Wedding Budget 101: Ways to Save

From creating your wedding budget to saving without sacrifice, we'll show you how it's done.
Whatever your budget, you don't have to resort to DIY bouquets to come in on target. Follow these three tips to have a chic wedding without sacrificing one iota of style.

Step 1: Decide What's Most Important
Pick your top three priorities and allocate a little extra money for them (i.e., gown, catering, and band). Next, pick the three things that come lowest on your priority list (maybe style, flowers, cake, invitations), and budget accordingly.

Step 2: Cut the Guest List
One of the fastest and most effective ways to lower your wedding cost is to pare down the invitees. Get out that red pen! At $100 a head, taking 10 guests off the guest list saves $1,000! Also consider the size of your wedding party: Gifts, hair, and makeup are cheaper for two than for ten.

Note: Having trouble figuring out which guests to cut? Make a rule and whittle away. Rule #1: If you have never spoken to, met, or heard the name of a particular guest, they get cut. Rule #2: Anyone whose bedtime occurs before 9 p.m. will miss the cake cutting anyway, and probably won't have the best time. (All under-12 year-olds get a no) Rule #3: Significant others? Consider someone worthy of an invite if he or she is currently living with or has been in a relationship for more than one year with the friend you want to invite.

Step 3: Pass on Pricey Details
Glamorous details on items you're indifferent about spike costs without adding any fun to your day. Free yourself of the pressure to upgrade and instead make honest choices based on what you want. Ask yourself, "Will anyone notice if we don't do this?"

Having two shades of ink on your invitation might match your color scheme, but it can also add massive printing costs; square invites require extra postage.

Town Cars will shuttle your wedding party to the reception just as effectively as a Hummer stretch limo.

If you're happy with simple wedding pictures, pass on options like sepia tones, multiple exposures, and split frames.

Choose flowers that are in season, and pick locally grown flowers rather than blooms that need to be flown in from afar to reduce costs.

Substitute less expensive flowers: If you exchange Black Magic roses for more reasonably priced, deeply colored dahlias in all your bouquets and table arrangements, you'll save about $4 a stem. If you were planning on having five roses per bouquet and ten per centerpiece and have a wedding party of five gals and guest list of 150 people, you could save $700.

Reduce the number of overall dinner courses (making each of three courses fabulous costs less than serving five individual courses) and keep your menu simple. Stick with the specialties of the season and region.

Have the caterers bring out the fancy Dom Perignon for the toast, but then switch to a less expensive champagne for the rest of the night -- no one will ever see the bottle or know the difference.

Order a small, fabulous cake that's exactly what you want and, in the kitchen, have several sheet cakes of the same flavor cut for your guests. And stay away from tiers and (time-consuming) handmade sugar flowers or special molded shapes. Have your caterer decorate each plate with a flavored sauce instead. Forgo fondant: Buttercream frosting is tastier and less expensive.


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