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Tying the knot, not digging a hole

Some couples take steps to keep wedding costs under control

Some couples take steps to keep wedding costs under control

July 15, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Rising wedding costs - which now rival some people's starting pay - have forced some brides- and grooms-to-be to reconsider how much they're willing to spend on the big day.

Weddings cost an average of $28,850, according to data from the Bridal Association of America. Other reports put the figure closer to $30,000.

But there are ways to strike a balance between frugality and having that dream wedding, says Leah Ingram, author of "Tie the Knot on s Shoestring."

Getting there, Ingram says, means planning early, knowing when to cut corners and knowing when to spend.

Start by assessing the total costs, throwing more money behind the parts of the wedding the soon-to-be-married find most important and cutting back or going without the things that don't matter, Ingram said.

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An early start

Newlyweds Polly and Dusty Beam of Greencastle, Pa., really had to consider the cost of everything when they got married June 24.

"We had just bought a house," said Polly Beam, 23. "We knew what our house expenses were going to be so we didn't want to spend too much."

A month after their engagement in May 2006, Beam started planning the wedding, she said.

She scoured department stores and craft store chains for sale items at the end of the summer, when wedding season starts to wane and was able to get silk and real flowers and other wedding accessories at discounted prices.

In the meantime, her mother, Joanne Diehl, booked the caterer and the venue for the wedding reception. The wedding was at Beam's church, so they didn't have to pay for that.

"Because we were so far ahead, we had the pick of anyone we wanted," said Diehl, who lives in Chambersburg.

When the time came for the wedding, Beam said word-of-mouth inquiries got them a $200 DJ and decorations at a deep discount.

In the end, the wedding cost just less than $4,000.

"The details really can make the day, but I think the one thing that brides need to remember that if things don't go your way, if you can't get everything you want, remember what you are there for. You are marrying your best friend," Beam said.

What matters

For Jathniel Beukema, 22, of Chambersburg, Pa., and her fianc, Aaron Shepherd, 23, of Charlottesville, Va., the most important aspect of their wedding is the ceremony itself.

They're planning to get married later this month at Western Springs Baptist Church, which is in a Chicago suburb near wear Beukema grew up.

"I have a lot of friends there," Beukema said.

She said the wedding expenses are around $12,000.

"We were hoping for $8,000, but to do it in Chicago, I think we're going to have to deal with that."

Trim where you can

When this preprinted Lifestyle section went to press Thursday night, Katie Madsen was still waiting to marry Robert Rubeck on Saturday.

She said the pictures and the reception were the most important aspects of their $20,000 wedding.

Katie Madsen's parents, Becky and Jim Madsen of Williamsport, paid for everything. Becky Madsen said the pictures cost around $4,000. The reception at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway east of Hagerstown costs around $6,000.

"We wanted everyone to be able to get together and have a good time," Becky Madsen said. "We decided to save money on other things."

Like the ceremony.

"We're having it at my church," said Katie Madsen.

Average costs for wedding expenses in 2006

Expense Cost

Reception $14,179

Photography, video $3,691

Wedding ceremony $2,527

Wedding jewelry $2,067

Flowers $1,970

Favors and gifts $1,122

Wedding dress $1,505

Music $953

Stationery $848

Transportation $410

Tuxedo/suit $197

- Source: Bridal Association of America

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