Thrifty ways to tie the knot

The recession can't stop romance. People continue to fall in love and make plans for the future. But how are tough times affecting Redmond's purveyors of wedding products and are they forgoing frills to save money?

The recession can’t stop romance. People continue to fall in love and make plans for the future.

But how are tough times affecting Redmond’s purveyors of wedding products and are they forgoing frills to save money?

As of January, Karen Phillips, facility rental coordinator for the Redmond Senior Center, said she wasn’t sure how the recession might impact private use of the center’s multipurpose room this “wedding season,” with summer being the most popular time for wedding rentals.

“We are a self-serve facility so those that might have rented at a full service venue may decide to cut some of the costs, use elbow grease and teamwork and organize it themselves,” Phillips reasoned. “Frequently, weddings tend to be too large for private homes, so we are still being sought after as a reception venue.”

Ruth Song owns Paper Fling, a Redmond boutique that specializes in “Save the Date” cards, wedding invitations, programs, guest books and party favors. She said that so far this year, she’s been “swamped with people coming in, but not placing orders. There is hesitancy to commit to things early in the wedding season. People are shopping around, cost-comparing.”

Paper Fling’s “Invite Yourself” parties are one way to economize. Brides who bring in friends to help assemble their invitations get to spend time with their “gal pals” and also get a 10 percent discount on their order.

Amanda Haines, owner of Amanda’s Bridal Boutique, said October, November and December of 2008 were “horrible” for business.

“Now that the new season is starting, we’re pretty busy. Weddings are weddings,” she remarked. And those planning to tie the knot this summer can’t procrastinate much longer.

But a lot of brides are shifty as well as thrifty. “Our downfall is business online,” Haines said, ruefully. “A lot of people come here to try on dresses, then find a cheaper place online. We’ve had girls who come in and try 100 dresses or more — and then we never see them again.”

In lean times, Haines has offered fabulous freebies such as a veil or shoes with the purchase of a bridal gown. And she has discontinued some dress lines that can easily be found elsewhere. But she hasn’t cut staffing because personal service and expert fittings are the things that set her apart from the online vendors.

Sara Mogensen, event planner and sales and marketing coordinator for Lisa Dupar Catering, said the main thing she’s noticed about the recession is that wedding clients are putting definite forethought into what they can actually spend, rather than casually coming in and asking to see menus. “They’re giving a dollar limit upfront,” she noted.

Budget-wise couples are skipping full, seated dinners and perhaps serving an appetizer buffet with eight or so different varieties of small bites. “They look nice and the presentation is good,” Mogensen said. “Or some are doing just dessert and cocktails.”

Those who still want a more substantial meal may substitute a petite tenderloin for a regular portion or swap salmon for mahi mahi. The economic climate has created more competition, she agreed, “and we’ve been trying to find out why people are hesitant, if they seem like they’re not ready to go with us. It may be due to a misconception that something is going to be more expensive than it really is,” said Mogensen.

For instance, using local, fresh, readily available ingredients can reduce catering costs.

And working closely with wedding venues, Mogensen has seen a big jump in weekday or Sunday afternoon events, instead of the traditional Saturdays. The “non-peak” times are cheaper and it’s no longer considered unusual to get married then.

Still nervous about planning a memorable but affordable wedding?

The Redmond Senior Center, 8703 160th Ave. NE, will present “Your Hometown Wedding,” a bridal fair spotlighting local resources, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, March 7. Admission is free. For information, call (425) 556-2314.

For information about Paper Fling, 8353 160th Ave. NE, call (425) 898-4471 or e-mail

For information about Amanda’s Bridal Boutique, 16500 Redmond Way, call (425) 883-6491 or visit

For information about Lisa Dupar Catering, 18005 NE 68th St., call (425) 881-3250 or visit