The average wedding costs about $30,000. Yeeouch. By the way, that’s similar to the annual salary for a starting journalist. Double yeeouch.

Well, let’s try to cut that number down to something more reasonable.

Every wedding is unique — yours should be extra memorable — but all weddings have some key features in common. Cakes, dresses, flowers; everything becomes more expensive when it’s for a wedding. Chip away at the details in baby steps, rather than stressing about the big picture.

Keeping that in mind, let’s start from the top.

Every wedding starts with save the dates (yes, they’re necessary) and invitations. Once those are sent out, the actual wedding planning begins.

Let’s say you’re inviting 200 people to your wedding. If you choose to send out save the dates and invites from Vistaprint.com, you can spend as little as $150 on the whole package.

In comparison, the average bride-to-be spends almost $200 dollars on save the dates alone, since a popular (but expensive) choice is to send magnets (Bridal Association of America).

Boom. We’re already saving money.

The wedding dress is kind of a big deal. WeddingStats.com says the average wedding dress in 2015 cost $1,200. However, you don’t need to break the bank to stun the crowd as you’re floating up the aisle.

OnceWed.com has thousands of wedding dresses available under $800. Either the original buyer changed their mind after purchasing the dress or decided to sell it after their wedding. Either way, you’re getting a designer wedding dress at a fraction of the cost. The search can be modified not only by the basics, (size, designer, price, etc.), but also by location of the dress and its condition (new, sample, used). You’ll save up to 75 percent on any dress in stock!

The wedding cake is also big part of your day. According to WeddingStats.com, the average price tag on a wedding cake is $538. To save some dough on the sweets, ask for a smaller cake that looks amazing and will wow the crowd. Then serve sheet cake to the guests, while saving the pretty cake for pictures.

Flowers can get out of hand easily, if you aren’t careful. WeddingStats.com names the average price for flowers at more than $2,000. Communicate with your florist before you decide on flowers, as you can save big bucks by choosing seasonal flowers rather than importing.

The next two expenses that you need to watch out for are liquor and DJ’s. According to HowStuffWorks.com, the average money the couple spent on liquor for their wedding reception was $3,000. The DJ won’t help matters, as he can cart off almost $1,000 from the night, too.

Yes, alcohol at a wedding reception usually makes for a good time, so I’ll refrain from telling you to limit the liquor, because I don’t want to start a fight. However, you should make friends with a local liquor supply store and see if they can get you a deal. Can’t hurt to ask and it might save you some bucks.

Lastly, the photographer. Now this is very important, because no one wants their wedding pictures to turn out looking like Kodak prints from the drugstore.

Yes, by all means get a professional photographer for the wedding. However, consider cutting down the price by only asking them to do the wedding and not the reception, or ask them to just photograph the cutting of the cake.

Ask your guests to download an app like WedPics. They’re usually free and it allows your guests to upload their pictures from the wedding. Nice and easy, all the photos in one place for the happy couple.

Good luck and happy saving!

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