What bride wouldn't love to have an unlimited budget for her wedding? Unfortunately, most couples have limits to how much they can spend on that special day.
Still, if you're planning a wedding and your fairy tale is fading, take these steps to effectively reduce the costs of your wedding dress, flower arrangements and other expenditures:
Set reasonable expectations. It's easy to get caught up in the "perfect wedding syndrome." However, every item you select doesn't have to be perfect. Table centerpieces, for example, don't need to be glitzy. Such items just have to be a good fit and available at reasonable prices.
Let your friends and family help. People in your inner circle may have skills that can come in handy in terms of trimming costs. Need a photographer, seamstress, florist, caterer or DJ? Perhaps a friend or relative can do the job just as well as a professional. Consider asking for help in lieu of a wedding present.
Skip some of the customized items. Napkins don't need to have the bride and groom's names printed on them. After all, everyone knows whose wedding it is (if they don't, printing it on the napkins probably won't help).
Rent rather than buy. With a few exceptions, you don't want to buy items for your wedding that can't be used for another occasion. For instance, you may never find another use for that huge punch bowl, so it makes more sense to rent one.
Go direct. You don't need to go to a bridal shop to purchase wedding invitations. Go to a local printing company, or order online to save costs.
Get a better bridal gown on a budget. Every bride wants to look radiant walking down the aisle--and she can. But if she rents her dress or buys a used one from a thrift shop, she can do it for a lot less.
Keep your impulses in check. Of course, you want a memorable wedding, which can make it easy to convince yourself that it's OK spending a little more than planned. However, if you do that every time you make a purchase, you'll wind up breaking your budget.
Be cake creative. Rather than buy a giant, expensive wedding cake from a top-of-the-line bakery, opt for a smaller, professional wedding cake and topper, and then add sheet cakes made by friends and family.
Shop around for flowers. Bridal bouquets should be beautiful, but don't let florists stretch your budget too thin. Get estimates from several stores in your area, and let them know that you're price shopping (motivation helps).
Forego the limousine. When you think back on your reception, odds are your fond memories won't include the limo. Therefore, have a friend drive you and avoid shelling out for the unnecessary expense.
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters. The site features thousands of articles on how to save your valuable time and money, including an article on reducing wedding costs.
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