Local wedding planners share their tips for achieving a classy event that's on-budget.

Planning a wedding is certainly a joyous time for families, but it can also be stressful when weighing actual costs against your budget. Columbus Weddings asked local experts for a few suggestions on cutting expenses without sacrificing style.

Enlist a Professional

Emily Messinger, wedding events manager at the Athletic Club of Columbus, says there are several ways to get the look you want for your celebration without going over budget. She recommends investing in a wedding planner, which “can actually end up saving you more money in the long run, because they can help pair you with the right vendors and keep you on budget,” she says.

Jamie Rapavy, owner of Columbus Bride & Groom, echoes this sentiment. “Wedding planners know what things cost and can make sure you are not paying too much for any service or items along the way,” she says. It is also possible that wedding planners can get discounts from vendors they use regularly, which can be passed onto clients, she adds.

Consider Venue and Date

Local planners agree that your wedding date can determine the event cost. Spring, summer and fall tend to be peak wedding season in Ohio, whereas winter is less popular—and therefore less expensive. It can also be more affordable to get married on a Friday or Sunday instead of a Saturday, says Lori Fiske, customer relations manager at the Columbus Athenaeum.

Fiske adds that when it comes to the venue, she recommends a location that offers all-inclusive packages so you do not pay à la carte for catering, beverages (including alcohol) and décor. Here, choosing a wedding package saves money and makes planning easier. “Couples are working through one cohesive vendor versus multiple vendors,” Fiske explains, adding that most venues have preferred vendors who understand event logistics and requirements for that location to cover what the venue can't, which keeps things running smoothly throughout the day.

Choosing an all-inclusive package will help you know if you are able to stay within your identified budget, because most venues provide a per-person estimate based on your guest count. (Fiske recommends asking that sales tax and service fees be included in your estimate, so you are not surprised by any last-minute costs.) Rapavy suggests comparing estimates from multiple venues to make sure you know exactly what you are getting for what you will spend.

Rethink Fashion and Décor

Messinger likes to remind brides to be open-minded during the dress shopping experience. “You do not have to get your dress from a boutique,” she says. “There are so many beautiful dresses at places like David's Bridal that can save you hundreds of dollars.” She adds that finding a dress that doesn't require a lot of alterations will save money, too.

Rapavy and Fiske also cite the popularity of do-it-yourself décor. “Plan ahead and have plenty of time for DIY projects you would like to do,” says Rapavy. Fiske has seen couples opt for feather arrangements instead of flowers or use brooches for bouquets, which also provides a unique, stylish look for your bridal party.

While DIY planning can save money, it can also add up if you take on too many projects. Determine which part of the experience is most important (a ceremony backdrop or centerpieces at the reception, for example) and invest more time and resources on those items. Fiske recommends finding a few focal points throughout your reception venue where you can make a big statement with just a few pieces of homemade décor.

It is also helpful to keep in mind that you can choose a venue, like the Athletic Club or Athenaeum, that does not require a lot of additional decoration. “A space that has a lot of historical character or interesting architecture does not need much to make an impressive statement,” says Fiske.

Get Creative

Rapavy says she has seen so many couples think of great ways to save money without giving up on their desired aesthetic. For example, one couple had an outdoor barn wedding and used hay bales for seating instead of renting chairs. She says couples are also getting more creative about table design. Instead of using flowers on reception tables, which can get expensive quickly, couples are using vintage books, tea cups or collections of candles and vases to create an intimate dining setting for guests.

Wedding budgets can be stressful, but with a little creativity and flexibility, it is possible to stay on track for both your wedding and your wallet.