Ways to save money on your wedding.

The price tag on a wedding dress can range from inexpensive (off the rack) to super-pricey (custom-made designer gowns). When a bride falls in love with a gown, it may not always be the one that’s ideal for her wallet (considering many brides spend 8 to 10 percent of their entire wedding budget!). If you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative, consider shopping for a gently used gown. Not sure where to start? Hit online shops like WoreItOnce.com (which offers the chance to purchase used bridal and bridesmaid gowns) or SavetheDress.com — this site actually lets brides post an ad for the gown of their dreams and vendors can then respond with offers.

Think tying the knot at city hall equals long lines, dingy rooms, and an unfriendly officiant? Think again! New York’s Marriage Bureau recently underwent a huge $12 million makeover to give a more stylish experience for altar-bound couples which costs them just $60 (including a marriage license!). Las Vegas also offers lots of custom chapels already prepared to make your quick “I dos” simple and romantic, while San Francisco takes the cake with a two-hour rental package of the City Hall Rotunda, which holds up to 200 guests, for just $4,000!

You don’t need a passport to have the honeymoon of your dreams! Many four- and five-star resorts throughout the country offer lavish honeymoon suites and packages that can easily compete with those in the Caribbean and other popular honeymoon destinations. Plus, you’ll save a ton on airfare — especially if you book in advance. Hawaii may be a little far away from home, but cities like Chicago, Austin, Miami, and New Orleans are loaded with personality, charm, and endless possibilities for honeymooners that want to save money and stick close to home.

The wedding industry is very competitive. Whether you’re shopping for flowers, favors, or accessories, there are a lot of vendors out there, and they’re hungry for your business. If you can’t find something in your price range in your neck of the woods, you can always try reaching out to other brides on bridal message boards, or scan sites like eBay or Etsy.com for cheap deals. (Etsy actually lets buyers post requests for custom or handmade items.) Just don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Brides around the country are buddying up when it comes to sharing tent rental fees, ceremony decorations, etc. If you don’t know another bride, turn to your loved ones for help. Is there a musician in the family who can perform during your reception? What about a family friend in the floral business, or a neighbor with a backyard perfect for an outdoor wedding? Don’t be afraid to tap into your relationships to score an awesome discount and the wedding of your dreams.
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