Weddings are becoming more and more elaborate, and as a result, the cost of having one is getting bigger and bigger. In America, the average cost of a wedding is over $35,000. If that sounds like it’s a little bit out of your price range (or if you’d rather spend that money somewhere else) then this guide is for you.

Here are my recommendations for saving money on your wedding.

Consider Off-Peak Pricing

Most bridal couples assume that a Saturday afternoon in summer or fall is the best time to get married. After all, that’s when everyone else does it.

But for this exact reason, many people find that they can save thousands by simply experimenting with their wedding date.

For starters, most venues offer off-peak pricing that makes Friday night or Sunday weddings much, much less expensive than a Saturday event. You might be worried that the party will die early on Sunday or start too late on Friday, but the reality of the matter is that most of your friends and family will be happy to celebrate with you at either of these times.

In most cases, those that are willing to stay late at a wedding won’t be discouraged by a Friday night or Sunday event.

If you’re set on Saturday, try thinking outside the box in terms of the season that you’re getting married in. Wedding season is considered to be late April to October here in Minnesota, but think about the fact that many vendors are relatively inactive during the winter for this same reason.

While most vendors and venues will refuse to negotiate with you when they know that someone else will come along, they might be willing to talk a little bit more about pricing if they’re facing a few quiet months.

It might seem bold to say that moving your wedding to winter in Minnesota could be worth it, but you might find that a special day is a perfect way to break up long months of winter.

Decide on the Traditions You Value

You might not think of traditions as expenses, but here’s the reality – many couples spend thousands simply because they want to uphold all of the wedding traditions that they’re familiar with.

There’s nothing wrong with that unless you find yourself spending money on a tradition that’s meaningless to you.

Think for a moment about what really matters, and you might decide that your day would be unchanged by the absence of a few different classics.

And remember, a tradition doesn’t have to be something like wearing a white dress – it can even be less symbolic things like serving alcohol, having a DJ, or cutting a tiered cake.

For the traditions that do matter, consider how it could benefit you to take the simple route. Your “something blue” can be a lot more minimalistic than what you might find online after a minute or two of searching.

Explore Unique Meal Options

There are a lot of couples out there who regret spending big on an extravagant dinner for guests that turned out to be pretty forgettable in the long run. The good news about saving money on dinner is that you don’t have to send your guests away hungry to do it.

Think about caterers that work outside of the wedding business or offer unique meal options. You can end up serving a meal that guests will talk about for years to come without spending half of what you would on the fanciest, most forgettable meal.

Some couples have served breakfast for dinner, tacos, pizza, and pretty much anything else you can think of. There’s a way to make just about any kind of food classy and unique.

Accept Help from Friends and Family

Not all wedding vendors are replaceable, but you might find that your family and friends can be a huge asset to you during your wedding and even before it happens.

Do you know anyone that offers a DIY version of a service that you were interested in? Sometimes, you might know someone who could run a photo booth or a baker who could decorate your cake.

I’m not recommending that you skip out on your dream vendors or replace them all, but if you know a talented person who could fill in a gap here and there, it might be worth a phone call!