10 Ways to Save on the Rising Cost of Weddings

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The average cost of a wedding is approaching $30,000. Here's how to save on everything from dresses to photographers.

The average cost of a wedding reached a new high last year of $28,427, according to The Knot. It sounds like a lot because, well, it is — enough to buy a new car or pay off four years of student loan debt.

Couples can easily become overwhelmed and end up overspending without realizing what the total cost will be. Starting out married life with wedding debt should be avoided.

In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has a host of suggestions to keep the cost under control. Check it out, then read on for more details.

1. Do-it-yourself invitations

A quick Internet search for wedding invitations turned up these:

  • 100 hand-engraved invitations from Crane & Co. — $714.
  • 100 “Woodland Wedding” invitations from Checkerboard — $479.
  • 100 engraved invitations by William Arthur –– $381.

Yikes. Instead of shelling out hundreds on premade invitations, put your friends and family to work and make your own. All you need is some card stock, envelopes and pens to make basic handmade invitations. Look for invitation design ideas here:

2. Skip party favors

Wedding favors and gifts for the bridal party are popular, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy them. Your wedding is about you: People should bring you gifts, not the other way around. Still, if you’re set on saying thanks with presents, make your own. Here are a few ideas:

3. Scale back on the dress

The Knot says brides spend an average of $1,211 on their wedding dresses. Why spend that much on something you’ll only wear once? Instead, look for cheaper alternatives like:

  • Off the rack. Look for off-the-rack sales at bridal shops instead of custom-made dresses.
  • Consignment shops. Consignment shops that specialize in bridal and evening wear will have barely used dresses at huge discounts.
  • Vintage. Wear your mom’s dress and save 100 percent of the cost, or have an old dress altered to fit your style.

4. Make your own floral displays

My not-so-frugal friend spent $2,300 on flowers for her wedding. After it was over, she said she wished she had cut back. She can’t but you still can. Instead of paying thousands for a pricey florist, buy flowers from a local farmers market and design your own bouquets.  DIY Bride has a tutorial to get you started.

5. Change locations

Where you get married significantly affects your wedding budget. According to The Knot, a wedding in Manhattan costs $76,687 on average while a wedding in the outer boroughs of New York costs $39,602.

Having the wedding and reception away from the heart of your city may cost less. Also consider alternatives to banquet halls and other expensive traditional settings. We found 10 cheaper wedding venues like:

6. Change dates

Be flexible with dates. Many hotels and other venues have busy seasons – spring and early summer for weddings — when you’ll pay a premium. If you’re willing to wait until the off-season, you’ll get a discount.

Also, consider having your wedding during the week. A location will likely offer you a discount if business is slow.

7. Start early

You may get a better price on the wedding location, and you’ll certainly save money on food and alcohol. An early afternoon wedding and reception means a sit-down or buffet dinner won’t be required, and people generally drink less than they would at an evening affair.

8. Be your own disc jockey

Bands don’t come cheap and even DJs can cost hundreds of dollars. You’ll want music at your reception to help set the mood, but you don’t need to pay someone else to do it. Instead, make a playlist of your favorite songs and put them on an MP3 player. At the reception, designate a trusted friend or family member to keep the tunes playing.

9. Ask friends to help with photography

Wedding photographers cost $2,379 on average, according to The Knot, and there’s no guarantee you’ll like the photos you get. Skip the pricey professionals and ask your friends and family to serve as photographers. It’s likely that one of your friends is a skilled photographer.

Another alternative: My friend gave all of her guests disposable cameras and asked them to take the whole roll. Most people did and she has great wedding shots.

Another friend rented a photo booth for her wedding. Guests had a great time getting their pictures taken and she has an unusual wedding scrapbook. Costs for booth rental we found online were much lower than the average cost of a professional.

10. Put down the plastic

Finally, resist the temptation to charge wedding expenses you can’t afford. You can easily go over your budget this way. As Stacy noted in the video, if you put the average wedding on a credit card with 12 percent interest, it would take three years of $900-a-month payments to pay it off.

Stacy Johnson

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