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You may have had your dream wedding in mind since you were young. But as a child, you may not have been able to understand the costs associated with this special day and how quickly they can add up. But you shouldn’t have to go into debt just because you want a fairytale beginning. The following are smart strategies that can help you save money without sacrificing all of your romantic dreams.

Be Mindful of the Guest List

Staying true to your budget can be a challenge, especially with ever changing plans. Unfortunately, unexpected issues such as car repairs and household expenses are going to continually arise. If you’re planning for a wedding and looking to trim costs, the first place to start is the guest list. The more people that you invite, the more food, beverages and favors you’ll need. Keep your wedding a more intimate affair by only inviting close friends and family members. Since children can be costly, make your wedding an adult’s only celebration.

Save in Advance

Most couples hope to make their wedding unforgettable. But it can take time and careful planning to prepare for this special day. Weddings also cost a pretty penny. Although you can easily charge everything on your credit card, saving in advance allows you the opportunity to start life together as a couple debt free. Discuss your budget with your partner and decide the amount of money you wish to spend on your venue, flowers, food and wedding attire. It’s also important to budget money for special items that can make your wedding unique. Impress out-of-town guests with wedding welcome bags. The totes add a personal touch and can include essentials such as bottled water, snacks and toiletries. Personalize the bag with your name and wedding date.

Set a Date During the Off-Peak Times

There are certain times of the year that are most popular for hosting a wedding. If you don’t have a particular time of year or date in mind, choose something during the off-peak times. Months such as January, March and November are less popular, and you may expect to trim as much as 30 percent off your costs. Hosting a wedding on a Friday or Sunday can also have discounts attached.

Select a Non-traditional Reception

The wedding venue can drive up your wedding costs significantly. Instead of traditional places such as a country club or banquet hall, opt for a civic garden, city zoo or restaurant as your backdrop. Other offbeat venues can include the beach. An outdoor wedding is another ideal location if you’re parents have a large backyard. To ensure this is a cost-efficient option, calculate the expenses for a tent, tables, chairs and porta-potty rentals.

Take Advantage of Sales

Wedding attire is another important cost when planning a wedding. But if you’re going designer, you could break your budget. Well in advance of your wedding, research sales. There are stores that offer designer gowns for a fraction of the cost a few times per year. You may also be able to score 70 percent off on a gown and accessories when shopping designer sample sales. If you can’t see wasting money on a dress for your big day, you may want to borrow or rent your wedding gown. You’ll find postings on the Internet for dresses that have only been worn once.

Plan a Daytime Wedding

Although evening weddings are most popular, you can host your reception at any time during the day. If you’re looking to save costs, it can be less expensive serving a brunch or lunch celebration. If you’re set on dinner, think about combination plate meals such as beef tips and grilled shrimp. Pasta, chicken and vegetarian entrees are also other inexpensive menu options. If you want to forego the sit-down dinner altogether, appetizers, drinks and cake offers a more intimate wedding setting.

Limit Alcohol Offerings

An expense that is sure to beat the costs of your flowers, food and wedding attire is alcohol. Many popular venues charge money for each bottle of liquor that has been opened. If you want to trim alcohol costs, think about limiting your beverage offerings. You could also offer limited options such as wine, beer and soda. Champagne can be offered solely for the wedding toasts.

Starting life as a newly married couple shouldn’t mean you have to part with your hard-earned money. You can make your wedding a grand celebration and still have money left for your honeymoon and future by following the above smart strategies.