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The Tip Jar: How to stop yourself spending $27K on your wedding

In case you missed it, we reported at the weekend that the average cost of getting married in Minnesota has reached $27,113 – while nationally it’s $35,329.

I don’t know about you, but seeing that figure is more of a disincentive to get married than a crippling fear of commitment.

Everyone’s priorities are different and some will say “you can’t put a price on happiness,” but I’d rather believe there’s a way of achieving wedded bliss without breaking the bank.

So if you’re someone who wants to keep costs down, here are some ideas from my own personal experience, as well as some good places to find a bevy of money-saving wedding tips.

Trim that guest list

Our first wedding, in Minneapolis, was family-only, keeping the wedding party small and the associated costs down.

Our second wedding (same wife, by the way – and she’s great) was held where I grew up – which by virtue of it being a pain in the rear to get to (seriously, check it out) meant numbers were limited again.

The per-head amount you spend on food will likely be your biggest bill so if you’re really looking to stick to a budget, that’s the first place to start. It’s not always easy, and it’ll possibly cause recriminations with your family and friends, so just remind them that it’s your day.

No DJ or live music

Sure, live music adds class to an event, but as The Knot’s study showed, they can set you back more than $4,000.

What did we do? Paid a modest amount for a sound system and hooked up an iPod, which had the added benefit of giving us greater control over the playlist.

It’s about who you know

Take advantage of every contact you have. We managed to get great deals on photographers, sound systems, invitations and wedding cakes thanks to family links. At the same time, bear in mind that the people providing these services are trying to make a living, so don’t completely stiff them!

Catering, shmatering

This tip came from a colleague of mine who eschewed the whole sit-down meal aspect of a wedding and instead took advantage of the bulk-food options at CostCo to create a wedding buffet.

Buffets in general should set you back less than a three-course meal so that’s always an option if you’re looking to cut costs at your venue, but doing it yourself makes it even more economical.

Make it officiant

There are several churches and services that allow you to become ordained online and perform wedding ceremonies. Having a registered officiant in your wedding party gives you a bit more freedom when it comes to choosing locations – though I realize many will want a church wedding (which actually don’t tend to be that expensive to hire).

Before they get ordained, make sure the service they’re using is actually acceptable for performing weddings with the county covering wherever you’re getting married.

More help

There’s no shortage of cost-saving tips for weddings online, so it’s worth giving them a glance when you’re planning your nuptials.

Brides has 53 “genius” ways to save money on your wedding – which includes using websites instead of invitations – while The Knot suggests 26 ways to keep costs low, including not getting married on Saturdays and using shrubs and greenery instead of flowers.

If you’re looking for some Minnesota-based tips, check out MNBudget Bride, which has links to a whole load of wedding vendors.

The Tip Jar is a new, regular feature from GoMN looking at young people and money. If you have any burning cash questions you need answering, email adam@gomn.com.

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