Budgeting for a wedding is tricky business. On one hand, your wedding day should be the one time you can pamper and spoil yourself without feeling guilty. On the other hand, the last thing you want to do is start your new life as a couple under a mountain of debt. If your budget is spinning out of control, it's time to make some compromises as to what are necessities and what you can do without.
It might be nice to invite everyone you have ever met to your wedding, but financially it's rarely a good idea. Since wedding costs per person can easily exceed $50 or even $100, cutting even 10 percent of your guest list can result in substantial savings. The best part about this option is you won't diminish the experience for the guests that do attend.
The most expensive time to have a wedding, according to SmartMoney, is 7 p.m. on a Saturday. As a result, everything about your wedding will be more expensive at this time, from the reception hall to the catering. Having a wedding in the afternoon can trim your costs substantially. If you can manage to have your wedding any day but Saturday, that will help even more. Serving lunch or brunch instead of dinner should also save on catering expenses. The season matters too. You should be able to get better rates on everything if your wedding is not held in a peak month like June.
Flowers are often one of the most expensive items in a wedding budget. A 2011 "Forbes" story placed the average cost of flowers at $10,000. You could do well for far less than that, but, if you hold the reception in a garden setting, you may not need to spend any money on flowers. Substituting local, in-season greens for floral blooms can also help you trim your budget. You can nip another cost in the bud just by having the flowers do double-duty at the ceremony and reception.
Cake and Alcohol
There's no need to serve both dessert and a wedding cake, but that seems to be commonplace at weddings. If you are determined to serve cake, you can save money by having a smaller, fancy cake for display purposes and a sheet cake to serve your guests. You can trim your alcohol costs serving only beer and wine, or no alcohol at all. You'll save immediately on the $20 or more per head some venues charge if you're serving alcohol.
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