By Jan Stribling, exclusive to Long2Wed

We all want our wedding day to be perfect. It’s something we’ve dreamed about all of our lives, all of us girls anyway, and in our heads it is a grand extravaganza. It’s nice if your parents are footing the bill or you, yourself, are financially able to pay for this dream wedding, and according to TheKnot.com, the average spent on weddings these days is around $30,000.

What if, though, you don’t have parents who can afford such costs and you aren’t able to do so either? What if you simply can’t fathom spending that much on a wedding? I think you can still have a gorgeous wedding and spend much, much less. Planning a huge wedding is also very stressful. Bridesmaids argue about which dress looks best on them. Mothers of the bride and groom may not get along. It can be chaotic.

So what if reducing the costs involved, reduced your stress level at the same time? I think it’s a win-win situation! Let’s look at these wedding planning “what ifs” for a few areas where you can cut costs.

What if you take a look around you? If you aren’t getting married in a church, look around you! Does someone you know have a home with a beautiful back yard or a beautiful living room that would be perfect for a wedding? Are there local horticulture gardens that allow weddings for a fair price?

What about state parks that surround the homes of historic government officials. An example of this here in South Carolina is Rose Hill State Park, the home of Governor Gist’s mansion.The grounds are stunning, and I have had photographed several brides there. We had to only pay admission cost of about $5.

Rose Hill State Park, S.C.

Rose Hill State Park, S.C.

Some parks, of course, may not allow weddings, but it’s worth the phone call to find out. Think outside the box and forget the expensive hotel ballrooms and “wedding mansions” advertised in all the wedding catalogs.

What if you didn’t have 20 wedding attendants? Do you really need 10 or 15 bridesmaids? Not that this is necessarily an expense for the bride, but it is time-consuming and can be extremely stressful. You know the saying, “you can’t please everyone”, and bridesmaids are the perfect example.

Take away this stress and have only one or two attendants. Besides, do you want that 2 year old flower girl and/or ring bearer deciding they won’t go down the aisle like they did for the rehearsal? My opinion is that you don’t need the added stress! With fewer bridesmaids and groomsmen, you need fewer flowers!

Flowers can be a great expense at around $2000 for the wedding alone. What if you have your bouquet made just as you’d like and let the attendants carry single stems or small nosegays? Boutonnieres are a great way to cut costs. If you are a DIY-er, think about making them yourself. With the Internet at your fingertips, ideas for things like this are everywhere.

If you aren’t the crafty type, boutonnieres can run $8 to $10 each depending on the type of flower you choose. Your florist can assist you with choosing something that’s less expensive, but still looks beautiful. Did you know that some greenhouses will rent plants like ferns and other greenery and even floral arrangements?

With what I’ve suggested above, with 4 attendants (2 maids and 2 groomsmen) it would cost out as follows: Your bouquet $200, two single stem peonies $20, two boutonnieres $20, and let’s say greenhouse ferns and arrangement rentals total $250 to $300. You’ve gotten that $2000 price tag down to around $500. Of course, we are not talking about the reception at all in this article, but even for the reception there are plenty of ways to save money on centerpieces.

A single gerbera daisy or peony would be so pretty for your bridesmaids!

A single gerbera daisy or peony would be so pretty for your bridesmaids!

What if you stick to your dress budget? I know it’s hard to go into a bridal salon and not want to try on every gorgeous dress you see. Please, do not do this to yourself! You know your budget or your parent’s budget, so save yourself some stress and even heartbreak by sticking to dresses that fall within your price range.

Stop watching the wedding shows where someone comes through for the bride and she’s able to get the $10,000 designer gown. Stick to the plan! Plus, lots of discount bridal shops have certain times of the year where they discount dresses even more, so check those places out! If you don’t tell anyone what you paid, they’ll assume you paid full price!

Wooden Cake Stand

Wooden Cake Stand

Oh, how could I forget? What if you are having a relatively simple wedding and you take a look at bridesmaids’ dresses in white or ivory to use as your dress? Talk about a cost-savings!

Taking these four suggestions into consideration could save you thousands of dollars. With all the women in my family who have married (some multiple times), I’ve seen weddings done on some super tight budgets.

Just recently, a cousin of mine had a very sweet and pretty, rustic wedding. It was outdoors by a beautiful lake. They went with the Mason jar idea, which is so popular right now, for centerpieces and candle holders. My cousin who made the cake used two pieces of wood for the cake stand to really add to the rustic feel.

Thinking outside the box like this is super smart when it comes to savings. If you want some specifics, contact me, and I’d be happy to throw some ideas your way!

Jan Stribling, Author

Jan Stribling

Jan Stribling is an aspiring writer with a particular interest in relationships and marriage.  She has published her own magazine, He/She/Us, which focuses on these topics, and has written articles for All Women Stalk, an online women’s magazine.  At 50, she has returned to college for a degree in psychology.  She writes about being a mom to a 10-year-old boy on her own blog, Peonies and Popsicles.