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In a Recession, Get Married at the Heartbreak Hotel

Today they're expecting big wedding business in Las Vegas, as 9-9-09 is considered a lucky day to tie the knot. Vegas has always been a cheap and quick way to get married. No expensive wedding, no stressing about a guest list.

Source: 99 Cent Only Store

Nothing, however, may be as economical as a the 99 cent weddings being offered to nine couples this morning at the 99 Cents Only store in Hollywood. .

"One of the brides will get married in a gown made only from items sold at 99 Only Stores," the press release announced.

So... the dress will be made from hand towels imported from Bangladesh?

Paper doilies?

A plastic tablecloth?

I've shopped at 99 Cents Only, an experience that conjures up memories of small cans of Vienna sausages. The newly-married couples will also get a free limo ride and "a trip to a romantic Los Angeles location". If you can find a romantic location in LA that's not currently blackened by fire, please let me know.

But the couples saving boatloads of money getting married in the aisles of a discount chain are not alone in their bargain-hunting. Market research published by The Wedding Report says the average wedding costs about $22,000, and that number is down 24 percent from 2007.

Increasingly, couples are looking to cut wedding costs, sometimes in unusual ways.

For one thing, Elvis is in the house. Gig Masters, www.gigmasters.com a company which books gigs for weddings, says bookings of Elvis impersonators and other unusual acts for wedding receptions are up 17 percent this year. They're cheaper than a ten-piece band. Also, tribute acts for groups like The Beatles are up a whopping 45 percent. Gig Masters says tribute bands can cost $500 less than a traditional wedding band.

On CNBC.com now:

And then there's Vanessa Caldwell and Cole Parker. They're asking friends to pay for the whole wedding. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the two educators/entrepreneurs have set up a website called Dollar for a Wedding, asking their 75 invited guests to donate money to cover wedding costs in lieu of gifts (they've both been married before). "We don't need pots and pans," the bride-to-be tells the newspaper. So far they've raised $700, with a goal of $2,000. Two grand? That's all they need? Turns out the couple has been busy bartering away many other costs--free flowers in exchange for designing a logo for the floral business, a free wedding dress in exchange for business advice.

People this resourceful should be running GM. Put them in charge of reforming healthcare.

However, not everyone's a fan of the Caldwell-Parker plan. "Weddings are not fund-raisers," Jodi Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting tells the newspaper. The general feeling among etiquette specialists is that giving money is fine. Asking for it is not. A Brides.com survey shows 80 percent of respondents think it's tacky to ask for cash gifts, but more couples are doing just that, aided by websites like Rainfall of Envelopes. Brides and grooms are also setting up "money trees", "wishing wells", or resurrecting the old "dollar dance" which used to be popular in immigrant communities.

In some cases, they'll even take PayPal. Now THAT is romantic.

What do you think? Post your comments below!

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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