In this rough economy, brides and grooms are scaling back the cost of their weddings. In the first six months of the year, the average cost of a wedding was around $21,000, down from nearly $24,000 in 2010. But the special day can be done for less, according to Cara Davis, author of Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot (Relevant Books). Davis, who lives in Orlando and blogs at CheapWaysTo.com, says there are several ways to make a wedding day a little easier on the wallet.
GO OFF-PEAK: January, February and November are off-season months for weddings, even in Florida. Get extra savings by planning the event for an off-peak day and time. Saturday afternoons and evenings are the most sought-after slots, so a ceremony at a beach venue on a Saturday morning (or Friday or Sunday evening) will cost less.
LIMIT THE GUEST LIST: Most caterers charge by the person, so there's a big difference in cost for 100 guests vs. 150 or 200. Remember, the reception is usually half of the wedding budget — and food prices are rising.
SHOP AROUND: Negotiate prices and packages with vendors. Don't agree to pay more than you think you should. Most vendors will be happy to have the business. And you can use discounted gift cards, coupons or promo codes to increase your savings.
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY: The key to a budget wedding is doing it yourself. Turn it into a family affair and delegate some of the responsibilities to your relatives and friends. Some might even be willing to cover a few costs as a wedding gift.
CONSIDER INSURANCE: Wedding insurance is a small but growing trend, offering protection in the event a vendor goes bankrupt or out of business before your big day. If you're spending more than $5,000 on a wedding, Davis says, it's worth investigating what insurance will cost.