Creative ways to save on your wedding

(MoneyWatch) We've talked about prenups and renting the wedding, now I want to address some creative ways to save. In 2012, the average wedding cost over $28,000, according to The Knot. Here's your five-step guide to getting hitched without breaking the bank.

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1. By the numbers

First, create a budget you're comfortable with and stick to it. This means taking pen to paper, prioritizing your wishes and making some tough decisions. If you just go in with just a general idea of a grand total, there's no way you'll actually stick to it.

2. Any day is a good day

Instead of the traditional Saturday service, think about having your reception on a Friday or a Sunday. You can frequently save a large percentage. Also, scheduling your wedding for an off-peak time (November or January through March) will buy you some negotiating power.

3. Decor-it-yourself

Many couples are opting to choose seasonal, locally sourced flowers for the reception. Your florist's bill will be lower without the need to track down hard-to-find blooms and your décor will tie in the season. Also, go green: Opting for more greenery and less blossoms spells savings. If you want to take it one step further, you could make your own centerpieces after ordering wholesale flowers from places like freshroses.com. Also think about alternative centerpieces like lanterns or votives suspended on branches in lieu of traditional (and pricey!) flower arrangements.

4. Eat, drink and be very on budget

With The Knot reporting the average number of guests at 139, the food is one of the most expensive line items of a wedding's overall budget. A daytime reception means lunch or brunch -- far more budget friendly than dinner -- and decidedly English. If you want to stick to the evening hours, a great way to save on liquor -- a big ticket item -- is to forego the open bar and serve just beer, wine and signature drink. Not only will it personalize your reception, it will cut liquor costs dramatically.

5. Don't be a bridezilla

It always pays to be nice. Vendors are in a unique position to offer you discounts, and a demanding bride-to-be is not going to score them. It sounds counterintuitive, but a wedding planner could help you save. Price out planners in your area and ask them how they could help you save. Not only do they have experience working with brides on budgets, but they frequently have long-term relationships they can leverage to cut your bottom line. Of course, a planner will cost you; If you don't think the cost/savings ratio will work out in your favor, be your own planner. Apracticalwedding.com has nearly a dozen spreadsheets to help you navigate everything from your guest list to a timeline for the big day.

  • Mellody Hobson

    View all articles by Mellody Hobson on CBS MoneyWatch»
    Mellody Hobson is President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts. Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News and CBSNews.com.