In 2012, the average cost of a wedding was just under $27,000 — unless you tied the knot somewhere in New York City, of course. If you did, you were looking at an average price tag of around $70,000, which isn’t particularly surprising. What might surprise you, though, is that the number of million-dollar wedding budgets more than doubled between 2011 and 2012.
In other words, couples are getting more comfortable dropping serious cash to have the weddings of their dreams. But what they don’t realize is that you can plan a dream wedding — seriously, the one you’ve been fantasizing about since you were just a kid — and still manage to pull it off without going into crippling debt. How? It’s all about knowing the ins and outs of wedding planning on a budget. With that in mind, here are a few tips:
1. Book a destination wedding.
Nearly a quarter of all weddings are now destination weddings, meaning you hold the ceremony, the reception and the honeymoon all in the same place. This is about as close to a fantasy as you can get, and with the travel expenses, the final sticker price is going to be a bit inflated. But think about it: A thrifty wedding should also be a celebration, and what better way to simultaneously find wedding venues you’d love and find the ultimate dream vacation afterward?
2. Go with functionality over glamour.
OK, so destination weddings might still be a bit of a dream for plenty of couples who want to focus on bringing the family together somewhere at home. There’s nothing wrong with saving up more for your honeymoon by cutting costs for the ceremony and keeping wedding reception prices low, so think of using your iPod for the music and turning inexpensive store-bought flowers into marvelous bouquets to line the banquet hall or church
3. Look into amateur photographers.
Between coordinating seating arrangements and repeatedly contacting the hosting venue, planning a reception is dizzying enough. That’s why you can put out some feelers on Craigslist or another job board to find a young student photographer (or two) to tackle the frantic task of capturing your special day in photos and videos. Scope out their burgeoning portfolio and offer to pay them what’s fair, even if it’s less than what a “professional” what typically receive.
4. Spring for smaller cupcakes over a real cake.
Wedding reception prices can be steep enough between the banquet hall itself and the dinner, so why complicate things further by adding in a lavish dessert? Obviously, cutting the cake is a tradition and shouldn’t be excised altogether, but opt for a tiny cake for cutting, and delicious gourmet cupcakes for your guests to indulge in. You just might end up saving hundreds (or thousands) in appearances.
Of course, these are just a few suggestions. Most couples, when they’re truly worried about things like wedding reception prices and honeymoon budgets, are even more creative in their own planning. Your special day should be all about doing everything you want, the way you want it — period.