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Wedding checklist: Here’s what you’ll pay for your special day

Just married on the back of car

If you managed to put away $32,641 for that upcoming wedding, congratulations – on both the nuptials and your pocketbook. You can afford the cost of the average wedding in the United States according to TheKnot.com, which surveyed more than 18,000 brides who were married in 2015.

Now, if you’re reading this, it’s likely you reside in Ohio. If you’re planning a wedding here, your wallet can breathe a big sigh of relief: ValuePenguin found the most expensive wedding in the state, assuming 140 guests will attend (the national average), is $21,782.

Does that still sound pricey? Annie McDaniel, a wedding planner in Columbus, Ohio, and owner of Occasions by Annie, has created weddings throughout the state and region, and she has some advice on how to save money on your special day without detracting from it.

The first step, though, is to finalize a guest list and a budget. “This can help determine what kind of a day you will have,” McDaniel said. “I also like to suggest thinking about how they would want to describe their day – Elegant? Rustic? Quaint? Romantic? Wild? Party? Personal? These can shape your next steps for the location, food, bar and decorations.”

Are you flexible on which day the wedding takes place? That alone can bring you significant savings. “Friday weddings can be an option,” McDaniel says. “Many vendors increase pricing for Saturdays since that is the most popular day. You could also do a daytime event like a luncheon or brunch.”

The most inexpensive wedding McDaniel ever planned was $7,000 for 75 guests. Yet, she said, it was one of the most memorable, personal events she ever attended. In it, she found some great lessons for future planning couples.

Use your network of friends, family and business associates. The couple was in the wedding industry and traded services to get others for free – hence the abnormally low cost. Who do you know that can help you?

Be willing to consider unique locations. The event was held at the Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster, Ohio, where all 75 guests were seated at a single, large Tuscan-style table. After dinner, the guests moved over to the fireplace for acoustic music, cake and s’mores.

Bring a little do-it-yourself to the mix. The bride found some inexpensive vintage china and used that as place settings to give the day her personality.

In fact, do-it-yourself additions are growing in popularity. “People went from choosing to make things themselves to save money, which it still does, to having D-I-Y be the personal touches that make their event unique,” McDaniel said.

Instead of a pricey flower bouquet, one bride used vintage brooches from family members to create a brooch bouquet. Other couples make their own wedding party favors to highlight their favorite items. And centerpieces have become an easy cost-reduction target with florists charging up to $250 per table. McDaniel suggests purchasing flowers in bulk and creating your own centerpieces and decorations.

Here are some more money-saving ideas from McDaniel:

  • Instead of doing a full bar, provide wine and beer and even a specialty cocktail to your guests.
  • On invitations, skip the additional accommodations and RSVP cards. Have guests get all their information and RSVP online.
  • Opt for a DJ instead of a band. And have the DJ play the ceremony instead of hiring an additional musician, such as a string quartet.
  • Hire a wedding planner. They know how to negotiate pricing with vendors and make sure you are getting the most for your money. They also ensure you are staying on budget. “Most brides will tell you,” McDaniel said, “in the last weeks leading up to the wedding, you usually spend lots of money on forgotten items and end up paying more to just get them done.”
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