Planning a perfect wedding on the cheap

By: Angela Burkhart,

Every girl dreams of having that perfect wedding. But when that time comes, the perfect wedding might be limited to the amount of money the bride and groom are able to contribute.

I'm currently planning for an October 2010 wedding and have already spent $6,000 on my reception alone. A friend of mine is getting married this weekend and planned her entire wedding for under $5,000. So I wondered: In what areas can I and others save money in the wedding planning process, but still achieve that perfect wedding?

Be Frugal With Your Wedding Reception

Some banquet halls can charge as much as $80 a person on the weekend. If you plan to invite 150 guests, you're bound to spend $12,000. Look for banquet halls that charge under $20 a person. Most banquet halls will give you a discount if you book your reception during the lunch hour or if you book on a holiday such as Halloween.

Take time to look and re-look over your guest list. Don't feel like you have to invite every person you know. Narrow your list down by who must attend and who you might want to attend if there is enough space. Even though some banquet halls require that you have a minimum number of people attend, most halls will waive that requirement if you book with them immediately.

Bargain Shop for Your Wedding Dress

For me, the second most important purchase in my wedding planning was my dress. Though you may be tempted to spend hundreds even thousands of dollars on a wedding dress, that money could be better spent in other areas. Take the time to check out sites like Milanoo, which sells wedding dresses at wholesale prices. I looked over the selection of dresses and found several under $150 that were very comparable to my $1,000 wedding dress. For me, this is the one area where I could have saved the most money.

Print Your Own Invitations

While most invitations don't cost a lot of money, it is still an area where hundreds of dollars can be saved. Most name brand invitations can cost as much as $3 per invitation. By shopping smart you can find invitations that cost under $1 per invitation.

Don't forget that your wedding invitations are not the only ones you will need. Consider all the events prior to the wedding that you will be having, such as you engagement party, bridal shower and rehearsal dinner. Since you won't need a lot of invitations for those events, consider doing them at home. Stores like Target and Michael's sell custom do-it-yourself kits. I recently had an engagement party and did all the invitations and thank you cards at home.

Less is More When It Comes to Flowers

While booking my wedding reception, the venue allowed me to view some receptions that were already set up for later that day. In my opinion, some of the rooms were so over decorated that it took away from the mood. I found that the rooms with less decorations and flowers looked the best. So I decided against using extravagant center pieces and to stick to something simple. For under $5 a center piece, you can create a romantic setting with floating candles and rose petals.

Don't be Afraid of FREE

When planning your wedding, don't be afraid to ask for free stuff. When ordering invitations, ask if you get a set amount free if you order over a certain amount of inivitations. Some sites will give 50 free invitations or free shipping. When researching banquet halls I came across one that included a free engagement party. While I didn't end up booking with that banquet hall, I suggested the idea to the hall I did choose. They agreed to throw me a two hour party with free hors d'oeuvres, cake, champagne toast and bar. You never know what you can get for free until you ask.

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