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How to stretch your dollars and still make a wonderful wedding

 Darryl Yax spent months rummaging through unwanted goods at thrift stores and yard sales to find the perfect china for his oldest daughter's wedding.

Rather than renting plain white dishes, Yax set out to buy plates with dozens of unique patterns to give the reception a vintage feel.

Yax and wife, Lisa, ended up collecting 120 large plates and 240 dessert plates, spending about $250 on the endeavor.

"One weekend a month, we went junking. We hit yard sales and every thrift store within 60 miles," Yax said.

The entire wedding ended up costing the family less than $5,000, coming in under budget.

Yax was the creative force behind pulling off the thrifty affair.

How to stretch your dollars and still make a wonderful wedding

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"I wanted to give my daughter the wedding I think she deserves," he said. "I told her this is your one chance to do whatever you want."

Getting started

The planning started almost immediately after Nikki, 23, and Tim Landry, 24, got engaged on Christmas Eve.

"The first month was about finding a venue, finding a theme and finding a dress," Yax said.

The family looked at about 15 venues before deciding on Paradise Acres in Hope Mills.

The site offered both outdoor and indoor space, a perk that saved the wedding from being washed out by a downpour.

"Most places were charging by the hour. Some required you to use their caterer, which cost $25 or $35 per person," Yax said. "It was just getting beyond our budget."

Yax said Paradise Acres ended up winning because it was affordable while fitting into his daughter's vision for the day.

From there, Yax poured over wedding magazines and Pinterest, sharing his ideas with the couple about once a month.

"I was sort of the wedding guru, but I didn't want to completely take over," he said.

Do it yourself

The wedding's rustic vintage theme came after Nikki picked out her invitations, which included the image of fireflies in a Mason jar.

Clear and blue Mason jars were used as decorative items at the wedding.

Yax's niece, Bailee, used the craft glue Mod Podge and food coloring to dye some of the clear jars blue.

"Buying blue jars was four or five times more expensive, so she saved me there," he said.

Instead of buying a fancy arch for the altar, Yax purchased old windows and nailed them together to create a rustic backdrop. He hung an off-white curtain behind it and draped tulle along the front to create a romantic setting for the exchange of vows.

Yax's mother, Dawn, was in charge of putting together the boutonnieres and bouquets using fresh flowers.

Rather than having a traditional wedding cake, the couple opted for a Superman design, which rang in at about half the cost of a typical cake.

Nikki's sister, Katie, helped her mother make cupcakes and cookies for the reception.

And a tent equipped with a fire pit gave guests the chance to make their own s'mores, another budget-friendly treat.

Couponing

The family purchased white chair covers and table cloths after learning it would be more expensive to rent them.

Yax quickly learned the trick to saving money online was by joining a website, adding items to his cart and then leaving the site for several days.

"You'll start getting emails with coupons that are usually related to whatever is in your cart," he said.

Frequent trips to stores like Michael's and A.C. Moore allowed Yax to use dozens of 40 percent off coupons to purchase decorative items big and small.

"I would stop in every day and buy one thing," he said. "That kept costs way down."

"Twice a year, they offer 50 percent off everything, so we figured out those dates and ordered everything at once," Yax said.

Priceless memories

Some of the personal touches at the wedding cost nothing at all.

Nikki picked Sept. 13 as the date in memory of her grandfather, who died a decade ago. It would have been his 72nd birthday.

"She was the first grandchild, so they were really, really close," Yax said.

Yax tied his father's class ring to Nikki's bouquet.

"It makes the wedding both fun and bittersweet," he said.

Yax asked members of both the bride and groom's families to bring old wedding photos to display during the reception.

The end result was a sweet dose of nostalgia with little effort.

"It added heritage and history," Yax said.

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