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Your wedding your way: looking for a break from tradition?

     Your wedding your way: looking for a break from tradition? Here are three distinctive ways to cut the cost—and the fuss—as you celebrate your special day.

A WEDDING BRUNCH AT HOME

     Small wedding receptions with 50 or fewer guests are becoming a popular alternative to larger, more extravagant affairs. They're economical, and they also let you customize your special day to reflect your own tastes and imagination. Prefer an intimate setting? A continental brunch reception at home---yours or a close friend or relative's--is an ideal way to go.

     SETTING The reception location and catering fees are typically the largest chunk of any wedding budget. Hosting your reception at home cuts costs dramatically. Look for a place that's roomy enough to accommodate a buffet spread, cake table and beverage station, as well as mingling guests and small tables with chairs for seating. Tip: To create more space, consider removing unneeded furniture from areas where guests will circulate.

     DECOR You only need a few great ideas and well-chosen details to make an impact. We carried a complementary color scheme--peach, yellow and cream--through the invitation (top left), place settings (middle) and wedding favors (bottom). Simple yet beautiful accents--colorful doilies, ribbons and silk flowers, all available at craft stores--add a sweet touch. Tip: Borrow fine china, flatware and serving dishes that suit your color scheme from family members or friends instead of purchasing or renting them. It's okay to mix and match.

     PLANNING THE MENU Ask friends and family to help with preparations; pitching in can be their gift to you. Homemade foods, like sweet-potato biscuits and quiches, are easy to prepare ahead of time and freeze well (see recipes page). Muffins, pastries, fruits and juices are favorites and economical...You can read more.

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