Your wedding day can be the best day of your life filled with memories shared with your friends, family, and most importantly, your new spouse. But the expenses for the day can quickly add up, and if you don’t stick to your budget, you can end up over your head in costs. Follow these simple steps for creating a budget and easy ways to stick to it.

Figure out how much money you have versus how much money you want.

Before you can create an exact budget, there are a few important details to confirm. How much money do you have for a wedding? If either of you are lucky enough to have parents who are contributing, find out how much they’ll be offering. Combine that with how much money you have saved and how much money you will comfortably be able to save from now until the wedding. From then, figure out how much you’d be able to spend on your day.

The next step is deciding on what you want your wedding to be. A quiet afternoon barbeque will cost a lot less than an evening at a swanky hotel. There’s also a huge cost difference from inviting 75 people to 375. If you’re not willing to budge on a large wedding at your dream location but don’t have enough money, you’ll have to save up until you do.

Find out where your money is going.

Now that you know how much money you have and the type of wedding you’re planning, you can figure out what you’ll be spending the money on. Often people only figure the obvious costs of the party and the dress, but there are many little costs that add up. Sit down, visualize the entire day, and come up with a list of everything you’ll need. Here’s a general list of potential wedding costs. Go through it and add or remove things you won’t need.

Other Events: Engagement party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, the bachelor and bachelorette party, and the honeymoon.

Attire: Groom’s tuxedo rental, the wedding rings, the bride’s dress and accessories, hair and make-up.

The Big Event: Invitations and thank you notes, photography and/or videographer, flowers, décor,  gifts for the bridal party, ceremony costs, entertainment, food and drinks (including cake), transportation, and favors.

Make your budget.

Once you have the amount you can spend and know what you’re spending it on, you can make your budget. List every single item you will spend money on. Find out average costs for each particular item in your area by calling vendors and also by asking married friends and family members to see what you can expect.

Find ways to save.

A wedding can be even more beautiful when you’re able to find a deal or make a simple swap to save money. Here are some easy ways to save money:

Cut your guest list as much as possible. Every one person you cut, eliminates an invitation, place card, plate at the wedding, drinks, and a favor.

Consider an alternate time for your wedding. Friday and Sunday weddings cost less than Saturdays and every area has an off-season for weddings, which is often winter. A Sunday on a long weekend can work very well.

Keep flower arrangements simple. Use flowers in season or locally grown.

Attend bridal expos and other bridal events. Vendors often raffle off prizes and offer great deals.

Instead of professional photographers, make-up artists, and other service providers, consider using students or people trying to break into the industry. Chances are they’re going to be willing to work at a fraction of the cost.

Skip registering for products, and register for gift cards or give guests the option to buy you something for your honeymoon.

If you stick to your budget, you’ll avoid heartache later on. Entering a marriage with debt and stress is no way to start off your happily ever after.

Kristen Kuchar

Kristen Kuchar

Kristen Kuchar is a freelance writer and editor who has learned how to save money without giving up a passion for travel, food, and living a fun life. She has written about personal finance for several years and graduated with a degree in Journalism. Follow her on Twitter @KristenKuchar.