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A Budget Wedding this Wedding Season

With Wedding Season approaching, more and more couples are looking for ways to have the wedding of their dreams while still keeping costs low. The price tag on the average American wedding has dropped by nearly a third from 2007, down from $29,000 to $20,000. The good news is, you don’t have to resort to a cash bar or homemade food to stay within your budget.

Collected from wedding experts and party planners, here are some tips to help you make your budget wedding:

Don’t say “Wedding”

When you call vendors for quotes, let them know you are planning an event or party, but don’t specify that it is a wedding. Florists, bakeries, reception venues, photographers, and other vendors often add a 25-30% mark-up to their prices when they know you’re inquiring for a wedding.

Reporters at a Boston television station called 11 venues to get quotes for a wedding reception. When those same venues were called for quotes for a retirement party on the same day, 8 of 11 had a wedding mark-up; one venue raised their quote from $65 to $90 per person.

Vendors will also offer only their most expensive options to those they know are planning a wedding. Ask the reception venue for all of their menu options, and explore cakes that aren’t specifically marketed for wedding events. If a florist notices your diamond engagement ring and starts suggesting that exotic flowers be imported, ask what local, lower cost options they offer.

Choose a restaurant for the reception

When you eat at a restaurant, there is no rental fee or surcharge for your table, chairs, napkins, glasses, silverware, and table décor. The price of the meal includes everything necessary for the dinner, and the same applies when purchasing a meal for 200 people. Plus, there are no transportation and setup fees, and parking is usually free, making your favorite restaurant the perfect place for your budget wedding. In fact, restaurants have focused lately on catering towards special events and making it affordable for the hosts.

Schedule it right

If you are flexible with your dates, avoid the traditional “Wedding Season” when scheduling the event. Vendors sometimes add a surcharge to provide services at weddings held during the months of May, June, and July. Additionally, venues will always charge more for an event held on a Saturday than an event held on a Sunday or a weekday.

Avoid stores that cater to bridal couples

It may not seem romantic to purchase your cake, wedding favors, or flowers at wholesale stores like Costco, but they provide the same services offered for a premium at specialty bridal stores. You can also avoid those premiums by choosing micro-vendors, like artisans and craftspeople, who sell things like bridal accessories and invitations directly to couples. To save on the wedding dress, brides have turned towards less traditional white garments and dresses that can be found at regular retailers and cost in the hundreds, instead of going to boutique bridal dress shops and paying in the thousands.

Shop online

Shopping online gives brides planning a budget wedding access to many more purchasing options than shopping locally. Almost anything needed for a wedding can be found online, from wedding invitations to wedding favors to a bridal dress, often at lower prices than at brick-and-mortar stores. Couples looking to save on the bride’s engagement ring and the couple’s wedding rings can turn to an online diamond retailer like Brilliance, which offer the same quality jewelry as traditional retailers at 30-50% lower prices.