It's safe to say that your wedding day will be one of the most important and special days of your life. It will also be the most expensive day of your life.
According to The Wedding Report, a research company that tracks and forecasts the wedding industry, the average cost of a wedding in 2011 was $25,631. This was a decrease from the year before by 3.4 percent.
For most couples, their wedding day will be something they have to budget for for months, if not years, prior to the big day. And while many people will provide advice about what dress to buy and which cocktails to serve, the best suggestion for anyone planning a wedding is to not go into it blind.
"Couples should get together and go over each other's finances and determine a realistic wedding and honeymoon budget that would cause them not to go into debt," says Andrea Woroch, a consumer expert for Kinoli, a company that manages several money-saving websites.
Putting away set amounts of your paycheck each week will provide you with some money to contribute to the wedding. Woroch also suggests looking for ways to trim your current monthly expenses. Are there ways that you can change your spending habits?
To get started on saving for your wedding, here are some tips to help you spend less and save more.
1) Find a side gig. Whether bartending or baby-sitting, the additional money brought in can be added to your wedding savings account. Just be careful that you don't stretch yourself too thin while working on spreadsheets during the day and pouring drinks at night; wedding planning takes time and can be stressful.
2) Sell your stuff. Check out your closets and garage for any unused clothes, accessories, home goods or furniture. These items can be posted online at Craigslist or eBay. You can even host a garage sale or sell your items through your local consignment shop.
3) Make your own cup of coffee. This tends to be one of the most common, and most overlooked, savings tips, says Woroch. "Spending just a few dollars everyday doesn't seem like a lot of money to many individuals, and though the annual cost of a daily java habit amounts to several hundred dollars, it's hard for many to grasp the long-term savings potential of those two or three bucks."
4) Nix dry cleaning. Use at-home dry-cleaning kits (less than $15 for multiple pouches), instead of paying the $10 to $20 per item charge for your dry-clean-only outfit.
5) Dine out less. According to the National Restaurant Association, eating in instead of out on a regular basis can save you $200 per month.
6) Movie night alternatives. Exchange the $12 movie ticket for a $1 Redbox rental or try streaming movies from online sites such as Hulu. You can even do a movie swap with your friends or check out free DVDs at your local library.
7) Be creative. Instead of having people buy you blenders and silverware, create alternative wedding registries. Card Avenue is a website on which you can register for gift cards that can be used toward wedding decor, printing services or other wedding-related items. "Deposit a Gift is a cash registry for which the couple could use gifts to pay off wedding debt and Honeyfund is a honeymoon registry for which guests can contribute to the happy couple's post-nuptial vacation," offers Woroch.
8) Open a separate wedding savings account. Consider an online savings account, which might get you a better return on your money. Set up automatic transfers into that account from your checking account or paycheck; seeing the money add up in the wedding-specific savings account will motivate you to save even more.