Romantic bride with long sleeve wedding dress and pretty pink and white wedding bouquet
Photo: Megan Clouse

It's happened: the love of your life dropped to one knee (or, you know, some variation of that) and slipped a ring on your finger and all of a sudden you have a date set, a dress to find and a wedding to plan from top to bottom.

Sometimes, I hear, this can be a little bit overwhelming. Especially when it comes to one simple detail: the paycheck.

But whether you're up and rolling with money to spare or you're on a tight budget that feels like it's just getting tighter and tighter every day, there are several up-front and very easy things you can keep in mind as you begin to pin down the details that will inevitably save whomever is footing the bill at least a little bit of dough.

First, think about when you're getting married. Choosing an off-season (for example, not mid-summer or holiday weekend) date will immediately cut the costs of your desired venue, possibly quite significantly. The same goes for having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday as opposed to picking Saturday night.

The next potential savings-point involves something that is usually just a touch more emotionally charged: your guest list. However, this is also one of the quickest ways to lower the overall cost of your wedding, particularly if you're planning on a dinner-and-drinks-and-dancing reception. A note of caution - know your budget boundaries here, but keep in mind that you may have to pick your battles wisely.

Then, make sure you're using the best, most cost-effective wedding planning tools. Start with a free wedding website, then check out a budget and checklist that work for you.

Finally, something that can almost perfectly be explained by two words: contemplate cocktails. What I mean by this is that more and more people are eschewing the traditional wedding agenda in favor of personalized variations, whether that's because of a smaller budget or entirely personal preference. Think about turning your reception into a cocktail hour with drinks (insert signature beverage here!), appetizers and music. Or maybe dessert is really your thing and you want to forgo a sit-down meal in favor of chocolate torte.

In the end, even within the bounds of a budget, the sky is the limit. With a little bit of creativity, a touch of flexibility and just a pinch of planning, figuring out what your perfect day looks like and keeping your wallet in excellent shape is easier than sneaking away from your reception with a torte in your handbag.

Still not sure where to start? Begin by picking your favorite free wedding website theme