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Most weddings are expensive. When the average traditional American wedding costs roughly $35,329, it’s easy to see why so many choose to go into debt for their big day.

If you and your partner want to do more than head to a courthouse, significant wedding expenses are pretty much inevitable. However, there are a few ways to have a wedding bash without losing too much cash. Use these tips to help minimize the wedding’s blow to your finances:

1. Experiment With the Venue

Venues cost an average of $15,163, making them one of the most expensive parts of a wedding. However, there are ways to reign in venue expenses without sacrificing the wedding’s ambiance. Try choosing an off-peak date. Saturday weddings are often most expensive, so try a Friday or Sunday event. Consider winter weddings as well, since December and January are the least popular (and cheapest) months to get married. Finally, check out non-traditional venues. Restaurants, breweries, vacation homes, and family backyards can all be unique and affordable venue options.

2. DIY Within Reason

Though DIY projects can be stressful, expensive, and can sometimes turn out poorly, practical DIY is a great way to save extra wedding cash. Try making your own invitations using an online program and a home printer. Or, go paperless and design your own e-invitations. Making your own centerpieces, wedding favors, and even your own bouquets can help reduce wedding expenses. Be sure to run smaller test-projects before buying large quantities of crafting materials.

3. Save on Decorations

Decorations may seem like a less-expensive final touch to a wedding, but decor expenses can add up to a few thousand dollars. Try looking online for couples selling their old wedding decorations– after all, they were only used once! Limit the number of centerpieces and linens you need by opting for larger tables. To save on flowers, stick to local, in-season blooms and larger species that will naturally fill a bouquet with fewer cuts.

4. Cut Back Vendor Expenses

Caterers and other wedding vendors also become costly for wedding ceremonies. Limit vendor expenses by having the wedding and reception in one location, so that you don’t have to pay your photographer the extra hour of travel. Work with caterers to figure out less pricey food and drink options, such as a buffet-style dinner. You can also skip the open bar and opt for a keg and signature cocktails instead.

With today’s tech, you can even skip hiring a DJ. Build your own perfect wedding playlist and rent a speaker system. Fifty-two songs will provide about three hours of party music, but be sure to add a few more songs for wiggle room.

5. Decide What’s Most Important to You

Ultimately, the best way to properly budget a wedding is to decide what matters most to you. If you have a large and close family, don’t feel pressured to cut the guest list to save cash, and instead look to save on food or decorations. If you’re all about the live band, choose a cheaper venue. By making smart choices on when to spend and when to save, you can have a happy and affordable wedding.

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