Don't be shy, you can admit it. Have you started planning your wedding day even without a ring on your finger? It's OK, I've been known to do the same. (Wink!)
You may be looking forward to a fun reception -- how many drinks will Uncle Jim have before he starts dancing on a table? -- or you may be dreaming about the ceremony. Bride-to-be or just a dreamer, you can still look realistically at your costs.
Kim Kardashian's wedding ceremony may have cost roughly a million times more than the average American's salary. But this Kim (Fulscher) looks at a ceremony as a good place to be elegant yet frugal.
A time to be cheap?
Let's get this note out of the way though: There are parts of your wedding ceremony you should never cheap out on -- and one of those is photography, says Kristin Koch, senior editor of WeddingChannel.com. You'll want a professional photographer who you trust and is committed to doing a great job.
"This is the one physical memory you're going to have for this day," Koch says. "That is going to be your lasting memory … It's something brides regret not having or not doing well."
Brittany Renkel, a frugal bride who had her Mississippi wedding in October 2010, agrees with Koch on hiring a good photographer and wishes she went pro on her wedding day. "If you’re going to blow (money) in one place, blow it there," Renkel advises.
Let the scenery do the work
Most everything else in your ceremony is fair game for savings, starting with the venue.
As any elegant-yet-frugal bride can tell you, the scenery can do all the work for you -- for free. A friend of mine was recently married next to a lighthouse in Jupiter, Fla. She sought out a beautiful location in part to trim costs on decorations and flowers -- and it worked. A nice evening wedding with an ocean view, a lighthouse and a banyan tree was gorgeous and simple.
But whether you're inside or outdoors, you should try one trick when negotiating with venue owners: Try to keep the word "wedding" out of the conversation, says Jodi Furman, owner of the LiveFabuLESS blog. "Usually when you say 'wedding,' vendors start putting extra zeroes at the end of their quotes," she says. (And this goes with all wedding vendors.)
My friend had her reception at a nearby resort. However, having the ceremony and reception at the same place can shave even more off your costs, Renkel says.
A multipurpose venue offers: two costs wrapped into one, no transportation worries, and several opportunities to save money with do-it-yourself decorations. Take the floral costs -- they'll stay low because those flowers will easily be repurposed. Renkel bought local, in-season flowers, and her bridesmaids carried small bouquets.
Remember to repurpose
Go a step further, and use those bouquets as centerpieces at the reception, or arrange them around the cake. When Furman got married, for the rehearsal dinner she bought flowers from a warehouse store, wrapped them in twine from a craft store and "no one knew the difference," she says.
And if you have friends with talent, like Renkel, you can save money on music costs: Her friend played the guitar at part of the ceremony and reception for free.
What are some ways you have saved on wedding ceremony costs or ways you plan to save? Tell me in the comments section!
Follow me on Twitter: @KimSavesMoney.