Ways to cut back without cutting out the memories

Looking for ways to save on your big day? Here are some easy tips:

  • Be your own DJ. Creating your own iPod playlist for the evening saves cash and makes sure you won't hear the "Funky Chicken" for the third time.
  • Make it a brunch or a cocktail party. If you want a cheaper menu, switch up the time of day or stick to finger food. A buffet isn't always cheaper than a sit-down meal.
  • Raise the bar. An open bar is a big expense, even though most guests will stick to champagne and wine. Instead, create a specialty cocktail or two and choose a mid-level wine. Try to work out a deal to return any wine your guests don't drink.
  • Use simple flowers. Maria McBride, author of "Party Basics for New Nesters," suggests spreading an affordable flower like daisies or babies breath everywhere, creating foliage-only centerpieces, or putting small plants into an affordable clay or glazed pot. Or make your own vase out of recycled tin cans or wine bottles.
  • Create your own centerpieces. Candles or fruit can save money and look pretty in batches.
  • Think rustic. Decor that looks cheap in a hotel ballroom can be charming in a backyard, farm or vineyard. Just pick a spot that specializes in special events, or you'll be saddled with unfortunate extras, like port-a-potties.

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