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From the cake and dinner to your dress and flowers, there’s a lot to think about when planning a wedding, especially when you’re trying to establish a budget for the big day.
According to an annual study by The Knot, the average wedding cost more than $35,000 in 2016. To cover this expense, some people decide to take out a wedding loan, but if that isn’t for you, you may want to figure out what areas are most important to you and where you can cut back.
Trimming back on your wedding expenses certainly doesn’t mean your wedding will be less extravagant. In fact, you can have the fabulous wedding of your dreams all while staying on budget. Here are five areas you can easily adjust in order to help you save.
1. The Big Day
If you’re flexible on when you have your festivities, you may really be able to save a bundle.
“Saturday is the prime day for a wedding, and you pay for that,” shopping expert Trae Bodge said. “Instead, have a Friday or Sunday wedding, as venues are less in demand, and therefore less expensive, at these times.”
2. The Dress
The Knot study found that the average U.S. bride spent $1,564 on her wedding dress in 2016. If you can’t see spending this kind of money on a dress you’ll likely only wear once, you have some options to help you save.
“Consider buying your dress pre-worn — after all, it was only worn once — and/or selling your dress after the big day,” Bodge said. “Another option is, when you’re shopping, look not only at wedding dresses but general formal wear,” she said. “Once you take ‘bridal gown’ out of the equation, the price decreases.”
3. Food & Cocktails
If you want to provide drinks for your guests, but don’t want to have a full open bar, Bodge recommended you “opt for beer, wine and possibly a signature mixed drink, which will reduce your bar bill substantially.”
In terms of cutting back on costs for food, she recommended “placing appetizers on tables rather than having them passed” so you don’t have to hire a wait staff. And you may be able to save when it comes to selecting your menu. Bodge advised “serving cheeses, dips and veggies rather than meats or fish.”
Instead of having a professional put together your flower arrangements, Bodge recommended tapping into your crafty side.
“Order seasonal flowers from your local florist and arrange them yourself,” she said. “It can be a fun project for you and your bridal party!”
You’ll certainly want to capture the moments you experience on your big day, so it’s a good idea to hire a photographer whom you trust to get it right.
“When it comes to negotiating a photography package, forgo the pricey prints and opt for CDs or Dropbox files with high-res images,” Bodge said. “This gives you the freedom to shop around for the best print prices on your own time.”
Get Rewarded for Your Big Day
It may seem counterintuitive, but you may be able to save some money on your expenses. You’re likely going to put some of these on a credit card, so you may as well get something back for it. One way to do this: reward credit cards.
If you don’t currently have a credit card that rewards you for your spending, it may be time to check out some of your options, which can include everything from cards that give you cash back to cards with travel perks that can help you fund your honeymoon.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card comes with a $95 annual fee but will reward you with 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months (which probably won’t be too hard with the down payments you’re making).
Those bonus points are equal to $625 when redeemed through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel portal. With that type of kickback, the bills for appetizers and cake won’t sting as much when you realize they’re helping you get to Tahiti.
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