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Budgeting for the Wedding: Less Expensive Days for Weddings

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If there were a popularity contest for days of the week, Saturday would win. Most likely when you were a kid, Saturdays meant watching cartoons, playing in Little League ball games, or going to the pool. Now that you’re one of the adults (yes), Saturday means sleeping in, shopping, and barbecue on the deck. Not surprisingly, Saturday is also the most popular day to get married. But more and more couples are choosing off days, like Friday, Sunday, or even midweek days, for their weddings — and finding that being flexible about the day of the week can make a big dollar difference.
Some reception locations may offer the same sit-down dinner on Sunday for a lot less cash than it did on Saturday.

Why Snub a Saturday Wedding?
Practical considerations are the big draw: At many wedding ceremony and reception sites, Saturdays are booked a year or more in advance. If you have your heart set on one of these venues, an off-day wedding can be an event-saving alternative. Religious considerations also can come into play. For example, many Jewish weddings take place on Sunday in deference to the Jewish Sabbath, which lasts from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Officiants of many denominations often are more readily available for an off-day wedding. For some couples, having their wedding on a specific date — say, their parent’s wedding anniversary, for example — is more important than having it on Saturday. Other couples have a midweek event so they can take advantage of lower airfares for out of town guests (and for their own honeymoon flights). Off-day weddings seem especially appealing to brides or grooms who have been married before and who know that a wedding is a wedding, any day of the week.
Wedding Budget Boosts

Off-day weddings can save you some serious money. Some reception locations, in a quest to book venues that would otherwise remain empty, may offer the same sit-down dinner on Sunday for a lot less cash than it did on Saturday. It’s a simple case of supply and demand: You’ll have better luck negotiating lower rates with vendors if there aren’t five other couples lined up behind you, ready to take your spot. Also, you may be able to make things work with fewer guests, because some establishments loosen minimum guest requirements on off days. You’re also likely to get better service because you’ll have management’s undivided attention on a less busy day.

Depending on the specifics of your location, you also may be able to get your guests better hotel rates. Keep in mind that a hotel that hosts conventions or caters to business people probably won’t offer lower rates during the week. At some establishments, you can reserve a block of rooms for Friday night with a lower number of guests because, by then, business travelers have gone home.

The Weekend Wedding Allure
Three-day holiday weekends like Memorial Day or Labor Day are popular for Sunday weddings because out-of-town guests have a full day to return home; and because for most guests, these weekends come with a built-in day off from work. (If you choose a holiday weekend wedding date, be sure you give your guests plenty of notice before they make other plans. This is the perfect excuse to buy those cute save-the-date cards.) Other holidays like Halloween, New Year’s Eve, or even Father’s Day are perfect for creative types looking to build a wedding with a theme (and to celebrate their anniversary on a holiday every year!). Remember, however, that some vendors are in great demand for certain holidays. For example, florists are swamped on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day; and bands are tough to book for New Year’s Eve.
Off-Day Wedding Guest Care

Okay, no doubt it’s a little more difficult for your guests, especially those traveling from afar, to manage a Friday or Sunday wedding. They may have to take an extra day off from the office or school. Be prepared for a higher-than-average rate of regrets, because those who aren’t especially close to you aren’t likely to accept your invitation. The good news: You end up with a core group of die-hard fans at your wedding, which makes the event a bit more cozy and a lot of fun.

These days, with so many guests traveling great distances to attend weddings, lots of couples plan celebrations that last several days or longer; couples with off-day affairs will find themselves in the same situation. Your weekend may begin with a bang: a Friday wedding followed by Saturday or Sunday activities and outings. Another option is Friday and Saturday group activities with a Sunday ceremony as the finale. In consideration of guests’ schedules, a Friday wedding should be an evening affair, and a Sunday celebration should be planned to wrap up fairly early.

Timing Is Everything
Thinking that maybe off-day means off-base? No way. Just because it’s not a Saturday night doesn’t mean that it’s not a party. Friday evening or Sunday morning weddings can be just as elegant as Saturday celebrations. Consider a Sunday reception in the form of a champagne brunch. These tend to begin with a ceremony between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., followed by a reception that wraps up around 5 p.m. A Friday wedding can be a sophisticated, starry-night soiree that goes far into the evening.

 

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Budgeting for the Wedding: Wedding Budget Strategies

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These days, the cost of a wedding makes a year at Harvard and Yale look affordable. How are you going to scrape together the bucks so you can have the bash you want? Put that idea about sticking up the Federal Reserve on hold. You have options — legal, time-honored, respectable options. The kind of options that, unless you’re in the habit of bouncing checks, won’t land you behind bars. Here’s a rundown of some of them, plus their pros and cons. Keep in mind that a combination of two or more may be how you end up getting your wedding paid for.
The Bride’s Parents Pay
The traditional — and still pretty popular — way of paying for the wedding.

If everyone is contributing, pool all the money upfront and then see what your bottom line is. It’s much easier than saying “mom takes care of the gown, the flowers and the band” we take care of the rest.

The Pros:
You don’t have to dip into your nest egg to pay for the wedding, which means you’ll probably be driving a better car, buying a better house and taking better vacations a year from now than your contemporaries who are paying — in full or partially — for their own wedding.

The Cons:
“The person who pays ultimately gets what he or she wants,” says JoAnn Gregoli, a wedding consultant and owner of Elegant Occasions in Denville, New Jersey. Which means that if you want 100 guests but your parents want 250, you’ll probably end up with at least 175 to 200 people at your wedding. “Having your parents pay for the wedding doesn’t hurt your wallet,” notes Gregoli, “but you have to be willing to compromise on what the wedding will be like.” Another downside: Having your parents pay for the wedding — especially if they’re retired, on a fixed income, or just not that well off to begin with — could strap them down with some major debt.

Everyone Pays
A contemporary and, according to Gregoli, effective way of taking care of wedding expenses is for the two of you, the bride’s family, and the groom’s family to split the expenses. It works best, she says, if you simply take the whole cost of the wedding and divide it three ways, rather than dole out specific things to pay for: “For example, if you let your parents pay for the dinner, then they may be inclined to invite more guests. It can get sticky.” If you can’t divide it equally — say one party is more or less wealthy than the other two — ask that party what’s comfortable for them to give, and throw it into the pot. “But just because his family, for example, is giving four times as much money as yours doesn’t mean they get four times more say,” says Gregoli. “You’re handling this as a group, and one person can’t push his or her weight around.” The key to making this work, she cautions, is negotiation and compromise.

The Pros:
By pooling your resources, you may be able to afford the kind of wedding you want. You also may not have to empty your savings account to get it. What’s more, since everyone is contributing — which means everyone gets a say — you’re not likely to make one side or the other feel left out.

The Cons:
By accepting money from other people, you do give up some control. But there are always solutions, notes Gregoli. “If you want a DJ but the parents want a band, look for a band that also works with a DJ, who can play during the band’s break. Or if you want a buffet reception and your parents want a seated dinner, perhaps have food stations, but arrange for waiters to serve your parents and their friends at assigned tables.”

You Two Pay for Everything
More the norm than you might think. As more and more brides and grooms marry later — stockpiling those Christmas bonuses, merit raises, and dividend checks — more and more couples are in a good position to foot the entire wedding bill themselves.

The Pros:
Money talks, and as such, you will have total control over all aspects of the wedding. If you want to get married in a bikini on the beach and dance to a reggae band at the reception, you do it. Your mom may think it’s an outrage, but in the end, she-who-does-not-open-her-wallet can’t dictate to you.

The Cons:
You might deplete your savings (and rack up some debt if you take out a loan or charge on your credit card). You also run the risk of offending your parents if you refuse their financial help. To remedy the situation? You might accept a nominal sum from them, or let them pay for something you don’t have strong opinions about — say, the flowers. In any event, don’t shut your parents out of the wedding-planning process. Encourage their input — hey, they may even have a good idea or two — compromise where you can, and stick to your guns on the things that are really important.
“If anything creates problems in planning a wedding, it’s money,” says Gregoli. “To sidestep problems, you need to do a lot of communicating — with your partner and both families. If you don’t, there will be trouble.” Truer words were never spoken.

Budgeting for the Wedding: Who Pays for What?

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Forget the archaic rule that says certain people have to pay for certain things. The bride’s parents need not take out a third mortgage to pay for the wedding, and the groom’s parents are not off the hook either. Besides, the two of you might even be covering a good chunk of the expenses yourselves. The best way to work it out? Sit down with pencil, paper, and calculator and figure out what you really want and can afford. Keep in mind that informal weddings are usually smaller (and therefore cheaper), and formal weddings tend to be larger (and therefore more expensive).
Here’s a list of the traditional costs for everyone involved — but remember, these “rules” are made to be broken!

Ceremony
Bride and family pay for church or synagogue, sexton, organist, etc.
Groom and family pay for marriage license and officiant’s fee.

Clothes
Bride and family pay for bride’s dress, veil, accessories, and trousseau (read: lingerie and honeymoon clothes).
Groom and family pay for groom’s outfit.
All attendants pay for their own clothing (including shoes).

Flowers
Bride and family pay for arrangements for church (including huppah if a Jewish wedding ceremony) and reception, plus bouquets and corsages for bridesmaids and flower girls.
Groom and family pay for bride’s bouquet and going-away corsage, boutonnieres for men, and corsages for mothers and grandmothers.

Honeymoon
Groom and family pay for complete honeymoon.

Photography
Bride and family pay for all wedding photos and video.

Prewedding Parties
Bride or groom’s family plans and hosts engagement party; if there is more than one, bride’s family hosts the first one.
Groom’s family plans and hosts the rehearsal dinner.
Bride plans and hosts bridesmaids’ luncheon.
Groom hosts and plans bachelors’ dinner.
Maid of honor and bridesmaids host shower.
Best man and ushers host bachelor party.
Friends may throw additional engagement parties or showers.

Reception
Bride and family pay for all professional services, including food, drink, decorations, and music.

Rings
Bride and/or her family pay for groom’s ring.
Groom and/or his family pay for both of the bride’s rings.

Stationery
Bride and family pay for invitations, announcements, and wedding programs.
Transportation
Bride and family pay for wedding transportation of bridal party to and from ceremony and reception.

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Budgeting for the Wedding: 30 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

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Reception
1. Cut the guest list. This will slash your catering costs and save on invitations and even the number of centerpieces.

2. Think off-peak season and save thousands!

3. Hold your ceremony and reception in one spot — it will cut travel time for vendors you pay by the hour.

4. Skip the Saturday wedding.

5. Have bigger tables so you need fewer centerpieces and tablecloths.

6. Shop the off-season for extra decor — get modern black vases on sale after Halloween and pretty pink ones after Valentine’s Day.

Flowers
7. Use more greenery than flowers.

8. Swap out costly flowers — did you know peonies can be five times more expensive than roses?

9. Stick to just one or two kinds of flowers.

10. Buy flowers that are in season.

11. Include non-florals, like lanterns.

Food & Drink
12. Serve entree duets.

13. Skip the main course — apps and drinks are fine too.

14. Offer beer, wine, and a signature cocktail instead of a full bar.

15. Serve comfort foods like barbecue chicken, mac and cheese, and corn. It’s fun and often cheaper.

16. Skip the champagne toast.

Cakes
17. Order a small one or two-tiered cake and then supplement cake with a larger sheet cake (hidden back in the kitchen).

18. Keep the add-ons simple.

19. Use fresh flowers, not sugar ones.

20. Reuse ceremony flowers for the cake table.

21. Skip exotic fillings like guava and mango.

Stationery & Favors
22. Get single-page invites to save on postage.

23. Give out one favor per couple.

24. Make your cake the favors.

25. Have favors double as escort cards.

26. Email your save-the-dates.

27. Make your own menu cards, escort cards, and wedding favor packaging.

Photo, Video & Music
28. Have a photographer you love but can’t afford the prices? Ask them if they have an associate shooter who will do your wedding for less.

29. Opt for a smaller band.

30. Hire a band or DJ who can do both the ceremony and the reception.

 

Budgeting for the Wedding: 10 Hidden Wedding Costs

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1. Wedding Band Equipment
Why it’s hidden The cost of the wedding band includes fees for the musicians’ time and the minimum amount of equipment needed. If your reception space is extra-large, then additional speakers and microphones could possibly be required to project the best sound quality.
The cost Anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars
How to avoid it Before booking your wedding band or DJ, you need to clearly explain the layout of the space (or have them check it out, if they’re willing) so the vendors know exactly what they’re working with. If they want to add in extra equipment, you should have them explain why it’s necessary before you sign a contract or agree to pay for anything else.

2. Postage Stamps
Why it’s hidden Stationers don’t advertise the shipping costs; if they did, you might decide to go with simpler (read: cheaper) invites.
The cost Oversized, awkwardly shaped and bulky invitations will most often run you as much as $2 each to mail.
How to avoid it Skip the fancy boxed invitations and multilayer cards, which can bulk up quickly and cost a lot more than you bargained for.

3. Wedding Dress Alterations
Why it’s hidden Wedding dresses are pretty pricey and stores don’t want to scare away clients by listing alterations as part of the total cost.
The cost A simple hem can be less than $100, but completely rebuilding a bodice or moving zippers can send the price soaring. 
How to avoid it Ask about what the store charges for every alteration you may need before you purchase the gown.
If it’s too much, don’t be afraid to take your dress to a less expensive seamstress to have alterations done.
 
4. Photo/Video Overtime
Why it’s hidden Your wedding photographer and videographer are booked for just a certain amount of time, so if your wedding runs a little longer than you expected, they’ll charge per hour.
The cost Starting at $250 per hour
How to avoid it When planning the day, factor in extra time for getting dressed and taking photos. You’ll get a realistic sense of how long everything should take. Refer to this itinerary when booking your photo/video vendors.

5. Welcome-Bag Delivery
Why it’s hidden Most hotels don’t factor in a welcome-bag delivery fee when you block rooms. And they may fail to mention the rate unless you ask — they’ll just add it to your final bill. Inquire within; they may even charge you a fee for holding the welcome bags if you drop them off before the guests arrive!
The cost Up to $7 per bag
How to avoid it During the booking process, ask about the hotel’s policy on receiving and delivering welcome bags to guests’ rooms. It may be free or cheaper if they hand the bags out at the counter as guests check in. If you don’t want the extra charge, you can distribute them at the rehearsal dinner.

6. Rental Transport
Why it’s hidden You’d assume that the rental companies would include these extra fees in the per-item costs (do they honestly think you’re going to fit 150 chiavari chairs in your own car?), but surprisingly, they don’t.
The cost From $50 up to more than $500
How to avoid it Ask the rental company what their shipping and packaging fees are up front — if the cost is too high for your budget, shop around a bit. You just might find that you’ll actually save some money by renting items from a more expensive company that includes delivery costs at no extra charge.

7. Taxes
Why it’s hidden Even though these aren’t exactly hidden — we all know that there are taxes on almost everything — most couples don’t think about how much they’ll end up owing during the planning process.
The cost This will depend on the total amount of money you’re spending as well as the location of the event (taxes vary in different areas).
How to avoid it There’s no getting around paying taxes, but paying the entire bill in one lump sum can help lower the overall price, especially in the winter when vendors have fewer weddings to cover their bills.
 
8. Cake-Cutting Fee
Why it’s hidden If you use the cake provided by your reception site, the charge is typically wrapped into the cost. Going with an outside baker can jack up the price. Why? Because your venue’s workers are responsible for slicing and serving each piece, then cleaning the dishes. This means more work for their staff!
The cost From $2 to $5 per guest
How to avoid it Go with the site’s cake baker. Don’t worry: They’ll likely be able to work with your vision. If you’re set on a particular cake baker, then call your venue and find out what the fee is before you sign a contract.

9. Coat Check
Why it’s hidden When you book your venue in the summer, it’s easy to forget just how cold it’ll be in winter months like December.
The cost The damage starts at around $200.
How to avoid it Union rules may dictate the number of people who are required to work the coat check (and the amount they get paid). Have a good approximation of your total guest count when you book the coat checkers.

10. Gratuities
Why it’s hidden Many couples often think that the “service charge” is a tip for the event staff when it’s actually an additional fee that the catering halls charge. For what? To cover their own cost for hiring servers.
The cost Typically 15 to 20 percent of the event’s total food and drink fee
How to avoid it Once you get the proposed fee, add the service charge percentage so it’s already accounted for before the event. The last thing you want is to get hit with an unexpectedly huge bill that just about breaks the bank.

 

Budget Honeymoons: 15 Budget Honeymoon Ideas

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No one wants to skimp on their honeymoon. Posh accommodations, intimate meals, and soothing massages rank high on the wish list of virtually every newlywed, but most people don’t have an unlimited expense account. No need to take the backpack-and-hostel route — just focus on these five areas to cut down your honeymoon costs.

The Planning
A little legwork early in your engagement goes a long way toward balancing your honeymoon budget.

1. Consider a travel agent
It’s easy to find a flight and book a hotel over the Internet, so the idea of working with a travel agent might seem antiquated. While it’s not for everyone, Tim Leffel, author of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune, observes that a travel agent can save money for those who don’t have a specific destination in mind. “If you just want to go to a nice Caribbean island and stay in a hotel on the beach, agents can often find deals that you might not run across yourself.” So if your heart’s set on the Four Seasons in Nevis, use the Web. If you’re open to any number of islands and resorts, see what a travel agent has to offer.

2. Use frequent flier miles
If you’ve charged wedding expenses, your honeymoon is the perfect time to cash in all the bonus points you racked up on your credit card. Free airfare is great, of course, and even if you don’t have enough miles for that, you can still go for an upgrade from coach to first class, allowing you to begin and end your honeymoon in style.

3. Start a honeymoon registry
As a traditional part of attending your wedding, guests will give you gifts, and the majority of them will shop straight from your wedding registry. If you have ample linens and china’s just not your style, set up a honeymoon registry and have guests pay for part (or even all) of your trip in lieu of traditional gifts. Sites like thebigday.com or honeymoonwishes.com offer registries for a small percentage of the total gift. You can also register at resorts like Marriott or Disney.

The Destination
An open mind while picking a honeymoon spot gives you a better chance to find a good deal.

4. Take advantage of shoulder seasons
Every destination has a high and low season — during the high season there are crowds and high prices, while the low season is cheaper (usually because the weather is lousy). Shoulder seasons, however, are right on the cusp of high and low, so the prices are more reasonable because there’s far less demand and the weather is still appealing. Shoulder season for the Caribbean starts right after spring break. “Mid-April to mid-June is a fantastic time to hit the Caribbean,” Leffel says. (Should you prefer a European honeymoon, look into the late spring and early fall.)

5. Go where the dollar hasn’t deflated
The poor currency exchange can sabotage your budget. The dollar has become increasingly puny compared to the euro, so seek a destination where your money still has some worth. Leffel recommends heading anywhere in Spanish-speaking Latin America — from Mexico down to Chile — or check out our sidebar for the best budget honeymoons.

6. Consider an all-inclusive
One of the best reasons to honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort is that you have a clear estimate of how much your trip will cost and budget accordingly. Find out exactly what you’re paying for and factor in a couple of meals at restaurants outside the resort, day trips, or other excursions that might not be included. Then you’ll have a solid idea of how much you’ll spend.

The Transportation
Getting from point A to point B can be the bulk of your bill, but there are easy ways to save.

7. Fly off-peak
Flights are less expensive on certain days of the week. If you’re traveling domestic, fly on a Sunday to avoid business travelers. If you’re going abroad, find a better deal by leaving on a Monday or Tuesday.

8. Ask if airport pickup is included
When you book a hotel, try to score a ride from the airport (some hotels offer complimentary transportation). If a taxi is your only option, hail a cab in an area of the airport designated for transportation rather than riding with some guy who sidles up at baggage claim and offers a lift.

9. Use mass transit
Unless you’re renting a car, use mass transit as much as possible. Cab rides, while convenient, inevitably wreak havoc on your budget. Before you travel, familiarize yourself with your honeymoon spot’s main modes of transportation, be it metro, tram, or bus. Saving money isn’t the only benefit of mass transit — in congested cities, the metro is very often the quickest way across town.

The Hotel
A dismal room can ruin a trip, but saving money doesn’t have to mean staying in a dump.

10. Get a room with no view
Check any hotel’s website and you’ll find a range of room rates. A room’s size and view are two factors that hike up the price. Cut your accommodation’s cost by booking a room looking upon a slightly less attractive landscape. When you spend most of your time on the beach, you’ll hardly notice whether your room has a view of the ocean or a garden, and the savings can be significant.

11. Investigate packages
If a hotel offers a “honeymoon package,” Leffel advises taking a close look to see if it’s really a money-saving deal. If the offer is six nights for the price of five, that’s worthwhile. If the package brings an evening rose petal turndown service plus champagne for an added $200, it’s cheaper to forgo the extras and book at the normal room rate.

12. Mention you’re newlyweds
You can often leverage the fact you’re on your honeymoon for special (and free) treatment. While there are no hard rules for the practice — or guarantees the hotel will do anything — it’s worth telling the receptionist you’ll be spending your first days of married life with them. We’ve heard of couples getting complimentary room upgrades. It’s also worth dropping the h-word when you’re at airport check-in, and any bartender’s bound to offer a round on the house.

The Food
An extraordinary honeymoon requires great food and drink, but the costs of eating out add up. Learn how to maximize your meal money.

13. Stray from the hotel
A hotel’s restaurant is definitely hassle-free dining, but that convenience often comes with a marked-up price. Consult a guide book for some other options.

14. Talk to locals
With some insider info, you’ll find an unassuming fish stand in a Caribbean market or a hole-in-the-wall bistro on a European side street that serves the best meal of your entire trip. Ask the local baker, butcher, or fishmonger for their pick for the best bite in town — chances are that it will be reasonably priced and utterly delicious.

15. Prepare a few meals
Making your own lunch doesn’t have to lack romance. Go to the grocery store and stock up on sandwich ingredients, fruit, and other picnic goods. Trek to a secluded spot and enjoy a private lunch. You’ll save money without missing out on the fond memories every honeymooner deserves.

 

Budgeting for the Wedding: How to Save Big on Your Wedding

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Guest List
Invite 100 guests instead of 150 (save on everything). Do the math: If your wedding comes to $100 per person for food and drink, cutting your list from 150 to 100 saves $5,000.

Wedding Style
The less formal the affair, the more affordable. Instead of a sit-down dinner, go for a casual brunch or barbecue. Get rental cars in lieu of limos.

Wedding Invitations
Keep the wedding invitations simple. Remember, top-quality paper, fancy typography techniques and custom-colored inks increase the price, as do decorative envelope linings and multiple enclosures. Choose one fabulous element and keep all the rest simple. Use response postcards or make save-the-date cards yourself. To keep postage costs down, stay away from oversize or overweight styles.

The Dress
Got your heart set on couture? Save big bucks (as much as 15 to 35%) by simply swapping out the fabric. For example, a dress made with of poly satin instead of silk satin will cost hundreds less. Want more creative ideas for saving money on a designer wedding dress?

Formalwear
Wear basic black nondesigner tuxes. Encourage all the groomsmen to rent from the same place — often that means the groom’s tux will be free. If your wedding is semiformal, wear a nice suit that you already own.

Wedding Transportation
Choose a Lincoln over a limousine. If you really want the limo, don’t stretch it: stick with an average-size car, use it for only the bride and/or wedding couple, leave out the amenities, and have the wedding party carpool.

Wedding Flowers
Swap an expensive flower for a less expensive one. Even little substitutions add up: If you exchange Black Magic roses for more reasonably priced deeply colored dahlias in all your bouquets and table arrangements, you’ll save about $4 a stem. If you were planning on having five roses per bouquet and 10 per centerpiece – with a wedding party of five gals and guest list of 150 people, you’ve just saved $520. (Your florist should be able to recommend other easy ways to save.)

Wedding Ceremony
Exchange vows in a naturally beautiful place. Pick a public park, a flower garden, or an already ornate house of worship so you don’t have to spend a dime on decorations.

Reception Site
Skip the at-home wedding. You may think you’ll be saving money by having your wedding chez-vous, but that’s not always the case. Between tents, chairs, catering, and port-o-potties, home weddings are more stressful and inevitably more costly than a we’ve-got-everything-you-need reception hall.

Wedding Food
Reduce the number of overall dinner courses (making each of three courses fabulous costs less than serving five individual courses) and keep your menu simple. Stick with the specialties of the season and region. Buy your own alcohol. Have the caterers bring out the fancy Dom Perignon for the toast, but then switch to a less expensive champagne for the rest of the night – no one will ever see the bottle, or know the difference.

Wedding Cake
Order a small, fabulous cake that’s exactly what you want and, in the kitchen, have several sheet cakes of the same flavor cut for your guests. Stay away from tiers and (time-consuming) handmade sugar flowers and special molded shapes. Have your caterer decorate each plate with a flavored sauce, instead. Forego fondant: buttercream frosting is tastier and less expensive.

Reception Music
Keep the band small. If their equipment is modern and up-to-date, a small combo band shouldn’t sound like it’s that small. Or have the band do double-duty, playing at your ceremony and then at your reception. Alternatively, opt for a DJ. The best DJs and bands are in highest demand on Saturday nights, so try Friday or Sunday for a slightly discounted rate.

Wedding Video
Consider having only the ceremony filmed. Forego complicated editing. (You’ll want at least minimal editing done, however — otherwise you’ll end up with four to eight hours of video, some of which is not so interesting!) Whatever you do, don’t skip videography altogether — you’ll regret it if you do. Consider this: Wouldn’t you love to watch your grandparents’ wedding video?

Wedding Photos
Hire your photographer for the ceremony plus a limited amount of hours at the reception. Keep prints simple, and stay away from special treatments like sepia tones, multiple exposures, and split frames, which add to the cost. Select a package carefully — some include parents’ albums, but many don’t, which means you may pay an additional fee later.

Wedding Rings
Get silver or white gold wedding bands now, and upgrade to platinum on your first anniversary.

Honeymoon
Use the mileage/frequent-flyer miles you earned when using your trusty credit card to pay for your flight. Avoid traveling during high season, the peak tourist time when things are most crowded and in demand. Check airfares for departures out of nearby, smaller cities — Milwaukee instead of Chicago, Baltimore instead of D.C. Or get a package instead of purchasing plane tickets, hotel, and food separately. And definitely let people know that you’re on your honeymoon. It could result in perks like chilled champagne waiting for you in your suite, or free upgrades.

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