Rethink Your Wedding to "Beat" the Recession
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It should come as no surprise that reports indicate drops in spending on almost every budget line in wedding costs. Laura Kennedy, Researcher-Reporter from the Kiplinger letters, wrote about the recession way back in April of 2008, long before it hit. She believed that "the sluggish economy isn't about to deter scores of lovebirds from tying the knot." David Wood, the president of the Association of Bridal Consultants, a nationwide training organization for wedding planners states that "People tend to get married whether they have the money or not, whether they have a job or not, whether they get a promotion or not."

According to The Wedding Report, the biggest decreases in spending are being seen in the purchase of wedding gowns, rehearsal dinners, bridesmaids' bouquets, gifts for attendants, engagement rings, and the wedding cake. We believe that none of these statistics translate into your not having a beautiful wedding. It simply means that you will have to carefully and seriously focus on what's really important to you and make the cuts elsewhere. Hosting a wedding does not mean you will need to take out a loan, or create financial hardship for yourselves. What you a're going to have to do is to work a little harder, be more creative, shop more wisely, and pare down, all this while keeping the joy up. Here are several ideas on how to combat the recession and cut spending without cutting all of your dreams.

Wedding Gown
Check the sale racks in bridal shops. There are excellent deals to be had. If you have got talented friends, buy some fabulous fabric for your gown and have the friend make the gown for you, in lieu of a wedding present. Some consignment shops carry pre-owned wedding dresses and several web sites, like HudsonValleyWeddings.com have "Resale" sections where you can get a gently worn wedding gown for a really great price.

Rehearsal Dinner
Here's an area where you can really think out of the box. Look for non-traditional venues that can be "overhauled" and "remade" into an appropriate location. How about a bowling alley, or your favorite local pizza parlor, with a section set aside for you and your guests?

Ceremony & Reception Venue
First and foremost, don't automatically negate any place you were contemplating before the economic downturn. Ask for rates, explain your situation, and you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the venue owners will work with you. If that doesn't work out for you, think about a restaurant with a private room. Low key location such as a small local restaurant, may be able to also provide food and entertainment. If you need to cut even further, consider the local VFW hall and eliminate china dishes, party favors, centerpieces, place cards, and chair covers. Keep in mind that. Instead of having a sit-down dinner, a buffet may be less expensive. Need to cut more? How about a potluck wedding?

Wedding Cake
The concept of using layers of cupcakes, instead of a traditional wedding cake, was not originally used as a cost-cutting idea. The cupcakes are really pretty when iced in theme colors and they are generally less expensive than a tiered wedding cake. Many bakeries will design a mock cake made of cardboard and covered with icing. That cake can be on display and used for photo opportunities, while pieces of a far less-expensive sheet cake can be cut up in the kitchen and served to guests. Need to cut more? Perhaps you have a talented friend who can make your wedding cake in lieu of a wedding gift to you.

Alcohol
Buying your own alcohol can sometimes save you money. Eliminate top-shelf liquors and replace it with less expensive selections. Consider doing an open bar for fewer hours than the entire length of the wedding. If most of your guests are driving to your party, closing the bar before the reception is over will be a money-saving and also an excellent safety move. Some caterers have begun implementing that schedule on their own, for the same reason.

Guests
When cutting costs, one of the simplest ways to avoid sacrificing an elegant wedding is to pare down the number of invitations. All of us looking at our wedding albums' table pictures will, no doubt, find people whom we never saw after the wedding. Most newly engaged brides get "guest fever" which "turns" acquaintances and casual friends into guests who must be invited. It's natural for the newly engaged to want to share their wedding day with "everyone." Then there are bridal couples who, out of a sense of obligation, feel pressured into inviting certain people. That pressure can also come from parents and in-laws who, in many cases may be paying for the wedding, or contributing to it. It's up to the bridal couple to be discriminating in creating their list of guests and in explaining to family that they want to pare down in order to treat the guests that they do invite to an elegant wedding. All of us who have planned, or contributed financially to a wedding, know that this is not an easy task.

Photography
There are manufacturers of wedding albums who offer a Gift Registry services so that your family and friends can help contribute to the cost of your photo album. You can opt not to have a printed wedding album, or to have your photos and/or video put onto a DVD. In that way the photos can be viewed on a TV, or a large flat computer monitor. If you are comfortable working on a computer, you can add text, music, and audio files. The latter can include the ceremony, comments from your guests, and toasts that are given to you. If they wish, this "system" allows friends and family to buy their own copies of the DVD, or you can give the disks as gifts, as they are very easy and inexpensive to duplicate. It's important to remember that if you are using a professional photographer, you must get a signed release that gives you permission to use the images. Some photographers are allowing couples to purchase their negatives and give the couple a signed release and some are offering DVD's and no printed proofs.

Do It Yourself
If you enjoy making things, your wedding is an excellent opportunity for you to show your "craftier" side. It's also fun to enlist your attendants and friends to come together to help you create items for your wedding, such as party favors, decorations, and centerpieces. It won't be too difficult to make and decorate your guest book, photo album, ring bearer pillow, and flower girls' basket. You need not be a professional crafter, or even an artist, because there is an inordinate amount of free information available from local craft shops and from sites on the web. It may even pay for you to take a free, or inexpensive class, or workshops that will teach you how to do it yourself.

Flowers
Silk flower arrangements can be used for tables centerpieces and, small ones, can "double" as party favors. They can also take the place of live ones in the brides and attendants' bouquets. If you are set on live flowers, consider several long-stemmed flowers, tied with pretty ribbon, as an alternative to a traditional bouquet. There are local farms that plant and cut flowers and will provide blooms for your wedding. That will be less elaborate, but also less expensive.

Beauty
Instead of hiring an on-site hairdresser, you and your attendants can do one another's hair and makeup. You and your friends are probably used to and good at applying makeup and doing. If you think you'll need some coaching, consider taking a makeup and/or hair styling class. This kind of class would make a terrific wedding shower, or bridesmaids' luncheon.

Computers
Most bridal couples today are proficient in the use of a computer. That gives you the option of designing and/or creating any number of cost-saving wedding-related items. The web offers many free templates and instructions about how to make things on your own. You'll find help on items such as "Save the Date" Cards, Invitations, Party Favor Labels, Wedding Programs, Table Cards and Thank You Notes. Software programs are so good today that you can print professionally-looking printed materials from the computer. For example, addresses printed using a computer look a lot like calligraphy.

Attendant Gifts
The crafty bride can create personal, handmade gifts that will save her money and, quite possibly, be more appreciated than store-bought gifts (e.g., fleece throw, personalized or embroidered items).

Setting the Date and the Season
Friday weddings and winter weddings are typically less expensive and can be as elegant as any wedding on a different day, or in a different season.

Honeymoon
If you have the patience to sit through a sales pitch, you may be able to make a honeymoon in a time share. Before you compromise, speak to your travel agents. The agent may be able to find you as good deal, one of many that honeymoon venues are now offering to entice people to vacation with them.

TheWeddingReport.com has reported that a small percentage of couples are postponing their weddings in the hope that the market will recover quickly, but far more couples are going ahead with their plans, while trimming their budgets.

Some words of warning, when you decide where to make the cuts in your budget lines, you must always be mindful of the fact that wedding professionals are called "professionals," because they have the training and experience. So, be very careful where and whom you cut and ask prices before you make your decision to "eliminate" a service. In that way the end results will, hopefully not disappoint you.

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