Our biggest wedding spending regrets — and how to avoid them

3. Skip a wedding planner in favor of an onsite event coordinator

Rather than hiring a wedding planner to manage every aspect of your day from start to finish, do as much advance planning as you can via online resources. Then, for the day-of, hire an onsite coordinator who can run the show, allowing you to enjoy your day, Desai says. “They’ll take all the heavy lifting off your hands.” It should cost about 1/10 the cost of a traditional planner.

4. Consider alternate days and times for your ceremony

When it comes to your venue, one of the biggest factors that will impact your budget is timing, explains Kylie Carlson, founder of the International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning.

“Some venues will offer discounted rates for the off-season. For many, Saturday evenings is the peak time so check to see if they have different rates for Friday and Sundays, as well as daytime weddings.”

With daytime weddings, you also stand to save big on food and beverage, since lunch entrees are normally priced less than dinner, and guests generally consume less alcohol during the day. Another perk of having your wedding on a less popular day or time is that it will weed out any guests who aren’t willing to go the extra mile for your big day, Woodruff says.

5. Shop outside the box for your dress

It’s no secret that wedding dresses can be incredibly expensive, so pre-owned is often the way to go, explains Smart Shopping Expert, Trae Bodge. “After all, it was only worn once,” she says. Then, after the big day, you can sell your dress again using a site like PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com.

Another option is opening up your search to general formal wear. There are gorgeous white gowns to be had that may not immediately be branded as wedding dresses. “Once you take ‘bridal gown’ out of equation, the price decreases,” Bodge says.

Splurge when you want to, and be smart with money saved

Of course all this isn’t to say that you can’t treat yourself on your big day. There are some things many couples find to be worth the investment, like photography. That’s where Bitterman is spending the majority of her wedding budget, and interestingly, it’s one of the areas where the EverQuote survey showed people wish they’d spend more.

And remember: Any money you don’t spend on your wedding can be used however you like — you can pop those funds into a retirement plan, a 529 college savings plan or something else that’s going to benefit you and your partner. “Home improvements. That’s what we’re saving for,” Bitterman says. “It’s not glamorous, but it’s something we need more than we need a chocolate fountain.”

With Kathryn Tuggle


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