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Frugal Wedding Tips for the Budget-Conscious Bride and Groom

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This free guest post was provided by Daniel Guidotti, the featured author at Capcredit.com. Cap Credit is an online financial resource that covers a wide variety of topics ranging from investing to frugal living.

You’ve finally found that special someone who makes you heart do flips and compliments you in every way possible. You’ve courted and finally decided to spend your lives together. Now it’s time to plan the wedding, and although you both want the day to fulfill all your dreams, neither you nor your families have the extra income to splurge on the ultimate fantasy. The average wedding in the United States costs about $27,000, and in today’s economy more and more couples are faced with some big financial decisions when planning their special day.

A wedding on a budget can still be everything you’ve ever wanted, however, with some careful planning. First and foremost, decide on your budget. Knowing how much you have to spend in advance can help prevent the costs from spiraling away from you as the planning progresses. Once the budget is settled, make a list of your top priorities—things you are not willing to do without. Some people have dreamed about having their wedding in a certain venue for years and aren’t willing to sacrifice that dream. Others may instead place higher importance on certain types of flowers, a summer outdoor ceremony or a designer gown. Planning a wedding on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing all of your wedding fantasies. Often compromises can be made and items of less importance can be eliminated.

Guests

Studies show weddings generally cost between $50 and $80 per guest, including invitations, postage, favors, food and drink. Therefore, keeping the guest list small keeps the costs down. Although you may feel family pressure to invite your mother’s uncle’s ex-wife’s son, remember this is your wedding. Many couples find a more intimate affair, where they can actually speak to all their guests rather than just see them in the receiving line, is a much more pleasurable and stress-free event.

Venues

A major way to save costs when planning a wedding is to choose an economical venue for the ceremony, as well as the reception. Rather than holding the ceremony in a hotel or expensive chapel, consider a community hall or a local church. If an outdoor wedding is an option, a local park or backyard garden can be a beautiful setting. Some of the money saved on renting a facility can be used towards seating and decorations. Also consider the season of your wedding date. Peak wedding season is considered April through August; costs are generally lower outside of that time period. Likewise, money can be saved in renting a reception hall by choosing a local lodge such as the Elk’s, VFW or Eagles, or even having it in the same location as the ceremony.

Gowns

Many brides have envisioned their wedding dress since they were little girls. Just because you are planning your wedding on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have a knock-out dress. There are several options for brides who don’t have unlimited money to splurge on a designer gown.

More and more brides are choosing to rent a designer gown for a fraction of the cost they could purchase one. Although keeping the dress provides a sentimental value, it’s practical to remember it is only worn once, and there are plenty of pictures to remember how you looked on your day.

Another option is to purchase a previously-worn gown. Check consignment shops or even E-bay for your dress. A dress can be altered for much less money than a new one would cost. If you are not comfortable with a used dress, check last-season’s designs—they are often sold for a fraction of their original cost—or department stores such as JC Penney or Macey’s, instead of bridal boutiques.

Brides with a creative nature can even hire a seamstress to sew their gown and have a one-of-a-kind dress for a fraction of a designer gown’s cost. Browse bridal magazine and decide what you like. Then work with a seamstress to design your dress, as well as choose your fabric and embellishments. If you are less creative, you can purchase bridal gown patterns and have your dress made, as well. For further savings, ask a friend or family member to sew the dress for you as a wedding gift.

Flowers

Many don’t realize the full cost of flowers until they start the wedding planning process. Hiring a high-end florist to create bouquets, boutonnieres and flower arrangements can easily cost in excess of $2,000. There are ways to have beautiful flowers on a budget, however.  When choosing the flowers, stick to varieties in season. Shipping orchids or ordering lilies in December can cost substantially more than carnations, daisies or even roses. If the wedding is on an extremely tight budget, you can consider making arrangements of silk flowers, or buying loose flowers and arranging them yourself. If you have funds to order from a florist, however, don’t discount the floral shop at the supermarket or Wal-Mart—they can usually do the same job for less than half the cost of many florists. Consider moving the larger arrangements from your ceremony to the reception to reduce total costs. After all, you might as well get the most use of what you bought.

Music

A budget wedding can still have special music for the ceremony and festive music at the reception. Consider asking friends or family to provide music for the ceremony. Another option couples may consider is contacting a local university’s music department. Often student musicians will be more-than-willing to provide music for your ceremony at a fraction of the cost of a professional.

Hiring a band or even a deejay can be a major expense when planning a wedding reception. With music so digitally available today, it’s simple to create a play list and set up your own speakers in the reception area. With either self-made CDs, and MP3 player or an IPod, the reception can have all the music you love at little to no cost.

Invitations and decorations

Wedding invitations can cost as much as $30 each from a professional printer. Budget-conscious planners can get them for much less, however. By searching online, you can find much more cost-efficient invitations to order or, even better, make your own. Most office supply stores offer do-it-yourself kits to create your own designs on the computer, complete with blank invitations to print. You can then print your own or take them to a printing store such as Kinko’s and have them laser printed for very little. Making your own invitations has its perks, as well. You can implement your own pictures or photos to personalize them, or even add your own quote or scripture.

Decorate for the ceremony with tulle and ribbon purchased at the local fabric or craft-supply store. With planning and creativity, the wedding and reception can be as beautiful and extravagant as you want, at little cost. Consider borrowing Christmas lights and tablecloths from loved ones to add an extra spark and extra savings to the reception venue. Centerpieces can also easily be made from materials found at the local arts and crafts store.

Food and drink

Hiring a caterer can be an expensive task. Instead, ask friends or family to help with the reception food. For an afternoon reception, they can roast hams and turkeys which can then be slicked and served with rolls. If it’s too late for lunch, ask them to make dishes such as meatballs, smoked sausages, casseroles or roast beef.

If you aren’t comfortable asking or don’t have guests willing or able to cook, check with a locally-owned family restaurant rather than an exclusive caterer. Often these establishments will be happy to take on the affair and charge much less than a professional caterer.

Consider serving only soda and punch rather than alcohol. If you truly want to serve adult-beverages, stick with beer and wine, which are much less expensive than liquors or Champaign.

Many options are available to save money on the wedding cake. The most cost-efficient cake is one made by a friend or family member. Consider asking someone with a knack for baking to make your cake in lieu of buying a wedding gift. If you do hire a baker, consider a small wedding cake, with a separate sheet cake to serve guests. Don’t hesitate to shop around various bakeries, either. You might be surprised the variance in price between a large well-known establishment and small local business.

Photography

Wedding photography can easily cost in excess of $1000, but it doesn’t have to. More couples are asking friends or family to take the pictures as a wedding gift. Others warn against such a practice, however, unless the person is a professional, since wedding photos are something you will want as a treasured memory. If you feel you need to hire a professional, but can’t afford the cost, consider contacting the local university. Ask a professor of photography for some recommendations of students with particular skill. Students will often be more than willing to work the event for little cost in order to build their portfolios. Furthermore, they will often relinquish copyright, so you will be free to make your own prints rather than purchasing them from a studio.

Don’t forget the details

Many experts say the average wedding goes 15 percent over budget. Much of that cost comes from details forgotten until the last minute. Postage, makeup, tips, marriage license, shoes, hair—they all add up if not included in the original budget. Although it may not be possible to anticipate every expense, try to brainstorm all of your expenditures when you start planning, rather than coming up short later.

Many couples enter the wedding market unprepared and are soon overwhelmed. With careful research and planning, however, a wedding on a budget can happen—and be the memorable experience you’ve always imagined.

This free guest post was provided by Daniel Guidotti, the featured author at Capcredit.com. Cap Credit is an online financial resource that covers a wide variety of topics ranging from investing to frugal living.

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AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

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