If you and your guy love trying new restaurants, splurge on the wedding meal. But what if you want to serve a meal that reflects your sophisticated tastes but you know many of your guests aren't adventurous eaters like you are? Don't just serve a roast pheasant entrée—offer a chicken dish as well. If food isn't a big passion of yours, move up the wedding so the reception doesn't run into mealtime; at 6:00 pm, guests will expect a meal but not so much at a 2:00 pm wedding. Or have a lunchtime reception because you can serve lighter food in less quantity than you would at dinnertime.
If you can't imagine getting married on a Tuesday night or Sunday, book your Saturday wedding. But for those who want to save big time, booking an off-night (any evening but Saturday) may land you substantial savings on the venue, dj, and photographer. So will saying I do during the off-season: If your wedding will take place in the Northeast, for example, discounts will heat up during colder months; in Southwest summers, when temps rise to three scorching digits, you'll find the best deals.
If you've dreamed of your dress since you were little, splurge on that one-of-a-kind creation you've got your eye on. But if you're no fashionista—you're fine wearing last year's jeans to work—then buy a dress off-the-rack at a national bridal retailer. Either way, make sure you get a flattering dress and the right alterations so the dress fits perfectly—you'll be the center of attention and you want to look spectacular.
If you envision a forest of flowers, from roses to ranunculus, decorating your ceremony and reception sites, go ahead and order a garden's worth. Create a flower wall, garland-draped staircases, or a floral chandelier. But be a saver, too: Order the bridesmaids much simpler bouquets than yours. And repurpose the ceremony arrangements at the reception. The freestanding décor that made the altar look so pretty can later decorate the party entrance, escort card pickup area, or dessert table.
If you consider a wedding cake more than dessert but rather an artistic statement, this is a place to splurge. To save, don't scrimp on size, but have a simpler design in bold colors, which takes less labor, than, say, a cake covered with handmade sugar flowers.
Unless you have a thing for mini photo frames and personalized coasters, save your money and skip favors. Few guests will notice—many actually forget (or choose not) to take them home anyway.
If exploring the world gets your engines revving, splurge on that exotic honeymoon to Bali or the African safari that you've been fantasizing about. But if a week at a Caribbean all-inclusive surrounded by other young newlyweds makes you happy, pick a resort where the sun will warm your back and the sand will cool your toes, and pack plenty of sunscreen!