Tips to Save on Your Wedding

Planning & Saving
on March 31, 2002

A beautiful wedding is nearly every couples dream. But the average American wedding costs more than $19,000, so its easy to go overboard and spend a bundle. Your wedding day can be beautiful and memorable without breaking the bank. Here’s how:

Keep the proper perspective. A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, but it shouldn’t take a lifetime to pay for. Avoid comparisons with friends or relatives. Look at the big picture: Would you rather spend $5,000 on a dress or apply it to a down payment on a house? Set priorities and a budget and stick to them.

Choose an off-peak date. Get better deals on virtually every wedding service in one of the off-season months: Early November (before the holiday rush), January, February (avoid Valentines Day, when flower prices peak), or March. And choose a day other than Saturday, the most popular and expensive day to rent reception halls.

Shop around for the right wedding dress. An off-the-rack wedding dress can cost less than $200. Or use the philosophy that grooms and ushers follow: rent. Other options for low-cost, yet beautiful, dresses include wedding outlets, second-hand shops, newspaper ads, consignment shops, and the Internet. Save an additional $200 by making your own veil for $20. Many craft stores sell supplies and books to show you how.

Keep your reception small and simple. Choose less-expensive entrees such as chicken or pasta instead of beef or seafood. Limit alcohol choices to beer and wine bought in bulk, or simply serve coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Plan for a late-morning brunch, which costs less per plate than dinner, and skip the alcohol.

Decorate strategically. Silk arrangements are cheaper than fresh flowers, plus they can be rented. Interweave the bouquets with accents of fresh, in-season flowers grown locally. Consider candles or tiny white lights to add drama and style with little cost. An outdoor location, historical building, or spectacular cathedral can provide natural beauty without embellishment.

Use professional photographers as needed. A professional photographer or video crew can run thousands of dollars, so bid out the process. Hire the photographer for a limited time slot such as some post-ceremony formal photos or early reception pictures. Check out local universities for qualified and inexpensive videographers. Place disposable cameras on each table for guests to take candid shots.

Skip the band. Music for your reception can be provided inexpensively with some favorite CDs and a multidisc system. If your reception includes dancing, a disc jockey usually will provide greater selection and lower expense than a band. For a formal affair, replace the expensive wedding orchestra with a chamber music trio from a music school.

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