You are ready to get married and you want your magical day to be perfect, but there is one roadblock that can make things a bit stressful— finances.

With the average wedding cost of 2017 being $33,391, according to The Knot, you might cause you to work long and hard to pay off the debt you acquired from the big day. And, by the way, “average” can mean different things for different locales. If your happy day is planned in Manhattan, the average wedding bill will be an astonishing $76,944.

Of course, you could decide to have a small family gathering and avoid all the lavish grandeur. But even if you crave something bigger, fear not — it’s not beyond reach. Check these money-saving wedding tips, plan your big event carefully and creatively, and you might just have your perfect wedding after all — while possibly saving some serious cash.

Take Your Time and Plan Ahead

Give yourself more time to prepare than you think you’ll need. Doing things in a hurry can negatively affect your finances simply because you don’t have enough time to research and consider all the options.

Plan well in advance. Take your time and do some research to find the most affordable options on everything, from the site of your reception to the type of invitations you want to use.

And affordable doesn’t have to mean “cheap.” It is possible to save thousands just because you weren’t in a state of panic and had enough time to weigh your options.

Avoid Peak Times of the Year

This is one of our biggest money-saving wedding tips. Prices for special occasions and ceremonies go up during peak seasons and weekends. Why have your wedding when everyone else wants to have theirs? Getting married in June (or September) is not the law, and choosing a less popular season may save you some serious bucks.

Brides.com has this to say: “In general, spring and fall tend to be more expensive (June and September are peak wedding months), whereas the winter months (January, February, and March) are often cheaper. The exception, though, is the month of December, which is considered a prime wedding month due to holiday celebrations.”

If you’re scared that your guests will think less of you — don’t. They might even thank you. “Opting for an off-season wedding,” says Brides.com, “also benefits out-of-town guests who can book off-peak travel and accommodation rates.”

Rethink the Wedding Cake

Bigger doesn’t mean better. Traditionally, most weddings are equipped with impressive multi-layer culinary and visual art compositions with one purpose in mind — to amaze the guests. Not surprisingly, a wedding cake can run you up to a few thousand dollars. Yet, there are other options that include smaller cakes or delicious single-bite treats. In fact, no one said you must have a wedding cake at all. It’s your day, and you are allowed to break the established wedding patterns to fit your own lifestyle.

But if you do want a cake, have a cake. You can still save money if you have enough time to interview a few bakers and read some tips.

Save on Flowers

You can save on pretty floral arrangements without looking cheap. Flowers? “Stick to just two kinds” and “repurpose,” says The Knot in 9 Ways to Save on Wedding Flowers. “If your florist is only sourcing two types of stems, she can buy in bulk, saving you big bucks. Consider sticking to flowers in a similar color scheme or shape for a more cohesive look. Orchids, calla lilies, tulips, roses, hydrangeas and peonies are all great options.”

And there is no reason to “leave your ceremony arrangements at the altar,” insists The Knot. “Aisle arrangements can flank the buffet, bridesmaid bouquets can add color to a cake table and an archway can make for a memorable exit. Talk to your florist about how you can reuse your ceremony flowers to get the most bang for your buck.”

Economize on Food and Drinks

Your caterers will charge a premium for alcohol, plain and simple. But if your venue allows it, nothing prevents you from buying the booze yourself. You shouldn’t buy the cheapest wines and spirits (or your friends and family will voice their disappointment), but that doesn’t mean $100 per bottle either. Your guests will be happy so long as they have moderately priced quality wines and spirits, and you won’t lose the shirt off your back.

And don’t become a hostage to the venue owner; instead, choose a venue that allows outside caterers. According to Alan Fields, co-author of the book Bridal Bargains, quoted by Cosmopolitan, you’ll be better off picking “a venue that doesn’t include catering, because then you can pit caterers against each other to get you the best deal.”

These are just a few money-saving wedding tips, but you can similarly save money on all other facets of your wedding, from photography to reception entertainment. You don’t have to let the average statistical costs dictate your wedding budget. The last thing you want to worry about is keeping up with the Joneses on one of the most memorable days of your life.

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