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By Sylvia Lim, CGA, CFP

Congratulations, so you’ve decided to tie the knot. Now the big challenge is to finance the wedding without the horror of starting life together in debt. Here are some great ideas for stylish weddings on a shoestring:

Budget, budget, budget
Regardless of the size of your wedding, you must decide exactly how much you can afford to spend. Be realistic. Factor the cost of these ‘must have’ items – invitations, dress/tux, flowers, photography/videography, cake, location rental, food/drinks, entertainment, gifts, transportation.

Consider a ‘low season’ wedding 
Fall, winter and early spring are best off-season time to have your wedding. Consider having it on a Sunday or week day/night. The savings can be huge. Always ask what those off season rates are.

Make your own to save money. Today, there are many beautiful yet affordable DIY stationery kits available. All you need is a computer, printer and time. Often these kits come with all the necessary finishing touches like satin ribbons, glittery stickers and foiled lined envelopes. You can literally save hundreds of dollars by making your own. Consider e-vites if you are on a really tight budget, although this should be your last resort as a mode of wedding invitation.

Shop in non traditional bridal outlets. Check out your local factory outlets and dressmakers for out of season styles and sample dresses. Consider a non wedding dress if you are having a more casual style wedding.

Host a cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres, drinks and dancing, instead of a formal sit down dinner. Bottle your own wines and use personalized wine labels. Here you can save some serious money.

Rent a fake but fully decorated cake for display and photography, and order another undecorated but frosted cake for serving to the guests after the cake cutting ceremony. You will save on the cost of decorating a large tiered wedding cake that will only be cut up for consumption. This alternative can leave more money in your bank account.

Ask for help 
Solicit the help of your close friends and family. You can help put their talent to good use by including them before and during the wedding. Have your friends take photographs, video tape and play music at the wedding. Most will be more than happy to be involved.

For other great saving tips and ideas, visit the books page

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