questionsi've just gotten engaged - can you suggest any…

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Congratulations to you and your beloved!

Consider making your own invitations. Lots of pretty blank invitations & envelopes are out there. Use your local higher end grocery store for your wedding cake. It will cost less and if you are clever enough to avoid calling it a "wedding cake" but saying it is for a special party, you might realize even more savings. In fact, don't use the "w" word at all when planning your event. There's something about that "w" word that makes hall rentals, caterers, florists jack their prices into the stratosphere.

Do your best to keep family and friends from persuading you through guilt or any other means of manipulation of straying from your plans. You'd be surprised at how gosh darn easy it is for that train to go right off the rails.

(There are a few questions along this very line. If you do a bit of searching, you should be able to turn them up. MARVELOUS ideas for saving money in the comments!)

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Congrats!

Are you and yours committed to a large wedding with all the family & friends present? I ask this because my wife and I eloped to Jamaica and it was perfect for us. We had a very small ceremony (witnesses provided by the resort where we stayed) and didn't have to deal with the drama of wedding planning. That also allowed us to focus on just ourselves without worrying about anyone else. We then had a picnic at a county park after we returned and invited friends & family to that.

If you were even remotely considering such an option, I would very highly recommend it.

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Congratulations! My go-to site was theknot.com. They have a place to create you guest list, track gifts, checklists, vendor lists, name it - they have it.

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Go to Las Vegas! So much easier!

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This is getting absurd: Two couples about to become first-time parents asking for advice in the same week followed by someone planning a wedding.

Sigh, the only thing I have to look forward to is Season 3 of Game of Thrones tomorrow.

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@curtisuxor: And none of us had the smarts to say "just don't do it!"

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I'm 55 days out, so hopefully I can help a little bit!

-As someone mentioned, DIY invites can save a bit over having someone else do them, but it's not a huge cost center in and of itself, and it ends up being a time sink - so if you're absolutely trying to cut to the bottom dollar, this is a good way, but not going to result in major savings (even if you save $5/invite, and send out 100, that's $500 savings... may not be a ton in the scheme of things).

-Your biggest savings will be in the guest list. Make some sort of policy as to who is getting invited (a la, immediate family, good friends, and aunts/uncles... or something) and do your best to stick to it. We are stuck with a lot of guest list bloat because we were not good at sticking with our policy. At $50-$100,000,000 per guest, this is a huge way to save.

-There are a few websites that deal in "secondhand" wedding stuff - I can't think of them off the top of my head, but google can probably help. Good deals on centerpiecy

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type things, and other related/similar elements, that someone else has used for their wedding and is now looking to offload. Can sometimes score pretty serious savings.

-Look at times/dates other than Saturday night. There are pretty significant savings to be had with almost all of the vendors you'll be using if you're on Friday night or Sunday afternoon. I know someone that did a Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving wedding that did very well, price wise. Planning around a holiday like that may also serve to trim some of your guest list because people are travelling to see family/etc.

-Look at off-season weddings. April thru October is wedding season, with May/June and September/October being the heaviest months (at least in my neck of the woods, it may be different near you). Planning outside of that date will result in some savings.

All of that said, don't skimp on an open bar or music. Nobody is going to remember what you served for dinner or the centerpieces (cont'd)

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but everybody remembers the cocktail hour and the general vibe of the party. So, booze and a good entertainer are critical to having a good time. Band or DJ is up to you - I have had a great time with both.

And at the end of the day, keep in sight the fact that a) it is about you and your soon-to-be spouse and b) that no matter what, you are married at the end of the day. The shade of pink of the napkins and tablecloths will have no bearing on the success of your marriage. Have fun, you (hopefully!) only get to do this once!

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Thank you everyone for your input!

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Over 250,000 weddings are called off every year...

http://jezebel.com/5992219/getting-married-just-buy-someone-elses-cancelled-wedding-on-the-cheap
http://www.bridalbrokerage.com/

Deposits are pricey! If a wedding falls through at the last minute, some couples are selling their weddings (reservations and deposits) to recoup some of the funds. Their trash can be your treasure :)

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If you're willing to take a chance, check out today's deal at That Daily Deal. They periodically sell store sample wedding and bridesmaids dresses in random sizes, and today they are marked down to $9.99! My daughter is engaged and we have bought 3 of these. The sizes are random, but every one we received has been a size 10 or 12. They all still had price tags attached showing store prices of $880 and up. We plan to take a couple of them apart and put together an entirely new dress with the parts DD likes the most, thereby creating a semi-designed-by-her dress.

For $10 it's worth a try!

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Oriental Trading has a section on Wedding Party Supplies with some good deals. My daughter keeps receiving entire catalogs from them dedicated to weddings and wedding planning.

Also, check out Shindigz. Their deal-of-the-day is usually a party supply that might not be appropriate to a wedding, but occasionally they offer something that you could use, and even their regular prices are pretty good.

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@lavikinga: not true, i've said that numerous times.

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@curtisuxor: Well, we pulled the plug, so I don't get to look forward to GoT3 tomorrow night. sobs

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My new wife spent lots of time buying second hand items (lots of them) on
recycledbride.com, theknot.com has a classified section that was the source of the signs for the wedding ground, the place card holders and a bunch others.

These are items which typically are used once (gently), so are ripe for reuse. If you have no problem with second hand, then you can save a great deal of money buying second hand.

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@wilfbrim: Sounds like you married a DW member. :)

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Get crafty; for signage and decorations, we bought some of the chalkboard paint in a dark brown from Lowe's and did all of the signs in pink chalk; it worked out pretty well.

Plan early. The last thing you want is to have to make a decision at the last moment as one of two things will happen: you'll get low quality or you'll pay wayyyy too much.

A lot of the cost, of course, centers on the invite list. Food, invitations, location, cake.... on and on; the more people, the more it'll cost/the more time it'll take. Try not to let parents, especially, put their friends on the list that they just want to come (that you only know in passing) so that they can show off their children getting married. I got stuck with a few of these :-/