French novelist George Sand wrote, “there is only one happiness in life; to love and be loved.” What better way to symbolize when you have found that happiness than with a wedding? Weddings are joyous, celebratory, beautiful and sometimes, very expensive. But a gorgeous wedding need not break the bank. Here are the top 10 costs for, and ways to save money on your wedding.

  1. The Venue – You can check for outside options such as farms, public parks or even someone’s stunning back yard. If you need to keep it indoors or need a larger space keep in mind the season. Rates drop drastically if you get married during off-peak times and picking ANY day other than Saturday can also reduce the price.
  2. The GownThe dress plays a starring role at any wedding and custom gowns can cost a fortune. Be on the lookout for other options: sample sales, ebay, vintage dresses or even consider selling yours afterward to recoup some of the expense.
  3. Decorations – Get creative! Find a multitude of gorgeous, DIY decorations from places like Pinterest and other blogs.
  4. Photos – You will want high quality photos, as this is a memory often revisited long after the event. Make a list of the top shots you want to capture. Then look for savings by booking well in advance, booking for only part of the ceremony (rather than the whole reception), and get your photos digitally. Another secret: find a reputable photographer and see if they have an assistant that shoots at a reduced rate.
  5. Invitations At one time, it was important that invitations be embossed. Thankfully, with online stores, such as Minted, modern invitations offer a variety of options with less expense. Minted also has wedding inspiration boards, so you can see what others have done. And you can get 3 free samples to see the quality they provide in person.
  6. Food – Think outside the box for food. Try serving food tapas or family style and avoid lobster and crab for anything. Another money saving trend right now – skip the traditional giant cake and treat your guests to ice cream, cupcakes or mini deserts instead.
  7. Drinks – Check with your venue to see if you can provide your own or save money by serving just one signature cocktail rather than hosting an open bar.
  8. Music – Live bands are a big hit at weddings, but you can often find an entertaining DJ for a fracture of the cost. Or take the time to scout around for smaller, local bands that might be willing to do perform a lot of crowd-pleasing covers.
  9. Favors – One easy way to cut costs: use small, potted plants for flowers, décor, AND favors for the guests. Or give your guests something handmade. For some truly inspiring ideas, check here.
  10. Flowers – Buying what is in season can save you big bucks. Another tip: look for quotes from local growers. You can always find a coupon code to help with the cost.

Your wedding day should be spectacular, but it doesn’t have to be a financial burden to make it that way. Remember to have fun with it. A little planning, research and creativity can go a long way toward making your big day one you will cherish forever.