How to Have a Dream Wedding on a Budget

Rachel Greenberg

No one wants to pay more than they have to for anything, especially something as costly as a wedding. And if you're like me, and you had to foot your own bill, then you certainly want to keep costs down. I was afraid it couldn't be done, especially since my husband and I live in one of the most expensive regions of the country. But my wedding is proof that it can be done, and here's how:

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Reception Venue

Look for non-profit organizations that host wedding receptions, since their rental fees are extremely reasonable. And many of them - the American Legion is one example - have gorgeous, well-maintained facilities. If you prefer an outdoor wedding, then skip the country club and go to a state or national park, where you can get beautiful landscapes at a fraction of the cost.

Catering

Many rental halls offer full-service catering, which includes linens and tableware, wait staff, all food prep and cleanup, etc. But unless you're at a non-profit (which hopefully you are, if you followed step #1), then this can be extremely expensive. Try to find a smaller catering company that typically does at-home meal service, since they know how to do things on a budget. And they are sure to give you excellent customer service.

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Alcohol

You must, must, must buy your own alcohol. If you purchase it through your rental hall at retail price, you will be paying through the nose. If you have followed step #1, then you have most likely found a place that will allow you to bring your own alcohol, or will give it to you at a non-profit price. This is the only way to go.

Flowers & Decorations

Eliminate additional expense by keeping everything simple. There really is no need to have little party favors at each table, since hardly anyone remembers or appreciates those items anyway. And go easy on the flowers  having a few simple arrangements strategically placed can be very sophisticated and elegant.

Music

With the abundance of music available for (legal) download via the internet, it's easier than ever to create your own CDs to play at the wedding. It's great to have creative control over the music, and it gives you and your future spouse a project you can work on together. A lot of rental halls will have equipment available for you to play your CDs, but you can also rent this equipment fairly inexpensively.

Invitations

Save on invitations by only ordering paper invitations for family members. Everyone else, including your friends and extended family, can be invited via email. You may think it's tacky, but it's really the best way to get an accurate headcount. It's much easier for people to respond to an email than to have to mail back a response via snail mail. But still use the paper invitations for your family, since this is the more traditional route. You can get very inexpensive invitations these days through various printing websites.

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In addition to the recommendations I have listed above, there are many other little ways you can save. For example, going to discount bridal stores for your dress, getting a friend to make the wedding cake, etc. - but I have found that trying to micro-manage every little item on your checklist will make you crazy. So just keep it simple with the big items that I listed above, and you will have the ultimate dream wedding  a beautiful venue, excellent food, plenty of beverages, your favorite music, all on a budget!

About The Author: Rachel Greenberg has a background in business and finance, and she received her MBA from Duke University in 1999. She writes fun and informative pieces for her website http://www.bargainfamily.com - which she created with her husband Lee. The website provides advice and recommendations for families on various products and services for their homes, lives, and businesses.

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