A beautiful wedding doesn’t mean breaking the bank. Weddings can be very expensive but there are smart cost saving measures that will ensure you’re not taking donations for food after the wedding. Below are the top 10 money saving tips for you to consider while planning your wedding.

Have an Off Season Wedding – Peak season for weddings start from around May and does not end till October depending on your location. Opt for a November to April wedding to save money on the venue for your wedding.

Deal Directly with the Owner of the Venue – To get a good deal on your venue, ask to speak with the owner or the head of management. They are the ones that are able to give discounts and add-ins for your reception. They can reduce the price of the ballroom or add in a few extra servers, or decor.

Wedding Dress – Do not purchase a wedding dress at full cost! Always research when bridal stores have items on sale so you can get a good deal. Bridal shows are also good resources for bridal gown deals. I remember taking one of my Houston brides to a bridal show last year where she was able to purchase a wedding dress that originally cost $2000 for only $300. That’s savings of $1700.

Opt for Outside Catering- Believe it or not, outside caterers are sometimes able to provide more affordable dishes than most venues. If the venue you booked allows outside caterers, definitely opt for it. You will save lots of money bringing in your own food.

Decorations & Flowers – Who says a wedding can’t look beautiful without a floral centerpiece on every single table? You can alternate flowers and floating candles on your reception tables. If you really must have flowers on every table, bring the flowers that were used at your ceremony to use as centerpieces at the reception. Also opt for flowers that are in season, they are usually cheaper than flowers not in season.

Get Married at your Honeymoon Location – This will save you a lot of money. You will be forced to have a small wedding since it’s not everyone that can afford to travel to your wedding. You don’t have to spend money on going somewhere else for your honeymoon since you’re already right there at the location!

Limit Alcohol at your Wedding – Open bars can be so expensive especially when you’re having a big wedding. This will increase your bill significantly! I’ve seen 4 hour alcohol packages from $20 per person all the way to $50 per person depending on what types of drinks you select. If you have to serve alcohol, opt for only wine or champagne for the toast.

Use your Church Hall or Community Center for your Wedding Reception- Many churches allow their members to use their church halls for free or at a very low cost. If decorated well, it will still look beautiful and classy. Community centers are not expensive and can be used for wedding receptions. My favorite community centers are Smyrna Community Center in Atlanta, River Oaks Community Center and Eagle Springs Community Center in Houston.

Control your Wedding Guest List – Do not invite more people than your budget allows. Each time your guest list increases, so will your catering, decorating and rentals fees increase. You don’t have to invite distant relatives, acquaintances, co-workers and kids to your wedding.

Hire a Wedding Planner – This may be a surprise to most people because it’s perceived that hiring a wedding planner translates into spending more money. It doesn’t! You actually save more money when you hire one. Wedding planners are good at haggling and have good relationships with numerous wedding vendors. This can amount to saving big bucks for you especially if their vendor discounts are passed down to you.