Tying the knot on a shoestring

Your dream day doesn’t have to be a financial nightmare

Courtesy Of Mike Graffigna

According to the Wedding Report, an annual report on wedding industry trends, the average wedding in California this year will cost $28,700.00. For the record, that is about three times the cost of a year at California State University, Sacramento and $6,400 more than a new Toyota Prius.

So where are you going to come up with that kind of cash and still have enough money left to eat and pay the gas bill? Consider these three cost-saving ideas to save your sanity and your financial future.

1. Go off-day or off-season. So you want to get married on a Saturday in May? Thousands of other couples do, too. If you paid attention during economics class you know that when demand goes up, supply goes down and prices shoot through the roof. But if you’re wiling to get married between November and March on a Friday night, Sunday morning or even a weekday evening, you can save on many facets of your wedding. Some reception locations, in a quest to book rooms that would otherwise remain empty, may offer discounts on less popular days. Same goes for bands, DJs and other vendors who would rather give you a discount than earn nothing sitting at home watching sit coms.

2. Dress down the gown. A recent search on eBay found eight thousand wedding gowns for sale, including an elegant Vera Wang sheath for $25. Craigslist Sacramento listed six gowns, two brand new, each for less than $500. While you may not be adventurous enough to buy your wedding gown online, the lesson is simple: you need not be price gauged on your dream gown. Instead of shopping at an independent bridal boutique, visit a retailer that sells off-the-rack gowns, such as David’s Bridal in Roseville, or buy a modest but elegant white dress from an upscale clothing store like Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom. Try a simpler and cheaper bridesmaid gown in white, check out a few consignment shops, or wear the dress your sister, cousin, mother or best friend wore. Sample sales at bridal boutiques are another source of bargains as long as you don’t mind wearing a gown that dozens of other brides-to-be tried on.

3. Scale back. You don’t have to outdo Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston in the swank department. (Look what happened to them, after all.) Can you jettison your fifth cousins once removed and whittle your guest list down? Do you really need a five-course, sit-down dinner, or would an elegant buffet or hors d’oeuvres and cocktails suffice? Instead of fashioning your bouquet and centerpieces with roses or rare orchids, ask your florist to recommend less costly but equally beautiful flowers. Explore alternative venues, such as community centers or your college alma mater chapel and special event hall. Sites like VFW halls can be inexpensive, but you’ll need to hire a caterer and bartender, purchase your own alcohol (a huge cost savings) and possibly even rent your own chairs, tables and linens, so do the math before making a decision. Instead of a stretch limo rent a Lincoln Towncar for yourself and let your attendents ride with their own significant others. Favors are a wedding staple just begging to be axed – your guests will have so much fun at the wedding they won’t even miss them.