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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

When you work for a non-profit arts organization and decide to plan a New York City wedding on the cheap, there are really only two ways to make that happen: (A) Ask your boss for the afternoon off and meet your fiancé at City Hall, or, (B) Decide to make Craig of Craigslist your wedding planner and hope for the best. I optimistically chose the latter, and, although there were times I wished I’d opted for door number # 3 and eloped to Vegas, getting married in Prospect Park surrounded by family and friends was the best decision we could have made.

Like any good bargain hunting bride-to-be, I did my research. New York Magazine does their annual list of “affordable” venues and vendors in Manhattan and beyond, but our puny budget could hardly compete. The NYC-based online wedding boards offered decent advice here and there (I remember Weddingbee.com being particularly helpful), but I still needed to find a DJ and a photographer that we could actually afford.

And that’s when I turned to Craig and his world-famous list. I’d found jobs and apartments and couches on this site – why not a wedding gown? So with an open mind and a tight budget, we posted for anything and everything a wedding day might require; from vases and votives to a cake baker and ceremony officiant.

In our hunt for affordable vendors, we found Andy, an Aussie photographer new to NYC hoping to build his portfolio (btw, the pictures came out great…I highly recommend!). And there was DJ McElfresh, who spins all over the city and rocked our wedding party well within our budgeted price. We even found an amazing Day-Of-Coordinator who was looking to start her own business, and she offered her services for free!! C’mon, nothing beats free!

Alas, it wasn’t always easy and we definitely took some chances. We hired a jazz trio for our cocktail hour based off the music on their Myspace page and a few nice email exchanges. In the end we were happy that they showed up at all for the price we quoted them. Our baker was also looking to start her own business and was willing to do the job for a fraction of the standard we’re-ripping-you-off-wedding-cake prices. Unfortunately, in that instance, we got what we paid for – a 3-tiered, wilting tower of cake with inedible fondant.

Overall, it was a perfect day and the best party EVER – seriously, no regrets at all. Thank you, Craig, for your range of affordable services. Thank you, Symphony Space, for giving us the Tuesday through Friday administrative week, which made all my wedding planning possible. And thank you, most of all, to my husband, for making me the happiest bride in NYC.

Are you getting married this year? Got any money-saving tips to share? Better yet, give me your best worst craigslist story.

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