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How to Plan a Dream Wedding on a Budget

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Wedding experts said a lot of couples make the mistake when planning a wedding of inviting beyond their means. Reduce the guest list to cut costs. Wedding experts said a lot of couples make the mistake when planning a wedding of inviting beyond their means. Reduce the guest list to cut costs.
Experts also said the bride's wedding dress will be about 10 percent of the budget. Experts also said the bride's wedding dress will be about 10 percent of the budget.

By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- It's that time of the year to celebrate love, and, for many couples, Valentine's Day is also the day they become engaged, but saying "I do" can be pricey, especially in this tough economy.

However, one couple found there is a way to have their dream wedding while staying within a budget.

Meredith Gregory and Eric Smith met five years ago and say it was love at first sight.

"You always watch those chick flicks and think it's going to happen to you. But I never really thought that was really true," Meredith said.

The couple considered eloping to save money, but then they were offered a free wedding.

"It's great. It's in the hands of other people, and they know what they're doing," Smith said.

But the free wedding came with a hitch. All the details-- from the china to the chairs-- are left to local vendors.

The idea is to use Meredith and Eric as an example to show couples how to have their dream wedding, but on a reduced guest list. Brent Patterson, with Marianne's Rentals, said couples break the bank when they invite beyond their means.

"I think it's important to say every person you're looking at if someone looked at you and said based on your vision of what you want every guest that attends your reception is going to cost you $1 to $200. It makes you look at it differently," Patterson said.

And the dollars quickly add up. Right now, the average cost of a wedding in Oklahoma is $20,000 to $30,000.

Meredith's designer dress came with a price tag of $2,500.

"I think it's always great to be honest about your budget I mean in the scheme of things, your wedding dress is about 10 percent," said Jane Kelly, JJ Kelly Bridal & Formal Wear.

For Meredith's mother, the sight was priceless.

"It's a good thing, a very good thing, and to know that she's happy," said JoEda Gregory, mother of the bride.

When the big day finally arrived, to reduce costs, the wedding and reception were held at a friend's house. Also, the guest list was reduced and only 50 invitations were mailed out.

After five years of dating, Meredith and Eric were finally husband and wife, but how much would their dream day have cost?

Among the expenses: $2,300 for flowers, the photographer and videographer would cost $3,900, the cake was $800, a little more than $1,550 would cover the catering, and then there were the extra touches.

"I think the personalization at an intimate wedding is what is so fun," said Bea Penhall, About Last Night Event Planning.

Meredith and Eric love movies, so a popcorn bar was added for $450. A soda and coffee bars completed the reception's sweetness at a cost of a $1,000.

Altogether, the big day totaled almost $25,000.

It turned out to be a picture perfect day.

"It was magical," Meredith said.

Magical and within budget.

Eric and Meredith's wedding will be featured in an upcoming issue of the Brides of the Oklahoma magazine.

Here are some great websites to help anyone plan a wedding on a budget:

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