Colin Cowie doesn't need an introduction — his 25 years of event-planning expertise and larger-than-life personality speaks for itself.
He pulled out all the stops at Kim Kardashian's "Welcome to NYC" fête the BG editors attended last month. (She's not the only A-list admirer: Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, and Huge Hefner all speed-dial Cowie when they need to throw a slammin' party.)
Now, we shifted gears and asked for his advice with a different scope in mind: The budget-conscious bride! Read on to find out how you can emulate his luxe five-senses approach to wedding planning for less.
One of my favorite affordable flowers is the carnation. It looks lavish and elegant when used en masse on its own in a centerpiece. Carnations can also take on a sculptural element when used correctly.
I also love mixing different materials in my arrangements. Consider augmenting your décor or creating an entire look based on non-floral elements, such as fruit. The color and size of the fruits you select need to work in harmony with your overall theme. You can also paint them gold or silver leaf and sprinkle them with some sparkle to add dimension.
Featuring handmade items close to your heart is one of the best ways to create a truly personal event on a budget. Design your own gorgeous centerpiece with items from a craft store, taking inspiration from a glamorous wedding and tailoring it to the theme of your event. Create your own invitation and find a creative way to reduce the cost, such as making it into a postcard. Print menus for each place setting that is personalized with the name of your guests, so that each one doubles as a place card.
Focus your energy (and budget) where you think it will matter most, rather than attempting five things on the skinny. Spend your money on the parts of the wedding that guests will notice and appreciate: offer a better cut of meat and top-notch wine instead of party favors; serve a delicious three-course meal (including dessert) instead of an elaborate multi-course menu; rather than hiring a band, book a DJ who understands how to work the energy in the room, so when it's time to party, everyone is on the dance floor!
You've invited friends and family, and part of being a host is to provide excellent food and drink. Instead of a full bar, offer a signature drink — alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Delicious sangria, bellinis made with Prosecco, trays of pre-poured martinis, wine spritzers: It's your call. Make a selection ahead of time and negotiate the price with the caterer or banquet hall. No need for them to stock the bar with every type of alcohol ready to satisfy every whim.
True style isn't about what you wear or how much money you spend—it’s about how you treat your guests. Your wedding is your first joint statement as a couple and an opportunity for you and your fiancé to function as the quintessential host and hostess. How you treat your guests and make them welcome is more important than any other element of your wedding!
All photos courtesy of Colin Miller