Places to save money

Catering a wedding reception is costly.

Major urban areas may push the bill to $75 per person, while suburban or rural weddings where demand is lower may be half as much. Also consider space: each guest should be allocated at least 25 square feet, according to one source, so choose your venues accordingly.

The dress of your dreams is but one aspect of the entire day. Consider the cost for the floral centerpieces you want, the gifts for the wedding party, the trendy band that will have everyone dancing all night long.

Fortunately, one survey shows the cost of wedding dresses falling from a high average of $1,300 a couple years ago to around $900 last year. Popular designs are simpler, less embellished, and easier to tailor, therefore somewhat cheaper. To score more savings, consider a second-hand dress found in an online marketplace – nobody needs to know it’s not new.

Prioritize. If your budget is totally out of control because you must invite more than 150 guests, you may cut a significant amount from the total by switching from a live band to a deejay, or offering a buffet dinner rather than a sit-down meal with waitstaff. Trim the open bar back to just the first hour of the reception, or consider offering just beer and wine to guests and reap serious savings.

One financial expert suggests determining how much you can afford to spend, then finding venues and entertainers that fit the bill according to a percentage of the total. For instance, the reception (in total, meals, beverages, etc.) should be kept to 55 percent of the total, and photographer should be no more than 10 percent of the total.

If you’re willing to put in time and effort, you can carve lots of money off the total by getting some friends together to do a lot of the hard work associated with renting chairs and tables, making decorations, setting up, and preparing and serving your own food.

Rustic venues are popular and make great photos, but there are budget-smart options for those who want a metropolitan wedding too. Replicate the wedding scenes you envy on Pinterest in a city park, a room of an historic library, or even a friend’s back yard. The website Peerspace may help you locate places you’d never heard of, including courtyards, rustic hunting lodges, grange halls, or park pavilions.