Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The florist, DJ, caterer, finding the right dress. Planning a wedding can create a ton of stress, and debt. But if you plan it right, your big day doesn't have to break the bank.
"It's great. It's a great feeling," said future bride Tiffany Hill.
It's the moment many girls dream of.
"I'm really excited. I want it to be really beautiful," said bride-to-be Erica McAllister.
Walking down the aisle and exchanging vows with their prince charming. All in front of their closest friends and family. But many find themselves waking up to reality, when the wedding planning begins.
"She's got visions of an incredible fairy tale wedding. However it costs money," said Mark Shaffer.
He's publisher of Las Vegas Bride Magazine, and as a wedding planner for nearly 20 years, he knows brides are often shocked by how quickly the cost can climb, "That's when she has to start getting real with her budget."
But the fairy tale can come true.
Contact 13 spoke with some brides-to-be at David's Bridal on West Sahara and Rancho. We found plenty are making it work, while keeping a tight grip on their cash.
"I know how to work on a budget, and I'm sticking to that," said Brittany Steiert.
She actually relocated her entire wedding from the other side of the country, in order to save money.
"The all inclusive packages here in Las Vegas are shockingly cheaper than South Carolina, and I'm able to get more for my buck," said Brittany.
So what do you need to know in order to pull off the wedding of your dreams? Mark said start by reading every document carefully. Whether it's a contract for the wedding venue, the photographer, or the band, understand what you're signing, "You want to look at things like the deposit. Is it refundable or not?"
In some cases, you can run across hidden costs, like transportation. Those tables and chairs you rented may cost more than you think, after you factor in the price of delivery. Erica is a budget-bride getting married this fall. She said she's cutting costs with a lot of do-it-yourself projects.
"I'm going to get lights to decorate the place. I'm going to do my own center pieces. Also, my friend's mom is going to make the cake," said Erica.
But remember, depending on where you're tying the knot, you could pay extra for non-approved vendors. Many locations require you to use their list of preferred caterers or florists. And seriously consider the length of your reception. If you think the party could go longer than planned, be prepared to pay the venue and your DJ a little extra.
"One of the preliminary questions you want to ask them is, do they charge for overtime," said Mark.
If you just can't afford the wedding you want, then consider cutting down your guest list. Tiffany said she's got a huge family, but is quickly learning she can't invite everyone.
"That's been the shocker, like you know, just for how many guests you want to have, versus how many can you afford," said Tiffany.
In the end, Mark said there's nothing wrong with being a thrifty bride. Just make sure you don't sacrifice the quality of your special day.
"You can cut back so far to where you're actually going to start ruining your wedding. So you want to, I think, every bride needs to be very careful on where she does cut the corners," said Mark.
Here's the Contact 13 bottom line: The average U.S. couple spends just over $25,000 for their wedding. But you don't need to spend that much for a great wedding.
Having trouble trying to come up with a realistic budget? Click here to calculate the cost of your wedding.