- by Lisa

Congratulations to all of our new readers who got engaged on Valentine's Day! We hope you enjoy this special time in your life. Planning the kind of wedding you want can be so much FUN, but it can also be quite a challenge in today's economy. Here are some suggestions for cutting your wedding costs:

1. Trim the guest list - if possible. Sometimes it's not possible due to family situations etc. This is the number 1 way of cutting costs.

2. Consider a freelance photographer – A great “freelance” photographer might fit the bill. Often, the wedding is looked through a fresh and creative lens. Expensive back-end costs are often reduced. Warning – if a professional album is your goal, this might not be a viable option for you. Tip - one might even reduce their cost, for a chance at getting a great wedding in their portfolio!

3. Buy a custom-made dress as opposed to a gown from a bridal salon. I had a bride who loved a $3,500.00 dress. We got a dress made out of "real" silk satin, a cathedral veil which was lined in the same fabric, and a bolero jacket - all for $2,000.00. If that’s not cost savings, I don't know what is.

4. Trunk shows and sample sales are great!

5. Opting for a smaller "show" cake and offering sheet cakes in the back.

6. Cutting the alcohol out of your bar (they will survive one night, I promise). Nobody is saying that you have to offer, but if you offer it - in my opinion, you should pay for it.

7. Choosing a venue that has table, chairs, glassware, silver, etc. Covering the chairs is not as expensive as renting ones (if you find an economic rental solution. Don’t rent the covers through the venue).

8. Choosing a venue you are happy with, decor wise - choosing a venue that you do not like because it’s inexpensive, and then paying twice the rental fee in decor - is not a good plan.

9. Cutting out favors, or combining favors and place cards into one offering.

10. Make every aspect of your wedding matter. Follow this rule of thumb, “don’t just do it because you think you “need’ to do it. Do it because it has a significance to you, your fiancĂ©, your families (collectively) and your guests”. Make the significance known to everyone.

11. Downsize your wedding party (or have no wedding party at all).

12. Have your ceremony and reception in one place - no need to transport yourselves or your guests.

13. Rent instead of buy. Check prices. You will only use this stuff once, and renting will eliminate the need to sell afterwards.

14. Get married during the “off” season. Many vendors would love to work early December, January and February - when things are typically quiet. They might even offer you a terrific deal if you give them your wedding!

15. Create a realistic budget and prioritize. Be honest to yourself and your vendors about how much you can and/or want to spend on your big day.

16. Hire a planner who has a strong network of vendors that they always use. This will save you time and money.

I hope this list will offer you realistic ideas on not only helping you cut costs, but also on maintaining the spirit of your day!

Happy planning!

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