According to theweddingreport.com, the average cost for a wedding in the United States in 2011 was $25,631. Spending that kind of cash on a one-day event may be reasonable for some, but there are many of us who hope to tie the knot without going into debt or wiping out our savings. (For related reading, see Hidden Cost Of Weddings.)

SEE: Budgeting Basics

Set a Budget that Works for You
Picking a number you can afford is really only half of the battle when setting a wedding budget. Saying you're going to spend $15,000 is only realistic if you know what wedding services cost in your area. Do some preliminary research to find out the average cost of your big ticket items, such as reception, food, alcohol, attire, flowers, photography and any other service you'd really like to include. Don't forget to consider smaller costs, right down to your manicure and shoes, so that every cost is accounted for in your total spending plan.

Prioritize Your Spending
You need to have an honest conversation with your spouse-to-be about what is most important to you - while it may not matter to your fiancé what kind of venue your reception takes place in, it may be something that is very important to you. Create a list of every expense you can think of for your wedding, then sit down and decide what's most important and allocate your budget accordingly. This will not be the same for every couple, but you may find that it's more important to have fewer guests and include all of the luxuries you were hoping for, or that a simpler wedding with all of your extended friends and family will be what works for you.

Skip (or Alter) Certain "Must-Haves"
It is very easy to get caught up in what your wedding "must-haves" should be. For example, you may spend hundreds of dollars on wedding invitations. These works of art may be exactly what you wanted and something you want to prioritize. But if not, there are many ways you can reduce this cost. Consider creating your own, printing them online for a low cost or using a website for your RSVPs, thus cutting the cost of RSVP cards and their postage.

Having a large, white wedding cake is traditional but if it's not important to you, consider skipping it altogether. Many catering or reception dinners include a dessert or you could downsize to a smaller cake just for the couple to cut. Other options include cupcakes, cake pops or other treats, but having these professionally done can be almost as expensive as the original cake. Keep in mind that many of your guests will not have a piece of cake or cupcake, especially if they have already had dessert as part of their meal. (For more information, check out Have A Princess Wedding On A Pauper Budget.)

DIY – but be Careful
It has been a trend for a while now to do it yourself when it comes to your wedding. It's a great idea, but it is important to be honest about how much time and effort you will have to dedicate to these details in the days or weeks before your wedding. Make sure you're honest about how much time it will cost, and how much money you'll actually be saving – if you end up frustrated or out of time and have to pay a professional to make your invitations at the last minute, you'll end up spending more than if you had gone that route in the first place.

Enlist your friends and family in projects, if they are willing to help out. Have your wedding party over for a night of wine and making guest favors, or ask your aunts to each supply a dozen cupcakes the day of your wedding in lieu of a gift. Just make sure to give plenty of notice and that you're OK if the end result is more homemade than professional.

The Bottom Line
The truth of the matter is that while this is a momentous occasion worth celebrating, it's the marriage that will last, not the wedding day. Think about what you remember from weddings you've attended; chances are you won't recall what the centerpieces even were. What you hopefully do remember, and what you will hopefully remember from your own special day, is the love between the newly married couple and being surrounded by the people who are important to you, and that's not something you purchase. (To learn more, read Revealing The Hidden Costs Of Weddings.)

Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    5 Reasons Millennials Lead in Saving for Retirement

    Say what you want to about millennials but the one thing they are doing better than any other generation is saving for retirement. Here's why.
  2. Economics

    What is a Complement?

    A good or service that’s used in conjunction with another good or service is a complement.
  3. Investing

    3 Small Steps to Maximize Your Investing Goals

    Instead of starting the New Year with ambitious resolutions, why not taking smaller manageable steps that can have a real impact.
  4. Investing

    7 Creative Ways to Save for an Early Retirement

    Take note of these out of the box steps you can take towards securing yourself an earlier, more comfortable retirement.
  5. Investing News

    Chipotle Served with Criminal Probe

    Chipotle's beat muted expectations and got a clear bill from the CDC, but it now appears that an investigation into its E.coli breakout has expanded.
  6. Saving and Spending

    Saving $100 Now Is Better Than Saving $1,000 In 10 Years

    Learn why it is better to save $100 every year starting right now rather than $1,000 in 10 years, and find out the benefits of early saving and investing.
  7. Retirement

    Birch Box Review: Is It Worth It?

    Learn more about the convenience of the subscription beauty box industry, and discover why the Birchbox company in particular has become so popular.
  8. Stock Analysis

    From Shampoo to Soup, Unilever Has it Covered (UL)

    Open your fridge, your pantry, your bathroom cabinet and you'll find the Unilever logo. Here's how the company got so enormous.
  9. Stock Analysis

    JNJ vs. PG: Which is the Better Bet Right Now?

    These two stocks are long-term powerhouses, but one has the edge over the other right now.
  10. Personal Wealth & Private Banking

    Women, Invest In Your Financial Literacy

    Becoming financially literate should be on the to-do list of anyone who is not.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Marginal propensity to Consume (MPC) Vs. Save (MPS)

    Historically, because people in the United States have shown a higher propensity to consume, this is likely the more important ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Is Japan an emerging market economy?

    Japan is not an emerging market economy. Emerging market economies are characterized by low per capita incomes, poor infrastructure ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Are Social Security payments included in the US GDP calculation?

    Social Security payments are not included in the U.S. definition of the gross domestic product (GDP). Transfer Payments For ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center