The average cost of a wedding in 2010 is projected to start at $30,000. It can be scary to find that your dream wedding will cost as much as your yearly salary! My wedding, however, cost my husband and I less than $1,000. While it's not exactly easy, and does require some extra effort, it is possible to have a beautiful wedding that costs less than the car you drive. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Easy Ways To Save

1.  For a beautiful dress, don't neglect the clearance rack! My gown was originally $1100. I bought it for $100. Did I sacrifice quality? Absolutely not. It was 100% Indian silk with a cascade of tulle accented with Swarovski crystals. It was a size too big, but because it was a corset top, I was able to tie it extra tight. Tailoring can be done for a song if you shop around, and will often cost less than having a gown custom made for you. Just make sure you're purchasing up in size, not down. It's easier to take a dress in than let it out.

2. Photography is often at the top of the expenses list. Instead, call your local university's arts program and ask if there are any photography students willing to shoot your wedding. They work cheap (usually in exchange for using the shots as part of their portfolio) and will often spend more time with you, making sure you get what you want. They also have more knowledge of the latest photo-editing programs and can do some really cool stuff for your albums.

3. Have your wedding at a local park. It can cost less than $100 for a whole day, with the added bonus of playground equipment for the kids and natural decor (think beautiful flowers and greenery that you don't have to pay for!). Call your local Parks & Rec Dept. for more information on reservations.

4. Dates to avoid: Valentine's Day, June, weekends in July & early August. Vendors generally increase their prices around these dates because they know people will pay. If you are flexible, try for April, May, and September, when the weather is still beautiful, but the prices are down.

5. Check out hotel perks. Several hotels offer a free honeymoon suite, jacuzzi and all, if you book your reception with them.

6. Ask your parents to cover the cost of food as a gift if they are not paying for the whole wedding. And keep it simple. No one will remember whether you served lobster thermidor and filet mignon or chicken diane and pork medallions. We served hamburger and hot dogs at our outdoor wedding because the park where we had it had grills. Amazingly, many people enjoy this even more because there is no pressure of figuring out the right fork to use. It's a fun family and friends event. Celebrate it!

There are many other ways to save. Keep watching for more ideas. And never, ever be ashamed if you can't afford to serve Cristal, or even a decent Asti Spumante. The wedding is about you and your new spouse, not the food, the reception venue, or even the dress.

Posted by Jillian, a Dot-arilla Blogger

Pictures is of my husband and I on our wedding day!