MONEY

How Married Couples Master Sex—and Money

Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex (season 2, episode 3)
Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex. Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Masters and Johnson may not have asked couples how their paychecks affected their sex life, but we did. And here's what we learned.

With the season two premiere of Showtime’s Masters of Sex debuting this Sunday, MONEY decided to dip into our own trove of data about people’s romantic lives. But while Masters sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson explored the nature of human sexual response through lab work, we dug into the matter from an angle closer to our hearts: couples’ paychecks.

As part of June’s exclusive Love & Money survey, we reported on how earning power impacts marriages, including the fights, secrets, and lies money inspires. But we also learned quite a bit about how who wears the pants in the relationship affects how often those pants come off. Here are some of the more titillating findings.

Egalitarian households where the husband and wife earn roughly the same have the most sex, with about 47% of couples reporting getting frisky at least once a week. Couples where the women earns less than her husband were more likely to do the deed at least once a month than other earning pairs. But couples where the woman outlearns her spouse were most likely to say they have sex less than once a month.

Of course, as Masters and Johnson could no doubt tell you, quantity doesn’t equal quality. So we also asked our survey respondents how satisfying their sex was.

Again, couples with similar paychecks outperformed their peers. Egalitarian marriages reported having the hottest sex of any earning pair, with more than half rating their sex life as “hot” or “very good.”

Households where the wives earn nothing were least content with their current sex lives. These pairs were most apt to say their sex life “could be better” (or “what sex life?”), with the women more dissatisfied than the men.

But women weren’t fond of the other extreme either: Women who earned more than their husbands were least likely to report a satisfying sex life, while men in those types of relationships were more likely to feel sexually satisfied than their counterparts in marriages where the wives earned less or nothing.

Across the board, men were easier to please when it came to sex, the size of their paycheck notwithstanding. More men than women said they felt satisfied with their sex lives in every single type of earning relationship.

But there was one area where men and women largely agreed: Over two thirds of husbands and wives said they check their bank balance more often than they have sex.

MONEY Love and Money

3 Questions You’d Better Answer Before Starting a Business with Your Spouse

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Defining your business roles early on can prevent fights down the road. Getty Images

Make sure you and your partner are in alignment on money, vision and business roles, says entrepreneur Allie Sarto.

When people find out that I’ve been running a company with my husband since I was 24, the reactions are always a mix of shock and wonder. “How does that work out?!” they ask us.

I’ll be honest: While it’s been a lot of fun, there have definitely been bumps along the road. We jumped in head first back in 2009 with no clear vision for what we wanted to get out of the company. We were both just along for the ride.

Now, five years in, I think I’m able to offer some advice to others who are thinking about doing something they feel passionately about with someone they feel passionately about. I’d suggest making sure you’re in alignment on these three areas before getting started:

1) How will you pay for expenses—your own and the business’s? This is arguably the most important aspect to be in agreement on from the get-go. Studies have shown a negative correlation between consumer debt and marriage quality; add in the stress of business expenses and a lack of steady household income because you’re both involved in the business, and you’re likely setting yourself up for trouble.

For every tale of an entrepreneur who makes it big after going deep into the hole with credit cards, there are dozens of other stories about entrepreneurs who are still struggling to pay off their plastic many years later.

What worked for us: We built up a six-month emergency fund before we ever left our jobs to start the new business. This absolutely saved us in the early days, since it took more than three months of hard work to earn a single penny for the new business.

Other couples I’ve talked to have had one partner stay in a full-time job while the other partner goes all in during the early days. This diversifies the risk and allows the couple to focus on building the company together without the stress of wondering how the bills will get paid. Once the company is to a point where business is consistent and the couple has been able to establish a safety net of emergency cash, both partners can commit to the business full time.

2) What is your vision for the company? A second point to be in alignment on before starting your business: your visions for your company’s future. How big do you want your company to become, and what types of sacrifices—typically time put into the business—are you willing to make to get there?

This vision will inevitably change over the years, so don’t discuss it once and consider yourself set for life. During the course of our business, we’ve had to make new decisions about whether to sell the business (we decided not to) and whether to slow down after having our first child (we decided this was the right choice).

3) What role will each of you play in the business? This may sound silly at first, but it’s important to set clear expectations of who will do what.

After meeting many other couples who run businesses together, I’ve found that in the most successful pairs, the spouses complement each other’s skill sets. For example, one is very business minded, while the other is the creative force behind the business. One might be great at managing the business behind the scenes, while the other is very good at managing client relationships.

I’d suggest making a list of roles that will need to be covered within the business, and then divvying these items out; that way, no one steps on anyone’s toes.

I’m not saying that answering these questions will prevent you from ever squabbling with your spouse about the business (if only!). But having the conversations early on can help you set the foundation for success—and prevent major disagreements from damaging your business or your marriage.

Allie Siarto is the co-founder of Fare Oak, an online women’s clothing company.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs.

MONEY Budgeting

Say Yes to a Cheaper Wedding Dress

Bride and Groom
Look great, spend less. Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography

You want this once-in-a-lifetime outfit to look great. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on your dress (or the groom's suit). Try out one of these ideas for paying less.

Couples spend nearly $30,000 on average to get married in the U.S., according to TheKnot.com. In this three-part series, we asked in-the-know wedding bloggers to share their best ideas for throwing a great party on a budget. Part one offered tips on picking the place, which is your single biggest expense (typically about half of the budget). Part two served up eight ideas for saving money on food and drink. Today’s final installment will help you score a deal on the all-important dress—and tux for the groom.

1. Make the Dress Your “Something Old”

“Shop your mom’s closet and have her wedding dress customized to fit your style, or hit up some consignment shops and see what they have. I’ve stumbled across some gorgeous raw silk wedding gowns at Goodwill that were selling for a steal (think $20 to $50). The fabric alone is worth way more than that, and you could easily take the dress to a seamstress and have her re-work the style for a fraction of the cost of a new dress. While it wasn’t my actual wedding, for a wedding shoot in Paris with my husband I wore my mom’s wedding dress from the ’60s. It has a mod vibe, so it still felt current.”— Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

2. Score the Store Sample

“If you can find a discontinued dress, you will get an even bigger savings. The shop has to get rid of the sample since they can’t order the dress after discontinuation. So you are doing the shop a favor by taking it out the door. These dresses have often been tried on before, but so has most of the clothing you buy in any store, so that shouldn’t be a deterrent.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride on a Budget

3. Hunt for Designer Discounts

“Shop sites like NearlyNewlywed.com and PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com to find designer dresses at a discount, or check out local bridal shops when they are hosting sample sales to score a major deal on your wedding dress.” — Jessica Lehry Bishop, The Budget Savvy Bride

4. Look Past the Wedding Label

“One of the best ways to save is get a white dress that is not marketed as a wedding dress. If you still want that more traditional wedding look or a more classic dress, I like to look at bridesmaid dress options that come in white.” —Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

5. Adopt a More Casual Look

If planning a beach or destination wedding, there’s no need to go all out with a wedding dress. Check the clearance racks and even consider a cocktail dress (maybe one with a bit of color). Any dress can be fancied up with a colorful sash or even a pretty crocheted vest or shrug. I mention this because I recently featured a shoot that showcased an $8 dress from Target on clearance. It could easily work for a bride that wanted to wear a dress in a pastel color. It looked beautiful with a crocheted vest over it.” — Brenda Bennett Maille, Brenda’s Wedding Blog

6. Ditch the Tuxedo

“For the guys, consider suits instead of full-blown tuxes. You can get a ton of mileage out of a good suit, and stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic sell them for not-so-staggering prices.” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

7. Go In as a Group

“Many of the major tuxedo stores will offer a group discount, and often the groom will get his tux for free with a certain number of groomsmen rentals. Be sure to ask about these discounts before ordering. Also, associates will add all accessories at the time of rental (cufflinks, pocket squares, shoes), but not all of them may be required for rental. Ask if anything can be removed. Your groomsmen might all have their own black shoes and can save money by not renting them.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride on a Budget

MONEY Kids and Money

How to Use Flex Time to Reduce Summer Child Care Costs

Father and son at the playground
With flexible work schedules, one parent can cover child care by day. Terry Vine/J Patrick Lane—Getty Images/Blend Images RM

This is the fifth of a five-part "mommy blogger" series on affordable summer child care. Here, Christy Meares of "Frugalful" shares how she and her husband have managed their work schedules to avoid hiring babysitters.

Finding childcare during the summer isn’t usually a problem for families with little ones, unless you want to save money.

The average family can spend thousands of dollars during the summer months alone on childcare—ouch!—not to mention the headache that it is to find an accredited childcare facility that will fit all your standards and needs.

My husband and I have found that the easiest way for us to save money on care for our two-year-old son during the summer is to toggle our work schedules so that one of us can always stay home with our little guy.

While my husband works during the day—he’s a lab courier—I stay home with our son and work on my freelance website design projects. When he gets home, I head to work at night at my part-time job at a movie theater. A little hectic at times, yes, but it works. And best of all, it’s free!

During the day, I have a play area set up in my office so that I can watch my son while I do my freelance design work. I bring out all his fun and educational toys so that he can play while I work. Often, he’ll occupy himself for about 30 minutes before he needs attention. When I take breaks, we go for walks to the park or play outside on his play set. When we get back inside, he often goes down for a nap and I can get a little bit of rest in, too.

Luckily, my husband and I have schedules that allow us to both care for our son. If you and your spouse already have jobs that offer different work start times or one that allows you to work double shifts to free up time later in the week, consider arranging your schedules so that you work at opposite times.

If you’re at a more standard 9-5 job, consider negotiating for a more flexible work schedule that allows you or your spouse to cover child care by each working from home for one or two days a week. That way, even if you still do need to arrange for other child care, you’ll have reduced your costs by upwards of 20%. Your boss may be more amenable if the company or department already has systems in place to allow for telecommuting. But don’t make it about what’s better for you or your family; explain to your employer why this will benefit them. You could point out that by cutting down on commuting time, you’ll have two more useful hours to work, or that you’ll have fewer office interruptions to your workflow. For help making a convincing argument, ask around to see if other employees at your job have these schedules and how they made their case.

If a more flexible work schedule is off the table, you and your partner could always turn to your vacation time. While it sucks to have to use a holiday for babysitting, you and your spouse could each take your two weeks at different times and cover child care for a month, or stagger the days off and use them once or twice a week to cut down costs over the entire duration of the summer.

Before you go rearranging your whole summer, know that this method of cost-cutting can be hard on the body. The downside to staying home while working at night is my sleep schedule can be funky at times. Luckily, I don’t work at the theater every night of the week, so I do get to rest—though on the days that I do double duty, I am often pooped!

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Christy Meares is the mom of a two year old and the creator of Frugalful, a money-saving blog for women living the pretty life on a budget. She lives in Wilmington, N.C.

 

Check out our other posts on affordable last-minute child care:

MONDAY: Hiring a college kid

TUESDAY: Bartering with family and friends

WEDNESDAY: Going to the YMCA

THURSDAY: Finding a good deal on camp

MONEY

QUIZ: Is Your Marriage Normal About Money?

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Getty Images

We asked 1,000-plus husbands and wives how they feel about love, marriage, and money. Take our quiz to find out how your answers compare -- then see what steps you can take to make the most of your money.

More Quizzes:

Liked this post? Follow @MONEY on Twitter.

 

MONEY Love and Money

5 Money Discussions You Need to Have With Your Spouse Right Now

If you and your spouse haven't yet answered these important questions, you should. Your financial life depends upon it.

This article was originally published on AllYou.com.

Couples with the best shot at marital success keep the lines of communication open—even when it means tackling a tough subject. Here are five difficult conversations all married couples should have.

1. How can we resolve different spending habits?

If you are not on the same page as your spouse with daily money decisions, you probably will not be in sync when it comes to big financial decisions. Even worse, when partners cannot agree, they might engage in financial infidelity, which ranges from occasionally hiding a shopping bag in the back of a closet to more serious offenses such as keeping a secret credit card. The three keys to a financial partnership are compromise, transparency and understanding. It’s not uncommon to look at money in a different light than your husband does. In fact, many people wind up marrying their “money opposite.” It’s important to identify your money personality and your spouse’s so you can address your differences head-on.

2. Could we care for elderly parents?
More than 65 million Americans are family caregivers. The cost of a parent’s assisted-living care averages $3,550 per month, according to the 2012 MetLife market survey. First and foremost, talk with your parents to determine what they desire. Chances are they will want to live independently for as long as possible. Hold a family summit and discuss their wishes, as well as backup options, with siblings and spouses. For instance, is it possible to rotate caregiving among your siblings? Keep in mind each family’s income and flexibility, as well as space issues.

3. What are our retirement goals?
If you and your spouse haven’t discussed retirement, you might not have much of a nest egg, or your visions of how you expect to spend your senior years might vary greatly. According to a 2012 survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 27 percent of employed people never talk about their retirement plans with family or friends. Whatever your goals, plan together.

4. Who would be our children’s guardian?
Drafting a will can give you the opportunity to designate a legal guardian for your children. If you don’t and something happens to you and your spouse, a judge will appoint someone—and it might not be the same choice you would have made.

5. What are our wishes for end-of-life care?
Well-publicized disputes such as the Terri Schiavo case illustrate the importance of designating someone to make health-care decisions if you cannot make them yourself. Many couples avoid this talk because it’s unpleasant, but it’s crucial to discuss the quality of life you would want should one of you be incapacitated. Whatever your wishes, talk them out and declare them in a living will in order to avoid legal battles between family members.

Check out these other articles from AllYou.com:

How to Start Couponing

Free Health Programs at 6 Supermarkets

Money Saving Tips for Buying the Best Refrigerator

 

MONEY Kids and Money

How I Bargain-Hunted My Way to a Deal on Summer Camp

Students bowing after on-stage performance
A great camp experience doesn't have to be expensive. Cue the applause... Dirk Anschutz—Getty Images

This is the fourth of a five-part "mommy blogger" series on affordable summer childcare. Here, Lisa Carey of Money Saving Parent shares how she was able to give her kids the camp experience, without the typical camp price tag.

Summer time has officially arrived, which means that many working parents are now frantically looking for fun and affordable summer child care. The words “camp” and “affordable” aren’t often used in the same sentence, but I’ve found summer camps can be inexpensive—if you deal hunt.

But first, let me address the alternatives: In-home childcare in my area of Houston runs $10 an hour for two children. Sure, I would love to have someone here at home to watch them and make their lunch and take them to the pool, but based on a normal 40-hour week I would be paying $400. That’s $4,800 for a 12 week summer. Daycare in my area ranges from $900 to $1700 a month. Multiply that by two, add on summer field trip fees, and I may as well quit working for the month, because I will be spending most of my income on child care costs.

If you can believe it, my husband and I have found that summer camps not only helped us save over these other options, but provided our kids with some really great experiences.

My first secret: Checking discount deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, which sometimes offer summer camps with steep cuts off the regular price.

For example, my daughters really wanted to attend a robotics camp, and unsurprisingly technology camps are expensive. In our case it was $399 a child for a camp that ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I wasn’t going to fork over almost $800 to send my two girls there for a single week, but I still wanted to give them the chance to try out something they were interested in, especially something in the math and science field.

So I started searching for a cheaper option, and that’s when I found a Groupon discount promotion for the program. We were able to save over 50% with our online coupon, cutting our costs down to $318 for both girls, or less than the sticker price for one child.

My second secret: Look to local churches and schools, which often host some of the least expensive camp options and yet as part of their mission provide volunteers, teachers or paid personnel who have training and experience.

A local church offers an amazing music camp for just $90 per week per child, from 9 am to 3 p.m. My children not only enjoy the music experience but also learn during special sessions: One is taking a guitar class while the other is learning set design and production. At the end of the week, the camp puts on a performance for friends and family in the evening, so that everyone can attend. I may have to pack their lunch, but the total cost of this particular camp is only $180 for both girls, saving me more than $200 in weekly summer childcare expenses over a sitter or upwards of $500 vs. a daycare.

Both camps offer additional hours both before and after the camp for a nominal fee, so parents who don’t have a flexible schedule can still take advantage of these opportunities during the summer. Most camps will offer this option, just be sure to check how much extra it will be to make sure it’s still a good deal.

This is my fifth year using summer camps instead of traditional child care and baby-sitting options. Not only do I save money each month, but the children also get the opportunity to pursue a number of different activities that we may not have the time or the budget for during the school year. Now that’s summer fun!

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Lisa Carey is a mom to four children ranging in ages from 7 to 27, a freelance writer, social media maven and blogger. You can find her saving for tomorrow and living for today on Money Saving Parent. She also shares parenting tips in her Houston Family column on Examiner.com.

Watch for other topics this week on affordable last-minute child care:

MONDAY: Hiring a college kid

TUESDAY: Bartering with family and friends

WEDNESDAY: Going to the YMCA

FRIDAY: Negotiating with your boss for flex time

MONEY Budgeting

Wine and Dine Your Wedding Guests for Less

Signature Cocktails
With a fun signature cocktail, you can skip other hard liquor. Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography

The average bride and groom fork over $66 per guest on food and drinks alone. Learn a few tricks for getting that tab down, way down.

Couples spend nearly $30,000 on average to get married in the U.S., according to TheKnot.com. In this three-part series, we asked in-the-know wedding bloggers to share their best ideas for throwing a great party on a budget. Part one offered tips on picking the place, which is your single biggest expense (typically about half of the budget). Part two below serves up eight ideas for saving money on food and drink. Coming tomorrow: the all-important dress.

1. Entertain Off-Hours

“Skip a sit-down dinner and have a cocktail reception with only hors d’oeuvres, or just have a punch and dessert reception. If your wedding isn’t happening at mealtime, who is going to complain about getting to eat a bunch of delicious desserts or snacks?” — Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

2. Make Your Bar Sparkle

“Oh man, options are endless! Aside from potluck or self-catering, think picnics with finger foods or brunch with a mimosa bar. The earlier time will save you on liquor and dinner-like meal costs. For a mimosa bar—could even be a Bloody Mary and mimosa bar—buy a case of $5 sparkling wine and a decent vodka and the fixings in bulk at Costco. Set them out in a pretty arrangement, and let guests help themselves. Considering that open bars can run in the thousands of dollars, this is a very affordable option that covers a multitude of bases, and allows for ‘virgin’ options of the drinks, since it’s a build-your-own type of deal. Never be afraid to buy beer and wine at Costco or Sam’s Club.” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

3. Truck It In

“An idea for more laid-back and less formal affairs is food trucks. They are so fun and are a great alternative to the stale concept of a buffet. Hire several to offer guests a mix of different flavors, and have a few dessert trucks on hand too! I’ve seen a wedding where a food truck that made doughnuts was brought in after the reception. They add a fun and different touch. And because food trucks will save you from a sit down meal, you won’t need to pay for servers. Unless you get several food trucks, this is probably best for weddings with a smaller guest list.” Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

4. Add Your Signature

“If you decide to have an open bar, you can limit what is available. You can restrict it to beer and wine only, or add house liquors. If top-shelf liquor doesn’t fit your budget, don’t serve it. Your guests won’t mind. If a complete open bar doesn’t fit in your budget, consider beer and wine plus a signature cocktail. Name it after the couple, incorporate local flavors, anything can make it really unique. And, if all else fails, close the bar for an hour during dinner and save yourself a bunch of money.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride On a Budget

5. Feed Fewer Folks

“Simply put, food and beverage is meant to be consumed by your guests, right? So it’s logical that the more guests you have, the more money you’re going to spend. If you need to cut your costs (or just want to get the most bang for your buck), then start by taking a look at your guest list. Make cuts there first so you won’t have to make severe cuts to your food and beverage budget.” — Lauren Grove, Every Last Detail

6. Order In

“Consider choosing a local restaurant to prepare food for your wedding. Sometimes their prices are cheaper than a traditional wedding caterer.” — Jessica Lehry Bishop, The Budget Savvy Bride

7. Skip the Steak

“Many sit-down weddings give options for entree choices, and one of those is almost always steak. Don’t feel pressured to serve a filet mignon over a prime rib. The filet option can add around a $10 per head cost, regardless of if your guests choose it. Make delicious choices for the cocktail hour and your guests won’t even think about the cut of meat at dinner.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride On a Budget

8. Bring Your Own Bottles

There are a variety of ways to DIY the bar. You can totally do it yourself by buying your own alcohol and mixers, and then hiring people, like college students, to serve. You can do a half DIY, where you buy your own alcohol and then the caterers provide the bar set-up and servers. We did this for our wedding, and it was great. All we had to do was buy the alcohol and drop it off at the venue, and we saved so much since venues sell alcohol at a huge markup. They will charge maybe $10 a cocktail, where you can make it for $4.” — Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

 

MONEY Taxes

Same-Sex Couples Need a Good Accountant More Than Ever

Just Married car with flowers
James Baigrie—Getty Images

Now that the IRS recognizes gay marriages, all newlyweds have to tackle new tax rules come filing time.

Soon after last June’s Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the IRS ruled that same-sex couples legally married in any state must file federally as married, starting with the 2013 tax year. That holds true even if you live in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

So gay couples getting married this year will have to decide whether to file jointly or separately next April. Or if you were married last year or earlier and filed for an extension for 2013, you have until Oct. 15 to sort this out. “Most married people are better off filing a joint return,” says CPA Paul Herman of White Plains, N.Y. That’s because married couples filing separately miss out on a bunch of write-offs, including educational tax credits, the student loan interest deduction, and the ability to claim child- and dependent-care costs.

In a few circumstances—say if one spouse makes far less and qualifies for a generous write-off like the deduction for medical expenses—filing separately might lower your tax bill. Test both methods to be sure, says Herman.

Switching from two single returns to one joint return could raise or lower your total tax bill, so you may want to adjust how much is taken out of your paycheck by filing an updated Form W-4 with your employer. If marriage means a name change, alert the Social Security Administration well before you file your taxes to ward off a potential problem with your return.

Long-married gay couples may want to look into amending past federal returns, if you haven’t already. You can do so for up to three years after the return was filed, or two years after the tax was paid, whichever is later. But high earners are probably better off keeping those old single returns, says Melville, N.Y., CPA David Frisch. That group can be hit by the “marriage penalty,” which subjects more of your income to taxes than if you filed as two singles.

Also, the IRS rules do not apply to state tax returns. If you live in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage, you will still have to file an individual state return for each spouse. The laws are still a patchwork (and one that frequently changes), as this map from the Tax Institute at H&R Block shows.

State laws for same-sex marriage
H&R Block

 

What’s more, as this report from the Tax Foundation illustrates, in those states that don’t recognize gay marriage, the rules for how to figure your state taxes vary widely. Bottom line: When you get back from your honeymoon, call your accountant.

 

MONEY

8 Ways To Throw a Memorable Wedding for Less

Outdoor wedding venue under a tree
On average, couples spend $13,385 on the wedding venue. Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography

With the busy June wedding season drawing to a close, it's time for couples looking to marry next year to get going. To jump start your planning, check out these novel ideas from savvy insiders.

Updated on June 26, 2014.

Couples spend nearly $30,000 on average to get married in the U.S., according to TheKnot.com. In this three-part series, we asked in-the-know wedding bloggers to share their best ideas for throwing a great party on a budget. Up first today: the place, which is your single biggest expense (typically about half of the budget). Coming tomorrow and Friday: Food and drink, and the all-important dress.

1. Book a Table (or 10)

“Renting a restaurant can sometimes be an incredible cost saver, and chances are you’ll be able to find one that fits your style (and taste buds). For my wedding, we found this great old French home that is a restaurant on the Mississippi Coast. It even had our color-scheme, white with touches of green. Because it was a restaurant, we didn’t have to pay extra for tables, chairs, tablecloths, silverware, and wait staff. We only paid for food. We didn’t even have to pay the normal fee for renting a restaurant, because we had it in a small side courtyard and the restaurant stayed open the whole time. I think we saved around $4,000 doing it this way than if we’d had it at a more traditional venue. This works best for more intimate weddings. We only had 40 people at ours.” — Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

2. Stay Away From the Peak

“A day in June will command a higher price than a day in January. If you are able to keep your date flexible, you should be able to save between $1,000 and$1,500, or even more if you opt for a weekday instead of weekend. Because it’s an off-peak time, you may also be able to get a lower rate for some vendors, like a wedding band. Your guests may also thank you for the winter wedding, as airfare and hotel rates for on off-season destination will be lower as well.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride On a Budget

3. Be a Savvy Decorator

“Look for in-season blooms. Re-use bridesmaids bouquets for reception decor. Or skip flowers altogether! Use candles and Chinese lanterns to set the mood, and ribbon for a little extra oomph. Know a bride who is getting married around the same time you are or one who is using the same event space? Go in with her to share decorations! Everyone saves!” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

4. Stick to One Place

“The wedding industry can pressure you into thinking you need a great creative place for the ceremony and another great creative space for the reception. But there is no reason to pressure yourself to have two separate places. Your guests are not going to care if it’s in the same location, and while they will travel to both spaces for you, they will probably be relieved you saved them another car trip. If you do marry in a church, you obviously can’t have the reception in the same space as the ceremony, but check if the church has a reception hall. They’re often underused and really nice.” — Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

5. Don’t Be Shy About Borrowing

“Most venues host events other than weddings and may have items in storage for those occasions that you can borrow for free. My wedding was beach-themed and for the centerpieces I wanted hurricane lamps with floating candles. When I described what I was picturing to staff, they brought almost the exact same centerpieces out of storage and let me use them. Another friend wanted string lights, and when she asked the venue for recommendations on where to rent some, they already had them in a closet.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride On a Budget

6. Lean on Your Friends

“If you know you’ll have lots of extra hands willing to help on your wedding day, consider going the DIY route on flowers. My biggest advice would be to keep it simple. Choose only one or two varieties of flowers. It’s hard to make a bouquet of creamy white peonies and hydrangeas look bad.”— Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

7. Buck Tradition

“Consider having your wedding in a local park (check permit limitations), library, movie theater, or museum. The less they hold standard events, the better chance you may be able to negotiate a really stellar price. Consider what you and your fiance love doing and explore from there.” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

8. Think of Everything

“When you book a venue, be sure to find out what ‘extras’ are included. The ‘cheapest’ venue might come without tables, linens, silverware, and many other items that you will need to rent. A full service venue can save you money—and save you from having to coordinate multiple vendors. A friend rented a beautiful courtyard and loft. But the outdoor courtyard had no lighting, a problem for nighttime dancing, and the venue only had seating for 80, despite fitting 120. So my friend needed to rent lights and seating for 40. What had initially seemed like the best deal quickly became as costly as other venues.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride on a Budget

Update: Tip No. 4 from Meg Keene was changed from the original published version.

 

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