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‘I do!’ 3 ways to save on a wedding

By Paula Pant ·
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Posted: 10 am ET

It is springtime, the start of wedding season. People of all age groups are getting married or remarried, or are renewing their vows.

Even if you're not making arrangements for your own nuptials, you might help friends or family members organize their weddings.

Anyone in the thick of wedding bells knows how many hundreds of small decisions need to be made. Will the bouquet have roses, hydrangeas, calla lilies or all three? Will the bridesmaids wear hemlines that hit their knee or run past the ankle?

In the midst of making all these decisions, it can be easy to relax your frugal instincts. Before you know it, your $5,000 budget can escalate to $10,000, or beyond.

Here are three tips to keep your costs in check.

1. Consider a wedding package

Many venues offer packages that include services such as the disc jockey, cake, flowers, photographer, ceremony chairs, reception table and chairs, and a coordinator. Buying all the services from one central vendor might allow you to snag a better deal overall than hiring each service a la carte.

But don't leap to any hasty conclusions. Crunch the numbers to see if a package makes sense.

2. Pick your priorities

You can't have the creme de la creme of everything without breaking the bank. Pick one or two aspects of the wedding that are most important, and splurge on those portions.

For example, you might decide to hire a top-notch photographer, but keep to a lower budget for the cake.

3. Set a maximum price

It can be easy to let costs creep higher and higher. It typically happens slowly. For example, you choose the slightly more expensive bouquet, because it has baby's breath and jasmine. You want a slightly pricier centerpiece, since your guests will be staring at it throughout the dinner. You decide to get your hair professionally styled and light scented candles in the church.

To curtail this, set your "top price" for each aspect of the event. Decide in advance that you won't spend more than "X" dollars on the bouquet, or "Y" dollars on the dress. Choosing a maximum price for each line-item will help you control costs better than simply setting a general cost goal for the entire event.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, "Afford Anything," is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it."

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