Weddings are expensive, especially considering they last for a day.

Avoid wedding debt by saving up in advance. Wedding debt is considered bad debt because it forces you to pay for the past rather than invest in the future. Try these tips to save money, avoid debt and still enjoy your special day.

First, discuss budget priorities like photography or food, and the wedding planning roles you and your partner will play, such as organizing flowers or liquor licenses.

Second, set a budget and stick to it. Hunt around the Internet and borrow library books to get an idea of costs like a bridal gown, venue, food, drinks, photography, rings, transportation, the ceremony, honeymoon, gratuities, taxes (GST). Discuss how you’ll pay for the wedding and check whether there are obligations if you accept funds from family members or friends.

Third, pick the size of your wedding. Expensive food and glamorous surroundings will translate into fewer invitations whereas a larger venue paired with a buffet dinner means you’ll be able to host more people. Reducing the guest list and bridal party means fewer mouths to feed and gifts to buy.

Fourth, pick a date, time, and venue. Save big bucks by planning your wedding in the off-season (October to March) and getting married on any day but Saturday. Time of day has an impact too: breakfast, lunch and twilight weddings are cheaper than dinner weddings.

In-demand venues are expensive, so wrangle a deal through your network or host a small town wedding. Negotiate terms and prices with the owner of the venue. Getting married in public spaces or someone’s backyard is an inexpensive option. Think parks, beaches, gardens, public golf courses, historical sites, libraries, civic centres, etc. Secure the required permits and investigate if there are liability issues.

Fifth, get organized and get to work. Ask friends and family to help make invitations, prepare flower arrangements and table decorations, etc. Forget the limo fleet and borrow a friend’s cool car. Hire a photographer, caterer or wedding planner from a local college (get a reference). Put limitations on an open bar. Avoid designer wear, rent dresses and suits or have them made locally. Borrow, rent, or buy second-hand decorations online.

Negotiate everything and read the fine print on all contracts.

Consider setting up your own website whereby you can post information about the day, manage the invitations and guest list, keep a budget, send reminders and other wedding day housekeeping.

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