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Vowing Not to Break the Bank

By Cindy Livesey

Wedding season is upon us, and my family is right in the middle of it.

According to a report by USA Today, New Jersey ranks No. 2 in the country for the highest cost of weddings. A typical N.J. wedding averages around $38,000. Compare that to No. 50 where a typical wedding in Mississippi runs around $15,000.

Are we fighting a losing battle to keep our costs down? It might seem that way, but I’m going to share some tips, from my own experience, having two weddings in the past two years, to have a more budget friendly wedding.

Save Money on the Date

Prime time for weddings has always been summer, but more and more brides and grooms are now leaning toward September and October. These prime slots will obviously cost you more so opt for less expensive months such as January or February, but don’t be fooled by the “off season.” There are some times, including New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, that are super expensive. We opted for a May wedding, so we positioned ourselves right in between.

The day of the week you decide on will also impact the cost of the wedding with Saturday, day or night, being the most expensive option. Friday night will save you money as will Sunday. But, lately, brides and grooms are pushing the wedding into the week with a Thursday night celebration to save even more.

Save Money on the Location

As I mentioned above, the cost of weddings in New Jersey is crazy, with most of the expense stemming from the venue. For our wedding this coming May, we did choose a traditional wedding venue, but our daughter who got married in 2017 opted for a tented wedding at a wine vineyard in northern Connecticut. This type of wedding was a la carte as we had to source out everything from the napkins and desserts. We were even able to decide on how much and what kind of liquor we served. It allowed us to do a lot ourselves to keep the costs down.

Other venue options come from renting a private home, a public park and so on. And of course, you can always have a ceremony at a historic and picturesque courthouse with a small group present and then just have a nice, casual reception after.

Save Money on the Dress

I’ll be honest with you – on the dress, we went in for both my girls with a nice budget. We stuck to that budget on each dress but, this was one area we wanted them to get exactly what they wanted as long as it was within our budget. With that said, there are many ways to save on a wedding dress.

Just the words “wedding dress” jacks up the price. Take a nice white bridesmaids style dress, ball gown or prom gown, and you’ll see how much less the prices are. You can get a basic white dress and find an awesome seamstress who can embellish it or add features that will make it special for the bride.

If you don’t mind buying a used wedding dress, there is that option as well. Sites such as OnceWed and Tradesy sell used wedding dresses at a fraction of the original price.

Save Money on Decor

Thanks to Pinterest, we have so many great ideas right at our fingertips. So, if you are crafty, put those skills to work. For my girls, we made seating charts, signs, embellished napkins, menus and much more.

However, if you are not crafty or you just don’t have the time, then going the DIY route might not be for you. No worries though, there are still ways to save.

One easy way is to keep your décor very simple. If you selected a venue that comes with a lot of its own décor, that’s always a plus. But maybe the venue is set in a beautiful setting; go with that and let nature dictate the décor.

Bouquets can be expensive, so opt for smaller, simpler bouquets. Talk to your florist about which flowers are easier on the wallet. Let them know your budget and work together to create beautiful bouquets while sticking to your plan.

Additional Frugal Wedding Planning Tips to Save Here and There

I covered a few of the bigger categories above. Now I want to focus on a few of the smaller that you can make some quick changes on to cut down on expenses.

Here are some simple, yet frugal examples:

• Make your own invitations or use less expensive services like Vista Print.

• Purchase used centerpieces on Craigslist or eBay. Trust me, no one will know.

• Put those who want to help to work. Have them pick up flowers, tuxes, food and more rather than pay to have the items delivered.

• Make your own photo booth. We are actually doing that for my daughter’s wedding this May. A co-worker is having her daughter’s wedding and is making a greenery wall, and we are providing the white flowers to embellish it. We are both using it and splitting the cost. Win, win!

• Work with those providing services for your wedding and come to decisions together. Professionals can suggest ways to stick to your budget without sacrificing the beauty and individuality of your big day.

Remember, no matter how big or small your wedding is, set a budget and stick to it. You can easily let your emotions cloud your judgement when making selections or decisions. You don’t want to realize, after the big day, that you went way over budget.

And lastly, make sure you make a list of non-negotiable items and spend money on those first. Then you can work everything else into your budget as needed.

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