Here comes the recession-chic bride

AP/Bebeto Matthews
At the "Running of the Brides" sale at Filene's Basement in New York in February, scores of brides-to-be and their helpers searched through more than 2500 wedding gowns to find their dream dress at a fraction of the original price.

Save the sparks for the Fourth – fireworks displays at weddings are one of the extravagances going out of style during the recession.

Ditto for the diamond bridal tiaras.

June – traditionally the peak month for exchanging vows – hasn't lost its popularity among brides and grooms, but recession is forcing them to use a lot more financial savvy to celebrate "I do," says Sally Kilbridge, deputy editor of Brides magazine.

“Nobody wants to compromise the big-picture dream they had,” she says. “They’re just going to do it a little bit differently.”

That means cutting back on some of the “over-the-top gestures that were getting popular of late,” she adds.

Americans’ spending on weddings has fallen steeply since the recession began – from an average $28,732 in 2007 to $19,219 in the first quarter of 2009, according to The Wedding Report, which researches the industry.

Top cost-cutting strategies, the Wedding Report says: cutting back on wedding services and accouterments, consolidating the wedding and reception venues, and getting married by nontraditional means, such as by a justice of the peace.

Ms. Kilbridge says couples are also trimming by having smaller bridal parties (thus saving on flowers) and utilizing more do-it-yourself techniques.

Her suggestions for planning a recession-chic wedding:

•Don’t book or buy the first option that comes your way when you have several months to plan. “You’ve got the luxury of time.”

•Bargain, nicely. “Wedding vendors are not immune” to the business of wheeling-and-dealing, she says.

•Cut the guest list. “Instead of having people bring dates, you can explain, ‘This is a wedding. You’re going to meet other fun people.’ ”

Brides also offer tips for tying the knot on a shoestring on their own blogs.

From A $10,000 Wedding. Can I do it? Have a six-inch wedding cake to use as a “prop,” and let the guests eat the venue’s already-included dessert.

And from A Beautiful Wedding for Less: Order a dress from China. “There is no way that my dress looks like we only spent $225 for it,” writes the blogging bride-to-be.

– Guest blogger Taylor Barnes is a Monitor contributor.

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