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Affordable yet elegant wedding themes

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Updated: 3/31 2:40 pm

(BPT) - Saving money is always smart, but can it also be romantic? When it comes to your wedding day, spending less doesn't mean you have to give up elegance and romance. It's all about wise choices, setting priorities and selecting a theme that is the perfect marriage of elegance and budget mindedness.

'We've all heard how the cost of the average wedding increases every year, but it's also easier than ever for savvy brides to save money and still have a smashing wedding,' says Tara Sikel, a wedding-planning expert with Ann's Bridal Bargains. 'Picking the right theme can go a long way toward making the most of your wedding budget. And the money you save on the ceremony can go toward something equally romantic and exciting, like the honeymoon or buying your first house together.'

Certain themes speak of romance and elegance, but can easily fit into a leaner budget. As you're planning your budget-friendly wedding, consider one of these themes:

* Destination - Who wouldn't love to say their vows on a tropical beach or on the lawn of an Irish castle? If going to the actual destination is beyond your budget, look for ways to recreate that location's ambiance closer to home. Live near the shore? Potted palms, combed sand, an arch, bouquets of tropical-hued flowers and flickering torches can turn any beach into a tropical experience. Recreate the Irish countryside in a local park or your parents' backyard with wildflower arrangements and decor in hues of emerald and cream. Whatever your special theme, you can set the tone for your wedding by choosing destination wedding invitations that evoke the spirit of your destination.

* Rustic - Even the truest love can sometimes be complicated, which may explain the appeal of a simple rustic wedding theme. On your big day, everything should feel easy and natural, and a wedding of simple decor and natural themes can accomplish that. The outdoors make a perfect setting for rustic weddings, allowing you to use nature's beauty as wedding decor. You can also bring the outdoors inside, decorating a banquet hall with natural touches. Replace pricy centerpieces with artfully arranged branches accented with sprays of wildflowers or traditionally rustic fruits such as apples, pears and peaches. Choose colors that evoke a country setting, like soft buttery yellows, gentle greens and rich browns.

* Vintage - Your mother's beautiful, well-preserved wedding gown may be more than a money-saver - it can be the perfect centerpiece for a vintage wedding theme. One of the best things about a vintage theme is that it can pay homage to virtually any decade. A sparkly flapper-girl gown, pink and black table linens and some art deco accessories can recreate the roaring '20s. Salute the '50s with kitten heels and a full tulle skirt for you, and a skinny tie for your bridegroom. Depending on what decade you choose, you can find great decoration pieces and even bridal favors at second-hand shops and vintage stores. Or, raid your parents' and grandparents' attics to see what period treasures they may have stored and forgotten.

* Garden - Outdoor weddings are wonderful for spring and fall, but you can recreate a garden atmosphere at any time of year, indoors or out. If you'll be saying your 'I do's' beneath the open sky, choose a setting with a striking, older tree and make it the backdrop for your vows. In warmer months, the tree's natural greenery will create a lush, garden atmosphere. In autumn, dress up bare branches with strands of lights or paper lanterns. Indoors or out, renting lawn chairs for guests to sit on is not only an economical option, it's a great way to underscore your garden theme. Instead of a pricey white runner or costly flowers, define the aisle with simple lanterns lit with candles. Floral wedding invitations are a versatile, beautiful way to announce your wedding's garden theme.

'Elegance and romance can be achieved without breaking the bank,' Sikel says. 'Choosing a budget-friendly theme can help ensure you'll invest more creativity and less cash to achieve the wedding of your dreams.'

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