5 Clever Ways to Save Money On Your Wedding & Still Have It Be Fabulous

You're engaged and wedding planning is in full swing––your mom is already drafting a guest list, your future mother-in-law is sifting through catering options and your best friend is already on top of the bridesmaids dresses. Fun, isn't it? Oh, and then there's the money. The average wedding in the United States costs well over $20,000 (you would be surprised to know how many people spend $100,000+ for their big day!). But just because you have a small wedding budget doesn't mean you can't have a fabulous ceremony and reception. There are plenty of ways to cut costs without having your wedding seem cheap or unstylish, and it doesn't have to involve slashing your guest list to 30, wearing your cousin's used wedding dress, or resorting to paper plates.

Here are 5 simple and clever ways to save money on your wedding, while still having it be as fabulous as ever.

1. Realize that sit-down dinners aren't necessary

This isn't all that clever of a tip, but as a wedding planner, it's advice I give to all my clients. Have your wedding a little later in the evening and get away with just doing drinks, appetizers, and cake. It's more fun for people to mingle than wait around for dinner to be served, anyhow. Catering costs are astronomical, and food and beverages take the lion's share of most wedding budgets.

2. Consider having it during an off-season

Is the middle of June really that great, anyways? A wonderful way to still have many aspects of your dream wedding is to simply change the season. Off-peak costs are always much lower, and I personally think that winter weddings can be absolutely stunning. Another great idea? Don't get married on a Saturday!

3. Don't be afraid to cut out the little things (read: favors)

You know what I'm thinking of here––favors. No one will miss them! After all, who hasn't received their share of cheesy favors that have gotten thrown away? If you insist on having favors, here are some tips to keep costs down.

4. DIY your flowers

It really is possible to do this and do it well. Making your own bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnieres will also encourage you to keep it minimalistic. Do away with centerpieces entirely, or experiment with non-floral centerpieces. If you're having a fall wedding, using branches can be elegant. In the winter, think about something with pinecones. Regardless, when it comes to making bouquets, do a trial run first with some flowers from the grocery store before you do the real thing. Or, if you have a crafty friend, enlist his or her help! Here are some dos and don'ts to get you started.

5. Choose your venue wisely

You don't have to drop $10,000 on a hotel ballroom to have a stylish wedding. If you're getting married in a warmer month, or even early fall, explore public parks. Many of them have areas that can be rented for a few hundred dollars. Real Simple has some other great advice on nontraditional venues, too. If you do rent a traditional venue, be sure the contract is clear on what is and is not provided. Will you have to use the venue's vendors? That's another sign that higher costs are on the horizon. However, on that same note, remember that linens, tables, and other rentals can be expensive––do your homework before signing any contracts.

Images: Fotolia (2)