As many of you already may know this summer I’ll be getting married, to be exact August 2nd is the big day WHOOHOO! So I thought I share a little bit of our experience and give some tips for those planning on getting married soon.

Sit down with your significant other and set up a realistic budget. Estimate how much you would like to spend and give yourself about 0.5-1% wiggle room, but stick to it there is not point in having a budget if you are going to blow it up. We set a budget for $20,000 and so far have kept that in check, if we went over budget on one item we would make sure to cut back on others to bring things back inline. Make sure you put it down on paper otherwise chances are you will blow the budget, we used a spreadsheet to keep us on track.

Start Planning Early!
This is probably the most valuable tip I can give you, start early. We start wedding planning in August 2008, so about a year in advance. The good thing was that I have had several years of experience in event planning so we knew exactly where to look and who to talk to. Starting early won’t just save you a lot of last month headache, but can save you thousands of dollars because you have more time to look around and more leverage.

If you start attending wedding shows and wedding planners you’ll notice that there are at least 6 different categories for flowers and many more for other items, keep it simple!! Make a list of things that are most important to you and start scratching everything else out, if you have money left you can always go back.

Avoid Saturday’s
Saturday’s will be the most expensive day to have a wedding, by avoiding Saturday we saved at least 25-30%. Go for Friday or Sunday and save yourself thousands of dollars, we picked a Sunday but it’s a long weekend Sunday so if you can do that even better.

Have a Wedding Calendar
My fiance, who is sometimes a little bit of an organizing freak, made a “Wedding Calendar” she set out things we need have done in every month which was great and kept us on track. Right now we have about 3 months to go till the big day and we have pretty much everything done, when we tell others everyone seems very surprised. Yes of course there will be the last minute things that we overlooked, but we will have more time to deal with those surprises. So get a calendar and mark down things you want to do in any given month and than get them done!

Shop Around and Negotiate
Although I have a fairly decent network when it comes to event planning, we still took some time and shopped around and the best deal we got was one outside of my network. Put together a list of potential’s and play them against each other, we went back 3 or 4 times between two venues and were able bring down their prices by about 30% from their original quote.

Just MarriedAvoid Loans
This is a trap too many newlyweds fall into, they want things they can’t afford so get a loan. Starting out your lives together in debt is probably not the best way, avoid a wedding loan at all costs. When you budget keep it realistic, if you do not have the funds right now start saving towards it. I do not want to get into the concept of compounding now, just remember compounding can work for you but also against you! We hate debt and did not want to get a loan for our wedding so when we budgeted we worked backwards, we looked at how much we can realistically save over the next several months and based our budget on that. We set a budget of $20,000 and were able to save that much in about nine months now we can enjoy a debt free wedding.

Get a DJ and $ave
Music is probably one of the top five expenses you will have, by getting a DJ instead of a band yo u can save couple of thousands. Although we have a band booked for our wedding we did this because we had good relations with this band and were able to get them at a similar price a DJ would have cost.

Make Your Own Wedding Invitations
When I was looking for wedding invitations I could not believe the ridiculous amounts charged for having wedding cards, so we decided to make our own. We got some already made cards and printed them at home total cost for wedding cards was about $30.

The Wedding Gown

Wedding gown can be very expensive, I suggest buying used gowns or renting. You can find used wedding dresses on the net, I don’t see a reason to spend thousands of dollars on a dress that will be worn only ones. Not to take away from the importance of a wedding dress, but if you can get just as good of a dress of less than half the price why not take it?

If you do buy your dress I suggest you sell it afterward, you can sell it on ebay or using Preowned Wedding Dresses, they charge you $25 annually and list your dress (including 5 photos) on their site no commissions or other fees are charged.

I know when you see us spending $20,000 on the wedding you think this guy is crazy this is not a frugal wedding, but couple this to know is that we have 310 people (which is small for where we come from) and we come from a different culture have extra expenses that we can’t cut much. Could it have been less? yes but we are happy with how we have manged things so far. I am specially happy because we have managed to do a $35,000 wedding for $20,000, I know this because I have helped several friends and family members with their wedding over the last two years and from my event planning experience.

Around the Web

I asked on twitter who had some wedding saving tips and here are the results:

@FMFblog Getting married on non-weekend day (cheaper rent). Doing music/flowers yourself. Buying a used bridal dress (or renting one.) [Free Money Finance]

@freefrombroke Check with your friends, one may be a DJ or photographer (or be good friends with one). Get married off-season (we got married in the Winter). [Free From Broke]

@MyLifeROI Get married close to a holiday. The church may already be decorated! (worked for my sister) [My Life ROI]

@MoneyGal I got married at my sister’s house; had a buffet dinner; decorated the place ourselves – but splashed out on the catering (& honeymoon!), we got married at Xmas and gave all the guests a horse-drawn carriage ride between the ceremony and dinner [The Wealthy Baker]

@clarifinancial Friends have talents-ask them to use it. We’re making a friend’s cake, my mom made ours. Photo, video, catering – all friends. Also realize the focus should be on the marriage, not the wedding. It’s just one day of your life together. Don’t go $ crazy. [Clarafinancial]

@MattJabs My wedding tip = elope. We told friends & family we’d be on a beach in Captiva Island, FL if the wanted to see it, 26 attended [Debt Free Adventure]

Farzana S [via Facebook] start early to catch great sales!

A great discussion is going on Canadian Money Forum.

“Wedding Decor: $3000, Wedding Dress: $2500, Venue: $8000, Music: $3500 Debt free Wedding: Priceless!”

Blogs with some tips:

Green Panda Threehouse has a great list of Do-It-Yourself wedding ideas.

FiveCentNickel How to Plan a Wedding Without Breaking Your Budget

Here are some sites I think are great:

Wedding Dress Hack Real Wedding Stories Wedding Saving Tips 12 Frugal Wedding Tips