More Wedding Tips...

My Dad recently told me about a preacher friend who told this to his daughter as she was beginning to plan her wedding "I've got $XX (a certain dollar amount) to spend on your wedding. You can either have every penny spent on the wedding, or you can be frugal on the wedding and have the rest as cash to start out your marriage". Guess which one she chose? I thought it was a great idea for getting young girls out of the romanticism of the wedding and into the practicality of the marriage ~ Gen

Okay...this isn't a question but a comment. One of the questions in your column was on cheap weddings. Mine was bargain basement. This is because my family and my husband's rallied the troops. Grandmothers, aunts and the like made sandwiches, salads, deserts and punches. They also decorated the reception hall. The DJ was a friend and his small fee was a paid as a gift to us by a family member. The hall was hired by another member as a gift as
well. My actual wedding was a 15 minute JP affair so I can't offer advice there but the reception was a blast because it was a purely family event. No one person did all the organizing and/or legwork required. The food was
especially easy with each designated bringing just one plate of food. Cost to us? Maybe $500 for the JP, suit and dress and hotel room for the night.

Don't forget: the Audubon society has nature sanctuaries that they have been known to rent out for weddings. My brother once worked in a beautiful building with a spectacular garden and conference spaces where very beautiful weddings were occasionally put on. All you have to do is ask! ~ J. M. Lowry

I have a suggestion for the woman looking for an inexpensive wedding: My wedding was in November during a blizzard and was just wonderful. My mother and I prepared lasagna ahead of time from ingredients we had purchased in bulk at Sam's. We put them in the church ovens a couple hours before the wedding and served buffet style with tossed salad and garlic bread. The church ladies were glad to serve the food and we gave them/the church money for that. The candlelight and delicious lasagna provided an intimate cozy feeling for the reception and was appreciated by all. It was a good thing! ~ Sandy

We have attended a number of homeschool family weddings. We have gleaned a wealth of lovely ideas that we hope to incorporate into our daughters' future weddings.

We have attended good old-fashioned country weddings that rejoiced around a large banquet table furnished pot-luck by friends and family who delighted in being able to contribute from their bountiful blessings and be a part of the happy day.

Some couples have a private wedding with just family, and then host an open house to greet the new couple. An afternoon open house over finger foods and desserts or wedding cake is very special. The newlyweds may open gifts personally then as guests present them. It is intimate and personal.

Until the past fifteen years or so, in our area of the country only the wealthy served food at the reception. Our own wedding was celebrated over only cake, punch, coffee, nuts and mints. We are still married! :-) We know numerous families who have returned to this type of reception. It works great for a 2 or 3 p.m. wedding between the lunch and supper hours.

A very creative family held a 10 a.m. wedding and served a brunch of breakfast casseroles (donated by ladies in the church - each their own special recipe!), breakfast breads, muffins, rolls, coffee cakes, fruit compote (the frozen variety from Sam's Club) and fruit juices and coffee. They served wedding cake after brunch - just lovely, and very personal.

If a wedding cake is in the budget and desired, there are many folks out there that make them as a home business. Ask around. Some brides have a small, decorated wedding cake (to be saved for the bride and groom's first wedding anniversary) on a raised, draped platform as a decoration, and then served simple sheet cake to the guests. We know brides who served German chocolate cake and lemonade, cheesecakes, pies, petit fours, and one who served "make-your-own" ice cream sundaes! Make it personal and affordable.

A pretty and tasty holiday punch is simply cranberry juice and 7-Up or Sprite (or storebrand lemon-lime pop)! Freeze a few rings of cranberry juice for the punch bowl, and float a few whole cranberries in the punch.

As for decorations for the wedding, oh, what a joy to be having a Christmas wedding. What a wealth of possibilities for decorations, flowers and atmosphere!!!

Lovely mason jars filled with sprigs of holly and some pretty holiday ribbon would grace a simple table. One could use the abundance of poinsettias available at that time of year. Hand-punched hearts in tin cans holding votive candles are pretty. The seasonal evergreens are reasonable, and mingled with white miniature Christmas lights, can be a lovely touch. Bouquets of holly, greens and babies breath are lovely. Bridesmaids could carry a single long-stemmed rose tastefully wrapped in holiday ribbon. Boutonnieres of holly would be nice too.

If one talks about china for table service for this reception, they do not have a grasp on what a budget is! We live in the Midwest, so maybe we are out of touch with your area, but we have only attended one wedding (in 27 years!) with real plates and glasses at the reception. There are lovely, light, clear plastic disposable service that one can pick up at party supply or grocery supply warehouses that look like real glass. Even "Solo" brand plates, cups and clear plastic forks, knives and spoons are quite acceptable for a wedding in these parts!

A good idea is to have a "host and hostess' for the wedding reception, so you do not have to attend to the details of serving the meal or refreshments you choose. Pick someone who is an organized person, not just a "good friend".

Don't be ashamed to invite your closest friends to participate and share in providing parts of the meal. I don't know many people who would not be tickled pink to contribute an egg dish or a breakfast bread or a salad or veggie tray. Don't be shy. No, "Martha" might not approve, but we all understand the sacrifices made to be with our families, and we would rejoice to be a part of such a special day by bringing a little morsel to share.

The point is, celebrate the beginning of the "marriage" any way you choose!! On their twenty-fifth anniversary, they will only remember the love that was expressed by all who came, and the sweet memories of a beautiful day filled with relaxed parents and happy well-wishers. If anyone gets mad or offended by being a part of a celebration that is not graced with the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval", oh well - they have bigger problems.
~ Colleen and Amber Moeller

An inexpensive wedding reception can be catered by you. It takes a bit of planing and coordination. A few years ago some friends got married at a local church then had the reception at a nearby firehouse. In our old church we had small parties and wedding receptions in the basement. To coordinate the event and still leave a bit of time for visiting you must do several things.

1. Prepare all the food a day or so ahead of the big event. Then store it in your refrigerator or if possible at the reception site.
2. Ask family or friends to help set up and take down the tables. You need at least 5 to 20 people to help depending on how many guest and how much work they will do.
3. Rent the tables and chairs from the reception site or local firehouse and ask some friends with trucks or vans to get them to the site. Or if you really have no extra money borrow folding chairs and tables from your friends and family.
4. Buy white paper or what color you want and some tape to cover the tables from the local party shop. Clear newsprint end rolls might also fit the tables. Some newspaper companies might give you the ends.
5. Rent or buy some inexpensive vases or go yard saleing for them ( I have gotten a bunch for 10 to 25 cents.)
6. Go to the local floral shop and ask for any flowers that they are going to pitch. Take them home and dry them upside down. Use the ones you get the most of for your decorations and bouquet. ( One lady had everyone in town giving her their flowers for about a year. She decorated everything.)
7. If you can't get enough flowers then use pine cones, balloons, tree branches or what ever to decorate the hall. Pussy willows might work as well or even a few baskets of annual flowers that are in bloom or baskets filled with anything neat. Crepe paper is cheap and pretty to hang down from the ceiling and around the tables as well. Use your imagination for inexpensive decorations.

As for the food pickles, potato salad. egg salad,vegetable platter, lunch meat platter, rolls or bread would be great. Buy the bread or rolls and freeze them until the big day then thaw in the sealed bag to keep it fresh. Go to the butcher and buy the lunch meat and freeze. Then thaw and put on your platters. No platter? Just get some pieces of heavy card board from a local store and cover with aluminum foil. If that is too expensive then go to the local pizza shops and ask for a few large boxes, cover with newsprint or white paper or glue/tape pictures that you mimeographed/copied of something memorable on the tops and put the food in them. Go to all of the pizza shops. Just open and serve. My friends put the food on a counter and had everyone come through and serve themselves. All they did was refill the containers as they emptied and put away the food when everyone was done. They also had bake beans that they kept warm in several crock pots. They borrowed them from friends.

To save money on the cake bake it yourself or barter the service. Maybe offer to sew or clean their house for the cake. Some people might do it for free if you advertise the baker somehow at wedding. (Be careful it
doesn't appear tacky).

One other way to save money would be to have the reception in your back yard or ask a family member who has a big yard if they would host the event. Put up some rented or borrowed tents or covers, add chairs and tables then maybe you could hire someone to cater the event. If not then serving sandwiches, a vegetable platter, bake beans the cake, whatever else you want and drinks would work. You must have something but it need not be fancy as long as it isn't dinner/supper time. Just be careful it doesn't appear to be too cheap.

To figure out how much food to serve call the local grocery store and ask them how much food/type they put on a platter and how many people that should serve. For that matter you could get several platters from them and serve that as your food. One other suggestion I have is to do a web search on frugal weddings. They should have a lot of useful ideas. I am trying to write a book on my frugal ways and experiences. So I hope these ideas from my life make a pleasant inexpensive wedding for your family. ~ C.R.C.

When I got married, we got married at my church. And we had a reception in the church dining hall afterwards. I had friends sing, play the organ, and close friends served and cleaned up. We made as much of the food as possible ahead of time. But we served seasonal fruit, deli ham, chicken, rolls for sandwiches, bars, nuts and salads. A friend made the wedding cake too (but I don't know very many people with this skill). I bought my dress from the J.C. Penney outlet for around a hundred dollars. And we made the bridesmaid dresses and a veil. We had friends take pictures at the reception and at the wedding ceremony. And we only had the photographer take formal pictures after the wedding. I handmade thank you gifts, which cut the cost. And we made silk flower bouquets. My sister did many of the same things. A wedding doesn't have to be expensive. It just takes creativity. ~Chris

My husband and I were married in December 6 years ago. Carole may want to ask what something would cost in November or January. December was a hard month to plan our wedding in with all of the holiday parties. It seemed like the business people think that December is the month of spending and aren't afraid to charge you. If we had wanted to wait a month it seemed like every thing was cheaper since everyone cuts back in January.

I hope this helps. ~ Cathy

I got married two years ago this past Christmas. We decided quickly to get married. I had always wanted a big wedding, but only had two months to plan/buy/save for it. Here's my suggestions:

First, if she's getting married in December, many places are already decorated for Christmas. Find out what decorations are already going to be up at the place she decides to get married. You may only need minimal extras, if any. All I had extra was the candelabras and saved alot of money there.

Second, I did not hire any musicians. My hubby and I went to a music store where they let you listen to CD's before you purchase. We selected appropriate wedding music, that was also Christmas music. It was beautiful, fit in well with the season and only cost us the price of 3 CD's. The waiting before the ceremony music was piano Christmas carols, walked down the isle to KennyG "Silent Night" and we walked out to a choir singing "Joy to the World". I was also fortunate that I come from a musical family that sang during the ceremony. More than likely the bride or groom has a friend who will sing for free, otherwise, get a CD!

For the reception, I only had cake, punch, nuts and mints. Our wedding started at 2:00 so there really was not a need to go all out with sandwiches and other foods. I think alot of times there is alot of pressure to "keep up" and have big lavish receptions. At that time of day, it's not necessary to have a large spread.

Other short-cuts I took was I found my wedding dress on close-out at half price, $300.00. Instead of hiring someone to video the wedding, we set up two video cameras from friends and got two different angles. We used artificial flowers and made ourselves the bouquets for the brides maids. We made them from swags at the local hobby store and waited until they went half price late November. I called every photographer in town until I found one I could afford. Cakes are another expensive item. One suggestion for a cost cutter on that is to check with a local culinary school or vocational school in the area to see if as a class project they would do a wedding cake for a lower price.

Above all, enlist the help of friends and family. Most love to help with a wedding and it provides for a wide range of talents to help pull the thing together. I can't remember exactly how much I spent on my wedding, but for the dress, cake, church, reception, bridesmaids dresses (I had them made), photographer, and the decorations, was less than $1,500.

Hope I could help! ~L. Jolynn Sloan

I did most things for the wedding myself.

We rented the township hall where we live, it was only $75 for the night. We bought the food at a wholesaler, and hired the daughters of family friends to serve @ $25. each for the night. ( they had volunteered to do it for free). I got a beautiful wedding dress at a consignment store that specializes in wedding attire for $175. We made silk flower bouquets, and used paper tablecloths (2 colors) and votive candles, ribbons, and potpourri as table decorations. We had a lady from church make the wedding cake, (this is a home business for her). A little money can go a very long way if you plan ahead, shop sales, and ask your friends and family for help and ideas.
~Debra Crawford

My mom is a bridal seamstress and my dad is a pastor, and I design and make custom bridal headpieces. After being involved in tons of weddings, my mom and I, along with some friends, came up with a great miserly tip for keeping the cost of luncheon receptions down, even when it's going to be a large wedding. this works best when the wedding will have 100 or more people.

Everyone has tons of people who say "let me know if you need help with anything." We suggest that brides take advantage of it! First, have a bridal shower at about 1 month before the wedding. Invite family members, close friends, and friends of the mother of the bride and groom. Near the end of the shower, announce that if anyone would like to help out with the wedding, to see the host (usually mother or sister of the bride) in the kitchen or another group-friendly room. There, have a sign up list with a space for name, phone number and recipe. Also have recipe cards for three different salads, we usually do a chunky garden salad, a Chinese chicken salad, and chef salad. Make 5 copies of each card for every 100 people who will attend the reception. Have each person sign up to make one batch of salad from one or more of the recipes and bring it to the reception hall before the wedding, or someone can offer to pick it up before the wedding.

For the reception, buy 3 9 or 6) inexpensive decorative salad bowls, plastic is fine as long as they look nice. we usually get them at dollar stores! fill the bowls continually with the three different kinds of salad made by your guests. we usually have a few veggie trays and such as well to round things out. The three kinds of salad become the "main course", and since friends donate their time and trouble, it costs you very little. it keeps it more uniform than a "potluck" reception, and gives all those helpful aunts and grandmas something to help out with! we've done this at about 10 weddings now, and it always turns out great! ~ Xanthan

I had some suggestions for the economical wedding question. If you don't have your heart truly set on a specific color for your wedding - check at your local party and bridal stores about renting your bridesmaids dresses. Though I had always had specific colors picked out for my wedding i had to improvise .being that from the time i met my prince charming to our wedding was only 5 1/2 months, we had no time to prepare financially. I got married on valentine's day and a local store just happened to have enough pink bridesmaid dresses for my wedding and that even helped create a valentine theme for my wedding. I was able to rent my dresses for $25 each and they did alterations for free. I was also able to rent my flower girl dress. And though I didn't like the design of my mother's wedding dress i was able to have it redesigned and altered for $100 and then just had her veil put on a different headpiece. We got married in the evening so rather than decorating the church, we had the lights turn low and had 2 large candelabras on the church stage with dripless candles setting a comfortable and romantic mood. We had our reception in the church basement at no extra cost as long as we cleaned up and had everything back in place. Our reception was short and sweet due to most of our wedding party and guests had plans of their own for the evening. Everyone had cake and punch while visiting.

Our decorating was cheap and simple for the reception. We used paper tablecloths with a cherubim design on the edges and helium valentine balloons with cherubim on them for centerpieces. And being creative with simple party decorations. Being that almost everyone has a wedding song that they dance their first dance to together, and we weren't able to have that type of reception - we had our song played over the church sound system while we lit our unity candle. It wasn't the complete song but they faded the song out and it worked perfectly!!!!!!!! My best friend spent over $20,000 on her wedding. Yes it was absolutely beautiful. She had a catered sit down dinner and open bar at her reception with a DJ. Plus all the extra thrills and frills, but we spent less than $1,200 on ours. Hers was longer, fancier and alot more extravagant and mine was short, sweet and simple. But the memories made aren't the thrills and frills. It's how beautiful the bride looked and the look of love in their eyes and the family and friends you get to share one of the best days of your life with. ~ Monahan

Make a simple invitation on a decorative paper then tri fold it and mail include the RSVP on this page (also saving $) and don't forget to mention that this will be a potluck with dish to pass a welcome addition. One way to ask for dishes to pass is at a bridal shower let people know that you are planning a buffet and that the bride would enjoy different types of serving dishes filled with their favorite dish to pass and the recipe. Many new brides like to start their own cook books and this works for both a bridal shower and a reception.

One small word of advice if you want to save or have borrowed your decorations (a very good $ saver) please let everyone in your wedding party know these items will need to be returned so they can keep an eye out for those who may want these items as souvenirs.

Also if you attend a church regularly you may want to place an announcement asking for helpful wedding tips on being frugal. You may be surprised on how many things people may have left over from other gatherings that they never bothered to return.

I have a comment about the cheap weddings. I had a beautiful wedding with 200 guest catered and flowered with roses paid for the bridesmaids dress and still spent under $2000 for it all. I looked up stuff online, talked to other people, and even got a few books on planning your own wedding and nothing helped me so I just did it myself.

*Bridesmaid's Dresses and Gift:* My bridesmaids were great sports for this one... I took them all to Jo-Ann Fabrics and sent them to the pattern section to pick out a dress they liked and could all wear, one of my bridesmaids was only 14, one was really tall one was very short and some were skinny, some average and even yes one a little bigger than the others. I went and picked a fabric that I liked. I purchased 2 patterns for the same dress (to accommodate the sizes) and the correct amount of fabric for all the dresses, the trim zippers and the thread for under $200 for 5 dresses. My mother in law loves to sew and was itching to get in on the wedding so I set her to work on dresses. She wasn't the best seamstress in the world but those patterns are pretty cut and dry and very easy to follow. Paying for the dresses was my "gift" to them which also got rid of another expense. I've also seen Brides buy the bridesmaids matching necklaces (doesn't have to be expensive) as their gift to them.

*Wedding Dress*: Now my wedding dress... GO SHOPPING AFTER PROM! I found an awesome white dress that I preferred over any other wedding dress I tried on and bought it for $5.00 yep 5 bucks for my wedding gown! All it required was to be shorted because I'm not very graceful and didn't want my shoes getting caught in it while I danced!

*Tiara and Veil*: I found a tiara with rhinestones on eBay but you can find them in most craft store too. I bought a nice piece of sheer material that I liked and some white ribbon. I cut the sheer material they length I wanted
my veil and sewed the ribbon around the edges to finish it. Then I simply sewed the top so that it bunched up to fit between the ends of my tiara, put eye hooks on either side and attached it to the tiara... instant Tiara and Veil. No one even knew I did it myself and it took me less than 1/2 an hour... I'm not the best at sewing so if I can do this so can you!

*Tux:* Ask around at tux rental places to see who gives the best deal a lot will offer a "free tux" for the ring bearer or the groom if all the tuxes are rented at the same place and time. Also ask other people who they used I got a great discount because my step uncle was friends with someone who knew the owner of a tiny little men's shop in a tiny little local town that happened to rent tuxes! I got the groom's tux free on top of it! The guys did pay for the tuxes.

*Groomsman Gift*: All of the Groomsmen were Beer drinkers so I looked around and found a really nice heavy duty set of mugs and bought a set for under $20 I made a cute little paper tag to tie onto the handles and put them at
their place settings for the reception so they had glasses to drink beer instead of champagne all night! They loved the glasses and still use them at home.

*Flowers:* Okay I lucked out on that one of my mom's friend's owned a flower shop! But I did do the flowers for a cousin's wedding for under a $100.00 that were yellow roses and lilacs. Use the expensive flower as the eye catcher and a cheap one as filler. (Helps if the flower is in season locally and you know someone willing to give up some of their flowers! That's how we got most of the lilacs.) Wrap the stems with thick ribbon to make a beautiful bouquet. Try using fake flowers for the throw bouquet. Also try a dum-dum pop bouquet for the girls under 16 and a tootsie roll garter for the boys! I have also done flowers for a friends wedding that were all fake flowers and they were gorgeous. She uses the centerpieces to decorate her home, donated the church flowers to the church as a thank you and let the bridesmaids keep their bouquets. They still look as good as they day she got married and that has been 7 years now. She has her bridal flowers in a display with the candles, cake set a frame with their wedding photo, the ring pillow and flower basket in a cabinet that just looks wonderful!

*Reception Hall:* Yep I'm a red-neck I had it in a fire hall. After checking out all the event halls and places that a reception in November was possible for I found a beautiful fire hall. Yep I said beautiful. This is how a lot of volunteer fire companies raise money so they have very nice event halls. This one had a kitchen that my caterer was able to use. If you have the wedding in warmer weather check out local farms, parks, and lakes a lot will allow you to have a wedding and an out door reception for a small fee and some of these place are breathtaking.

*Food:* I did use a caterer. She was the cheapest around and had wonderful food. Look for a small time caterer that works out of their house. They are usually cheaper and still make excellent food because they don't have to pay the over head of having a building to work out of. The menu was a simple with a buffet style set up. Green Beans, Pigs in blanket, ravioli, seasoned potatoes, and chicken breasts.

I could have done the food much cheaper by asking friends and family to make the dish for me, but I planned my wedding very quickly (less than 2 months) and everyone was already busy getting ready for the holidays. I had my
wedding the weekend before Thanksgiving. I would really recommended asking others to at least help with the cookies and appetizers if that suites you.

We had lived together for over a year before we got married so we didn't really need anything. I asked a few people to help with things like a meat tray, decorations, and music as a gift instead of giving us bath towels or
something we already had or didn't need.

*Music:* a friend agreed to be our DJ for free instead of giving us a gift. In fact all of the music was on the computer all we had to do was pick our songs and he set up the play list hooked everything up to DJ speakers and
was still able to enjoy our wedding reception.

You can rent the DJ equipment and do the same with your own computer just use windows media player. Download your songs or rip them onto your computer from CD. I do recommended a dry run with the DJ equipment though just to make sure you have it all set up correctly. Helps to have someone willing to do the announcing and monitor the computer for you.

*Bridal Shower*: We had a Halloween themed one because of the timing... It worked out great though decorations were cheap and I used the centerpieces as prizes for games. You can make your own food for this so easily, it was a "lunch" shower so we served Wedding soup and croissant sandwiches. I researched games on the internet and made up a "how well do you know the bride" quiz myself, I printed out a master copy and one with the answers, I took the blank master copy to a copy shop and ran off all the copies I needed. I put a cardstock cover that said "welcome to Melissa's Bridal Shower" on the front with a cute little poem my Dad wrote (he loves writing little poems for stuff like that). Then I hole punched the top left corner and strung thin ribbon in my wedding colors through the hole, tied it into a nice bow and I had cute "programs with the games for my shower. I also a page made of card stock printed with 2 blank recipe cards for the guests to write down a recipe for me, they just took off the page and left it on the table at the end of the shower. (It was written in the invitation for each guest to bring at least 2 recipes to help build the new couples cook book!)

The girls that brought their kids brought them in costume and they had a blast, I made up little trick or treat bags with goodies from the dollar store to occupy them. Just some snacks and a few "party favor" type toys.

*Flower Girl and Ring Bearer:* My Daughter was my flower girl and my cousin's son (only a few weeks younger than she is) was my ring bearer. They were 8 and 7 months old at the time. Since it was closer to Christmas,
finding a suit for Bryar wasn't hard and I found a beautiful white Christening Gown for Danielle very cheap at a warehouse direct type store. My Cousin carried the two kids down the isle and she wore a pretty red top with a black skirt so she matched the wedding party but didn't look like a bride's maid. We considered having her push them down in a decorated stroller but we couldn't find anyone with a double stroller so she just carried them and sat with them up front near my parents so they could help with the kids. I did buy them both a toy and a photo frame to put their picture from the wedding in.

The colors were White, Red and Black for the wedding so it was easy to find what we needed in the right colors because of Christmas being so close. I decorated the church with white Christmas lights and kept the light in the
sanctuary low during the ceremony. I used rose garland from the dollar store to decorate as well. In addition to the wedding candles, a few nicely placed pillar candles made a beautiful display. I used some pretty ribbon Christmas bows to put on the ends of each church pew to make it look nice but still simple.

*Last but not least a few tips for me to ANY bride...*

1. NO Bachelor or Bachelorette parties the night before the wedding... do it
at least a week in advance.

2. Take the # of people that RSVP for the reception and subtract 10% order
that much food, if you are worried about not having enough make a few pans
of ravioli or something like that and freeze it. If needed it can be thawed
and cooked quickly. But generally 10% of your RSVP guest won't show or stay
for the food for one reason or another.

3.Keep in mind that this wedding should be a joint venture between your soon
to be hubby and you so its both your ideas that count, but try to find
tasteful alternatives when the idea is too costly for the budget.

4. MAKE A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT CLOSELY!! The last thing you want to do is
start out your new marriage in debt from the wedding. Anymore parents can't
always afford to pay for the wedding. And even if they can do you want them
to be able to spoil the grandkids or pay off the debt from the wedding!

5. Have fun and enjoy yourself, you run the biggest risk of ruining your own
wedding from stressing out over the small stuff!

6. Ask for help and assign someone to certain tasks, make sure they know
what their job is and how and when to do it. Have a meeting a few days
before the wedding so that you can be sure everyone is on track and then let
them do their job! ~ M


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