9 Creative Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

A beautiful wedding doesn't have to be expensive. Here are nine small things you can do to save big bucks.

1. Limit Alcoholic Beverages
Limit alcoholic beverages to wine and beer, choices that will satisfy most of your guests.

Sign up for newsletters or join mailing lists at wine shops. Then, when wines you want for your wedding go on sale, buy in bulk.

2. Buy Wholesale
Buy your own wine wholesale. You'll pay your caterer a corkage fee to pour it, but wine purchased through him can cost twice as much. Most merchants offer a 10 percent discount for buying wine by the case, and they'll often increase that if you purchase several cases at once.

Check into wine that's available in magnums (bottles twice the size of regular ones); several quality wines are. Wine sold in a magnum costs less per ounce, and because the corkage fee goes twice as far, you'll save on two counts.

Plus: Wedding Budget Dos and Don'ts

3. Forgo Full Dinner Service
How dinner is served affects the price. French service, in which guests are served by waiters from a platter at the table, and regular plate service are the most expensive. More economical is family-style, where diners help themselves from serving dishes brought to the table.

4. Two Wedding Cakes Can Be Cheaper than One
Order two cakes for the reception: a large sheet cake and a small fancy one to be used for display and the cake-cutting ceremony. The sheet cake, which can be less elaborately decorated than the other, gets sliced and dished up in the kitchen.

5. Decorate Tables with Candles
A single pillar candle in a hurricane lantern is a wonderful centerpiece, as is a casual display of votive candles in the middle of a table.

6. Turn Favors into Centerpieces
As an alternative to traditional flower centerpieces, group favors together on the table. Even if you spend a bit more on the favors themselves, you'll probably save overall.

Plus: Unique Centerpieces without Flowers

7. Fly on Credit
Pay wedding costs with a credit card to earn frequent-flyer miles toward your honeymoon. Just make sure to avoid incurring interest charges by paying the balance in full each month.

8. Say Yes to All-Inclusive
"Choosing a venue that comes with extras built in, like a wedding coordinator or an on-site ceremony location, means significant savings," says Christina Latvatalo, wedding sales manager at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York. All those extras can add up to thousands you won't have to spend.

9. Give a Newbie a Break
There are many talented photographers who haven't made a name for themselves yet, and their lack of fame can save you a fortune. If you fall hard for a photographer who's in high demand, ask if she'll refer you to a lower-priced colleague (just make sure you like his work before you commit).

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