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1. Start by considering a general budget.
Liz Means, owner and stylist of Pop Fizz Weddings, says: “I look at using 30 percent of a budget for venue, 25 percent for catering and bar, 20 percent for photography, 15 percent for coordination, 5 percent for flowers and 5 percent for rentals.” 

2. Then Customize.
Focus on what’s most important to you. “Is it a great band so people can dance? Is it a beautiful setting with a lot of décor and flowers and thought put into those tiny details? Is it an amazing, over-the-top meal with paired wines and signature cocktails?” asks Lauren Ripko, owner of Quintessential Weddings and Events. “Pick what’s most important and sacrifice in another area that doesn’t have that same level of importance.” 

3. Be Honest about your budget before you start planning.
“When we start talking to people about how much things cost, sometimes there’s a disconnect between what the groom, the bride’s parents and the bride see as a priority, and that can definitely be a source of frustration,” says Heather Dwight, owner of Calluna Events

4. Factor in a professional caterer, excellent photography and specialty décor and flowers. 
“Professional food and drink is the easiest way to make sure your event feels elegant and special—like having a server in uniform passing around hors d’oeuvres,” Means says. “And I always tell clients that great photography is the most important part of the day: It’s the only part you get to keep! As for décor, we style little vignettes to reflect the overall theme and add personality into the mix.”

5. Look for extras to cut, like menus, favors and champagne toasts.
This will pay off both in terms of budget and time. “We had a really large wedding recently in Denver where we offered champagne at the bar instead of doing a champagne toast,” Dwight says. “It actually wasn’t a money-saving piece. This couple didn’t want to encourage toasting by anybody except for the people they had designated.” 

6. But don’t skimp on servers. 
“You want to make sure you have enough wait staff passing drinks and enough bartenders to make them,” Dwight explains. “If anything, we would recommend adding wait staff and servers. Guests at a 500-person wedding aren’t going to notice if you don’t do a favor, but they will notice if they can’t find a drink, a glass of water or a restroom.”

7. Personalize.
From using websites like minted.com to having s’mores for dessert, there are more unique options out there—and ways to personalize—than ever before. “I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years and I’m still seeing new things,” Ripko says.

8. Going nontraditional? Choose a fun theme.
“I have a couple I’m working with who is only going to have about 15 guests—half of what we normally have—so they can do a luxury ‘Game of Thrones’-themed dinner party,” Means says.

9. Create smaller centerpieces for the reception.
Rather than doing a $100 centerpiece on each table, downsize the design without sacrificing impact, like having a lot of greenery instead—a décor trend for this year.

National average cost: $35, 329
Colorado’s average cost: $30,262

By the national average:
46% on venue
22% on the reception
17% on the engagement ring
9% on the ceremony
8% on the photographer
7% on the florist and décor
6% on the attire
6% on the videographer
6% on the wedding/event planner
4% on the rehearsal dinner
2% on the transportation
1% on the invitations

Source: The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Survey