Recession reception: Do-it-yourself wedding tips: For richer, for poorer, for those in-between

Posted: Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My Godson, Cliff Abeles, Jr. and his wife of nine years, Kelly, will tell you that they had a Hilton Head Island "dream" wedding.

Photos By Sue Ade
Photos By Sue Ade
Reports show that 75 percent of weddings are being downsized to save money. But thanks to books like Denise Vivaldo's "Do It For Less Weddings: How to Create Your Dream Wedding Without Breaking the Bank," and Cindy Brown's all-inclusive wedding planning Web site at, it's possible design a fairytale wedding on your own financial terms.

At first, the Tennessee couple wasn't planning much of a wedding, so I offered them to come to my home in South Carolina, where, as a notary, I had the authority to lawfully pronounce them "husband and wife." They were enthusiastic and so began plans for an intimate "at-home" wedding that would include somewhere around 30 guests.

The mother of the groom, my sister, Cristine (Cris) Conforti, really was the one who pulled it all together with advice to plan ahead, "especially for the unexpected," and to be "realistic about the size of your space and your budgetary limits." Cris was blessed with a natural gift for creating "the best wedding guests had ever experienced," but many of us are not.

That's where talented people like Cindy Brown, owner of, come to the rescue.

More than a year ago, when Brown started working on wedding plans for her daughter Ashley Spaulding's April 25 marriage to The Reverend Ben Landes, Brown quickly realized there were no "one-stop Web wedding shops" available for the Carolina lowcountry destination wedding she was planning.

So, drawing on years of marketing and graphics experience, Brown set out to fill the void by creating

Like Cris, Brown also has advice for wedding planners: "set realistic timelines," and "work backwards from the date of the wedding." Denise Vivaldo, author and founder of Food Fanatics, a full-service catering and media food styling company, also offers help with wedding plans via her book, "Do It For Less Weddings: How to Create Your Dream Wedding Without Breaking the Bank."

Vivaldo's ultimate "how-to" wedding guide has it all, from budget worksheets and floral guides, to seating diagrams, seasonal menus and recipes, and much more.

For further information about Carolina Low Country Weddings, you may view the site at or contact Cindy Brown at 843-415-3044 or 843-815-9366. Vivaldo's book is available through booksellers, like, or by visiting Vivaldo's Web site at

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