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Wedding planning on a budget

There’s no denying that wedding planning is exciting and fun. But it’s no secret that weddings are expensive. In fact, The Knot’s 2016 Real Weddings Study concluded that the National average wedding cost is $35,329.

So if you’re determined not to spend $35,000 or more on a wedding, how do you make that happen? Follow these tips when it comes to planning your big day.

Your budget

Set a budget and stick to it. Talk to your parents, fiancé(e), and anyone else who is willing to help you pay for the wedding. Determine who will pay for what and how much they’re willing to spend.

If you’re planning to pay for all, or part of, the wedding yourself—request a free Dupaco Money Makeover to help get your budget off on the right foot. More importantly than determining your budget: Be sure to stick to it!

Be honest about your budget when talking to vendors. When vendors see that their prices are very close, but just above what you can afford, they are often willing to work with your budget. After all, they want your business!

Take advantage of your talented friends. Do you know someone whose passion is photography or singing? They may be willing to put forth their talent at your wedding for a lower cost than a local photographer. Or—if they aren’t able to do it—they will likely know of someone else who can fit your budget.

Consider a Friday or Sunday wedding. Many reception venues waive room fees and/or food and drink minimums for weddings that are not on the traditional Saturday, helping you stay on budget with your venue costs.

Hold your ceremony and reception in one location. This cuts travel time for vendors you pay by the hour, and it makes transportation easier for everyone involved, including your guests. Also, by having everything under one roof, you avoid two contracts.

Limit the guest list to your closest friends and family. Your special day should be spent with those who are near and dear to your heart, not just because you know who they are. Plus, you can save on food and beverage costs, and possibly afford to upgrade on the appetizers.

Plan smart

It’s never too early to plan. By giving yourself ample time to plan, you can look around at different vendors and have time to negotiate the prices you can afford for what they offer.

Attend local bridal shows. Not just for free samples, bridal fairs and shows give you the chance to inquire with vendors and discover others that you may not have previously considered. Also, vendors often hold raffles that give you a discount on their services.

Including DIY décor? Start shopping early! Craft stores often have department sales (such as fabric or glass) periodically, so give yourself some time to shop the sales. Also, by thinking ahead, you may find friends or Facebook marketplace users giving away their left over wedding décor for little to no cost.

A caution on DIY: Sometimes DIY can be a much bigger time investment than it first appears. The first few tables of décor or favors might be fun, but by the time you’re on your 50th piece, you might be ready to throw in the towel.

Be mindful of holidays. Some holidays, like Valentine’s Day, can cause flower prices to soar. Other holidays like the 4th of July are heavy travel times for families, so be prepared for a lower RSVP number if your wedding falls on one of those dates. And finally, major holidays like New Year’s Eve are prime times for hotels/resorts to charge you through the roof if you plan to go on your honeymoon then.

Timing your Save the Dates. If you’re planning to have your wedding around a holiday in which people are traveling, or a destination wedding, be sure to send out your Save the Dates early enough for your guests to make necessary arrangements.

Research, research, research

Use idea and wedding planning sites to your fullest advantage. You might find simple yet elegant ideas on Pinterest that you would not have otherwise considered. Wedding planning sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire provide an abundance of resources from vendor reviews to blog articles. You can also create a wedding website for your guests to find additional information on your big day.

If you want to purchase your wedding dress, start looking for inspiration on Pinterest. You’ll get ideas on how much you should expect to pay for a specific dress style. Then, call some bridal stores to see if they have a style you love in stock.

Tip: During your bridal appointment, make sure your consultant is aware of your budget, and ask them to stay within it.

Network! Ask your married and engaged friends who they used or have considered for vendors. They can provide an honest opinion on what vendors they would hire if they could do it all over again, and which to caution on.

Shop around. Call several vendors and visit multiple venues to get the best price and the experience you’re looking for from them.

Compromise is key

Go green. Get more bang for your buck on flowers by adding more greenery in them.

Rent a wedding dress. Wedding dresses can easily cost a couple thousand dollars, so renting gives you the opportunity to wear something you love without making a financial commitment to it.

Cut on the cake. Order a small one or two-tiered cake for the cake cutting, and supplement a larger sheet cake for the guests. Some couples have opted for a Styrofoam cake, with one real slice reserved for the cake cutting ceremony.

Short and sweet now. Go big later. Consider a shorter and/or nearby honeymoon destination right after the wedding, and save up for that dream trip on your anniversary.

Wants vs needs. Do you really need those overly extravagant centerpieces? Or would you rather use the money to have cupcakes—rather than sheet cake—served to your guests? Think about how important certain elements of your wedding will be a month after the event, and decide if they’re worth splurging or saving on.

Weddings can be a lot of work, but they are also a fun and memorable experience. By setting a budget, planning early, and being willing to compromise, you can keep the costs within your budget.

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