7 Smart Tips to Save Money on Your Wedding

wedding ringWeddings can be the stuff dreams are made of. Unfortunately, nightmares, too.

Just ask the couple whose wedding and reception was supposed to be at a mansion in the Tampa, Fla., area -- before the property owner canceled three weeks before their big day.

The groom told Reddit they managed to save the day by moving the whole shebang to a family member's farm, where they had a rip-roaring party. "I can't even say 'It went okay' as a joke," the groom wrote on Reddit. "It was epic. We took the 'have it in a field' idea and really ran with it."They saved so much money on the venue, they were able to rent bounce houses and a petting zoo for the guests and have a pig roast for the feast. While it might not sound like your typical wedding, the guests had a blast. And the bride and groom didn't break the bank with their down-home celebration.

With the average cost of a wedding clocking in at $24,000 last year, according to market researcher The Wedding Report, any way you can save money on the big day is a good thing. And if you can have fun at the same time, all the better.

So check out our ideas on how to trim your wedding costs without losing the fun factor:

1. Are they on the list?

Newlywed Catrina Hilbert of Pennsylvania offers this smart advice to WalletPop readers: Don't bow to pressure to invite everyone and their brother...or second cousin or childhood neighbor. A smaller wedding can be just as enjoyable -- and sometimes better.

"If I could do something different, I would have definitely made our guest list a lot smaller! It would have saved a lot of money and stress," Hilbert says. "Invite the people who are close to you or who have played a part in your life and helped make you the person you are today."

So don't let your mom talk you into inviting Cousin Louie and his large brood or let your mother-in-law pressure you into asking her book club friends. Your budget will thank you.

2. Mum's the word.

Financial guru and WalletPop colleague Lynnette Khalfani Cox advises readers not to tell caterers, rental halls or other service providers of the reason for your interest in their services.

"The minute you say 'I'm getting married!' all of a sudden the regular white shoes you wanted become 'bridal shoes' -- at a big financial premium, of course. The same thing goes for renting a limo, purchasing flowers, getting party favors and so on," Khalfani Cox says. "With some expenses, like renting a wedding hall or hotel room, it's practically impossible not to let on that the event in question is a wedding. But I've heard of people playing it coy with hotels and other places and just indicating that they're having a 'special event.' "

3. Buying by design.

Most people pay a large chunk of change for a dress that's worn just once. In order to get the best deal on your wedding gown, WalletPop writer Barbara Thau recommends shopping at designer retailers rather than at a bridal salon.

"Buy a dress off the rack from retailers such as Ann Taylor or White House Black Market, which now offer wedding dresses with simpler silhouettes that are much less expensive than what's typically found at a bridal salon," Thau says, adding that many of these dresses can be bought online, too.

4. Light up the room.

Reception decorations don't have to be elaborate to look impressive. One inexpensive but effective way to do that is to use candlelight. At a friend's wedding, the bride and groom bought mirrors and candles at their local dollar store to use as the centerpiece for each table. When the lit candles were placed on the mirrors, the reflected light shone around the reception hall.

5. Timing is everything.

If you're set on having a church ceremony, choosing a date around the year-end holiday season could be a boon to someone looking to trim costs on flowers and decorations. Most are usually decorated for Christmas, so you won't have to bring in your own decor. The same is true for the Easter season.

6. Ask for help.

You most likely chose the members of your wedding party because they're close to you -- ten to one, they'd be willing to pitch in with the planning and coordinating, too, for your big day.

"Don't be afraid to ask for help," says Hilbert. "Make good use of your wedding party; that's what they're there for."

7. Just run away.

If all else fails and it's starting to sound as if you're going to have to take a loan from Fort Knox to pay for it, elope. While your family and friends may be disappointed, you don't want to get your married life started off on the wrong foot. And spending money you can't really afford -- or, worse, going into debt -- for a one-day event is just not a smart financial move. Trust us, your bank account and your credit score will thank you later.
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