Six ways to save on pricey wedding items

If a wedding is in your near future, mazel tov! But brace yourself: it’ll cost you.

According to a 2006 survey by the Conde Nast Bridal Group, publishers of Brides, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride, the average cost of a wedding has increased 100 percent since 1990 to more than $27,000. 

Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit-counseling agency, says the price of a wedding can put stress on the new marriage from the start.

“Debt is one of the largest problems that married couples face,” he said. “The stress of paying for a wedding can actually outweigh the joy of the big day. It’s much better to have a less expensive wedding and start your marriage off on the right foot.”

Sullivan offers six ways you can save on any wedding:

• Beware of “marriage markup.” Some florists, caterers and other vendors will charge more for wedding parties than other types of similar-sized parties. To prevent this, comparison shop before finalizing any contracts with vendors.

• Be a homebody. You can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by hosting the wedding at your house, or at the home of a relative or friend. Having the wedding in a familiar place can also make guests feel more comfortable.  

• Make food a family affair. Caterers aren’t your only options to feed a wedding party. Smaller weddings can usually get by with the cooking skills of friends and families. You can also split duties with a caterer to save cash. For instance, have a family member or friend make the cake, and pay a caterer for the lunch or dinner, or visa versa. In addition, you can serve wine or champagne only, as opposed to having an open bar.

• Save on décor. You can save on flowers for décor, corsages and boutonnieres by selecting seasonal flowers. Candles are also a cheaper alternative. And remember, simple is better. Elaborate centerpieces aren’t necessary at the reception and often block the view of onlookers. 

• Do your own invitations. Put your creative skills to use by designing your own invitations, and get them printed at a local copy center. Individualized invitations can be the most memorable. For inspiration, consider using photographs or other mementos that have meaning in your relationship. Plus, you can save a lot of money on postage by asking guests to RSVP through email or on the phone, as opposed to RSVP cards with pre-paid postage.

• Split the costs. It’s no longer up to the bride’s family to accept the financial burden of the entire wedding. Many couples will pay most of the costs themselves, but it is also appropriate to ask the groom’s family to chip in. Once the funding sources have been established, create a budget and stick to it.

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