It’s Saturday night. While most of my contemporaries are out, getting skanky on dance floors throughout this fair city, I can be found engaging in my favorite new pastime: planning my dream wedding.

Granted, I did the crazy, spur of the moment wedding thing in Vegas a few years ago (Apparently, what happens there occasionally makes its way home.) followed by the less amusing L.A. County courthouse divorce. But my marital celebration wasn’t the big, showy affair that I had always imagined as a kid. I am also a girl with very strong tastes and opinions, and I know that when I do get married for real, it’s going to be a classy affair.

Now, I’m sure for most people, a wedding is, like, years away from thought. But with 20-something celebrities like Kevin Jonas, Beyoncé and Avril Lavigne walking down the aisle more and more these days, it doesn’t seem too out of the realm of possibility that others out there might be planning to say, “I Do” – but on a real kid’s budget.

Looking for a beautiful cake? Try Vanilla Bake Shop (512 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; This chic little bakery sits just off of Third Street Promenade and offers a number of tasty cake flavors to suit any palate.

Need to save extra dough? Go with cupcakes. VBS offers a ton of winning designs that incorporate amazing style with all of their best flavors (imagine a cupcake tower overflowing with Southern Red Velvet, Meyer Lemon Raspberry and/or Blackberry Passion Fruit-flavored yumminess).

The best part of it is that you can get each cupcake for around $3. This is a bargain since most bakers charge nearly $9 per slice of wedding cake.

For any girls out there who love fashion, you’ve probably caught the TLC show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” This reality program showcases brides in search of the perfect gown. One by one, these women head into famed wedding dress salon, Kleinfeld, in New York to do their shopping. Unfortunately, most of the store’s offerings seem to cost as much as a down payment on a house or the price of a compact car. SCREW THAT!

There are plenty of beautiful dresses out there that can be purchased brand new and at a tenth of the cost as some of the more expensive designer styles. Got an eye for Monique Lhuillier with thrift store pockets? Look no further than This site has a number of high fashion formals that may cater to the pageant and prom crowd but will double nicely as an über-hip wedding dress when partnered with the right veil.

I’m told that at most receptions the one thing everyone remembers is the food. However, four-star meals are often the place where a young couple’s budget explodes.

If you love the food of your local dive but are worried that your guests will judge you for serving them fast food buffet-style, get proactive. You can easily hire a food stylist to trick out each plate so that mom, dad, uncle Leroy and Aunt Madge will be none the wiser. Food stylists are the folks who make those Carl’s Jr. burgers or IHOP pancakes look so sexy in commercials. Many of them are available via Google search and the cost of hiring one of these professionals is often half the cost of a wedding feast.

If your wallet doesn’t allow for the big floral bonanza that you’ve always dreamed about, you may just have to rearrange your thinking. Places like have stunning bouquets for every occasion, which are often $30 or $40. Order 10, and you’ve got flowers for a decent-size wedding of 60-80 guests. Remember, the florist doesn’t need to know it’s for a wedding. Just tell the customer service rep that you’ve got a large family, and you’re buying the posies to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

Finally, when deciding on whether to foot the bill for an open bar, you can easily save money by purchasing your booze and trucking it to your venue ahead of time. Just buy a case of red wine, a case of white, a case of your favorite beer (Pabst is cheap and a big hit with young crowds), and maybe bring on a local bartender to create a signature drink (Cotton Candy Martinis anyone?).