The amount one spends has nothing to do with how meaningful, enjoyable and memorable a wedding will be. You can have an amazing wedding at a reasonable cost: it all depends on how creative you can be at cutting corners. And let's face it, in an average wedding, there are myriad things that you could spend on, but don't have to. What people will remember is not the variety of booze your bars are stocked with, or the sheer number of blooms in your bouquets: it's all about how happy the bride and groom and their families were on that special day. So removing the stress of a 'keeping-up-with-the-Joneses' wedding will go a long way toward helping the day be a memorable one.
We've come up with seven ways to save money on your wedding, which do nothing to lessen the impact of the event. In fact we promise your guests won't notice your thrifty ways:
By Muneeza Iqbal
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something ... green?
Wedding season is almost here, and apart from wreaking havoc on your wallet, it can also cause some damage to the environment. Some 2.5 million weddings will be held across the nation this year, each of which produces 600 to 800 tons of waste, according to the Green Bride Guide.
One way to cut down on that number is to reconsider the traditional wedding dress -- expensive to produce, bleached a starchy white and usually worn only once. If you're an eco-minded bride-to-be, let these creative, affordable and environmentally friendly ideas inspire you.
A survey conducted by TD Ameritrade and personal finance site LearnVest suggests that many Americans don't know as much as they should about their partners' credit history -- or their "credit present." According to the survey, a solid 38 percent of people in live-in relationships admitted they weren't entirely aware of how much debt their partner was carrying.
Another finding confirms that people are indeed withholding some information about their finances, with 21 percent of survey respondents admitting that they aren't always up front about their spending habits. No wonder, then, that 40 percent of those surveyed said they don't completely trust their partner to manage their combined finances.
The December holidays is one of the most popular time for engagement announcements - and as a result, the month of January and early February is the time for wedding shows.
First comes the swirl of excitement and accolades, as well as the endless discussions - the date, the location and who will get invited.
Will there be doves? A DJ? A destination wedding?
But before you get too caught up in the details, here's some tips to be able to make sure your wedding is everything you want it to be, and not something that may cause bankruptcy.
Now you're engaged - how to start saving:
I'm not quite 30 yet, but I'm more than familiar with the notion that this age is the new benchmark for people to get their lives together.
There are books, blogs and Twitter accounts dedicated solely to helping people cross that line in the best shape for their future. They do this by telling you to get rid of debt, stop shopping so much, start saving for your retirement and brace yourself for wrinkles.
But in my opinion, it takes a lot more than a healthy bank account and nice skin to live a full and happy life, whether you're 29 or 59. Most of us know how to succeed, we just happen to let ourselves -- and a few convenient lies -- get in the way.
By Kenneth Ross Urken
With the expense of weddings and the still weak economy, more and more couples are taking advantage of the crowd-funding trend to bankroll their honeymoons. In fact, last year, 12% of couples created a honeymoon registry, according to the 2011 Registry Study from TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com.
I should know. My wife and I just returned from our honeymoon in sunny Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thanks to the contributions our friends and family made to our HoneyFund.com registry. (That's us sharing a smooch in Rio's Santa Teresa neighborhood after some delicious caipirinhas).
We're thankful for the financial harnessing power of the Internet, because it would have been hard for us to have afforded the trip by ourselves. And we're not alone: The average cost of a honeymoon was $4,466 in 2010.
And while about a third of couples scaled back their plans because of the economy, few abandoned them all together. More than 80% of marrying couples -- about 1.4 million -- took a honeymoon in 2010, feeding an estimated $6 billion to $7 billion industry.
It's not unusual for prenups to have clauses about the separation of estates, or an infidelity clause where a lump sum of money is paid should someone stray. What is unusual are the very specific clauses that now go into these contracts, governing things like weight limitations, sex schedules and even television bans.
Attorney Ann Carrozza says that these new clauses are the natural progression from the baseline of a prenuptial agreement. She says, "Some of it is a shift due to longer life expectancies and second marriages," explaining that with second marriages, prenuptial agreements can be used to set aside assets for children from first marriages.
Carrozza also said that while prenups are viewed negatively, they can also be seen as a way to start a conversation and plan a future. "It's an opportunity to engage in a conversation when going in," she says, explaining that the unusual clauses can help create expectations of behaviour. A prenup can also protect both parties.
She says, "There's a misconception that the partner with fewer assets wouldn't want the prenup." A prenuptial agreement could protect a woman who might have stayed home with the kids or a spouse who supported their partner during school. Whatever the reason for a prenuptial agreement, Carrozza does advise two important things – each party must have their own attorney and that while the clauses can be put in a prenuptial agreement, a lot of them are not enforceable in a court of law.
While prenuptial agreements are supposed to help a couple set down mutual goals and expectations, Carrozza has had clients where it ended up clouding the issue. She says, "I have a client whose prenuptial agreement said that a wedding date will be set when his fiancée lost weight. Technically she was overweight but she took it to mean that she was to stay the same weight and not gain any more. They aren't married yet."
Shipping magnate Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, 76, announced the 'marriage bounty' after his 33-year-old daughter, Gigi Chao, married her longtime same-sex partner in France earlier this year. Disputing the authenticity of the marriage, Chao wants his daughter to marry any man who wins her heart, but said he wouldn't force her to marry against her will, according to The Telegraph.
A colourful fixture on the Hong Kong social scene (and someone who once claimed to have slept with 10,000 women), Chao says "I don't mind whether he is rich or poor. The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted."
Chao thinks an entrepreneurial type would suit his daughter well, admitting to the South China Morning Post that the plan was "an inducement to attract someone who has the talent but not the capital to start his own business."
For her part, Gigi seems every inch a modern, independent woman, whose LinkedIn profile indicates she graduated from University of Manchester with a degree in architecture, is a licensed helicopter pilot, and is active in many charities.
On her Facebook page earlier today she posted that she'd stopped accepting friend requests and wrote: "where do all these people come from? Jerusalm? Ethiopia? Istanbul? ridiculous."
Still she does seem to have a sense of humour, telling the BBC that she found her father's plan "entertaining" and wouldn't worry about it until an actual suitor had been found.
1. Get Naked
Throw your inhibitions to the wind and reveal all to your partner. All meaning debts, assets and retirement expectations. Start your married life without financial secrets and lay out the full picture of where you both stand. Show each other your net worth savings -- what you've got and what you owe -- and request copies of individual credit reports to see your credit standings. If you have a goal of home ownership, you'll likely need mortgage financing and if you need to repair your credit rating, this can take time, so it's wise to start with open communication.
In May 2009, when he was set to marry for the second time, he wanted to spend a little less -- or more specifically, spend differently on an event more focused on himself and his wife-to-be.
"I had done the big wedding and gone and spent too much on other people," said the retired Goldman Sachs exec.