Proper planning can reduce wedding costs

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Want to save money on your special Steamboat Springs wedding?

Creativity and a list of priorities can make a budget wedding elegant while eliminating the post-wedding financial stress many couples feel after their big day, local consultant Jill Waldman of The Main Event said.

"You don't want to come out of a wedding with a huge debt hanging over your head," Waldman said. "You want to do what's in your means."

Couples-to-be should start their wedding plans by formulating a budget, Waldman said. After the budget is set, prioritizing specific elements of the wedding can help a couple determine which elements they want to spend the most money on and which elements they can penny-pinch or eliminate.

"There are a lot of things you can cut out," Waldman said.

For example, printing wedding invitations on a home computer, minimizing table centerpieces and eliminating party favors for guests are good ways to save money, she said.

The summer months are high season for Steamboat weddings, and selecting a day outside those months can save big bucks.

Weddings in April, May, October and November can be just as nice at a fraction of the price, Waldman said. Plus, choosing a daytime event over an evening affair and a Thursday night or Sunday ceremony instead of Friday night or Saturday night receptions can also slash costs.

"Just by changing the time and day of the wedding you can save 10 percent to 20 percent," Waldman said. "That's significant."

Just like for that old high school English essay, extensive research can be rewarding, said Jenice Groth, who operates an affordable wedding planning Web site.

"Ninety percent of brides overspend," Groth said. "Research is the key, and a lot of research is definitely a must."

Couples should open the yellow pages and call several local vendors that specialize in specific wedding elements such as floral arrangements, photography and catering.

"Let businesses know you're on a budget," she said. "If they want to work with you, you'll know right away."

Food is a must at wedding receptions, but catering is where most couples overspend, Groth said.

"You have to know what's included with the catering," she said.

A big misconception couples have is that buffet meals are less expensive than sit-down dinners. What foods are served usually dictates the price, Waldman said.

Electing to serve heavy appetizers instead of a full meal can save $15 per guest, she said.

Creative bartending can also save costs.

"Serve a few different kinds of cocktails, don't have a full open bar," Waldman said. "It's the little decisions you make along the way (that can save money in the long run)."

Outdoor weddings are extremely popular in the Steamboat area, but rental costs for tents, tables, chairs, generators, portable bathrooms and dance floors add up quickly, Waldman said. Day weddings can save the cost of heaters. "The best-case scenario is an outdoor wedding with facilities nearby," she said. Many local guest ranches offer such scenarios.

The national average for wedding costs is about $25,000, but Waldman has arranged weddings that range in cost from $1,000 to $75,000.

With planning and time, couples can have a special wedding in whatever their price range might be, Waldman said.

"Plan it out and you can make a budget wedding really elegant," she said.

And, of course, a wedding consultant can play a role in the success of the wedding, Waldman said.

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