Bridal Tips: Money Saving Ideas

The average wedding costs thousands of dollars, but there are ways brides can save cash and still have a beautiful ceremony.

Preparing for a wedding can be very stressful for brides, a problem that is compounded by high costs. Most couples spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on the occasion, pouring out money in hopes of having the perfect ceremony. However, brides-to-be should not feel obligated to spend a fortune to get married. There are several ways to save money on everything from clothing to food and entertainment. For the bride who wants a lavish wedding on a budget, here are some money-saving ideas.

The most important skill every bride needs is the ability to bargain. What few people realize is that the wedding market is marked up substantially and vendors are willing to negotiate to make the sale. Everything you need can be gotten at a lower price if you learn to do some friendly haggling. Apply this principle when hiring a disc jockey, caterer, and photographer. Make sure that you question them thoroughly about special deals, which they probably will not tell you about otherwise. Dig for buy-in-bulk discounts, especially when you are purchasing decorative items. Even vendors that do not currently have a policy in place will be willing to drop their prices if it means selling a large amount of merchandise. Remember, however, that people not dealing specifically in wedding supplies are more likely to bargain about costs. Another possibility is to trade with vendors: give them free advertisement in exchange for a deal or even free services. It may sound ridiculous, but some women have actually supplied all of their wedding needs in this way. The wedding industry is a very competitive market in which dealers are eager for exposure. You could print their company's name in the invitations or ceremony cards, hand banners, or even hand out business cards. Be creative and never be scared to ask. After all, you are the customer, and the customer is always right.

Clothing Savings

One of the biggest parts of wedding expenses is clothing, but it does not have to be if you know where to shop. A bridesmaid's dress can easily cost several hundred dollars in a bridal shop, so do not start your shopping there. Instead, browse through catalogs of retail clothing stores that you would find at your local mall. Here, you can find beautiful gowns that would be perfect for bridesmaids for between $50 and $100. They can be shipped to a nearby store for you to pick up or delivered to your home. There are also several ways to get a deal on your wedding gown. Begin by avoiding specialty shops altogether, where prices are ridiculously high because these shops know that brides think their dresses are their only options. Look online for closeout sales or second-hand dresses, which are likely in perfect condition and are only a fraction of the cost of their new counterparts. Alternately, you can buy a cheap and simple dress and have it elaborately decorated by a local seamstress. For even greater savings, have her create a custom gown for your special day. All of these options will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Photos, Invitations, and Food

Many brides spend unnecessary amounts of money for these wedding essentials. For instance, the average woman thinks that she needs a wedding photographer for professional quality pictures. The truth is that any photographer can do an excellent job, and finding one without a specialty can save you a fortune. Check the phonebook for professionals, paying close attention to those with low rates and specials. Ask them for their best deal, possibly bartering free advertisement at the ceremony for a lower rate. Just make sure to check their qualifications and view examples of their work. As for invitations, brides should not feel like they have to buy from an expensive catalog. There are computer programs that can help you design and print magnificent cards for only the cost of heavy grade paper. Also, consider sending reply postcards instead of traditional cards. This way, you can cut back on postage and envelope expenses. The food expenses of weddings, which are often the highest of all, need not take a huge bite out of your budget. If you decide to have the event catered, ask for children's meals, which cost only about half as much as adult plates. Better yet, arrange for food yourself. Instead of offering a complete meal, have your ceremony between lunch and dinner hours. This will allow you to serve appetizers, drinks, and desserts instead of more costly meals. To get a good deal on the cake, purchase from a supermarket bakery, culinary school student, or local amateur cook.

Location Discounts

When picking a location for the ceremony and reception, timing is a crucial element. During the wedding off-season (between October and April), party halls have less business. Also, most weddings happen on Saturdays throughout the year. In order to get the best deal, consider having a fall wedding, possibly falling on a Friday or Sunday. This way, you can haggle with vendors for a lower rate, which they will likely accept in order to make some sort of profit. You might also consider having your wedding in a nontraditional location. If you know of a beautiful farmhouse or stunning privately owned garden, you might want to contact the owner to ask permission to hold your wedding there. Doing so could save you a great deal of money and provide you with a one of a kind ceremony. Just remember that these sorts of places may impose strict rules and require clean up afterwards.

Deals are to be found everywhere; the thrifty bride just needs to know where to look. If you are planning a wedding or know someone who is, try these ideas out for yourself to see just how much money can be saved. As the buyer, you are the one in control of how much you pay for your wedding. No one needs to go into debt just to get married, especially when there are so many ways to cut corners and still have a fairytale wedding. With the extra cash, you can take a dream honeymoon or start a "nest egg" fund.

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