smart spending

Top 10 ways to save money on your wedding

3. Cuisine costs. Food can be the biggest expense at a wedding. Research your options. You may want to consider a buffet instead of a sit-down meal; or host a high tea; a dessert reception; brunch or luncheon instead of a multicourse meal. Another possibility for holding down expenses without sacrificing fine cuisine is "drop-off catering." The caterer delivers already prepared food and sets it up. Or if you are really adventurous, cater all of part of the reception yourself.

4. Location, location, location. The world is truly your oyster. There are many options for low-cost or no-cost locations, including local and national parks, forest preserves, your own back yard or that of a friend or relative. Or you can make it easy on yourself and find an all-inclusive package in which the wedding, reception and even the honeymoon are all included in the deal.

A great way to celebrate your wedding at a special spot without the high cost is to plan your wedding during an off-season. Remember too, a wedding on any day but Saturday will reduce the expenses.

5. Wedding attire. Here's where you have many options for stretching your bridal dollars. You don't have to buy at a traditional bridal salon. You could purchase a gown at an outlet or from a department store in the special occasions off-the-rack area. Other cost-conscious options include buying a vintage or once-worn gown, wear a designer suit, purchase a traditional gown through a discount gown retailer, rent a gown or check out an online auction to find your dress. Or go for the "something borrowed" by redoing your mom's or mother-in-law's bridal gown.

6. Set the mood with flowers and decorations. If you choose to wed in a location that is already decorated, you'll see big savings. To set a stylish mood without much work, plan the wedding to take place in a garden, art museum or a beautifully furnished home.

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Or consider doing the flowers and decorations yourself.

"One bride I interviewed for the book planted 200 bulbs months before their wedding, and then married right in the middle of the fully-blooming cheerful yellow tulips. Another bought 13 dozen roses at a great price from a warehouse store, " Kennedy says.

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