for Gift Cards or Money
  7. Photobooth at the Wedding Reception
  8. Creative Guestbook Ideas
  9. Invitations and Bringing a Date to the Wedding
  10. How to Pick Vendors for Your Wedding

The most read engagement story? Nicole & Kate’s Engagement Story (who just had a beautiful wedding and are using The Wedding Lens to share their photos with their guests!)

Our favorite blog post – aside from those above? Well, it’s tied, I think. Three ways. Or Four. I’d do five, but we’ll be here all day as I list through all the rest of ’em trying to decide. 🙂

  1. How to Plan Your Own Wedding (without a wedding planner)
  2. 50 Green Wedding Tips
  3. How to Meet Your Boyfriend at a Wedding (my personal fav!)
  4. Top 10 Reasons to Use The Wedding Lens (duh!)

Three things I notice — the “how to” blog posts seem to do a lot better than the others (generally) and we need you to submit more engagement stories! Email ’em to

What’s your favorite The Wedding Lens Blog Post ?

~ Natasha

How to Ask for Gift Cards or Money

As you may know, The Wedding Lens blog always accepts questions from our readers! Today’s blog addresses one of those questions: How do you politely ask your guests to give you gift cards or money instead of gifts?

I’d like to note that this may be a cultural issue. In Asian cultures, it is very common — and expected — that guests give money in lieu of gifts. So asking, in that case, would be a moot point.

There are a few ways that you can ask for gift cards or money. As you probably know, it is considered impolite to give your registry information with the invitation these days.  So — just think of how you would pass along that information. I have a few suggestions:

1) Tell your close family members and close friends (wedding party) your wishes and ask them to pass along the information. This allows you to feel less awkward and gets the information out there.

2) Put it on your wedding website. I have had a few friends write on their site (under a link to “gifts”) something to the effect:

“Your presence at our wedding is the best gift we could receive.  But if we’re honored with a gift from you, a monetary gift or a gift card would help us fill in the missing parts of our life together. If you prefer to give a gift, we have also registered at the following stores…”

Something to that effect lets your friends and family know your preference but doesn’t sound pushy at all.

3) Register with a bank. Some banks let you create a registry so that people can give directly to a “wedding fund” or something that you want. In this economy, I wouldn’t recommend that!

4) Register on the websites where you want the gift cards. Most stores let you register for gift cards… that will definitely make it clear to your guests.

Do you have other suggestions? Let me know!

~ Natasha

Want to learn more about The Wedding Lens? Check out our free photo albums!

What To Do About Wedding Gifts

Most couples are registered somewhere, some couples request money, and other couples say that your presence at the wedding is a present.  I’ve looked at registries and thought: 1) Wow, all the good stuff is taken! 2) I know the couple WAY too well to be giving them a fork.  3) I can’t believe they registered for gifts, after saying how much they hated registries.  But what alternatives are there?

If you are a bride and groom, you have a few options. 

  • You can do an alternative registry. One specific type of alternative registry is Wishpot which allows you to create a registry of anything you might want! You can also work with a bank or other business to have people make contributions to your downpayment on a house or a sofa. 
  • Register with a charity, so that your guests can give monetary gifts to a cause of your choice!
  • Ask people to contribute to a honeymoon fund.  If you do that, then set up a way so that people can easily contribute  and be assured that you will use the money for the trip and not for a trip to the grocery store.
  • Ask for money.  You might decide to ask for money because you have everything you need now or you aren’t sure what might be needed or you’re traveling to or from the wedding.  If you decide to ask for money, there are tactful ways to do so.
  • Ask for nothing and make it clear to guests that you’re serious about it.  You might have everything you need now and you don’t want to ask your guests to give you money for a future purchase.  If that’s the case and people insist on giving something (because they probably feel awkward giving nothing), then maybe look above & register with a charity.

If you are a guest, then you might want some ideas that don’t involve cash or a registry!

Giving wedding gifts does not have to be awkward, so long as you remember that you’re all friends or family.  No one wants anyone else to feel bad about asking for or giving a gift. After all, it’s a wedding celebration!


How To Create Your Own Wedding Favors

DIY Wedding Favors

DIY Wedding Favors

Are you a fan of Martha Stewart?  If the answer to this question is yes, then you may want to consider the DIY method of wedding favors.

Wedding favors can be very expensive; especially, if you have a very full guest list. What about creating your own?  Sure, making your own wedding favors may be time consuming and as a bride and groom to be, who has the time right?  Try having a “wedding favor” party.  Including your bridesmaids, friends, and/or family may help you to get the job done more quickly.

Taking a trip to Joann fabrics or any type of craft/fabric store is one way of getting started on the DIY track. Here is an example you may consider for your big day:

Candy Satchel Minis

  1. Lace, Netting, and Tuelle: You can choose one of three fabrics that consist of your wedding colors to use as the base.  Cut the lace, netting, or tuelle into medium/small squares, big enough to hold the candy but with excess at the top so that you will be able to gather and tie together with ribbon.
  2. Ribbon: Choose a ribbon that will complement the lace, netting, or tuelle.  If you so choose you can buy a package of rhinestones or jewels to add a more elegant look to the ribbon.
  3. Candy: If your wedding is in the spring, the pastel M&M’s work great. Hershey’s kisses also have a variety of colors depending on the time of year.  The possibilities are endless as long as they can still be considered a mini.


  1. Cut all of your desired material into medium sized squares.  (Using a ruler is recommended to achieve perfectly shaped squares.)
  2. Separate all of the candy onto the pre-cut squares, about a handful or if using Hershey kisses, about four will do.
  3. Gather at the top and tie with ribbon.
  4. If you are adding rhinestones or sequins to the ribbon, it may be best to use a glue gun, this way the rhinestones or sequins will stay securely onto the ribbons without worries of them falling off easily.

DIY wedding favors can be easy and a lot of fun only if time allows it.  This idea is only recommended to those who love arts and crafts and loves attention to detail.

DIY Bride also has some great ideas for handmade wedding favors if you are considering the DIY route.

~ Lindsey