From the moment you begin your journey into the world of wedding planning you have opportunities to save money. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Make your own invitations, or have a friend or family member make them for you. Check out WeddingClipart.com for clip art and templates.
2. Instead of including response cards with the invitations, save the postage and include an e-mail address and/or phone number for responses.
3. Buy your invitations online. There is more selection online, which means it is easier to find invitations to fit your budget. In many cases you buy direct from online sources, so you cut out the middleman and the markup. Some websites to check are www.theamericanwedding.com, www.regencyinvitations.com, and www.paperstyle.com.
4. If a fancy designer gown is not a must, consider renting a wedding dress or buying one secondhand. There are often wedding dresses -- some never worn -- advertised in the classified section of newspapers.
5. Buy a dress online. Sites such as eBay (www.ebay.com) can offer significant savings on wedding dresses, both secondhand and brand new. Sites such as The Bridal World (www.thebridalworld.com) offer warehouse prices on new wedding dresses.
6. Consider buying a discontinued dress from a bridal store.
7. If you are planning a casual wedding, check out the dresses at area department stores.
8. Do the guys really need tuxedos? Maybe suits would look fine.
9. A bride who's into crafts can make her own veil and headpiece. Materials are plentiful at craft and fabric stores, and instructions are available on the Internet and in books.
10. Buy inexpensive shoes. If the bride's gown is long, no one will see the shoes anyway. Ballet slippers can be purchased from a dance studio for a reasonable price.
11. Borrow a friend's crinoline.
12. Buy bridesmaids' dresses from a department store.
13. Do your own hair and makeup.
Excerpted from Intimate Weddings by Christina Friedrichsen. Copyright © 2004 by Christina Friedrichsen. Excerpted by permission of North Light Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
14. Use flowers that are in season, and use plenty of greenery in the bouquets.
15. Pick out some pretty garden bouquets from the grocery store, a flower wholesaler or a greenhouse, instead of going to a florist.
16. Bring the floral arrangements from the ceremony to the reception site instead of buying separate ones.
17. Use floating candles instead of floral centerpieces.
18. Place a single flower in a bud vase or float a single flower in a bowl of water instead of using a full arrangement.
19. Use potted plants instead of cut flowers.
20. Lots of balloons in colours that complement your wedding theme are a great alternative to more expensive decorations.
21. Buy some tulle and twinkle lights, and decorate the venue yourself.
22. Dollar stores can be great sources for favours. They usually have candles galore, and they have fun stuff for your child guests.
23. Instead of renting a limo, rent a fun car, such as a Volkswagen Beetle or a convertible Ford Thunderbird, and have a friend play chauffeur.
24. Use your car or that of a friend or family member to transport you from the ceremony to the reception.
25. Is an elegant rehearsal dinner necessary? If not, consider a more casual dinner. You could go out for Chinese food or order a pizza or even have a backyard barbecue.
26. Have your wedding during the off-season (Nov. 1 to April 30).
27. Get married on a Friday night or on a Sunday.
28. Have a Christmastime wedding. Chances are the venue will already be decorated.
29. Hold the ceremony and reception at the same location. You're likely to have a lower total rental fee -- and you'll save money on transportation and decorations.
30. Choose a venue that needs little adornment, such as a garden or decorated facility.
31. Serve appetizers on a buffet instead of having servers circulate them.
32. Ask friends or family to make the appetizers and desserts.
33. Consider having a cocktail reception instead of a sit-down meal.
34. Have a brunch or lunch reception, or provide a buffet instead of a plated meal.
35. Have a potluck reception.
36. Use the wedding cake as the dessert. (Everyone will be stuffed anyway!)
37. Borrow seldom-used items such as the punch bowl and cake knife instead of purchasing them.
38. Instead of a wedding cake, order a fancy cake from a bakery. (Who doesn't love cheesecake?)
39. Decorate the top of your cake with fresh flowers or fruit instead of a cake topper.
40. Have an open bar, but limit the selection of beverages. Instead of offering hard liquor and mixed drinks, allow the guests to choose from wine, beer, wine coolers and soft drinks.
41. Choose a venue where you can supply your own alcohol.
42. Make your own wine and beer at a do-it-yourself place.
43. Offer poured service rather than leaving the wine bottles on the tables.
44. Don't bother with champagne for the toast. Guests can toast with whatever they are drinking.
45. Hire one musician to play at both the ceremony and the reception.
46. Instead of hiring a deejay, create your own CD compilations and play them throughout the reception.
47. Have a professional shoot the standard shots and opt for the basic package. For all the other photos, provide guests with disposable cameras or ask friends and family to bring their cameras.
48. Call a local university or college to find out about any talented student photographers that shoot weddings.
49. Call your local newspaper to find out if any of the photojournalists do weddings.
50. Instead of hiring a professional, have a friend videotape the service.
Excerpted from Intimate Weddings by Christina Friedrichsen. Copyright Â© 2004 by Christina Friedrichsen. Excerpted by permission of North Light Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.