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Planning the ideal wedding can get expensive fast. The average wedding in the United States costs over $33,000, meaning many weddings cost even more than that. Whether it’s couture gowns or elaborate catered meals, weddings that pull out all the stops also put a lot of financial pressure on couples. Most couples take on debt to cover their wedding costs, which can damage their credit and keep them from being able to achieve more milestones like buying a house.

Upon reflection, many married couples have regrets about putting themselves in debt for an expensive wedding. Brides know that they must have the perfect wedding dress for that once in a lifetime day. Fortunately, there are some other critical steps one can take when planning their wedding that will significantly lower the other costs without sacrificing the style. 

Keep the Guest List Small

The guest list is often one of the first things an engaged couple plans for their wedding. It’s easy to wind up with a list of attendees that boasts hundreds of names. The average cost per wedding guest is between $30 and $70, so keeping the list minimal is vital. Couples should sit down and discuss the most important people in their lives and try to omit the distant family members or friends they don’t have a relationship with anymore.

Another good way to keep the guest list to a minimum is to keep the wedding adults-only. Imagine the bride and groom each have two siblings, each of those siblings have a partner, and each couple has two children. A guest list that could have been between 4-8 people is now 16 people. It is easy to see how that can get out of control quickly. Leaving children off the invitation saves quite a bit of money for the engaged couple.

Pick an Unpopular Day

Getting married during peak wedding season can get expensive quickly. Typically this is between the late spring through early fall, with weekends being more costly for venues, caterers, disc jockeys, and other groups involved in wedding events. Planning a wedding during the off-season, and sometimes during the hot days of summer, can save couples a lot of money. Many places offer a discount for weddings book during slower months. If the off-season isn’t an option, couples can still save money by planning a wedding during the week.

Be Choosy About Venue

On average, one-third of a couple’s wedding budget is spent on just the wedding venue. That is a significant portion of the total wedding cost, so being picky about the site can save couples several thousand dollars. Choosing a flexible venue is one way to limit the cost. Many venues will allow couples to host their wedding and their reception in the same place, limiting the amount of money that they have to spend. Additionally, some venues may require that couples use their catering service, which can be expensive. Couples who plan to cater themselves or want other options for foodservice should be sure to ask for the details of the venue’s rules before deciding where to have their wedding.

Go for Unconventional Catering

Wedding venues often offer their own catering, but that can be costly and the food can be just mediocre. Many couples want their big day to be unique and would prefer it not to cost them an arm and a leg. These couples should consider alternative catering options such as food trucks or buffets. Some weddings have even had gourmet pizzas as their dinner option, adding a little flair to their event at a reduced cost.

Final Thoughts

Nothing puts a damper on the bride and groom’s romance as a massive amount of debt. Extravagant weddings don’t have to be expensive. Couples can use the above tips to plan their dream wedding on a budget, gown and all.