Planning a Royal Wedding on a Pauper’s Budget

by Andrea Woroch

Sound the trumpets! After eight long years, Prince William and Catherine (“Waitie Katie”) Middleton will walk down the aisle Friday in a fairytale wedding. Contrary to all the pomp and circumstance, the happy couple actually lead a very modest life in a $1,200-a-month farmhouse in Angsley, Wales. If William wasn’t heir to the throne, one gets the feeling they might plan a more intimate and reasonably priced affair. That doesn’t mean they’d have to forgo all the bells and whistles, however.

If you’re planning a wedding and would like to exchange vows in a more royal fashion on a limited budget, read on for 15 tips to help you tie the knot in style without sacrificing your savings.

1. The Proposal
Prince William took Kate all the way to Kenya to propose over a champagne dinner. While you can’t replicate the location, you could pop for champagne and cook your own dinner. If you’re looking for something a bit more romantic, try Michael Scott’s incredibly romantic, candle-laden proposal on “The Office.”

2. Princely Invitations
The royal invite is a relatively simple 8-inch-by-6-inch card that says the Lord Chamberlain has been “commanded by the Queen” to invite the holder to the wedding. Eliminating all the extra envelopes, tissue paper and fuss of traditional invites is both very modern and much less expensive. To save even more, opt to create the invite on your home computer or visit sites like which offer easy-to-follow directions on custom wedding invitation cards.
ShopSoCo tip:  check out the lovely stationary choices at Corricks (637 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa) or Papitre (353 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg).

3. Pre-marital Counseling
Once the question has been popped, it’s wise to seek a bit of advice. The royal couple will meet with both the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury, but you can turn to your own spiritual adviser or check with your county mental-health center for a recommendation to a counselor who charges on a sliding scale.

4. Wedding Rings
The royal couple will exchange wedding rings made with gold from Wales’ Clogau Mine. William is also having Kate’s ring engraved inside, a sentiment common couples can easily duplicate. For an excellent price on rings, check out pawnshops and discount jewelry merchants, like Amazon. Watch for promo codes for even more savings on jewelry.
ShopSoCo tip: We’re fortunate to have some exquisite choices for unique wedding bands here in Sonoma County, like Darcys’ Fine Jewelers (205 5th St Ste E, Santa Rosa), ER Sawyer Jewelers (638 4th St, Santa Rosa), and Dianne’s Estate Jewellery (387 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg).

5. Teeth Whitening
Want to know a secret? Kate donned invisible braces and had her teeth whitened for the wedding. (She also lost weight, but that’s another topic.) One of the cheapest ways to purchase a teeth-whitening session is via one of the group-buying services, such as Groupon and LivingSocial. Otherwise, try a more affordable drugstore product like Crest White Strips to make your smile dazzle on the big day.
ShopSoCo tip:  Don’t miss out on ShopSoCo Deals, Sonoma County’s guide to deals at our local shops.  Sign up by clicking HERE.

6. Flowers
Catherine’s floral selection is easy to duplicate as she’s planned a white pallet reminiscent of an English garden. While hot-house flowers are nice, it’s much less expensive if you ask a variety of friends to share the bounty of their backyard gardens. Or you might use silk flowers, which can be repurposed to decorate your happy new home.
ShopSoCo tip:  City 205 Flowers (205 Fifth Street, Santa Rosa) offers live and silk arrangements, and are also sensitve to anyone’s budget requirements.

7. Bouquets
Queen Victoria created a tradition when she included a bit of myrtle in her bouquet to symbolize “constancy in affection and duty.” Her highness later planted the sprig so future brides could share a piece of her bouquet. Not only is this an inexpensive and lovely idea but planting the sprig is very eco-friendly.

8. Tuxes
An all-tuxedo ensemble at the altar has become rather passe. Follow Prince William’s lead and wear your military uniform, or go your own way with a simple suit. Don’t have a suit? Thrift shops have some surprisingly good deals on quality jackets, pants and two-piecers.
ShopSoCo tip:  Check out the vast choices of second-hand items at thrift stores like Welfare League (126 4th St, Santa Rosa), Assistance League (5 W 6th St, Santa Rosa), Church Mouse (15 E Napa St, Sonoma, CA), or Alphabet Soup (213 Western Ave, Petaluma).

9. Dresses
Lucky Catherine has her choice of gowns, from Vera Wang to J. Crew, and she can wear what she likes as there’s no protocol on bridal wear. Everyday brides, however, can save by renting, borrowing or hitting second-hand shops. For those looking for a gown online or in-store, plan to buy discount gift cards before checking out to help lower the cost by up to 30-percent off.

10. Tiaras
Not everyone wants to wear a tiara, but it would be hard to forgo this headwear if, like Kate, you could chose from 80 stunning tiaras in the royal family collection. Brides who want to look more like a princess than a pauper might check out costume shops for realistic-looking tiaras at rock-bottom prices.
11. Music
Princess Diana rode to her wedding in a glass carriage. Trumpets sounded upon her arrival and three choirs serenaded her walk down the aisle. While that might be overdoing it just a touch for your wedding, there’s no reason you can’t replicate the sound with recorded music. For a more personal touch, ask a friend to play and sing.

12. Location
Commoners might find it difficult to fill St. Paul’s Cathedral, but you don’t want to overlook the many low-budget locations open to you. A nice backyard, local church, public park, community garden, historical building on your local university campus…there’s no end to low-cost locations if you begin to think outside the box.

13. After Parties
Queen Elizabeth is hosting an intimate luncheon for 700 at Buckingham Palace, then the oldsters will clear out and 400 of the younger guests will enjoy an evening of dining and dancing. While you might need to scale down the numbers, you can follow the same blueprint. Hold a small champagne reception directly after the wedding for the senior crowd and, if you’d like to go really low cost, a potluck dinner followed by dancing to your favorite iTunes.

14. Honeymoon
Princess Diana and Prince Charles spent their honeymoon in Hampshire, England, but it looks like Kate and William will head to equally chilly Canada. Not all of us have a former colony to tour, but we can get away for a nice hiking weekend or time at a friend’s cottage. If your budget has been destroyed by the wedding itself, there’s always the option of a staycation. Turn off the phones and computers and turn your home into a spa, movie theater or whatever suits your fancy. Just don’t tell anyone where you are.
ShopSoCo tip:  Consider staying close to home by traveling to one of our local hotels.  Some romantic choices are The Sebastopol Inn (6751 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol), Healdsburg Inn (112 Matheson Street, Healdsburg), Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn (100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma), or Sheraton Sonoma County (745 Baywood Dr, Petaluma).

15. Trousseau
Despite having a millionaire’s bank book, Kate is an economical clothes shopper, which can’t be easy when you have to wear all those hats. The soon-to-be-princess also doubles her wardrobe by sharing with her sister. You can follow Kate’s tips or hit thrift shops, second-hand stores and the big boxes for your trousseau. Target, in particular, has a comparatively upscale clothing selection at very reasonable prices.
ShopSoCo tip:  Go chic and second-hand by hitting up a consigment store, like Red Umbrella (610 E Washington St Ste B, Petaluma), Hot Couture (101 3rd St, Santa Rosa), or Paper Dolls (748 Montecito Ctr, Santa Rosa).

Consumer Savings Expert, Andrea Woroch, has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more as a media expert source. To view recent interviews or find more information, visit

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