7 On Your Side: Consumer Reports offers tips on how to save on weddings

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7 On Your Side: The peak season for weddings is underway with celebrations and lots of spending. Consumer Reports has tips on how to save on the big day.

The peak season for weddings is underway, with celebrations and lots of spending.

Ten thousand to $30,000 is considered low-to mid-range, so here are some tips from Consumer Reports to help keep costs down.

Jaci and Adam Fletcher did everything they could to save money on their wedding. The key, they say, was negotiating.

"Everything from my wedding dress, to the flowers, to the decorations," Jaci Fletcher said.

They also bargained with the caterer to allow them to provide their own alcohol.

"We probably saved somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 on the alcohol, just buying it ourselves," Adam Fletcher said.

Consumer Reports has just investigated the high cost of weddings and has come up with 31 ways to save.

"We found ways to save on everything from the venue and the dress, to the photographer, the food, the flowers and still have a beautiful, stylish day," said Margot Gilman of Consumer Reports.

One great way to save is to schedule the wedding for any time but Saturday night, or go for a January or February wedding. Those are the cheapest months.

And don't let vendors charge more just because it's a wedding. Consumer Reports secret shoppers found a good percentage of businesses do just that.

"In our calls, we found photographers and limo services often charged more for weddings," Gilman said.

But when asked, some businesses suggested lower-priced alternatives.

Some other ways to save:

  • Limit the entrée choices

  • Limit the hours of the open bar

  • Consider serving only beer and wine

  • Send the photographer home an hour early. A lot of guests will have left by then.

And a final tip from the Fletchers: When it comes to flowers, let your florist pick what's in season. They'll be the least expensive.

"To this day, people say it was the best wedding they've ever been to. And that feels really good," Jaci Fletcher said.

Remember to read the fine print. Consumer Reports says some contracts show caterers included a built-in tip as high as 26 percent, and one charged a $7 per person fee to cut a cake brought in from the outside.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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