The following is a guest post by Jamie Claver

Getting married – it’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life (and I’m sure it will be), but it can also put outrageous amounts of stress on your shoulders and wallet. Did you know that the average wedding costs more than $28,000? If you’re anything like me, this number sounds a bit steep. With a little bit of creativity, a pinch of cunningness and a flair for haggling, you can easily lower that number without having to make the bride walk down the aisle in a garbage bag.

Choose your Day

Everyone knows Saturdays are the most popular days for weddings, but think of how much money you could save by choosing a Friday night wedding. The location for your reception could have Saturdays booked for over a year, but most likely have a Friday night available much sooner before the chosen date and may be eager to get it filled. This is a particularly smart option if most of your friends and family are local, as out of town guests may not be able to call out of work to arrive in time for your nuptials… It is always considerate to keep your guests in mind when choosing your day, but saving a few extra bucks might come at a higher priority.

Negotiate with Vendors

Always remember that the list price isn’t always the final price. Ask your vendors for their best possible fees before committing, as well as the costs for different options. Most vendors have package pricing available for combined services, such as catering the meal and providing the cake. Additionally, ask if discounts are offered in exchange for referrals. One happy customer praising a vendor’s service is valuable marketing, and you may get a discount for being that customer who shares her endorsement with friends and family.

Bridal Shows

Attending bridal shows isn’t just fun for the ladies, it’s also practical. Vendors offer discounts, coupons and samples at bridal shows. Check websites like Great Bridal Expo to see if there are any upcoming tradeshows or expos taking place around you. You’ll gain valuable experience and contacts, while also having the opportunity to mingle with other excited couples.

Ask for Help

Your close friends and family would love to help you get ready for your big day. For example, having a florist create all of the flower arrangements can cost thousands of dollars. Instead, ask the florist to build only the bouquets and have them source more flowers for you. Buy the flowers and materials in bulk and then the bride can host a party for her bridesmaids during which they create boutonnieres and centerpieces, saving you hundreds of dollars. Plus, it is a great bonding experience in which everyone will feel like they played a key role in creating the aesthetic of the big day.

Seasonal Items

Flowers are obvious, but other items may cost less in different seasons. Wedding dresses are usually discounted in January – March when stores are offering sales to make room for the next season’s styles. If you don’t mind a gown that is a season or two older, you can get a great deal by planning ahead. Popular bridal retailers like David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo have an enormous selection of affordable gowns and have ongoing sales on gowns from past seasons. Bulk wedding supplies cost less in fall and winter. Champagne is less expensive in June but wine in general is best purchased in August and September. Always keep in mind how seasons effect the cost of supplies for your wedding, and stock up before the price jump!

Hotel Deals

Find hotels convenient to the reception location and discuss group or block rates. Check websites for comparing the best deals, and always look well ahead of time. Most hotels offer discounts for 10 or more reserved rooms. Also ask the manager at the reception location for hotels offering deals. Some hotels even offer shuttles to and from the reception location, which is a valuable addition for you and your guests. If you have need for 30 or more rooms, consider reserving blocks of rooms at multiple hotels to give guests a range of options … and keep Great Aunt Nancy away from the groom’s frat-house friends.

In today’s world, penny pinching has become an unrelenting way of life. On the bright side, with a little craftiness, negotiation, and budgeting you can have the epic wedding day you have always dreamed of, without setting you back financially as newlyweds.