5 Wedding Budget-Busters

by Rachel Sanfordlyn Shreckengast

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Do It Yourself - Whenever I'm asked about ways to save money on wedding costs, the first words out of my mouth are "Do it yourself, and you will save money on your wedding." Most wedding-related items available through retail resources aren't expensive to make yourself. They do take time though, and "convenience items" would be an appropriate term in many cases. Considering how expensive many wedding items are, you can save quite a bit of money with this tip alone. For the sake of comparison, let's consider a unity candle. A unity candle will cost you anywhere from $50 to $80 from retail sources. The supplies to make your own should cost anywhere from $5 to $15, depending upon how elaborate you want the candle to be.

Shop Around - It's always important to shop around, and weddings are no exception to this rule. With the excitement of being engaged, it's very easy to be swayed by all of the beautiful items that are presented to you. In other words, it's very easy to forget that you are the consumer, and that it is your money that will be paying for all of these items. If you were making any other large purchase you would weigh the decision carefully, and check other sources for prices on that same item. Do the same with weddings. There are many large purchases where a wedding is concerned, but the wedding dress is the one where few couples take the time to shop around. It's often hard to do so anyway, because some bridal shops illegally rip out the tags in their dresses. First and foremost, get a picture if you can (many shops won't allow this, but it's worth asking). If you can't do that, write down in as much detail as possible what the dress looks like. Borrow wedding magazines; if it is a current style it is very likely that you will find it through the magazines. If you still can't find it, consider contacting a DBS (Discount Bridal Service) consultant. In many cases, DBS consultants can save you 10% to 30%. Again, shop around, even with DBS you can sometimes find it cheaper with another consultant. Many people have also had success with saving on their dress at Pearl's Place. The idea here is to comparison shop; there are many resources on the web that will enable you to do so.

Find the Alternatives - There are always alternatives to shopping retail. You can find outlet stores that sell wedding and bridesmaid dresses.Visit OutletBound.com to look for stores in your area. Don't stop there though; some rental shops have costumes that would be perfect for those of you planning a Renaissance or Medieval-themed wedding.

Wedding-specific rental shops are also increasing in number as the popularity of renting a wedding dress grows. Consignment shops will sometimes have dresses that are only a few seasons old. Don't discount thrift shops either. Although they often include older gowns, you may find that the styles from the 60's and 70's are similar to what is being sold now...especially if you are willing to take off the older trims. The dresses of the 80's are fancier and traditional. Dresses from the 50's are likely to re-surge in popularity as they reflect the wedding dress of Sophie Rhys-Jones quite well. Also check your classifieds, quite a few brides sell their wedding dresses this way, and they often throw in the veil for free if you ask. As for other alternatives, don't be afraid to borrow from relatives or friends.

Whether it's a cake-topper or their skills in making a wedding cake, most guests are more than happy to help out. If they offer, it means that they want to do it, and you shouldn't be afraid to happily oblige. Bartering is another great way to cut costs. If you have a skill, consider seeing if someone you know wants that skill. A simple example is offering a quilt in exchange for a beautician's services in doing hair and make-up for the entire bridal party. The key to a successful barter is that both parties feel they are getting a good deal.

Don't get married without doing this paperwork!

Forget the "W" Word - While I have noticed a small change in recent years, this still holds true for a lot of cases. People expect weddings to be more expensive, and are charged accordingly. The best way to illustrate this is to inform you of a wedding I helped to plan last year. The couple had already called the reception site that they wanted to use for their wedding and were quoted a price. I called the site asking for a price for a "family get-together." Guess which price was cheaper by almost 25%? As I mentioned, this is starting to get better...but you can still find a lot of places upping the price specifically for weddings. All you need to do is visit your local craft store. For example, at my local craft store I found 10 yards of "bridal" pearl strands for $2.49, while the same pearl strands in another section were 99 cents for 25 yards. Bridal brocade was $28 a yard, while the same fabric was sold in the upholstery section for $13 a yard. It's unfortunate, but when you associate an item with a wedding, you will often find that the price goes up.

The Web Is Your Friend - If you are looking for ways to save money on your wedding, there are many sites that can help you to obtain your goals.

Rachel contributes to a number of wedding sites.

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