Summer is just around the corner, and that means the peak wedding season is too. If you or your child is planning a wedding, get your checkbook ready.
After plummeting in the wake of the financial crisis, spending on nuptials resumed its rise in 2010, and is once again approaching record levels.
The average cost of a wedding is as high as $28,400 by one estimate, and close to $26,000 by another. And depending on where you live, like the Big Apple, average costs can top $70,000. That's higher than the median American household income.
If you are determined to keep your wedding costs in check despite the various pressures to spend big, here are a slew of suggestions.
Size matters. "The number one thing you can do to keep your wedding costs down is to keep your guest list down," said Dena Davey, director of marketing for the Association of Bridal Consultants.
Average spending per guest reached $204 in 2012, according to the wedding website theknot.com, which conducts an annual survey of wedding costs.
If that sounds like a lot, remember that each invitee gets an invitation, a catered meal, a piece of very pricey cake, and a whole lot of champagne—and that's without a lot of frills.
(Read More: How to Tie the Knot on a Shoestring)
So the potential savings from a smaller ceremony are clear.
Another way to save is to be flexible about timing. Saturday evening weddings tend to be the most expensive, Dena Davey said, since they usually involve a dinner reception and event spaces often charge more for that time.
"Fridays and Sundays are really popular right now," added Davey.
June and December are the most popular months for weddings, so vendors may be more willing to negotiate if you are talking to them at other times of the year.
Time of day can make a big difference too. A buffet lunch is less expensive to provide than a sit-down dinner—and appetizers and champagne in the afternoon cost even less.
The Internet is your frenemy when it comes to wedding planning. Websites like Pinterest are full of enticing images of all kinds of wedding paraphernalia—with no price tags attached.
There are also lots of sites that point to ways to save. Bridalbrokerage.com lets you buy up the fixings from weddings that got cancelled, and tradesy.com offers a range of almost-new wedding dresses.
Projectwedding.com offers tips on how to resell things, like unused table linens.
It's possible to spend a bundle on flowers for a wedding, when you realize that you'll need blooms for the bride, the ends of the aisles, the centerpieces, and more.
If you stick with flowers that are in season, your costs will come way down. Even November offers calla lilies, and March is a fine time for freesia.
And within the season, be careful what you choose. Peonies can be even more expensive than roses.
If you are at all handy, you can save significantly by creating some of your wedding items yourself. For example, numerous websites offer options for printing your own invitations and and save-the-date notices.
Shawn McMurray, CEO and Founder of theweddingreport.com, said that while prices on many of the custom items you'll buy, like a gown and veil, are on the rise, "things that can be easily commoditized," like invitations and linens, "I've seen them come down."
You can also use the Web to help you personalize your big day. Sites like etsy.com and wedzu.com allow you to cut out the middleman and purchase handmade items on any price scale, working directly with designers.
You don't have to spend a fortune on an elaborate catering hall. There are many other kinds of places where you can have a lovely ceremony or reception.
In the right season, municipal parks and beaches can be great options—and they offer a beautiful backdrop for your photos as well. Churches usually have reception halls where you can celebrate after you exchange vows. Some restaurants can host wonderful receptions as well.
There is no law saying you have to serve surf and turf. An informal menu of comfort food, like macaroni and cheese or even sliders, can add an element of fun.
If your heritage includes an exotic cuisine, serving some of your favorite dishes helps to personalize your event. Looking for a wedding favor? How about purchasing italian cookies from your favorite bakery, dividing them up into little baggies, and adding ribbon and a wedding tag label to personalize.
The biggest savings suggestion? Focus on what you're doing, not the things you'll have around you. Perfect flowers or not perfect flowers, your wedding day is likely to be magical.
(Read More: These 4 Companies LOVE Wedding Season)