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05.17.2010 / Here Comes the Bride. There goes the Budget.

Tying the knot used to involve a trip to the altar and a simple reception. Now, low cost weddings are almost a thing of the past.

"If you or one of your children will be tying the knot soon, there is no time like the present to think about creating a budget for the big day."

The average American wedding costs almost $29,000, according to The Wedding Report, a market research publication. $29,000! That money could buy a nice new car or be a 20% down payment on a $145,000 home. It’s also more than most Americans earn in a year.

So if you or one of your children will be tying the knot soon, there is no time like the present to think about creating a budget for the big day. The tips below can help you make the most of whatever funds you have, without sacrificing the joy and importance of the big day.

    Date: Pick an out-of-season date, such as one in January, February or March. Avoid holidays and opt for a Friday or Sunday instead of high-demand Saturdays.

    Guest List: Reining in the guest list can quickly reduce expenses. Consider dropping friends’ dates and children, business associates and casual acquaintances.

    Wedding gown: Tweak tradition by selecting an elegant white or ivory evening gown from a department store. Or consider renting a dress, which will cost much less.

    Food and drink: People typically eat and drink less at brunch or lunch receptions than a dinner event. These menus are often less pricey, too. Or, consider serving just hors d’oeuvres and cake. Limit beverage choices and/or the length of time the beverages are free.

    Location: Consider lower cost reception venues, such as a room in your place of worship, the local community center, a public garden or a historic building.

    Flowers: Pick local blooms that will be in season. Imported or greenhouse flowers cost more, as do roses and orchids, regardless of season or location.

    Photographer/Videographer: Hire a professional just for the formal shots/scenes and ask a skilled friend to handle the rest. Or contact the photography/videography departments at a local college to see if a top student will do the job inexpensively.

    Music: A disc jockey usually costs less than a live band.

Finally, it’s always important to check references before you hire any professionals. Also, you should consider checking their reputation with the regional Better Business Bureau office. A little effort up-front could make the difference between a dream-come-true wedding and a disaster.

Are wedding bells ringing in your near future? Do you have any tips that you can share with our readers? Please share them.

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