The Rehearsal Dinner
Estimated savings: $250
Book your venue as soon as possible. A lot of locations have secret incentives for the first few couples to book for the next year. For example, we received our ceremony location for free (yes, FREE) because we were one of the first three couples to book for 2013!
Estimated savings: $500 (or more depending on the venue)
Always, always say your budget is less than it is and provide a number that is atypical to your consultant. For example, tell them your dress budget is $1,750. The typical price breaks are $1,500 and $2,000. With that, they will always pull from the $2,000 pile. This gives you the perfect leverage to stand firm on your budget. Trust me, they're hoping you'll budge, but if you don't they may come down to the number you originally gave them. They have the flex room and they don't want to lose the sale all together.
Estimated savings: $250 (or more)
If you're buying your gown out of the state you live in, ask the bridal shop to ship you the dress rather than you taking it home with you. Although you'll have to pay for shipping (maybe $75, max), you won't have to pay tax on the dress. For example, I bought my dress in New York City but live in Baltimore. I would have paid more than $200 in tax but with opting to ship, I will only have to pay $50.
Estimated savings: $150
Remember to be practical with gifts for the bridal party and parents. Give them something they can continue to use after the wedding or something they can enjoy with you. With that, consider alternative options to the mainstream brands when buying gifts. For example, Tiffany's is a great go-to for bridesmaid jewelry but it can completely break the bank. Instead, find a local Stella and Dot consultant for your jewelry needs. The cost is significantly less but you're still getting real metals, high quality and beautiful design.
Estimated savings: $50 per gift (up to $500 total)