In a perfect world, every couple would have all the money needed to throw a dream wedding. In the real world, though, renting a castle for your ceremony and a golden unicorn to spirit you away to your honeymoon may be just a wee bit out of your price range. Luckily,there are a couple of major ways you can significantly cut the cost of your wedding with very little effort.

Invite fewer people. While it is your special day and you deserve to be surrounded by those closest to you, does the second cousin you haven’t spoken to since you were 5 really need to be invited? Cutting the invitation list allows you to save money on catering and decorations, so it’s a little snip that can have a big impact.

Consider cheap locations. Your biggest wedding expense may well be the location, so if you have a close friend or family member with property or a large backyard, consider having your wedding outdoors on their real estate. They’ll likely let you rent the grounds for a far, far cheaper price or even let you use it for free. Backyards and outdoor settings double as a perfect backdrop for wedding photos. Consider looking to outdoor spaces in places like parks or college campuses – many colleges also have chapels, and you or your intended is an alum, you may get a price cut.

Pick one to three places you want to splurge – and save on the rest. If you have some money but not unlimited money for your big day, sit down with your beloved-to-be and identify two or three parts of your ceremony or reception you really wouldn’t want to cut corners on. Agree that the rest of the day will be open to cost-cutting measures. If it’s important that you have a vintage wedding dress, go for it – but ask a friend with a photography hobby to take pictures. If you really want a lavish reception with free-flowing food and wine for dozens of your friends, consider making the ceremony a simple affair at City Hall. By prioritizing what’s really important to you both, you’ll be able to save money on what isn’t.

What tips would you offer thrifty brides to help skimp on cash, but not on romance?

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