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Alternatives Offer Low-Cost Weddings
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If the thought of an expensive wedding is discouraging, consider a variety of alternatives to keep costs down.
Dr. Beverly Howell, extension family economics and management specialist at Mississippi State University, said many young couples today choose to keep their wedding budget as low as possible in order to save money for other things.
"Many young couples are asking themselves if they want to put a lot of money into the wedding," Howell said.
Couples can save money by finding alternatives to tradition that are still meaningful and realistic.
Howell said there are options for each aspect of a wedding. For example, the bride can have her dress made instead of buying it. Shopping at a bridal outlet could also save money.
The specialist also suggested reusable silk flowers and greenery or rented arrangements as alternatives to expensive fresh flowers.
Considering the special talents of family and friends offers some cost-cutting options, Howell said.
"Asking for the help of friends and family can save the couple money," Howell said. "It also makes friends and family feel special and adds sentimental value for the couple."
Couples may know someone who can provide the music for the ceremony or someone who has a talent for decorating. Asking friends and relatives to help with food for the reception also saves money. Howell said professional florists, musicians and caterers may be more expensive.
Other factors can influence the cost of a wedding.
"Both time of year and time of day can impact the cost of a wedding," the specialist said.
Summer may provide the option of using home-grown fresh garden flowers instead of a florist. A December wedding may benefit from the Christmas decorations of the church, Howell said.
While a ceremony near mealtime could require large amounts of food at the reception, guests at a mid-afternoon reception could be served light hors d'oeuvres. Howell said the cost of food is directly related to the amount served, so serving small amounts can save money.
The size of the wedding party is another factor affecting cost. Even though attendants often pay for their own dresses or tuxedos, the costs of lodging for out-of-town attendants and gifts for everyone add up quickly, Howell said.
Howell suggested couples make trade-offs if they cannot afford everything they want.
"When a couple makes trade-offs, they decide which aspects of the wedding are most and least important to them," Howell said. "Then they can budget more money toward important things and skimp a little on other things.
"When every part of the wedding cannot be picture perfect, trade-offs offer a way for the most important parts to be."
Howell suggested that couples begin planning their wedding as early as possible. Starting early gives time to look at more options and find the most affordable choices.
"A wedding is supposed to be a celebration," Howell said. "Couples do not have to go into debt to have a memorable wedding, but they may need to look at some alternatives."