Stretch your wedding dollar

HOUSTON They're taking the word thrifty to a whole new level.

The words wedding and budget don't seem to go together. But all across Houston we found some great ideas on how to stretch your dollar, and these brides are doing it without sacrificing their dream wedding.

Kathy Ridley is searching for the perfect wedding cake.

Because she and her fiancé are tall, "a three tier or anything smaller than that is going to look really tiny next to us," she said.

She needs a cake that makes a big statement, but is small on price. It's why she is choosing Cakes by Gina. At this cake shop, if you're on a tight budget, Styrofoam layers can be used to make your cake look bigger.

"They are decorated the same, and for your pictures you have a beautiful tall elegant cake without having to spend all the money," Gina Yabaggy said.

Here's how it works. At Cakes by Gina, a layer of cake that feeds 100 people costs about $400, but the fake layer decorated to look like the real thing will run you about $150! Ridley says she will save $500 on her cake.

"You have a Styrofoam layer, it's got the real icing, it's decorated just like the other layers, so no one can tell," she said.

"I hunt everywhere for prices," Tiffany Calvert said.

Calvert was worried she wouldn't be able to afford fresh flowers until she met with Sabrina Torres. Because of the economy, Torres is now advertising a $400 flower package that includes roses for the entire wedding party and the cake!

"With me, it's more about helping people than getting rich off a package," Torres said.

For the budget bride, Torres also showed us a selection of inexpensive centerpieces using fresh flowers.

"This piece is simple, again very elegant and it's only $10," she said.

Torres says you can really dress up your tables. For $6 you can choose a round vase with a floating rose.

For $10, you might like this submerged blue hydrangea.

"With me, you can get fresh flowers on a budget at a really good price," Torres said.

And what about saving money on a wedding dress? Resale shops all over Houston carry gently used wedding dresses.

For about $40, you can score a big bargain.

"Every dream for the past couple of night has been about weddings," bride-to-be Krystal Castillo said.

The stress of staying within budget has many brides like Castillo worried. To save money she is considering using an iPod as her DJ. She also likes the freedom of being able to play the music she likes.

Another way to really stretch your dollar is by choosing an off-day like a Thursday or Sunday to have a wedding.

For more information, here are some helpful links:

Cleopatra Palace Banquet Facility
(281) 537-1966

Always Floral
(832) 452-8175

Greater Houston Healthy Marriage Coalition
(713) 867-7752

Cakes By Gina
(281) 495-9400

Cypress Chateau
(281) 731-2745

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