Your budget may already be on life support if you are getting married. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is now over $30,000 and climbing. I cringe to think of what tying the knot will cost when my daughter finally meets the man of her dreams and there is a proposal.

The costliest weddings are in in Manhattan, where the average bill soars to over $88,000. The average where I live (Colorado) is around $32,000.

Renting the venue and paying for the reception was the biggest expense, averaging almost $15,000. The wedding ring and other jewelry came in at $5,800.

If you are planning a wedding (or a father taking a loan to pay for one), here are some ideas for reducing the stress and the expense of saying, “I do.”

  1. Pare down the guest list. The average cost per guest is around $200. Times that by 100 and you’ve already hit $20,000. It’s a hard task cutting the invites but it could save you thousands of dollars.
  2. Pick a less expensive place for the reception. Instead of a fancy downtown hotel, consider a meeting hall. Having it at a restaurant will also save tons on catering, rental and alcohol. You can really cut your costs and use a friend’s or relative’s home.
  3. Reduce your flower costs. Fresh flowers are beautiful, but like memories, they fade and wilt. Choose flowers that are local and in season. Even though you might have fewer flowers, most people won’t notice.
  4. Simplify your menu. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails cost less than a five course sit-down meal. A nice compromise is a buffet luncheon or dinner.
  5. Schedule your wedding in the off season or on a weekday. Weekends from June through September, when most weddings occur, will cost more. You’ll find better deals if you plan a wedding for the fall or winter months, except on Valentine’s Day.
  6. Create your own invitations. Instead of frilly paper and multiple ink colors, go simple to cut production, printing and mailing costs.
  7. Hire a DJ instead of a band. Many couples on a budget also make their own mix-tape or iPod play list.
  8. Let your guests help with wedding photos. Hire a photographer for the special portrait and family shots, but purchase some low end digital or disposable cameras for capturing the reception. You will be amazed at the pictures your friends and relatives will take for you.
  9. Get a smaller cake. Forget expensive tiered cakes with fancy frostings, order fabulous sheet cakes that can taste just as good but cost much less and are easier to serve. Some couples have opted for cupcakes, pies, or desert bars with chocolate fountains instead of the cake.

Here’s one final money savings tip: don’t mention you are taking estimates for a wedding. Many vendors charge more for weddings than other events. Instead, say you are planning a family party and you could save anywhere from 20 to 40 percent.

Tie up your insurance.

Once the rings are exchanged and the honeymoon is over, there’s another important step – getting your auto and home insurance in order. Here’s a checklist for newlyweds that can also save you money.

  1. Combine Your Insurance

If you have separate cars with different insurance companies, now that you are married you can find discounts by putting both vehicles on the same policy. It will also ensure that both drivers are covered no matter which car they use. Get extra savings by bundling your autos with your home or renters insurance.

  1. Marriage Discount

Make sure to inform your insurance company that you got married – most auto and home insurance companies offer important discounts for newlyweds. Men under the age of 25 are usually considered high risk drivers. However, once they marry they often see a big drop in insurance premiums. The lower rates can also apply to those in domestic partnerships.

  1. Increase Homeowner or Renters Coverage

Wedding presents are wonderful. You now have a new set of china, expensive new appliances and other things for your home. These assets need to be covered. Talk to an insurance advisor to make sure you have enough coverage to protect all the things you own and to increase your liability protection. It’s also a great time to create an inventory of your possessions to help you purchase the right insurance protection and make filing a claim much easier.

  1. Get Extra Protection for High Value Items

That beautiful new wedding ring and special gifts like fine art or silverware may need scheduled personal property protection, often called a “floater,” to make sure they are covered for their full value. Most homeowners and renters policies will provide limited coverage for those items. Scheduled personal property coverage will also pay to replace a ring, without a deductible, even if it was misplaced or damaged in the disposal.

California Casualty

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