Many brides start planning their wedding the second the ring is on their finger, but rushing your decisions can cost you big-time.
Here are five common planning mistakes and how to avoid them so you don't lose sight of your budget (or your mind!).
Mistake No. 1: Asking all your friends to be in your bridal party the second you get engaged.
We know you're excited, but putting your whole sorority house in the wedding party will run you a major tab.
What it'll cost you: Bridesmaid bouquets aren't cheap. The average price of a wedding bouquet is around $75, so you probably can't afford to buy one for every woman you've ever known.
How to avoid it: Don't ask anyone to be in your wedding more than six months out, and determine the number of people you ask by what your budget allows, not by your cell phone contact list. If anyone hassles you about not being asked, just explain that you're so excited to have them support you as a wedding guest — and change the subject.
Mistake No. 2: Throwing a backyard wedding.
It seems nice, right? A quaint celebration in the comfort of your own home — or better yet, your childhood home. But here's an uncomfortable thought: the cost of wedding rentals.
What it'll cost you: Combine the cost of a table and eight chairs (up to around $75 per set) with linens ($2 to $3 per chair cover and around $20 per tablecloth) plus set-up and delivery fees, not to mention a tent in case of bad weather (around $900) and a dance floor (up to $2,000), and your "small wedding" budget just jumped almost $4,000. (And we haven't even mentioned the caterer!)
How to avoid it: Unless you happen to have access to a bunch of banquet tables and chairs, it might be worth your money to book a reception hall. Many hotels and local venues will throw tables, chairs, and even linens into your wedding package — a major savings.
Mistake No. 3: DIY-ing your wedding invitations
You're just as crafty as any other bride, so why not put your personal touch on your wedding stationery? Turns out, if you don't do your research first, we have a lot of reasons why you shouldn't.
What it'll cost you: Let's say you have 100 wedding guests. Purchasing the paper for the invitations and save-the-dates, pocketfolds, envelopes, inserts, reply cards, plus printing and shipping fees can run you well over several hundred dollars. And that's not counting any redos in case you make a mistake.
How to avoid it: Instead of starting from scratch, look into buying DIY kits sold at craft stores. You'll get the same personalized feeling at a lower cost, plus you'll be saving on time as well as money.
Mistake No. 4: Buying a wedding dress online.
When you're looking at a gorgeous wedding dress online, the "purchase now" button can become mighty tempting. But if it's a gown you've never tried on (or even seen in person!), you should take a breather before you buy.
What it'll cost you: There's no way to know what a dress will really look like on you until you've tried it on. If the dress that arrives isn't as lovely as you thought, you could be stuck with an expensive gown you'll never wear. Even if you like the dress, unexpected fitting problems could mean hundreds of dollars in alterations alone.
How to avoid it: Two words: return policy. Triple-check that the Web site you're ordering from lets you return dresses if they aren't as stunning as on screen.
Mistake No. 5: Choosing out-of-season flowers.
Before you set your heart on those frilly peonies or lily of the valley for your fall wedding, keep one thing in mind: your budget.
What it'll cost you: The average cost of wedding flowers is around $700, but when you start incorporating out-of-season blooms, which often have to be flown into your location, the price will leap.
How to avoid it: Again, research is key. Ask your florist which blooms are in season or locally available during the time of your wedding to cut down on costs. And unless you're really set on a particular flower, ask if there is another (cheaper) bloom that can stand in its place.