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Money Matters - Couples & Money: The Wedding

BOSTON (CBS) - It's almost June and that means weddings.


Weddings are a $100 billion industry. Average cost of a wedding today in the U.S. is just a little over $24,000. And here in the Boston area, weddings cost more.

And that does not include the honeymoon! This can add easily another $10,000 to the bottom line. Couples will spend an estimated $7 billion on honeymoons this year. Many of these couples or their parents are going into debt to create the perfect wedding.

Add that debt to school loans and many newly married couples have a negative net worth that will take them years to work into the positive column.

There has to be a better way to start your new life together. Couples can do a variety of things to save money. I've listed the most expensive items for a wedding and how you can save.

1. Receptions:  Couples are opting for a more intimate setting with just close friends and family. Obviously if you are the youngest of 10 and he's the oldest of six and your mother has seven brothers, just the family will fill the church! The reception will be the biggest expense. What can you do to keep food, alcohol and venue costs down? A wedding at home? In your parent's garden? In a park? The beach at sunset? Skip dinner in favor of finger foods. Serve only wine and beer or just a wine punch.

2. Wedding Gowns:  Do something simple. Look for a cocktail dress or consider the Filene's Bridal sale. The next one scheduled is June and it's in New York. They held one in March for Boston. Prices start at $249 and the most you'll pay is $699. There is David's Bridal shop where you can get a dress for under $200. Other cheap sites:,

Buy a used wedding gown; at a yard sales, Craig's List or eBay. Then put it up for sale several weeks after the wedding. There may be some sentimental value to the gown, but most grooms rent their tuxedo. Here are more websites for finding the perfect cheap dress. , You can also rent a wedding dress.

3. Pictures:  They could cost thousands of dollars. Is there an amateur photographer among your friends or family? Someone that you would entrust the day with? How about digital pictures? Do you need a video of the day? Could cousin Vinnie do a video for you?

4. Wedding Cakes:  Go for a small cake, an 8 or 9-inch size that you can do the traditional cutting of the cake together and then serve fancy cupcakes. Wedding cakes are priced by the slice some as high $6 a slice. You can get a great cupcake for under a buck or have your Aunt Mary make the cupcakes.

5. Honeymoon:  Choose some place inexpensive; The Berkshires, the Cape, the rest of New England or Canada. Save the Hawaiian trip for your 10th anniversary.

6. Engagement Rings:  Do you need one? Average cost close to $5,000. That's a lot of money for something that sparkles and needs to be taken off when you make meat loaf! Makes a great future anniversary gift! And if you get one make sure tis insured properly.

One more thing: I found you could buy wedding insurance. They insure everything else why not weddings? Wedding cancellation or liability insurance for $200 to $1000 per event.

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