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Wedding Planning for Less

Wedding season is upon us, along with the endless list of expenses that most weddings entail. But before you let financial stress put a damper on your big day, remember that you can still have a dream wedding for a fraction of what most weddings cost. These eight pointers will help you and your family avoid excess spending without compromising on quality.

Pick Your Date Strategically

Most people get married in the summertime so that friends and relatives with children can attend. But if you book your wedding during the off-season – i.e., November through March – you can save a considerable amount of money. Here’s another tip: Consider a Friday or a Sunday for the wedding, as opposed to a Saturday. The majority of weddings happen on Saturdays, which makes them more expensive.

Trim the Guest List

It may sound like a cop-out, but the fewer people you invite, the more special your wedding will be. And from a financial perspective, a smaller guest list adds up to serious savings – fewer invitations to send out, fewer chairs and tables to rent, fewer people to wine and dine, and fewer favors to buy.

Dress for Less

It really is possible to find your dream dress – or designer tuxedo – at a price that won’t give you nightmares. You just have to look hard enough. If you can fit into a sample size, call the wedding boutiques in your area to see if they have any sample sales coming up. And remember, you can always find barely-worn gowns and tuxedos on resale websites like Tradesy, eBay, Craigslist, or Etsy.

Book an Out-of-the-Box Venue

Not all weddings need to be held in country clubs or hotel ballrooms. If you belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, you can probably rent their reception halls at a discounted rate. Otherwise, opt for parks, beaches, private homes, ranches, or public gardens in your area. And if you get married in the off-season, you’ll be able to secure a more traditional venue at a serious discount.

Forget the Florist

Flower arrangements from local florists tend to cost an arm and a leg. As an alternative, try buying loose stems in bulk from an online flower retailer like FiftyFlowers and making the arrangements yourself. Websites like Wedding Chicks provide plenty of DIY instructions for arranging wedding flowers. If you do decide to order them from a local florist, stick to in-season blooms and avoid cascades, which require more labor – and tend to cost more.

Cut the Cake

There’s no reason to spend thousands of dollars on your wedding cake. Why not order a smaller, fancier cake for your photos, and have a simpler, larger sheet cake in the back to serve to your guests? Here’s another option: Order a basic cake from your local bakery, and decorate it yourself with fresh flowers or satin ribbons.

Don’t Overdo the Reception

Hosting an open bar can be expensive. To save money, serve signature cocktails, a Champagne punch, or just beer and wine. For your Champagne toast, opt for Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava instead of Champagne. Both options are considerably cheaper, and no one will be the wiser. As for the food, you’ll have to decide whether you want to serve a full meal, or stick with hors-d’oeuvres and passed plates. Full meals tend to be less expensive if you’re serving lunch or brunch instead of dinner. And if you opt for a buffet over table service, you won’t have to pay for a waitstaff.

Do Yourself a Favor

Let’s be honest – how many wedding favors have you NOT thrown away as soon as you got home? Either skip the favors altogether or give away something delicious and affordable – like cookies. Depending on how many guests you’re inviting, you can even bake them yourself.

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