A recent survey conducted by the XO Group Inc. revealed that during 2011 the total average wedding cost in the U.S. stood at $27,021. Even accounting for the prolonged economic recovery and the rise in disposable income levels that were experienced during the final quarter of last year, this total average is significant and suggests that couples are willing to invest heavily to have the wedding day of their dreams. Of course, such ambition means that it is important to make financial savings where possible.

Your Venue
U.S. couples spent an average of $12,116 on their reception venues alone last year, and along with entertainment and photography this stands as one of the most costly wedding day expenditures. While traditional venues often charge premium rates for hosting your reception event and providing professional catering services, there are less costly options that become far more accessible in finer weather and during the months of summer. Beach weddings are a relevant example.

For those of you who do not live near a beach, there are still ways in which you can exploit the hot weather and host an outdoor reception. Spacious public parks offer lush scenery and wide open spaces, and they can be entirely free of charge. That means you and your wedding party can enjoy a relaxed celebration without spending a single penny on a venue. By encouraging guests to participate and bring along their own food and beverages, you can make even further savings without compromising on the quality of your celebration.

Your Wedding Day Food
Food is clearly an important and often sizable cost to consider when planning a wedding, but outdoor venues offer an opportunity for you to drastically reduce this expenditure. An XO Group Inc. survey of 18,000 U.S. couples revealed that there was an average of 141 guests at weddings during 2011, while the average catering cost per head came to $61. So, couples who chose to hire a traditional venue or professional catering service were faced with an average expenditure of $8,000 on just food and beverages alone.

Having an outdoor venue not only offers a more relaxed and informal setting for your summer wedding reception, but also makes it far easier to self cater the event and save yourself thousands of dollars. A barbecue and locally sourced ingredients can deliver both quality and value for your hard earned money, while also delivering popular food that guests of all ages can enjoy. Purchasing seasonal food is another way of keeping costs down when self catering, simply because it is easier to produce and far more readily available.

The Wedding Dress and Bridal Attire
Arguably the most important feature of a wedding, the bride's wedding dress and wedding day attire often account for a significant portion of the overall budget. The average sum spent by an American woman on her wedding dress is $1,121. This sum does not include the purchase of accessories, jewelry and shoes. Fortunately, the informal and more relaxed nature of a summer wedding allows a bride to choose from a wider range of potential dresses, which can secure you a faster delivery and save you money while planning your big day.

Department stores and independent retailers offer an increasing range of elegant wedding dresses at highly competitive prices, often showcasing gowns in different materials that suit every single season and type of occasion. With these mass market suppliers now delivering wedding dresses that are as affordable as they are stylish, you can find a light and comfortable garment that allows you to make the most of your summer wedding and outdoor reception.

The Bottom Line
Although it is often more costly to hire a traditional ceremony or reception venue during the months of summer, holding a customized outdoor wedding offers you the opportunity to save potentially thousands of dollars. With warm weather giving you access to a wider choice of venue options, food and wedding dress styles, you can enjoy a truly unique occasion without having to spend significant sums of money.

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