All brides have a budget whether it is $5000 or $100,000. Everyone has a certain allotment of money they have decided to spend on their wedding. So where do you begin?

You must first decide what the top three things that are most important to you about the wedding. Forget about it being your groom, family members, etc. I am talking about actual items, or services you are going to spend money on. Once you have chosen your top three, allocate a larger portion of your funds for these items. Whether it be your dress, photography, or DJ service. Find what you want, and get it. The rest will fall into place easier than you expect it to.

For the Budget Conscience Bride:
1. Remember that getting married on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon is a great way to save money. You could have a fantastic brunch for a Sunday afternoon wedding and be spending half the amount that you would for a dinner Saturday night. It’s not just the hall and food that could be less; most vendors could give you a better rate on a day that they usually wouldn’t have any jobs.

2. Consider having your reception and ceremony at the same location. This will save money on decor, flowers, transportation, etc.

3. If you are a bride with a smaller budget, look into what you can do yourself. Making your own favors is a great option for saving money. Make a CD of your wedding songs. With certain programs, I will not name, you can still download music for free. Writable CD’s aren’t very expensive if bought in bulk, and this is something you can easily do yourself. There you have a great favor for everyone or even every couple that comes to your wedding, and it cost you all of $0.30 – $0.40 a piece.

4. Don’t waste your money on expensive invitations. Find a local printer in your area, if you don’t want to do them yourself, and I guarantee you will spend a 1/3 of the cost that you would from an actual wedding invitation book or online resource.

5. Most people want a traditional wedding cake. But, this can be a costly part of the wedding. See if you can have someone make you a small version of the cake you like, that is just icing over some Styrofoam board. Buy a sheet cake or two to serve your guests. Keep them in the back, and no one will ever know it wasn’t from the cake they were admiring.

6. Do you really need to spend over $100 an hour for a limo to drive you around for 10 – 20 minutes? If this is one of those important things, then by all means go for it. But if not, your bridal party can find their own way to the reception site, and I am sure you can find someone to chauffeur you to where you need to be.

7. Keep in mind, the larger your guest list, the more money you will have to spend. Cut the guest list to include only those you truly desire to be apart of your special day.

8. If you plan on serving alcohol at your reception, don’t feel obligated to supply a full service bar. Keep it limited to beer and wine. Your guests won’t notice what you don’t have. As for the champagne toast, I’m sure no one will mind a nice white wine. You’d be surprised what this can save you when your in a budget crunch.

9. When talking to a florist, make sure she is telling you flowers that are in season around your wedding. You will pay double to cost for flower that is out of season. Also, consider having your bridesmaids carry a single long stemmed flower such as a Rose or a Calla Lilly instead of a whole bouquet.

10. Keep things simple if you have a budget. Forgo having personalized napkins, matchbooks etc. These things alone can save you hundreds of dollars.

Remember that you are not alone in your budgeting, and feeling anguish over planning your wedding. The best advice is to Plan Ahead. The more time you give yourself to make decisions and payments can be a real headache relief.

by Mara Denardo

Photo by Michael Reed Photography