Each bride wants a gorgeous, Hollywood-style wedding. Few of us can actually pay for it. For those of us in the latter state, here are 5 great tips to making your nuptials a little more affordable.

Off Season – The period from early June to late July and from mid September through October are the busiest seasons for weddings. Consider a winter or early spring wedding. You will find it much easier to haggle pricing when it comes to reception locations, catering and other services if you plan your nuptials when these vendors need the business.

Bridal Attendants – The larger the bridal party, the larger the budget. Think smaller here. If you have six bridesmaids, you have to buy six bridesmaids gifts. The same goes for groomsmen. By limiting the bridal party to three instead of six, or two instead of four etc., you can cut your budget for wedding favors in half. Don’t leave out anyone that should be in your wedding, but it’s a good idea to not put people in your wedding that you haven’t seen in five or ten years.

Wedding Photographers – Give some thought to having a friend who is into photography and has a nice camera take your formal shots at the ceremony. Use caution here. You should really trust this individual. If this is not an option for you, employ a professional to shoot pictures only at the ceremony. This can cut your photography obligation in half! Put disposable cameras on every table at the reception for your guests to take pictures. It’s amazing how often I hear that these photos, taken by friends and family, are the most cherished.

Entertainment – Instead of hiring a live band at $1000+ or a DJ at $500+ to entertain your guests, dust off that CD heap of yours (and your friends) and burn your own customized music selection. This way, you are sure to have every song that’s a must, played at the time you want it. Make several CDs with different song types and label them accordingly (dance, slow, background, father/daughter, etc).

Now here’s the tricky part. Find a friend you trust to pop in the arranged CDs when needed. Prepare a short outline of what kind of music to play and approximately when to play it and give it to your friend. Don’t make this too complicated. If you have a reception hall for 3 hours, separate the music schedule into 30 minute chunks or whatever works best for you. If you have to pay your friend $25-$50 to make sure they keep an eye on the CD schedule, do it! In the end, your guests will enjoy themselves and you will have saved yourself some considerable bucks!

Confections – It’s become commonplace to have a groomsmen cake at receptions today. In fact, one of the latest crazes in weddings is to have a dessert buffet, also recognized as a Viennese Table. Save your cabbage and do without these extra sweets. Let your wedding cake be what it was meant to be. Dessert. Your only dessert! It’s worked well on its own for two hundred years and it will work just fine for your nuptials.

Finally, the idea here is that you don’t have to compromise having the wedding of your dreams because you don’t have a movie star budget. By planning ahead, you can still have that fairytale wedding without the huge budget that normally comes with it!