Friday, May 25, 2007

Tips for Thrifty Weddings & Honeymoons

The average couple spends over $25,000 on a wedding. But you don't have to spend that much.
I enjoyed this piece about planning a low-budget wedding. Some of the honeymoon planning tips also apply to anyone planning a vacation.

"How to have a wedding and still have money left for a honeymoon

Tips from
Consumer Credit Counseling Service

More than 700,000 couples are expected to tie the knot this summer,
spending an average of $27,000 for each wedding. Some will incur overwhelming
debt to cover the costs of engagement and wedding rings, a bridal gown, flowers,
catering, and more—and will spend years trying to pay down that debt.

In fact, if you charge just $10,000 on a credit card with an 18 percent interest rate and make only minimum monthly payments, you will spend 31 years paying for your wedding and will pay more than $14,000 in interest.

“Having a dream wedding can result in a financial nightmare for couples who spend more than they can realistically afford,” said Jessica Cecere, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast (CCCS). “The financial strain can take a toll on the best of relationships, and can
significantly reduce the chances of a successful marriage.”

CCCS offers tips to help couples plan a wedding without going broke:

Create a wedding budget. Decide up front how much you can afford to
spend on your wedding without using credit cards to finance the big day. Discuss
how much each family will contribute, and how much you and your fiancée can
contribute. When creating your budget for things like flowers, photography,
music and the reception, make sure your total does not exceed what you have to

Use a budget worksheet to outline all your anticipated
A great worksheet can be found at on the resources page. They also have a great checklist for weddings that can be useful in your wedding planning.

Be sure to factor the cost of engagement and wedding rings and
your honeymoon into your budget, as these can add substantially to your

Decide what is important and what isn’t. A great way to
reduce wedding costs is to prioritize those things that are most important to
you. Perhaps it is a certain dress or reception site, or maybe you have your
heart set on a particular band. These are the items you should plan for first
when developing your budget. Next, consider items that are less important to you
and might be a place to reduce expenses—perhaps invitations, flowers, and

Look for places to trim costs. Having a
beautiful wedding does not have to break the bank. With a little effort, you can
reduce costs without sacrificing your dreams of the perfect day.

Limit the guest list—invite those people you truly want to share in your
special day. Immediate family and your closest friends will share your joy and
will help you stay on budget.

Shop smart for your wedding gown—check out Ebay, Craigslist and other internet sites for deals on wedding gowns. Also contact local bridal shops to see when they have sample sales—you might find exactly the dress you are looking for at just a fraction of the regular price. Buying off the rack can also save money. A dress that is a little too big can easily be altered to fit.

Avoid peak wedding times—June, August and September tend to be the most popular wedding months, making wedding and reception venues more costly than off-peak times. You might be able to negotiate better rates in January, when fewer weddings are performed.

Also consider weeknights and Sundays, as there is less demand for these days.
Off peak weddings can also mean travel and lodging discounts for your honeymoon.

To buffet or not to buffet—explore your options with the caterer
to provide a delicious meal within your budget. Consider a buffet instead of a
sit-down dinner; you may be able to offer more options to your guests at less of
a cost. If you are serving wedding cake, you can also forego other costly
dessert options.

Get creative—you can trim lots of money from
your wedding budget by making things yourself. Invitations, centerpieces, and
wedding favors can all add up. Minimize these costs by making your own. There
are some great ideas at and You can also reduce the cost of decorations at your wedding venue by selecting a date close to a holiday where the site might already be decorated.

Plan the perfect honeymoon. Shopping around and making plans early are key to saving money on your honeymoon. Whether you want a relaxing visit at a spa or an adventure-filled trip overseas, there are lots of ways to save. A few tips:

Work with a travel agent—this will save you time and can save you
money. Talk with your agent about your priorities and your budget and let them
help you plan the perfect getaway.

Stay close to home—traveling to nearby destinations can reduce or eliminate airfare costs and give you more money to spend on the trip itself.

Use membership rewards or frequent flier points—cash in those miles or points for big savings on airfare and hotel costs.

Book online—some resorts and hotels offer internet-only specials. You can also quickly compare airfare costs on many airlines at sites like

When making honeymoon plans, be sure to tell the travel agent, airline booking agent, or hotel reservations desk that you will be on your honeymoon. You might find yourself upgraded to first class accommodations or get special treatment for no additional cost.

For more cost-saving honeymoon tips and ideas for the perfect
honeymoon destination, visit

“A wedding represents the start of a new life together for a couple,” said Cecere. “Staying within your budget is one of the best gifts you can give one


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