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The wedding of your dreams, on a budget

You've dreamed about your wedding day since you were old enough to hold a white pillowcase on your head. However, you're currently experiencing extreme sticker shock after having seen the cost of all of the individual items you want to make your wedding distinct and beautiful.

With a little creativity, you can still have the wedding of your dreams, on a realistic budget. Here are a couple of inexpensive projects to get you started for a day that you - and your guests - will never forget.

The center of it all

You and your groom will be the center of attention on your big day. However, you want the tables at your reception to shine as well. But with 120 people on the guest list, the number of tables is adding up fast. Lush floral centerpieces can quickly consume thousands of dollars from your decorating budget.

Sometimes the most simple centerpiece can be the most elegant. One option is a glass container filled with colored stones and candles or water and floating flowers. Chances are, there is a container shaped to fit your theme, including a square cube, tall cylinder, round rose bowl or the more traditional tall vase.

Another option is a wine bottle centerpiece. Ask family and friends to set aside their bottles, make friends with the owner of your favorite wine shop or start your own collection. The bottles can be spray painted different colors, or you can stencil a flower, image or other pattern that matches your theme. You can also add photos, quotes, graphics, dried flowers or other embellishments that represent your relationship.

Who doesn't love candy?

Give your guests a fun treat to say "thank you" with an inviting, inexpensive candy buffet. Start by spending some time at your local candy store. No matter what your color scheme and theme, you'll find delicious treats in a variety of types and colors to stock your buffet.

Next, it's time to hit the discount store or thrift shop to find glass jars and containers to hold your sugary treasures. Mix it up; select different sizes and shapes, which will add another design element to your table.

Don't stop here, though. Head to your local craft store, because in its aisles, you'll find myriad options to further embellish your candy jars.

"For a wedding candyscape, one great alternative is a mirrored or frosted paint that adds some depth to the glass," says Katherine Merkle, Krylon brand manager. "This gives your table a more sophisticated look that doesn't have to come with an expensive price tag."

Before filling them with candy, wash your containers and allow them to dry thoroughly. If you're going to use paint, set up in a well-ventilated area and then spray the outside of your containers with a paint such as Krylon's Looking Glass Mirror Like Paint or Frosted Glass Finish. You can also use a leafing pen to add additional details. Other decorating options include glitter, decoupage or stencils.

To set the table up, bring a variety of sturdy boxes or books which can be stacked to varying heights and then draped with a matching tablecloth. Embellish the table with your favorite quotes, ribbon, leaves or other adornments.

Place your glass jars and containers across the table, fill them with candy and watch guests of all ages enjoy. Be sure to include small bags, so your guests can pick out their favorites and take them home.

These projects are just two examples of what you can create for the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank. For additional project ideas, you can visit hundreds of wedding and decorating websites to give you inspiration for your big day.

- ARA Content