Say ‘I Do’ to Cost Cutting on the Perfect Wedding

Budgeting for a wedding is not easy. A recent survey indicates that, in 2012, the average cost of a wedding was $28,427, with some of the priciest weddings happening in Manhattan at $76,687 and Chicago at $49,810. Between scouting for the best venue and choosing the loveliest bouquet, your dream wedding may be eating away your budget faster than expected.

Here are five easy tips to save you from a financial headache while tying the knot.

Think in-season for food and flowers

Food and flowers are two of the top items on a wedding budget. Rather than vying for the most popular floral choices, be flexible and consider seasonal blooms. Ask your florist for locally available selections because these tend to be less expensive than exotic flowers that would have to be imported. This Flower Finder tool is a handy reference to what’s in season on your big day. For food, try a farmers market near you to find in season fruits and vegetables — the fresh from the field pickings will help stretch your dollar.

Many vendors, especially local businesses, offer discounts to active duty military members and veterans, so make sure to ask before handing over the check.

And, of course, there’s always the option of designing and arranging the flowers yourself. That saves a great deal of cash.

Think off season for time

Wedding in winter

Planning your wedding in the winter months can not only save you money, it can provide picturesque scenes that stand apart from the rest.

June weddings and Saturday weddings seem to be all the rage, but they come with a high price tag — peak season weddings could cost as much as 30 percent more than their non-peak counterparts. If your spouse’s deployment schedule allows, opt for a weekday event and try to avoid months when there are a wedding rush. Just remember to give yourselves enough planning time.

In general, winter and late summer would give you more bargaining power with your budget. But it’s important to keep in mind that different locales have different peak seasons; for example, Florida actually gets less wedding traffic during summer.

Bridal gown 101

As a military bride, you have access to specially priced or even free wedding gowns. The organization Brides Across America has given over 5,000 dresses to military couples-to-be since 2007. Be sure to bookmark their website for the latest giveaway times and locations.

Use multipurpose decorations

A simple way to save is to make your decorations do double duty. Start by rethinking the centerpiece for the dining table. Instead of using elaborate floral arrangements, go for something edible along the lines of fresh fruit and cupcake stacks. Another alternative to the traditional centerpiece is a gathering of wedding favors. Guests can grab one after dinner and it will probably not only save you money, but also cleaning time. Wedding planners have also suggested using potted flowering plants (remember the in season tip) as both favors and centerpieces.

Location matters

A perk that comes with being a military couple is that you can have a wedding on base. This is a special way to celebrate your military roots and the best part? Most military bases have venues that are either free or can be rented for a nominal fee. Another cost-saving option is to hold the wedding in public gardens or parks. Local community centers and clubhouses are good choices as well.

If you’re living on base with your spouse, try looking for a wedding spot on post.

Photo courtesy laura dye