Making Wedding Plans on the Cheap

How to get married and stay out of debt

Event planner Harriet David has been helping people plan their wedding for nearly 40 years.  She says at times, wedding planning turns into wedding arguing.

"Conflicts between parents, conflicts between bride and groom," said David. "Why do you want to start your life together with conflict?"

Harriet says problems often start when couples don't have a budget.  They go around asking for prices without knowing if they can afford it or not.  Certified Financial Planner Mary Beth Storjohann says to stay out of debt, couples need to set limits.

"It's really important for couples to come together as a team ahead of time to prioritize those things they want to spend money on," Storjohann says.

Today. weddings average more than $28,000.  Most of the money is spent on the venue (location) and food and drink. Storjohann says you can start saving money by limiting the number of guests.

"I think reflecting on the guest list is important," she says.

The average wedding has 140 guests.  Many caterers charge by the head, so invite fewer guests and save money.  You also want to shop around for prices without announcing you are getting married.  Merchants often raise their prices when it is for a wedding.

So what else can you do to save money?  Here are ten suggestions from Mary Beth Storjohann and Harriet David:

1)  Limit the guest list.

2)  Don't offer a full dinner menu.

3)  Book your wedding for a cheaper time. (Friday or Sunday afternoon)

4)  Replace flowers with colorful balloons where possible.

5)  Swap expensive centerpieces for items reflecting the couple's interests.

6)  Order a smaller wedding cake with less expensive sheet cake for guests.

7)  Avoid holidays where hotels and flowers are often more expensive.

8)  Offer guests homemade treats instead of expensive catering.

9)  Recruit friends to help with decorating and arranging.

10)  Elope.

However, both experts agree on one place place not to skimp: Photography.

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