Wedding Bell Money Blues

Even though the recession has cut into the average cost of a wedding, it has also hurt the ability of people to pay for it. If you're footing the bill, here are a few strategies for reducing the per-plate cost.

If spring is almost here, summer weddings can’t be far behind, and many couples planning to head down the aisle are already wrestling with projected costs. The recession has cut into the average cost of a wedding, which now runs around $17,500, down from about $20,000 back in the heady days before the economic meltdown.

A big difference, though, is that the couple tying the knot may no longer have the cushy jobs that allowed them to pick up all or part of the tab. That means Mom and Dad are back on the hook and may be looking for ways to save.

Most of the money spent on weddings goes for the reception, say wedding consultants, which makes it the place to start if you want to trim costs. Since the average reception costs about $65 a head, cutting just 10 invitees off the list can save significant cash. If you’re already committed to a summer wedding, however, you’ve missed another chance to save, which is to set a date outside the wedding season.

A winter wedding can cost less for just about every aspect of the celebration, including limos, music, and photographers. If you can still set the day of the week when the wedding will be held, though, a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon can be a lot less costly than a Saturday night reception.

Other cost-saving tips from wedding gurus: choose a DJ instead of a band and shop aggressively for the wedding gown. To save on paper and postage, ditch the traditional multi-piece engraved invitation in favor of a less ornate format. And with the average guest list at about 150 people, shaving a just few dollars off the price of the wedding meal or the wedding favors can save you serious money.