Getting married is one of the happiest and most exciting events in your life. It may also be one of the most expensive. According to the bridal website The Knot, the average price of a wedding in the United States is just over $31,000. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to help trim the budget for your wedding. From DIY-ing your favors to consigning your dress, opportunities to save are all around you. Read on for some tips on keeping costs for your nuptials low – besides, you still have that dream honeymoon to plan!

Be Flexible

One of the main ways that couples save money on their wedding is by holding it on a day other than Saturday and/or during an off-peak season. Venues, caterers, and DJs want full schedule books, and may even offer a significant discount if you hold your event on a Friday or Sunday. And remember that planning a wedding is a lot like buying a car – it’s okay to haggle for a better price!

Buy Used and Save the Difference

Lots of people buy used furniture, clothing, and housewares – why not buy gently loved items for your wedding? The event will only last one day and no one has to know the stuff is used. Consignment stores and online retailers are great places to find bridal attire and accessories while sites like eBay and Craigslist are perfect for decor (think LED candles, vases, etc.). If you aren’t comfortable using secondhand items in your ceremony, remember that other people could be – list your used items after the wedding and get some of that money back!

DIY – But Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Getting crafty is a wonderful way to save big bucks on your wedding, but remember that it takes a lot of work. For every Pinterest-perfect wedding, there are two where the bride was scrambling to finish the centerpieces an hour before she was due at the altar. Pick areas you’re comfortable with, whether it’s reception favors or felt boutonnieres and give yourself plenty of time to complete the projects you pick. Don’t be afraid to enlist help – inviting your bridesmaids over for wine and weaving can be a lot of fun!

Fake it ‘til You Make it

It’s not tacky or cheap to use some faux elements throughout your ceremony and reception. Replacing fresh flowers with silk or fabric look-alikes in the centerpieces will bother no one (and is also more sustainable). You can also cut corners on your wedding cake – have your baker create a fake cardboard and decorated cake with the top layer (and smallest) real for cutting and photos. Then have basic sheet cakes in the back for the caterers to cut and serve to your guests. No one will know the difference.

Getting married is supposed to be about love and everlasting happy memories, not a reason to max out your credit cards. Be strict and honest about your budget and stick to it. Years from now, you’ll look back on what a great time everyone had, with or without the waiters with the white gloves!

by Rachelle Gordon