Editor in Chief of 'The Knot' reveals genius hack to cut cost of your wedding cake

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — wedding season!

Well, maybe not the most wonderful time of the year when it comes to your bank account, because whether you’re a bride, bridesmaid or lucky guest, it’s time to face the music from the cover band at the reception: Weddings are expensive.

11 factors to take into account for wedding gifts:

New data from The Knot shows the average wedding in the U.S. cost a whopping $33,391 (excludes honeymoon) in 2017, and knowing where and on what to allocate that budget towards can be confusing at the very least.

It’s safe to say no one knows that better than Kristen Maxwell Cooper, Editor in Chief of ‘The Knot’, an XO Group company that has become the golden standard when it comes to wedding planning and features.

A powerhouse who worked her way up the journalism ladder, Maxwell Cooper has found herself in a much coveted position, for more reasons than one:

“XO Group is a company that was founded by women for women. It is definitely a company that fosters women being in leadership roles, and in leadership [roles] that really make an impact. … there are tons of young women all over the world with big dreams … the next generation is the future and I think that we should always be role models for the people coming after us.”

The weddings that The Knot features and helps plan are no different — no two are the same because the dreamers and couples behind them have their own unique vision and purpose!

“Every wedding is unique, every wedding should be unique and we really want to celebrate that. Not every wedding needs to look alike to be beautiful or to be successful … I just love those stories that really speak to the couple.”

And its honing in on those unique elements of every wedding that make The Knot as much of an all-inclusive wedding source as it is:

“We’re not only just speaking to women, or just to brides and grooms. We’re also speaking to women who are marrying women, men who are marrying men and we want to make sure that we are as gender neutral as possible, and that we are speaking to every person who may want to be planning a wedding … we really tried not to make assumptions about who is reading our magazine, who is reading our content online, who’s following us on Instagram and try to speak to everyone.”

We chatted more with Maxwell-Cooper to get the inside scoop on major wedding trends. budgeting tricks and gained some insight on the most-anticipated wedding of 2018: The Royal Wedding!

AOL: What’s the first thing one should do when they get engaged (and likely have no clue where to start with their planning process)?

Kristin Maxwell Cooper: “My first suggestion would be to download The Knot app … we’ve put all of your wedding planning needs right there on your phone… not only will it give you inspiration, but it will connect you with vendors in your area and in your price range. It will help you manage your guest lists, RSVPs, it will help you set up your registry and manage your registry — it literally is all of the things you need right in one app. And I think that’s something unique about The Knot, that we don’t just specialize in registry or we don’t just specialize in planning we specialize in all of it so we can really help you plan your wedding from day one to the wedding day.”

AOL: What are some major wedding trends we can expect to see throughout 2018?

KMC: “One of the biggest trends is asking for cash … it’s something that’s been a faux pas sort of in the past, but as couples are maybe getting married a little later in life, they might be living together already, so they have a lot of the more traditional things that they may need … cash registries are something that we have heard our audience say they want… so maybe they’re putting cash towards a honeymoon registry or maybe they’re putting cash towards a down payment on a home or even something fun like a new puppy or something. I think that that’s a trend that is going to continue to be huge in years to come.

In terms of style, we’re seeing a lot of balloons that are taking the place of flowers … not in the places that you would traditionally think flowers [would be] like a bouquet, but in terms of decor. So maybe there’s a balloon installation that’s hanging from the ceiling, maybe it’s a really great balloon wall that’s Instagram-able (maybe it even becomes part of your Photo Booth), but balloons have a really whimsical feel and they can work for both formal and more casual weddings.

And when it comes to fashion, sleeves are it. We saw tons of sleeves on the runway. Sleeves really started with Kate Middleton, but they were really classic and really traditional — long-sleeved, lace. Now we’re seeing bell sleeves, we’re seeing off-the-shoulder, we’re seeing cap sleeves. Essentially, if you have a sleeve on your dress, you can’t go wrong in 2018!”

AOL: Many people focus on Spring weddings that they often forget about the beauty of a colder-season wedding — What’s your favorite trend for a Fall wedding?

KMC: “I would say that I would capitalize on [the fall theme] … one of the trends for 2018 is instead of choosing a color palette, it’s really choosing a theme for the wedding and letting that drive all of the decorations and things like that. So, I would think about fall and think about what you like most about fall — maybe it’s the colors, maybe it’s the feeling that you have … really bring that theme to life.”

AOL: What are wedding trends or themes that you find to be a bit overdone by this point?

KMC: “You see those weddings that you know are just as if Pinterest just took over that wedding, and maybe there’s not a focus or a real theme that you can see through there … kind of temper that a little bit and really choose a focus, and really choose one thing that you want to get out of the wedding — really just let that be your driving force.

I would also say the intro dances for the wedding party … really put the focus on you as a couple and really splurge for that first dance lesson so that you have something that you can entertain your guests with and spare your wedding party.”

AOL: What are your top tricks for cutting wedding costs without completely getting rid of certain aspects of your wedding?

KMC: "The number one thing you can do is cut your guest list. Your guest list is going to be the biggest task on your budget … try to cut the guest list, make sure that all these people are people you really want at your wedding.

The next thing that you can do is little things here and there — for instance, if you want to have the cake cutting, maybe only have two tiers and have a sheet cake in the back that the staff can cut up — no one’s ever going to know that they’re having sheet cake versus a piece of cake from the actual tiers.

Make sure that you really pay attention to the some of the hidden costs that you’re not thinking of. For instance, if you only have $2,000 for your wedding dress, maybe only spend $1,500 because you need budget for the shoes, and maybe the jewelry, the veil, those types of things that you aren’t taking into consideration.

(Note: The Knot found that the average price of a bride's wedding dress in the U.S. was $1,509 in 2017)

Another thing is postage — thats something that really sneaks up on people. So if you have an invitation that’s heavier or an odd shape, it’s going to require more postage and it can really add up.”

AOL: On the contrary, what are your must-splurge services when it comes to weddings?

KMC: “The photographer for sure — those are photos you’re going to want for the rest of your life, so make sure that you’re not cutting corners there. Splurge for that second shooter that can get different angles than the other shooter.

Really, just professionals in general [are worth the splurge], and you really want to make sure that you’re investing int he professionals — don’t try to do the flowers by yourself, don’t try to make your wedding cake the morning of — rely on the professionals that do this for a living and they are going to make your life so much easier, and it’ll be amazing."

AOL: The question on everyone’s mind — What, in any capacity, can we expect to see when it comes to the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle?

KMC: “So when it comes to the [Royal] wedding in general, I think we’re going to see things that feel a little bit more American than British. They’re definitely going to incorporate some traditions that we see at Royal weddings, but Meghan is definitley going to put her spin on it, and she is not going to do just everything by the book in terms of a traditional Royal wedding. So I think that we should expect to see some of those things.

In terms of what she’s wearing (which is obviously the most important thing to discuss!) she was quoted as saying that that the ideal wedding dress for her was Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s dress, so i think that we can expect to see something that is a little more form-fitting, a little bit slip dress-esque and something that’s fairly simple. I don’t think she’ll be coming out in a big ball gown or have tons of lace. I think that even if you look at her street style, it really is a bit more simple, a bit more structured and I think that she will stay true to that style for her wedding dress.”

AOL: Any advice for nervous, anxious couples in the stages of planning their weddings?

KMC: Take a deep breath, enjoy this time of being engaged, i promise it will all come together and it will be amazing! Don’t lose sight of what it’s all about — you’re going to get to marry your best friend and love of your life, it’s a super exciting time.

Learn more about wedding planning on The Knot.