Sunday, February 24, 2013


Dear Readers: Weddings expert Cara Davis, and thefashionhistorianpollyguerin's Guest Blogger is the author of Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot, a best-selling book on Amazon offering tips and tricks for planning a dream wedding on a budget. Cara also blogs from her home in Nashville, Tenn., about cheap ways to spend and save at her blog: She planned her wedding in under six months for $5,000 and has been offering tips and tricks to budget-savvy brides every since. Her tips have been featured in USAToday, The New York Times, Colorado Brides, Chicago Bride Magazine, Destination I Do Magazine, St. Louis Bride & Groom Magazineand many more.

Cara Davis writes : "Recreate a Downton Abbey-Style Wedding for Less."

The wedding of the season appears to be that of Downton Abbey's Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley. The popularity of the series has brought about a renewed interest in 20s-era fashion, as evidenced by the spring 2013 bridal collection from Jenny Packham and the fall 2013 styles of Sarah Seven.

If the grandeur of the Granthams has you dreaming of vintage touches and ornate headpieces, consider these
seven must-haves for a Downton-themed garden wedding.

1. The Venue
Shop around for an all-inclusive wedding package at a bed-and-breakfast, historical mansion or botanical garden. Package deals can be very affordable and the more options included mean less planning headaches for you. A church ceremony is perfectly suited for a Dowton theme and you can even get away with a quiet reception of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres afterward.

2. The Decor
Piece together vintage settings from your town's local flea markets and antique stores. Don't worry about getting all matchy-matchy at the reception; shop thrift stores for teacups and saucers, and load up on faux pearls to complete the look.

3. The Invites
To save on the cost of invites, create your own or print them from free templates. The monogram theme from offers the perfect look for a Downton-inspired ceremony. Since printing your own invites also includes proofs, RSVP cards and reception information, head to for discounts on ink cartridges.

4. The Attire
Shop vintage stores for your dress or research 20s-style patterns. Having a dress made may be cheaper if you know someone willing to lend his or her sewing skills. In the 20s and 30s, lean silhouettes dominated, hemlines rose to the knee and dropped waists were in fashion. Lady Mary donned long sleeves but the look can still be achieved with cap sleeves, especially when you add over-the-elbow gloves.

5. The Accessories
Lady Mary's gown was simple and conservative, but her accessories added a glamorous touch. Her jeweled headpiece represents a must-have piece and can be picked up for less than $50 or over $400, as seen in this Lucky Magazine feature. Additionally, her cathedral veil offered an ethereal elegance, the likes of which can be purchased on Etsy for as little as $30.

6. The Flowers
Lady Mary carried a simple bouquet of calla lilies, a decidedly frugal choice for such a fancy lady. A small bouquet of larger blooms is the cheaper way to go, and remember to think outside the rose or orchid; even a bouquet composed primarily of baby's breath is elegant in its simplicity.

7. The Music
Complete the theme of your 20s-era nuptials by adding the following artists to your playlist: Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Bing Crosby, Helen Kane and Ella Fitzgerald, or simply download a free 20s-era jazz collection. For a more subdued, Lord Grantham-approved soundtrack, stick with strings and orchestra,  and "Recreate a Downton Abbey-Style Wedding for Less."