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Last week I shared some tips on how to cut costs as a bridesmaid. I thought it only fitting to follow up with a few creative and cost-effective strategies that the bride and groom could use when planning for their big day. Most of the tips mentioned have been tested out by newlyweds I know. If you're planning an upcoming wedding, I hope integrating some of these ideas will leave you less stressed about your financial picture, and more focused on the happily ever after.



Be a bride who budgets

The average cost of a wedding in Canada is anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000, according to MyCanadianWedding.com. As the bride and groom, you can be fairly selective about what you choose to include and what you choose to nix from the spending plan. The key is to have a specific spending plan in place that includes a detailed list of wedding essentials. Use an online wedding calculator to get an accurate picture of what your essentials will cost. The Knot Wedding Budgeter provides cost estimates and also lets you enter all of your wedding costs so you can track your expenses online. There's also a payment tracker to help you stay up to date on money going out of the account. Opening a savings account specifically for the wedding is also a smart idea. You can do a little research here to find an account that best suits your needs.

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Barter, borrow, or ask nicely

I met a family who bartered their daughter's entire wedding. They owned a driving school so they had something appealing to offer, but consider what you have to offer. Can you offer services to someone who can bake your wedding cake, alter your dress, or provide transportation to and from the wedding? You can also check out an online bartering community to explore additional options. The D-I-Y route is also an effective way to cut costs. Two favourite blogs of brides to be are Style Me Pretty and Martha Stewart Weddings. Also, don't forget that when it comes to weddings, friends and family will likely be honoured to be a part of your celebration, and therefore happy to lend you something you may only need once, or provide a service such as playing the role of DJ, officiant or chauffeur. Just don't overdo the favours - ensure it will be something your guest will enjoy doing as well.



Change the day of the week

The next wedding in my calendar is on a Thursday night. Prior to that, it was a Sunday afternoon brunch. Having your wedding on a date that is less in demand could equal significant savings. The Thursday-night bride saved 75 per cent by pushing her wedding date two days earlier - something to consider.



Go paperless

"Please respond by paperless post" was printed on my last wedding invitation. I thought it was a smart money and time saver. Rather than having a reply card, ask guests to reply online. Set up a wedding website with sites such as weddingwindow.com and mywedding.com. You can provide your guests with all of the information they need about the wedding and save on invitations and postage.

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Dress for less

If you've seen TLC's Say Yes to the Dress, then you know wedding gown costs can be ridiculous. But online sites and second-hand stores are offering beautiful gowns for a fraction of retail prices. My sister found a second-hand gown for $600. My girlfriend purchased her wedding dress from J Crew for less than $400. You can also look on eBay, Craigslist and other websites for deals on used wedding dresses. For a step-by-step guide on creating the perfect online post, click here. You can take advantage of these sites if you're open to selling your wedding dress after your day.

I can't speak for all of the newlyweds out there, but many I have spoken with say they regret spending so much money on their wedding day. We seem to get caught up in the whirlwind of the day, and as a result go overboard and blow the budget. With a thoughtful plan, however, and a little help from your friends and family, you can avoid the mountain of debt and still have the wedding of your dreams.

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