Are you planning thrifty nuptials for less than $30,000? If so, give yourself a pat on the back for sticking to your budget and spending less than the average bride and groom paid in 2013. According to The Knot's 13 Real Weddings Study, which got input and budget breakdowns from 13,000 recently married couples, the average wedding cost last year was just shy of $30,000 - $29,858, to be exact, up approximately $1,400 from 2012.
"Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests – plus they're doing so in a modern way, by planning from their smartphones, publicizing details on social media and more," said Carley Roney, co-founder of The Knot.
Rest assured, you don't have to get married in Idaho or Alaska - the least expensive places to get married in 2013 and 2012, respectively, according to the survey - to spend less than $30,000, and you certainly don't have to go into debt to celebrate your vows with a spectacular shindig. Here are a few tips from real brides to keep costs low and budgets on point:
1. Don't be afraid to ask for lower prices.
Negotiating can be a scary thing, but remember that the worst answer is no. You can live with that if it means cutting big wedding costs, right?
"Negotiating was scary because I didn't want to annoy the vendor and make her not want to work with me," wrote Jane Bianchi in a LifeHacker article that detailed how she saved $21,000 when planning her wedding. "But it was worth it, since I saved a total of $5,800. Bottom line: Never accept a vendor's first price without trying to negotiate. More often than not, there is wiggle room."
2. Use deal sites like Groupon, Bride Rush, Gilt and LivingSocial
In case your negotiating tactics didn't work (or you felt uneasy about asking for lower prices), keep discount sites in mind when planning last-minute details. You and your beloved can book a variety of discounted deals and dates - from photographers to beauty services and retail purchase discounts and beyond - for a fraction of their values. Subscribing to daily or weekly emails might clog up your inbox more than you'd like, but it will probably save you in the long run.
3. Try to plan for unexpected costs
It's apparent where most of your wedding budget will go: wedding venue, key vendors, dresses, the food and cake, all that good stuff. But don't forget that little details and expenses add up quickly. Do your best to set a bit aside for extra fees that will likely pop up along the way, including vendor meals, gratuities, taxes and your marriage license.