Bride on a budget
Planning the celebration of a lifetime during the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression is a daunting task, so it's no secret that many brides are cutting back. The average amount a couple is spending on their wedding this year is down more than $5,000 from 2008, theweddingreport.com estimates.

Etiquette author and expert Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of queen of correct behavior Emily Post, assures brides that thriftiness is tasteful. "It's okay to cut back right now," she says. "Economizing isn't something to apologize for so long as you're not doing something that's hurtful to your guests."

Still, there are a few cutbacks Post suggests you avoid. "I don't like seeing cash bars," she says. "I find that inconsiderate to your guests." Other don'ts: Asking guests to help pay for wedding costs on the registry and inviting guests to the shower but not the wedding.

Here are some unique (and Emily Post–approved) ways to save:

Think Outside the Cake
A large wedding cake can run hundreds of dollars. Add in the delivery and cake-cutting fees, and your confection may burst your budget.

As an alternative, the bride and groom of a wedding Post attended in Vermont opted against tradition and created a make-your-own sundae bar. "So instead of cutting the cake, they had 'the first scoop,'" she says. "Everybody there had a great time with that."

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