-- Your Facebook Feed will confirm that we are nearing the the tail-end of the unofficial "engagement season," which loosely kicks off before the holidays. Now that you or one of your friends is engaged, it's time to think about the exorbitant costs of getting married.
The average cost of a wedding was $29,858, excluding the honeymoon, in 2013, according to TheKnot.com's annual Real Weddings study released in March.
Paying for a wedding should never inhibit you from "living the life that you want," like buying a home or traveling, said Abby Larson, founder of website Style Me Pretty.
Here are Larson's tips to stay on budget:
Think of a Wedding as Your Car
Who's Paying What
"This can be a bit of an awkward conversation, so allow graciousness and gratitude to take center stage and don't go in with any set expectations," she said.
Choose Your Priorities
"When it comes to the gotta-have-it decisions, figure out what your top three are and focus on those," Larson advises. "Find ways to cut in the areas that aren't as meaningful. For some people, it's an incredible menu, for others it's a killer band. Determine what are the most important must-haves and skimp on the rest."
Wedding Planner: To Get or Not to Get?
If you can't get a planner, couples can hire a "day of planner" who coordinates only on the day of the event to help you avoid last-minute splurges.
The Best Date
Venues' rates are generally seasonal; Saturdays in the warmer peak season cost the most.
"People don't always remember that Winter weddings can be spectacular as can Sunday morning affairs with a gorgeous brunch reception," she said.
The Ring Budget
Larson advises those proposing "to remind yourself that at the heart of that girl you are marrying is someone who adores you and who is saying yes to you and not to the ring. If size matters above all else, scour eBay and hit up vintage jewelers to find something that sparkles but doesn't steal your entire bank account."