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Couples saying ‘I do’ on a budget

BY MICHELLE BORYCA | JULY 09, 2009 7:21 AM

Simple cupcakes will replace an extravagant layered wedding cake at the July 30 wedding of UI junior Allison Faris and her fiancé, Hawkeye wrestler Luke Lofthouse.

The struggling economy has not stopped couples from saying “I do,” but it has caused them to think twice before splurging on pricey invitations, designer dresses, and plush wedding halls.

For example, Kristine Taylor, a jewelry specialist at Zales Jewelers, Coral Ridge Mall, said she has noticed fewer people purchasing fine jewelry such as engagement rings and wedding bands. The store no longer carries as many large stones because people simply aren’t buying them, she said.

Customers are also trying to bargain more.

“We do like to be a little bit flexible,” Taylor said. Zales salespeople are allowed to take a certain percentage off many of their stones, she said, and they’ve increasingly been doing so.

Budget has played a key role in planning the couple’s wedding ceremony and reception, Faris, a UI rower, said, starting with the invitations.

More than 250 people received invitations to the Utah wedding, and approximately 150 friends were invited to a separate reception Aug. 21 in Iowa City. The couple chose to make their own invitations — teal cardstock with heart vellum and a picture of the couple — to cut costs, though Faris feels they didn’t save much since they had to pay 88 cents in postage for each oversized envelope.

Faris said she found love in the classroom, in her Intermediate Spanish II class, where she met Lofthouse. She said she knew instantly it was love.

“New Year’s Eve, he told me he loved me,” she said. And at Easter, Lofthouse planned an engagement Easter egg hunt; he hid 15 plastic eggs for Faris. The first 14 contained the reasons he loved her. When Faris popped open the last egg, she found the ring.

Since then, the couple has been planning a summer wedding.

Love struck for a second time when Faris tried on a beaded white, lace, halter gown at David’s Bridal. She decided against a designer dress and found her princess ensemble on sale for $550.

The couple saved the most money by utilizing family and friends. Instead of serving a catered dinner at the reception, Faris’s father is going to make a smoked turkey lunch before the wedding ceremony for the families and members of the wedding party.

The ceremony will take place in a UI friend’s attractive backyard. And a friend of the groom’s family will snap the wedding photos completely free of charge — a service that normally runs thousands of dollars.

“We were worried about the cost,” Faris said.

The wedding costs will be split three ways — by Faris’s and Lofthouse’s parents and the couple.

The reception will be more like a dance than a typical wedding, with dessert, cupcakes, and punch. A family friend who works at a local grocery store will provide the cupcakes and a small wedding cake for the newlyweds at a discounted price.

Like Faris and Lofthouse, UI engineering students Erica Kemp and Ryan Cappaert also met in the classroom, and they, too, want to keep the cost of their wedding low.

Cappaert shocked Kemp with a surprise proposal on June 22. And while it is still early on in the planning process, Cappaert said, the couple will pay close attention to cost because they will pay for the wedding themselves. They have eliminated the idea of a destination wedding and would like a small ceremony, Cappaert said.

Johnson County Recorder Kim Painter said 1,035 couples applied for marriage licenses in the past year. Of those, 811 have wed.

These numbers are about average compared with every other year, she said. April, May, and June have all reported big numbers, possibly because of the newly legalized gay marriage or just because it’s wedding season, she said.

And after the wedding, Faris and Lofthouse are planning a cross-country trip for their honeymoon, driving from Utah back to Iowa City.


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