12 ways to cut corners (with class) at your wedding

Story highlights

  • Wedding costs can quickly add up, but creative thinking can save you a bundle.
  • Don't reinvent the wheel: opt for free fonts and decorated restaurants that suit your taste
  • Online sleuthing at sites like Etsy can yield unique elements at a fraction of the price
  • Sit down with your beloved and assess your priorities to eliminate extra spending

You're engaged! Congratulations! Here's how not to go broke, and still show your guests a fantastic time.

Rank your priorities

What facets of your wedding are most important to you? Focus on areas that make your heart go pitter-patter, and you'll feel OK about skimping on the rest. As for what guests tend to remember, according to a survey conducted by St. Louis Bride and Groom magazine, 81% of guests say the entertainment is the most memorable part of a wedding.

Recruit friends

Think of it as cost-free outsourcing. Gather your inner circle, play to their strengths (e.g., assign lettering to the friend with the most beautiful handwriting), and turn the prep into a party.

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Be ruthless with the head count

Quick tips for whittling your guest list: Omit children and coworkers (making cuts categorically is less likely to cause rifts); and when it comes to couples, invite spouses, fiances, and live-ins only. Keep the numbers down for your wedding party as well: Fewer attendants means less money spent on bouquets, boutonnieres, presents and transportation.

Think out-of-the-banquet-hall

"Pick a venue that already has a chic ambience," suggests Abby Larson of wedding blog Style Me Pretty. "Restaurants are usually the best option. They have gorgeous tables and chairs, and the decor is often easy to fall in love with. You'll save an absolute bundle."

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Seek free fonts

Finding the perfect typeface that's also free is a bit like searching for the Holy Grail. Here's reason to rejoice: four decidedly un-tacky fonts that don't cost a hard-earned dime. Top row from left in slide five: Customize place cards, coasters, menus, or thank-you notes with simple Kontor serif or Lane sans serif, from dafont.com. Bottom row: Use the more stylized Monogram kk and Hoedown fonts from abstractfonts.com to stand in for a calligrapher or give a "Just Married" sign a retro Western kick.

Forgo a program

"A lot of my clients are opting for no printed program," says San Francisco wedding planner Pamela Fishman Cianci, owner of Outlined Productions. "It's an extra cost and extra stress, and it's unnecessary. The most important words are the vows, and those are never in there."

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Think monochromatic

From your invites (using one shade of ink means big savings on letterpress) to your flowers, choosing a single overall hue creates an instantly chic party at a fraction of the price. Notes Denise Vivaldo, a caterer and author of "Do It for Less! Weddings: How to Create Your Dream Wedding Without Breaking the Bank", "Color is cheap, and it can become your theme."

Take up hunting

Bargain hunting, that is. You can find everything from fabric and trim to antique Mason jars on eBay, Etsy, Craigslist or at a local flea market, for half the price and twice the charm.

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Buy in-season

"My best tip is to stay seasonal and local. I made this bouquet for $50, using anemones, parrot tulips, and ranunculus, all spring flowers," says Maxine Siu, of Stem in San Francisco.

Pick the right kicks

Buy shoes that you'll actually wear again after the wedding -- something you likely won't do with white heels. Stunners like the ones pictured above in slide 10 by Loeffler Randsall, J.Crew, and Badgley Mischka are good for the long run.

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Supersize your flowers

Choosing bigger buds means you'll need fewer stems, thereby helping your bottom line. In "Wedding Chic: The Savvy Bride's Guide to Getting More While Spending Less," author Nina Willdorf recommends blooms such as African marigolds, gladiolus, and "Stargazer" lilies, which easily fill a room.

Make your flowers work overtime

One of the simplest ways to save can also be one of the loveliest. Let potted flowering plants -- whichever ones are in season -- act as both living centerpieces and favors that guests can tote home.

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Did you save cash in any creative ways when you were planning your wedding? We'd love to hear all about it in the comments below, on Twitter @CNNLiving or on CNN Living's Facebook page!