These days we all have heard of the vast sums of money spent on weddings. Besides the presidential family, royalty and superstar events, even ordinary people have spent far more money than many would believe reasonable. The problem is that costs can balloon out of control. Basic wedding necessities are one thing but the fabulous extras are quite another. With the economy giving many a real beating, it's time to analyze wedding costs now and get them under control. You can literally save thousands of dollars. Now if you have a spare \$20,000 lying around, then you likely won't try to save any money on the wedding. This article isn't for you, it's for the other 99% who live in the real world.

Before you can save any money, you have to analyze the items that will need to be purchased or rented. Get a list started and start writing down the items. Then write down the minimum each will cost and the maximum. Use the maximum value for your early calculations until you can prove you can get it cheaper. Here is an example:

Minister \$100 - \$500
Tuxedo, \$75 - \$750
Music, \$300 - \$1000
Decorations, \$200 - \$1000
Venue Hall \$200 - \$1500
Extras, \$500 - \$2000
Drink, (4 /Alcoholic Beverages">alcoholic beverages each), \$1000 - \$2500
Food, (50 guests), \$1000 - \$3000
Dress, \$300 - \$3000
Photographs, \$500 - \$3500

This list establishes a guide for this wedding. From about \$4,200 to almost \$20,000 is the range. These days, everything costs more that expected. Unless you have the \$20,000 to spare, you should start to think about saving money. Be realistic and get the priorities of everything needed for the wedding. This should be done regardless of who is paying for the wedding or how many people are contributing. Notice how the list is sorted with the most expensive items at the bottom? The high value items will give you the best possible savings. A 50% savings on photographs is \$1750 but only \$250 on the minister. Examine each of the items, starting with the most expensive. Get agreement from the bride, groom, parents, and others as appropriate, about how important each is. When you do, you can establish the cost for each by agreeing on how each will be implemented. It won't be easy, perhaps, but it will save money and get as much approval from the group as possible.

Photography is expensive due to the resources involved. Many firms use two or more photographers, several cameras, lights, sets and more to get great pictures. Afterward, there is a lot of staff time on a computer adjusting the pictures, printing samples and meeting with the wedding party to review the shots. All of it costs money and there is the profit that the firm must receive. Find out how important the photography is to the wedding party. You definitely want a photo record, but does it need to be magazine quality at a cost of \$3500? Most of the time, the photographer retains ownership of your photos so if you want to get more copies, you have to pay even more money. Instead, find out if there is a photographer in the family that you can at a bargain rate. Perhaps many of your friends and family have really good cameras already. Let them know that you would like them to share all of the wedding photos with you. You could also designate someone you can trust to be a photographer and buy them a good \$300 camera for the wedding. Realistically, photographs of the wedding will be secondary to the memories of the guests. It is possible to save a large amount of money on wedding photography and still get fabulous pictures to enjoy in the future.

Next, consider the wedding dress, another big ticket item. Since we sincerely hope that the wedding lasts forever, it is reasonable that expect that the dress would only be used for one wedding. How many brides have spent \$3000, (or more), to wear the dress once? A lot. Seriously consider renting a wedding dress or borrow one from family or a friend. For an unusual dress, you can often contact the local historical society or a theater company. Many of them will rent clothes at great prices. Their selection is bound to be different than anything you can buy.

Food and drinks are also big cost items for most weddings. The number of guests will have a direct bearing on cost, of course. Try to reduce the number of guests, especially if an elaborate restaurant meal is planned. One way to save money on food is to schedule the time of the wedding. While it isn't reasonable to have it at 8AM and maybe not even on a Tuesday, you can schedule the wedding to save money and not appear too cheap. A great time is about 1:45 to 2:15 or so on a Saturday or Sunday. This gives the opportunity to hold the wedding after lunch, get the ceremony finished and top it off with a great buffet supper. Whether it is catered or held "tailgate" style, you can have a great meal. Watch out for hidden costs as well. Things like rehearsal dinners, decorating parties and similar, can all cost money for food and drinks.

Most weddings will incur costs for various extras. These could be anything. Extra lights, rented plants, special chair cushions. Basically anything could be needed for various reasons at the wedding. The trick to saving money on extras is to get them factored in as soon as possible. If you know in advance that an aged relative needs a special chair, you may be able to borrow it in advance. If everyone is flexible on the extras, then hopefully you can save a lot on them.

The venue, whether a church, hall, restaurant, is a costly item that you have to think about. Be careful that a savings in this area doesn't trigger an additional cost elsewhere. For example, if you hold the wedding in a park or at a families yard, you may need large tents to protect the guests from the wedding. Perhaps renting a large suite at a local hotel could serve the needs of the wedding. Be flexible. It doesn't mean holding the wedding on the beach at dawn, but there has to be a way to save money on something that is likely to cost a month's rent or more.

Keep going down the list and get agreement from everyone on the costs of all of the necessities. Borrow as much as you can from friends and family. Get the cheapest option that meets everyone's requirements. This will make the wedding great regardless of the amount spent on the event. After all, the wedding is about two people's lives and not about the spectacle.