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Don't break the wedding bank

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A beautiful bride

Erin Trad, the author’s daughter-in-law, wears a beautiful lace off-the-shoulder dress she found in a store that was not a bridal shop and cost less than $100. (Courtesy photo)

While helping my children plan their weddings, and planning my own, we tried to keep the costs down and the glamour up. It’s not hard, once you know where to look. With the Internet, information and advice is but a click away. According to a number of web sites that offer advice on having a fabulous wedding for $3,000 or less, the first tip is to actually have a budget.

Decide how much you and/or your family are willing to spend, set the budget and get started. Stick to the budget and still plan a fantastic wedding that will be memorable to all.

Planning with a budget can take a bit of compromise while keeping to your main idea. Looking for an outdoor venue? Look at your family and friends. Does someone have a beautiful back yard that would serve the purpose?

My husband and I were able to use our friends’ pole barn for a great reception. The wedding party and good friends pitched in to help us decorate. We found chairs and tables to borrow and visited local stores to find table covers. We also made our own centerpieces and table decorations.

Having the reception and ceremony in the same place can save time and money as well. Many couples are planning these one stop weddings in local venues and saving money while doing it.

Perhaps plan a wedding that isn’t during the usual wedding months. Fall, spring and winter weddings are just as beautiful as summer weddings. Different seasons can bring a variety of decorating ideas.

Have an idea in mind when looking for the best decorations for your budget. Dollar stores have some of the usual items for much less than can be bought in department stores or online. Use the web, and find your ideal decor without spending a fortune, but don’t get lost in the thousands of ideas that are out there.

Even destination weddings can be found with a little ingenuity and hard work. My daughter had a lovely Las Vegas wedding in a small chapel off the beaten path, but still in the city. The chapel had a nice outdoor venue, and gave the couple and wedding party their full attention throughout the short but beautiful ceremony. They even offered suggestions. After all, it’s what they do. The problem with destination weddings is not everyone can attend. Think about how guests would be able to afford the destination as well as you.

What about the dress? My daughter-in-law found a dress off the rack in a store that did not sell bridal dresses. Her dress was less than $100 and was beautiful. It was a full length, white lace, off-the-shoulder dress and no one was the wiser.

If you insist on buying a dress from a bridal shop, look for a dress off the rack that fits and offer cash for a better discount. Look for clearance dresses, veils and head pieces. Maybe a friend could sell hers to you, and with a little alteration, it can be your own.

I shopped for my wedding dress in June. By then, most brides already have the dress picked out and bridal stores are having great sales. I shopped around and found a little boutique that had the perfect dresses for my bridesmaids. Small and local can prove to be a better bargain than big bridal chain stores. Their dresses can be unique as well.

My sister wore a dress her mother-in-law designed and made just for her. It just cost her the material to make it. It helps having a seamstress in the family!

There are shops that rent wedding dresses, just like the men rent tuxedos. When renting tuxes, find a store that will give you the groom’s tuxedo free with the rental of a certain number of tuxes in your wedding party. That worked out well for my husband and I as far as our budget went.

Even if this isn’t your first walk down the aisle, it’s the first time you and your intended have tied the knot. It can be special and cost less than a big traditional wedding.

We were able to get a discount on a DJ because he was a friend. We saved by having friends and family cook the food for the reception. In a few cases, we provided the ingredients, and they did the cooking. My daughter booked an all-you-can-eat buffet for her wedding dinner. With a large group, she got a discount per person that made it affordable for all, and we were happy to assist.

There is nothing a bit of imagination and determination can’t accomplish. Enlist the help of friends. Find out how they set up their ideal wedding and then go with your own thoughts from there. It’s not hard to take someone else’s ideas and make them your own.

Have fun, don’t stress and make it a day you will always remember without breaking the bank!