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Here comes the budget

Date posted:  5/8/15 10:45:00 AM Developing a budget for a wedding doesn't have to mean sacrificing the perfect day.

Weddings are a beautiful opportunity to witness the proclamation of love between two people and a great time to reconnect with family and friends. Unfortunately, these events can rack up an impressive bill. The Knot, a wedding blog, indicated the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is about $31,213. The same amount could purchase a new car or serve as a substantial down payment on a house. But instead couples and their families throughout the nation are spending large portions of savings on wedding ceremonies and receptions.

Fortunately, if you are looking to keep a budget while planning, there are plenty of money-saving tricks that can be of monumental assistance. Follow these tips to avoid breaking the bank while getting ready for the big day: 

Establish priorities
Before you and your significant other begin planning, you should each make a list describing what is most important and organize it from most to least crucial, according to Bankrate. Consider food, photographs, entertainment and other elements of the celebration. 

After creating your lists separately, compare them and use this as a guide when deciding what you can eliminate from the event, reduce expenses for and what you should focus spending on. For example, if party favors are low on both lists, it's OK to completely eliminate the cost of these when creating your budget. If inviting all of your friends and family is important, more money should be allotted toward food, beverages and seating for your whole party. 

In addition, deciding which venue is most important can help determine the number of guests you can invite to the event, which will then guide party planning. 

Set up your savings
Make sure you start a basic savings account both you and your significant other can put money into. Make sure that both of you can pull from it when you need to pay for different wedding expenses. 

Also, consider cutting extra expenses and funneling that money into your savings account. Money spent on daily coffee runs, going out for dinner and other unnecessary costs can really add up. Turning this money into a savings account for a wedding is a great way to help finance the event. 

Decide between DIY and hiring a professional
According to the DIY Network, it's important to decide whether you want to be in control of the planning process or if you want to cut down on stress and hire a professional. 

"The money and time a planner can save is valuable," Lisa Milko, of Event Perfect in Atlanta, told DIY Network. "I can negotiate discounts a couple cannot and make recommendations on DIY and budget-saving places that many people would not consider, or be able to do without a little direction."

Evaluate the guest list 
While most couples want all friends and family to feel included in the celebration, the amount of people invited to a wedding directly impacts the amount of money spent. 

Cutting the guest list down is an especially effective way to help accommodate a budget. While this can be a difficult task, The Knot noted it is important couples do not feel guilty for not inviting everyone they've ever known. Invite the people who matter most to you and move on from there. 

Bankrate noted limiting the guest list can drastically reduce the cost of a wedding and is one of the first places to start when deciding to save some money. 

"Don't invite more guests than you can spend one minute of time with," Rev. Roger Coleman told Bankrate. "If you invite 300 guests, spending one minute with each would take over five hours."

Another way to help cut down on the costs associated with your guest list is to ask the caterer if smaller child-sized meals can be provided for your younger guests. This will also likely translate to savings for the food provided. 

Let creative decorations shine 
Couples can save money by planning ahead for their decorations as well. Deciding on a pre-decorated venue or creating decorations with a bridal party or the groomsmen can alleviate costs. 

"One bride I interviewed for the book planted 200 bulbs months before their wedding, and then married right in the middle of the fully-blooming cheerful yellow tulips," Kathleen Kennedy, an event planner, chef and stylist told Bankrate. "Another bought 13 dozen roses at a great price from a warehouse store." 

The Knot also suggested using greenery, or sticking with one or two blooms that are in season, will help keep a couple on budget. In addition, non-floral decorations can add an interesting punch to the wedding. 

Rent the dress
Dresses can be a substantial investment, but when someone only gets to wear it once it can be difficult to justify spending so much. Fortunately, individuals can rent gowns through online websites, according to Brides.com. 

This also winds up being a great way to fashion a higher-end dress on this special day without steering too far from budget restrictions.

Picture top savings 
While weddings are an important event and couples want to capture the event for the rest of their lives, photography can be especially expensive. Consider hiring someone you know or someone who is still in school to help save some money. 

"When we were married, we knew that photography and videography, were important to us, but we also knew that we did not want to spend top dollar for the services," said Kennedy, according to Bankrate. "We hired a friend of a friend who was an art school graduate. She gave us a package deal of a full day of shooting, a wedding book, the proofs and the negatives for a very fair price. Another friend videotaped the wedding in lieu of a present."

Your special day isn't all about the money spent on certain types of food or entertainment for the guests. The most important part of a wedding celebration is the union of two individuals who are about to begin their lives together. Know how you can save for your special day without sacrificing too much.