5 Costly Wedding Mistakes

Speaking as a bride-to-be, it's easy to go overboard when planning your wedding. Getting married is an emotional time and the wedding industry has us wrapped around its $40 billion finger, insisting we spend every last penny to ensure the most perfect day. In fact, the average wedding costs more than $26,000 - even more in pricey cities like New York and LA. But remember, you're getting married, not weddinged! Here are 5 costly mistakes to avoid when planning your Big Day. 1. Assuming You Have to Stick with Tradition
You may be pressured to do things a 'certain' way by 'certain' family members, but if you're footing the bill, you get to decide. Keep in mind that a traditional sit-down reception and multi-tiered cake can easily add up. A recent Bride Magazine study found that the average reception costs $13,367 and a wedding cake $480. To save, consider having your wedding on a night other than Saturday. Or, rather than offering a full meal, why not throw a chic cocktail reception? Either of those options could help you save 25% or more.

As for the cake, what about cupcakes? That's what my fiancé and I are doing and we're saving about 50% with this one trick. Cupcakes cost about $2 to $3 each, while cakes can easily start at $6 per slice.

2. Poo-Pooing Electronic Invites

Get this: nearly one in five couples are now using electronic invitations or save-the-dates to invite guests to their weddings. "One of the great things about sending a save-the-date electronically is that enables people to go directly to your [wedding] website, which has information on transportation and where to stay," says Tracy Taylor Ward, wedding planner and founder of Tracy Taylor Ward Design. Many of her clients are opting for electronic save-the-dates, she says, and using online services such as Paperless Post. Also, Ward's graphic design team - Paper With Benefits - offers clients custom-designed invitations, which can be uploaded to email.

3. Going Overboard on Booze.

Your guests will most certainly appreciate a well-stocked and open bar but that doesn't mean you need to provide premium-shelf liquor and a large variety of wines. Survey your guests drink preferences and buy accordingly. One brand of white and red wine, a couple variety of beers, basic liquors and some cocktail mixes will gladly do. Also, try to work with vendors who will reimburse you for any unopened bottles. We're working with Frank's Wine, a vendor in Delaware, who's agreed to reimburse us for any unopened wine or liquor.

Finally, avoid fast depletion of your bar stock by passing around a signature cocktail. This also avoids long lines at the bar.

4. Splurging on Party Favors

Do you remember what you received at the last wedding you attended? Do you still own it? Wedding chackis - from personalized playing cards to mini chocolate boxes -- can cost anywhere from $3 to $5 per guest. While that may not seem like much in the grand scheme of wedding planning, favors don't always offer tremendous value. Instead, brides and grooms are moving away from party favors and opting for alternative thank you's. For example: More than 10% of couples made charitable donations on behalf of their guests last year, according to Bride Magazine. "What's nice about that is that it's not only going to a great cause, but it also enables the client to not disclose how much they're giving. So whether it's $50 or $5,000, everybody's happy," says Ward.

5. Not Asking For a Discount

Everything is negotiable in the wedding industry. Ward's haggling tip: "Instead of saying, 'I want X, Y and Z. How much does that cost?' Say, 'This is my budget. What can you do for me?'" True story: I got a 10% discount off my wedding gown just for asking! It's always worth a try.

Special thanks to Junko Yoshioka, Party Rental LTD and Baked By Melissa! for helping to make this video possible.

What are some ways you're saving money on your wedding? Share your tips with me on Twitter @Farnoosh, using the hashtag #finfit

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