My big, fat, bargain wedding: Other ways to save with the Web

My big, fat, bargain wedding: Finding a venue | Choosing a caterer | Combining finances | How much should you pay for a dress? | Deciding on entertainment

This is the sixth part of a series on wedding planning on a reasonable budget. I hope you will join me on this journey of orchestrating the ideal wedding — without overspending.

Ah, June. The start of the summer wedding season. Though we’re still struggling economically, Atlantans shelled out an average of $26,094 to get hitched last year.

And that’s below the $27,000-plus national price, according to a study by websites theKnot.com and Weddingchannel.com.

“As things are starting to recover and we’re seeing the royal wedding and Kim Kardashian’s wedding, people are starting to spend more again,” said Kristin Koch, a senior editor at theKnot.com. But that doesn’t mean all couples are throwing frugality out the window.

Grayson bride-to-be Danielle Crosby cut spending in several areas, starting with her Casablanca dress. “I found it at a boutique selling for $1,100,” she said, “then just searched online to find it used for half off” from PreOwned WeddingDresses.com.

The administrative assistant also compared wedding-industry businesses with conventional retailers to find the best prices on bubbles, cake-toppers, ring-bearer pillows and other items. She found the best prices on what she wanted at PartyCity.com.

Daily deal sites have also changed the landscape for brides, offering steep discounts for services that can typically exceed hundreds or thousands of dollars.

“I bought a package off Groupon for my flowers,” said Crosby, who’s getting married in September. “I am getting $1,200 worth of wedding party flowers for $500.”

“There’s certainly a move toward buying all these luxury items at a discount,” Koch said, with a warning: “Once you book, you’re locked in. There are no refunds.”

Crosby also saved money on invitations by printing hers at home — paper for invitations and response cards cost $55 — and ordering postage from Zazzle.com.

“Zazzle always has a discount, and typically free shipping. I hit the jackpot when Zazzle emailed me a coupon to get $8 off postage sheets. I ended up getting $85 worth of postage for $45.”

Koch, though, suggests considering postage on the front end of the invitations process.

“If you choose a ton of enclosure cards, that’s going to up the cost,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s going to weigh a lot, but it will affect how much it’s going to cost you to send them.”

The same goes for oversize or oddly shaped invitations.

A lot of couples are also saving on honeymoon costs, opting for “mini-moons” — shorter, sometimes domestic trips.

“We found that in 2010, 42 percent of couples were taking mini-moons instead of honeymoons,” Koch said. “It doesn’t really matter where you go. It’s about relaxing, being together and celebrating.”

How did you save on your wedding?

Coming next: Cakes and more

More: Wedding spreadsheet | Wes Moss: The cost of the royal wedding — and yours | Clark Howard: Don’t go into debt for your wedding | Say ‘less!’ to the dress

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

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