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 CarUnlike a first home or a new car, weddings aren't financial milestones that people are accustomed to saving for ahead of time.
"So call it your 'special something' account and start putting money in there," she said. "If that account is never used towards a wedding, then you have more saved up to go towards the purchase of your home or a splurge vacation in Fiji."
Who's Paying WhatFirst and foremost, it's important to determine who is contributing to your wedding and what that really means, Larson said.
"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 PrioritiesWith every wedding comes the practical decisions that should be made first, including the venue. Next come "the gotta-have-it decisions."
"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?"One of the best tips that I give all brides is to hire a wedding planner," she said. "Because a good wedding planner can save you time and money spent on making uneducated decisions and costly mistakes."
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"Off season, off days, anything that deviates from Saturday night at 6 o'clock in the early or late summer will save you money," she said.
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 BudgetEngagement rings and wedding bands have become markers of status, but they still need to fit your budget, Larson said.
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."