Wedding planning season is here as couples race to plan the perfect nuptials in time for a summer wedding date.

But before you get too deep into planning, I want you to sit down and come up with a budget for your wedding. It can be $100 or it can be $30,000. I've been a guest at everything from courthouse ceremonies to weddings that seemed like the coronation of a king. It's whatever makes sense in your life.

Write down all the elements of a wedding you want -- flowers, DJ, wedding favors, etc. --  and then start prioritizing them. That way you get a feel for what's indispensable and what you can maybe do without.

There are many things you can do along the way that will help you save big money. There's even a blog called dedicated to the idea of DIY weddings. These ideas from my staff and from the pages of Real Simple magazine can also help you plan a big day that's not so big on the wallet:

  1. When you call around to vendors, don't tell anybody you're getting quotes for a wedding. Call it a "party" because you'll likely get a lower quote.
  2. If you're planning on having alcohol, find a caterer who will let you purchase and bring it yourself, which avoids the tremendous markup.  
  3. Make your own flowers out of paper instead of purchasing real ones. This move alone can save you more than $1,000.
  4. Buy dresses or suits that you can wear again. For the bridesmaids, try telling them a color (like navy or black) and encouraging them to wear an existing dress, rather than having them buy a one-time use only dress.
  5. Check the cakes at the bakery of your local grocery store, instead of a traditional baker. They can be much cheaper and just as nice. In fact, I went to one wedding where they did a cupcake cake. Everybody got a cupcake and the couple saved that way!
  6. Remember that *who* you are marrying is the most important thing.

As you can see, there are so many ways to save money on a wedding. The list is practically endless. Just don't do what I did to save money on the vehicle we drove off in.

My mother-in-law will probably never forgive me for renting a subcompact purple Mitsubishi that was $16 a day. I also remember the wedding photographer was so angry at me for ruining his exit shot. He wanted me to leave in his car, which was a Cadillac convertible. I said, "Nobody's going to believe that it was really me leaving in a Cadillac convertible!"  

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Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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