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How to find an amazing wedding dress on a small budget

Wedding dress shopping is one of the most exciting wedding planning tasks for a bride. After all, the wedding dress is the focal point of your bridal look. When you get the dress selection right, you will look gorgeous on your wedding day.

Although nothing beats the thrill of discovering “the dress” from numerous available options, it isn’t always possible for every bride to buy a brand new dress. A new designer wedding dress is always expensive. Fortunately, it is possible to get married in a beautiful dress even if you must work with a small budget. All that you require is early preparation and flexibility with the best options available.

A budget wedding dress will trim your overall wedding expenses. According to this article on Project Wedding, couples should allocate no more than 10% of their total wedding budget to their outfits. This amount doesn’t include just the bridal dress. It should include the groom’s tux too. Unfortunately, not all brides can find their dream wedding dress as well as fit all related extras like accessories and alterations within this limit. 

Nonetheless, it is no big deal if you are ready to go the extra mile and find a budget-friendly dress. When you do, the good thing is that you can allocate the remaining funds to bigger priorities like the menu, entertainment or venue. So, the benefits are many.

As the first step, here is what you should do so you find the dress of your dreams sans the hefty price tag.

  • Start early. You cannot zero in on the right wedding dress till you know your wedding style and venue. Soon after your engagement, quickly identify your wedding venue and theme. You can then go on the search for your wedding dress as early as is possible.
  • Recognize what you want in your wedding dress. Complete your wedding shopping research in advance. Identify the silhouettes you prefer and create an inspiration board with the dress styles and features you like. Shortlist this and you can recognize exactly what is right for you.
  • Locate the different sources. These are places where you are most likely to find dresses that fit your expectations. Again research is necessary. Set aside few hours and track down and note likely places where you can find the best dresses.

Once you have the information we enlisted, it is time for shopping. Here is how you can find a gorgeous wedding dress for less.

Sign up for alerts on discounts at leading bridal stores

Every bridal store holds discount and clearance sales at some time of the year. The earlier you identify the dress you want to wear, the sooner you can make the most of such sales. You may not find all bridal stores advertising their sales in full swing. They usually announce such details on their website, social media pages or through email newsletters.

So, subscribe to their mailing list and visit their social media page to stay abreast of such news. Also visit the websites regularly. This will help you discover limited time offers and discounts as and when it occurs. You can also contact the store over phone and inquire when their next sale is.

Be ready to shop at the right time

Most stores hold sample sales when they need space for new collections. So, time your shopping accordingly, and you can snag the best deals. New collections enter the market just before spring and fall. So, stores clear their racks around this time. This is when they slash the prices considerably, as they have to get rid of existing stock to accommodate new ones.

Although this means you will have to choose from previous collections, you will still have plenty of choice. After all, not all people follow bridal fashion trends closely. As long as you aren’t looking for an extreme or brand-new trend off the runway, you should find what you want in these collections. Shortlist the designer collection you want to buy from and keep track of stores that carry these collections. Then, it will be easy for you to plan your shopping when there is a sale. Many shops also give huge discounts at the time of bridal shows. So, you may benefit from it if you plan your shopping at that time.

Consider buying a floor sample

When you buy a wedding dress, the normal procedure is that the boutique will place your dress order in your size with the manufacturer after you make the payment. However, the shop will also have floor samples for you to try on when you go shopping. If you are fortunate to find that the shop sample fits you closely, you can ask the shop whether they are ready to sell it to you. If they agree, you can get your dress at a significant discount.

Make sure that the sample is in relatively good condition. It should ideally be just the right size or slightly bigger, so you can have it altered to fit you perfectly. A gown that is too small or too big isn’t recommended, as it may lose it’s original impact and finish if it requires significant alterations to fit.

Consider buying a gently used dress

Many brides who initially decide to save their wedding dress may later change their minds and put it up for sale. Most of these brides take the trouble of having their dress dry-cleaned and preserved professionally after their wedding day. This means that the dress will be very well-cared for. With the considerable difference in price, this is a good option.

Many brides advertise their dresses on websites like Oncewed  and Pre-owned wedding dresses.  So, stay tuned to these websites and you should come across suitable advertisements. However, remember that you may not always find the exact designer dress you want in your size, when it is second-hand. Shop with an open mind and you can increase your chances of finding a dress that works. Don’t forget to ask the seller about what type of alterations they did on the dresses, to identify if they are reversible.

Search for second-hand but never worn dresses online

There are many brides who buy a dress and even have it altered, only to later realize they aren’t happy with their choice. Instead of continuing with the same dress and ending up with dress regret, they decide to buy another dress. There are also cases where the dress is never used because of the wedding being canceled.

In all these cases, the brides often sell the dress off at a discounted price to adjust for a part of the expenses they incurred. These dresses may not have their original packaging, but are usually as good as new, and have the tags still on. You can always negotiate the price and get this as-good-as-new dress for a heavy discount.

Visit trunk shows

Trunk shows are a good place to find discounted versions of designer wedding gowns. The only catch is that limited sizes are usually available for a certain design. Also, you should expect trunk shows to have a big crowd. So, it is best to attend the show with a bunch of friends. After all, what are your bridesmaids for?

Be alert so you can find out about any upcoming trunk shows. The first two days are usually the most rushed. If you are not too particular about a certain dress itself, skip the first day or two and go when the crowd will be much lesser. However, don’t expect anything like a regular dress appointment. You will have to share space with others if you have to try the gown out. Also, you can’t linger on forever to make your decision. It is best to attend a trunk show with a number of possible alternatives in mind, and be satisfied with the one you find from this list.

Look for exclusive online coupons and discount vouchers

Many bridal stores offer exclusive online offers which you may not find in-store. Make the most of such offers and get a significant reduction on your wedding dress. Since these are limited-time offers, it is a good idea to first decide which is the dress you want by shopping at a store.

Once you have made up your mind, don’t purchase the gown just yet. Wait till they have a discount or offer on the design, and you can have your overall price reduced to a great extent.

Explore good package deals

Many bridal salons give you a bulk discount when you buy accessories like shoes, jewelry, veils and sashes along with your wedding gown. Although this technically doesn’t change the price of the gown, it gives you more for the money you spend.

You will anyway have to accessorize your wedding dress. Buy all your extras from the same place where you buy your gown, if they have a good discount on it. This is often better value for money than having your gown’s price reduced. You can then divert the funds saved for your accessories to another wedding expense.

Look other than in the wedding dress section

Depending on the type of wedding you have in mind, you may not even have to search through wedding dress collections to find the right dress. For weddings based on a casual theme, like a beach wedding or a garden wedding, the requirements are often different. Rather than being weighed down in a heavy, elaborate wedding dress, a light, breathable dress would be more suitable.

Although there are bridal collections that cater to these requirements, you can also find such dresses in bridesmaids dress collections and dresses for special occasions. The difference is that the cost is less. So, you can enjoy the look for less when you choose dresses other than wedding dress.

Have an old dress re-purposed

Has your mother or grandmother lovingly preserved her wedding gown to hand down to you? If yes, we think you should take a good, close look at it. You may not find it suitable to wear as it is, unless you are looking for a vintage style. However, with the help of a talented dressmaker, you can easily transform this dress into one that satisfies your modern taste.

Most parts of a well-preserved gown are suitable for reuse in a new dress. You can also have it altered, dyed or customized to meet your specific needs. In any case, working with an existing dress will allow you to have your wedding dress for much cheaper. Also, wearing this heirloom on your special day will be a tribute to your mother or grandmother. It will be a very sentimental moment for her!

Rent your dress

The final, but very practical option to having an amazing wedding dress is to rent it. There are many bridal shops that offer rental services. The benefits of this option are many. You can find amazing designer wedding dresses that you couldn’t otherwise afford, for a fraction of a cost.

Also, with a dress rental, you needn’t worry about taking care of the gown or preserving it after the wedding. Return it to the shop and they will do the rest. With a huge chunk of your budget saved in this manner, you can allocate it to other wedding expenses.

So, tell us, which of these options do you think is best and practical in your case?

Whether it is a brand new wedding dress, rental, discount or sale, we have all the options at Best for Bride. We pride ourselves on our lowest price guarantee. So, expect only the best quality for the best prices at the Best for Bride stores. Check out our clearance and discount section for amazing deals and bargain shopping offers all-year round. And for more tips and tricks on planning your wedding on a budget, stay tuned to this page.

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10 things your wedding doesn’t really need

Weddings are expensive affairs, and it is not worthwhile to spend money on the so-called “must-haves,” which end up being not so essential after all. It is quite commonplace to get caught in a rush, and ticking things off your list as quickly as is possible, when planning your wedding. In all this hurry, you may easily overlook what is actually necessary and what can be done without.

So, we suggest you take a break from all that wedding planning for a bit, and actually look at that long list you have. A few minutes is all it will take to analyze whether you need to do everything that is in there, but definitely do this. This well-spent time will help your budget go further.

We have some tips from our wedding planning experts, who have seen enough weddings to precisely tell us what we can do away with, and still have a fantastic wedding day. So, in no particular order, here is the list!

Save-the-date cards

spotted save-the-date

Save-the-date cards are just another expensive piece of stationery, that you can do without. This is very true if you have a short engagement. Your wedding invitation, on the other hand, is a must-have! Almost everyone has an email or social media account these days. So, just send out an email once you finalize your wedding date, and that should be enough for everyone to mark their calendars. In case there are those who don’t operate online, you can inform them with a personal letter or phone call. Or, if there is little time left till the wedding, just send the invitation as soon as is possible. When you think of the postage and printing charges for a bunch of save-the-dates, don’t you think it is worth spending that money on something else?

Guest books

wishing well

Your guest book may not cost you a significant amount, but when planning your wedding, every bit counts. It will, in the end, just be a book that will be stashed away and hardly remembered. How many of your guests will do much more than just sign their names into it, and what purpose does that really serve anyway? Now if you were opting for a guest book alternative, like a wish well or a wish box, it would be nicer. You could use this in your new home as a wall or mantel display. This will certainly be more enjoyable than a guest book that will be put away with the rest of the wedding stuff you may never touch again.

A fancy cake-cutting set

cake cut

When you spend a huge amount on a designer wedding cake, do you think it is necessary to get a fancy cutting set to do the honors? This is an item with a one-time use, but it can be pretty expensive. What is more, your caterer may even have one that you can borrow. Or it may be available at the venue, if the place hosts weddings regularly. So, check this option out before you go shopping. Or, you can just ask family and friends. If any of your friends have bought a brand new set for their wedding, they may lend it to you for your cake-cutting ceremony.

A big bridal party

Image Credits: Micadew, via Flickr
Image Credits: Micadew, via Flickr

There is no right or wrong number of members in your bridal party. If you have plenty of friends and relatives who must be beside you when you say “I do”, so be it. Otherwise, keep the numbers small, and many, including you will be relieved. It is expensive for you as well as your bridesmaids, when they are in a wedding party. The bridesmaids will have to put aside a considerable amount for their dresses, accessories, hair, makeup and the wedding gift. Similarly, the couple will also feel obliged to buy special wedding party gifts and share some of the bridal party expenses. Instead of all this, if you keep your wedding party small and include just those who are essential, you save everyone a lot of trouble. Not only do the potential bridesmaids candidates just have to worry about getting you one wedding gift, you can also skip the extras like expensive wedding party gifts. And lesser the number of women, lesser the drama! Have a Maid of Honor and a bridesmaid, or even two Co-maids of honor and you should be good to go.

Too many details

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An elaborate centerpiece with hundreds of intricate details works just as good as a budget-friendly simple and stylish smaller centerpiece. Similarly, party favors wrapped in cellophane, and then packed into a custom bag and topped with a fancy ribbon will do not different than one packed into a small box. And we don’t even have to get started on how expensive and unnecessary fancy linen is. When there are too many details in a wedding, it loses its charm. Your guests will simply get lost in the several things that they may not remember most of it at the end of the day. So, focus on creating only a few signature elements that stand out from the rest. Stay away from the smaller details that don’t contribute to the bigger picture, and you will save yourself a lot of stress. Instead, devote attention to making your wedding day fun and enjoyable, as that is what will be most memorable.

A band

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Let’s face it, a band is very expensive. So, unless you are very particular you must have a group of performing artists at your wedding, skip it altogether. A DJ with a play list of songs that will entertain the guests at your party, can make your party just as interesting. Perhaps even more, if you find the right person. Also, it will mean a lot less to co-ordinate. Or, if you can manage a good quality sound system, you can create your own list of songs on a CD and have it played at the wedding.

A registry

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If you know exactly what you want in your new home, or you are particular about not keeping anything more than you actually need, a wedding registry may be a good idea. However, if you aren’t really sure of what you should have, or what you will find useful in future, skip the registry altogether. Trust me on this, creating a registry when you are unsure of things will only confuse you more. You already have so much going on for your wedding, and planning the registry is one tiring detail that you don’t have to add to it. Not having a registry will give your guests the flexibility to figure out something they think will be useful. Don’t you think the surprise of opening up each gift and discovering what they’ve chosen for you will be real fun? And, if you get lucky, your guests may even skip the idea of getting you a gift and give you cash or gift vouchers instead. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it now?

The latest designer wedding gown

Walking down the aisle as a beautiful vision of white is possible, even if you don’t spend a chunk on a brand new designer wedding gown. There are so many economical options that can still help you realize this dream. Choose a gown from the previous season’s collections, and you may get it at a discount. Or visit the clearance sale section of your wedding shop, to find what captures your fancy. You could even rent your gown or buy one second-hand, and nobody has to know. After all, it is a one-time occasion, and not a dress you have to wear everyday. If you can get what you want for a fraction of the cost of buying a fresh off-the-runway, designer wedding gown, you must be really smart and practical! Don’t worry about compromising on style or look, when you opt for this route. Check out our special offers page on Best for Bride for some fantastic offers that will definitely transform you into the beautiful bride you always dreamed of being, but without the hefty price tag attached to it.

Wedding programs

program

Another piece of stationery that you can easily skip are wedding programs. It is common practice to hand out wedding programs before the start of the ceremony, and the paper that goes into making it is usually not cheap. However, have you ever noticed where these programs end up after the ceremony? In the trash, of course. So, why should you spend a fortune on getting them printed if they serve no real purpose? I like this idea on The Every Last Detail blog, to use a large signage instead, noting the key participants in the ceremony and order of events. Not only will this detail have a huge visual impact, it can be done at a fraction of the cost of printing hundreds of wedding programs. Also, it serves the main purpose of providing the information that your guests actually need, and in a no-fuss, but classy way.

Personalized wedding favors

favors

Cute little trinkets, personalized tins, glasses and photo coasters may all be very attractive, but how many of them will actually serve any purpose for your guests? While you may have to spend a fortune on your wedding favors and pay extra for custom details like adding a photograph or message, will it ever be used or even saved for later? The best favors that wedding guests actually use are edible ones. So, if you must have a wedding favor that will please everyone, consider cookies, candy, preserves or chocolates. You can personalize these with a photo wrapper or printed message wrapper, if you want that personal touch in there. If you don’t think this is good enough, the next best options are candle holders and potted plants, that can be established into any home easily. Not all your guests may appreciate displaying photo favors with your picture, so save yourself your hard-earned cash and stick with what will actually be useful for them.

A towering tiered cake

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Earlier we mentioned that you do not need a fancy cake cutting set, to cut your designer cake. Now we tell you that you do not even need a fancy towering cake to impress your guests. You can do the same with a smaller couture cake, that will be just as spectacular, sans the size. Firstly, this means you can have a gourmet cake done with excellent details, just for the cake cutting ceremony. Sheet cakes done in the same flavor can be served to the guests at their tables. Not only does this minimize wastage, there are no compromises on style either. Or, if you are feeling bold enough, skip the cake altogether and choose an alternate dessert. For options, check out this previous post.

A weekend wedding

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Sure, you want everyone to be at your wedding! But, if a weekday ceremony saves you a tonne of cash or helps you get your dream venue which is booked for all weekends, so be it. This article on the Huff Post tells us that guests who want to be at your wedding won’t really mind taking a day off work for it. If you plan the event on a Friday, it would also help them kick-start a long weekend. Nobody will be complaining, I am sure!

So, tell us now, which of these things will you be eliminating from your wedding plans? Or, is there something that you have decided to skip, but we have missed in the list. Do let us know in the comments below.

Best for Bride helps prospective brides and grooms find everything they need for a fantastic wedding. From wedding dresses, dresses for the bridal party and essential wedding services, we have everything bridal under one roof. Check out our website today, to find what you seek, and come one step closer to having the perfect wedding day.

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10 smart ways to save on your reception cost

Your wedding reception will take over a big part of your wedding budget. With many things to rent for the occasion, from the décor to the tableware and seating, it will all quickly add up and cost a lot. While there is no way you can escape from setting aside money for your reception, there are some smart ways in which you can have a fantastic reception without breaking the bank. This is what we will look at today.

Read on for 10 tips on how to save as much as is possible on your reception cost.

1.Choose one venue for both the ceremony and reception

church wedding

One of the best ways to reduce your overall reception expense, is to choose a single venue for both the wedding ceremony and reception. There are many benefits of choosing this option and they include the following

  • You have more flexibility in timing, as you do not have to account for the transportation time between the two venues
  • There is no need for additional transport arrangements to help guests travel to the reception venue, from the wedding venue
  • Guests will be happier if everything is staged at a single venue, as the likelihood for delays and waiting time are less
  • This is obviously a cheaper option. Even when the ceremony venue is a church, you will have to spend more in terms of a donation or ceremony fees.

2.Choose items that do double-duty

By this, we mean you can make your money work more if your décor, seating or anything else can work in more than one way. For example, if your wedding ceremony and reception are at the same venue, consider having the flower arrangements done in such a way that it can be reused as reception centerpieces. That way, all it takes is a few extra minutes to move the arrangement to the reception venue and set it up. Although it may involve a certain labor cost, it will be much cheaper than having the entire reception venue decorated from scratch using fresh décor items. You can also choose wedding favors that act as place cards. Similarly, here is a suggestion we found on the Knot web page, that sounds sensible. Consider using simple glasses in a universal design to serve all your drinks, instead of having to rent various types of glasses for the different drinks that will be served at the reception. The same idea is useful for every wedding aspect you can consider, including your wedding dress. A two-in-one wedding dress that can give you two different looks, is a brilliant idea for a wedding. The Mori Lee 5316 with a detachable tulle skirt is one such dress.

3.Look for all-inclusive packages

all inclusive

Unless you have the talent, time and practice to handle most of the details by yourself, rather than depend on independent vendors for each of the décor essentials, DIY weddings can be very expensive. The cheaper alternative is to choose an all-inclusive package, and customize it to meet your specific needs without spending too much money. The other benefit of choosing an all-inclusive package is that you needn’t worry about arranging all the aspects and have them all come together at time. It is usually taken care of by the vendor-in-charge, and you only need to follow up. Without too many options at hand, it is also a relief for brides who are easily overwhelmed with too many choices. Check with your venue for whether they offer package deals, or ask your vendors for the additional tasks they can handle. This way you will not have to follow up or work with too many people, and this makes the process streamlined and easier.

4.DIY or outsource it to a known contact

Although we said that DIY may be expensive, it needn’t always be so. This may in fact, be the cheapest route available to you, if you are organized, have the time for it and are confident in your abilities. If you have done things previously on a scale similar to that of your wedding, or you have the time and resources to bring it all together perfectly, DIY can help you cut the costs to a great extent. You can try your hand at anything from creating the wedding centerpieces, to assembling the party favors and even baking the cake. Or if you have a trusted friend or relative who is a wedding vendor, this may be the route to consider. As an associate you personally know, you are more likely to get a considerable discount on their services, and this can ease the financial cost greatly.

5.Be on the lookout for discounts and offers

sale

If you have a long engagement before getting married, you have time to attend wedding fairs and shows. Here, you can find interesting deals and good discounts for your reception. You will easily find several vendors offering their services and also discounts to stay ahead of the competition. So, if you find one that you like, this is the time to snag it. Wedding exhibitions will also have stalls with wedding décor accessories and other items, and they may be cheaper and unique compared to what you find outside. Also, don’t overlook items that cost nothing, but are a valuable add to your wedding. Free wedding fonts, for example, can help you personalize everything at your wedding, from coasters and place cards, to menu and sign boards for little to no cost. Additionally, we suggest that you sign up for bridal magazines and join the mailing list for newsletters and updates at popular bridal shops and vendors. This way, you will immediately know of any discounts and offers that come up. When you go shopping for your wedding, also check out whether there are any benefits of booking or buying more from a single place. For example, your wedding baker may give you a discount if you ask them to do edible favors as well. It is likely that you will also be able to save more on service and delivery charges when you go with a single vendor for more than just one service. So, explore the options and ask around, you may just be lucky to find a deal that will work.

6.Stay on top of your expenses

Wedding finances can be tricky, unless you are in full control. Before you go shopping, it is best if you create a budget spreadsheet and divide it into the amounts you have put aside for each aspect. This way, you will know what amount you can afford to spend on a certain factor. One way you can stay in control, is to note it down and add it into your accounts as and when you incur an expense. Unless you consistently do this, you can easily lose track of all the small expenses you have already been involved in. This can all add up to a shocking extra in the end. If you however, keep your budget updated and have a clear idea of how much has been spent already and what is remaining, you can make sure you do not overstep your budget and spend beyond control. Also, if you get a good deal on certain items, you can adjust the profit into another aspect, and splurge on it instead.

7.Choose less risky wedding reception venues

garden venue

Planning an outdoor garden reception in the summer? Don’t ever rule out the likelihood of rain. In case Mother Nature decides to shower her blessings with a drizzle on the day, you will have to risk your guests getting wet. The sensible alternative in such a case, would be to have an alternative venue where you can move your reception to, in the likelihood of rain. But, this would mean paying money for all the extra arrangements and that would simply cost you more. If you want to avoid such risks, settle for a low-risk reception venue. An indoor venue that has no risks associated with it, would allow you to breathe easy and be done with the funds you have allocated for this. You can also think of getting yourself insured, so that you are covered if any unforeseen circumstances that cost money, arise out of the blue.

8.Find cheaper but working options for your décor essentials

There are many ways in which you can find cheaper options for your wedding decorations, if you keep your mind open. For outdoor weddings, barn weddings and rustic styles, bistro lights and twinkling fairy lights are beautiful but inexpensive décor items. The romantic effect they create is really worth the insignificant price you pay on them. Similarly, if you want a shabby chic wedding, consider switching out table cloths for newspapers under a glass table top. If you are unhappy with the chairs you have at your reception, but cannot afford hiring new ones, consider getting them covered with chair covers. This will not cost too much, but you can instantly add more life to your wedding venue with this single change. It is also sensible to consider a venue that comes with seating and interesting décor already. Restaurants are such examples. Since they are already set up for service, they will have all the necessary items for the food service and good décor too. So, you can save on planning and preparing the venue specially for your wedding, when you book such venues.

9.Keep the timing fixed and stay organized

Venues and service staff charge by the hour. So, it is necessary to stick to the timeline. You may get a better deal if you cut short your booking hours. Simple steps like cutting short your cocktail hour to 45 minutes, and similarly polishing off few minutes from various aspects can save you precious time. This will translate into a reduced bill. Also, your guests will be relieved that there is minimum waiting around, as long as everything progresses smoothly. However, make sure that you stick to the stipulated time and it is a reasonable time frame that you have set for each event. All in the wedding party should be aware of what time slot is allotted to which activity, and not overstep the time limit for each of them. Also discuss the working hours with your wedding vendors in advance. Ask for how much their overtime charges are, rather than run into a long bill after you simply employ them for much longer than initially agreed. Wind up early in the evening, and you can head home or off on your honeymoon much earlier.

10.Take the paper-free route and think outside the box for everything else

sheet cake

There are many things at a wedding that you can do without, and still have a great wedding. Wedding programs are one such item. You can choose to skip these, as they use up a lot of paper, and also cost for the printing. They aren’t really necessary, and are usually tossed at the end of the day. For your guest’s reference, you can use a single chalkboard or signboard display at the welcome, and this will do the job just as well. To really cut your budget, be open to options like using a sheet cake at your reception, and substituting the reception dinner with a tea-time affair or brunch. Although this may be one of the most economical options around, it may not be for everyone. But definitely do consider it.

Can you think of more ways to save money on the wedding reception? If so, do let us know in the comments below.

For more tips and wedding planning advice, visit us at Best for Bride—your one stop bridal destination. Don’t forget to check out our online bridal store, where you can find everything from stylish wedding dresses to dresses for the entire wedding party, and also chic evening gowns and beautiful prom dresses. Apart from this, we also have a range of wedding-related services like wedding cakes, invitations, favors, photography, flower arrangements, décor and more. Check out our website here, to find out more about how we can complete your wedding perfectly.