Small Ways To Save On Wedding Expenses

My wedding reception, 1/15/2005

$30,000. That's how much the Today show told us the average wedding costs in the US. For that amount of money, my parents sent me for my Bachelor's, my sister for her Associates and rebuilt my first car! I understand that our wedding day is one of the most important days in our lives, but a lot of us don't have a lot of discretionary income. When you hold to 'traditions' such as having the bride's family pay for everything, it gets even more hairy. Even so, you don't have to spend a lot of money (or sanity!) if you know how to look for good deals.

The dress. Picking a wedding dress can be overwhelming, especially for those of us who didn't have our whole wedding planned out by the time we were ten. Some designers cost more than others for roughly the same look. Rather than going to the bridal shop without a plan, go to sites such as The Knot and do a search for the specifics-neckline, frame, cost, etc. Then you'll be shown a variety of designers that you can choose from and find out where to go from there.

Also, make note of the fabrics. My satin-shell, beaded dress has the same appearance as one I saw with real pearls or crystals, but cost significantly less.

The cake. Believe it or not, you don't have to go to a fancy bakery to get a great cake. Check at your local bakery (or supermarket!) to see what they can offer. They might not have vanilla layers with raspberry in the middle, but many employ very talented decorators and offer special cakes on request. You can also get two smaller cakes rather than one huge one, or put layers on plastic decorated stands rather a stacked cake. I've also seen cupcakes on tiers or a chocolate fondue fountain. Mmmm, chocolate.... :)

A few extra tips:
-Have a plan. Before you go dress shopping for yourself or your bridesmaids, do your homework and know what you are looking for. Even if you don't use the specifics I mentioned above, pick out a basic style and color (for the bridesmaids) before you go to the store. You can save a *lot* of time this way. Also, some stores book appointments so you can have a sales associates' full attention. If you can, do. That, or bring an 'experienced' friend.
-Pick your battles. Choose three things that are the most important to you and concentrate your money on those. Things like pew bows might seem small, but the costs mount up.
-Look for bridal consignment shops or smaller stores. Consignment shops have surprisingly good deals. I got lucky and got my dress at a clearance price because the shop was going out of business, but big-box stores and catalogues can cost a lot more than your independent retailer. Also, A separate tiara and a barrette/comb veil can be found at many stores for much less than a one-piece.
-If you can do something yourself, do it. Get some ribbon and make your own pew bows. Make your own favors rather than buying pre-made ones. If you can, make your own CDs and playlists rather than hiring a DJ. We made ours and played them on the jukeboxes in the background.
-Connections, connections, connections! If you know people (or know people who know people) with the items or abilities you need, take advantage of it. For instance, that picture was taken in a party room that a friend of my parents' had in his garage. They also borrowed the flowered trellis we walked under, got a discount on the flowers and booked a caterer they knew. My stepsister, a manager at a fancy restaurant, catered the rehearsal dinner as her gift to us. My friend, a very good baker, made our cake. The minister was a family friend and refused payment. You may not know that many people, but you can save a lot of money by 'networking'.

Hopefully now you have a few ways to make you or your daughter's wedding day beautiful and affordable at the same time. Now, where's my invitation?

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