Editor's note: The following is a guest post written by Colin Cowie, wedding planner and lifestyle guru. This week Colin teaches us how to cut back on the wedding budget.

Every wedding has the same basic elements; it's how all the elements are utilized that can mean the difference in breaking the bank or staying within your means.

  • Let's start with invitations and think out of the box. Check out the online site Cocodot for great invitation ideas that not only save time and money, but save the planet as well. We live in an electronic world, so why not take advantage of it and send invitations electronically? You may need to have a few invitations printed for grandparents and relatives who are not tech-savvy, but if you count more than 40 family and friends who don't check email regularly I'd be surprised.

To see the rest of Cowie's helpful money-saving hints, keep reading.

  • Next, flowers: Expensive blooms aren't the only way to decorate. Inexpensive materials such as baby's breath, carnations, and even Gerbera daisies are stunning when used on their own or en masse. The secret is to keep them pure and not mix any other flower materials with them.
  • Beverages are a budget item that can suck down your money, literally, and quickly. You've invited friends and family, and part of being host is providing food and drink. Instead of a full bar, offer a signature drink — alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Delicious sangria, bellinis made with Prosecco, trays of pre-poured martinis, wine spritzers: It's your call. Make a selection ahead of time and negotiate the price with the caterer or banquet hall. No need for them to stock the bar with every type of alcohol ready to satisfy every whim.
  • Finally, the wedding cake itself: A towering multi-tiered confection is not only expensive, but also quite often not very delicious. Baking a wedding cake is an art and rather than pay an artist for their time and expense, delicious cupcakes arranged in a tower are stunningly beautiful, and there's no sacrifice to you or your guests. Instead of a cake cutting, have a candle lighting ceremony and invite your closest friends to come and light a candle on your wedding tower, ultimately illuminating the entire confection.

How did you cut back on your wedding budget? To get more of Colin's wonderful wedding recommendations, sign up for his newsletter, Colin Cowie Wedding Notes.

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