How not to save on your weddingWe’ve all read the articles and browsed the slideshows on how to save money on planning a wedding. From setting a firm budget to holding the reception at home, there are countless ways to cut back and tighten your belt.

Unfortunately, not all money-saving ideas are good ones. Before you jump feet-first into discounted wedding venues and clipping coupons, here are a few money-saving tips it’s probably a good idea to avoid.

Hire Your Friends

One friend is always posting great pictures on Instagram and would be happy to photograph the wedding. Another is in the final months of culinary school and could use a catering gig. And that guy you know from college has an old barn that might be perfect for the venue. What better way to save money on a wedding than to recruit their services free of charge?

Free venues never are. There is liability to think about, restroom space, handicap access, shade!, Plus, no matter how tempting it might be, experience shows hiring friends almost always leads to disappointment, higher stress levels, and even cost overruns. Don’t hire your friends to help with professional wedding services. Even if you do pay them a small amount, it’s too easy for friendship to get in the way of you making sure you get what you want—especially if things don’t go as planned.

Experience really matters when it comes to the high level of coordination receptions require. Professionals know how to get results, navigate last-minute disasters, and work with brides and grooms who might be dealing with high levels of stress and rarely are the savings worthwhile.

Make Your Own Food

A wedding is basically a big party, right? Instead of going formal and hiring a caterer and fancy venue, why not throw together a great gathering among friends? You can make your own cake, cook the hors d’oeuvres with a few friends, and avoid all the pretense of a sit-down meal. It will be low-key and perfect for your day.

Food can make or break the evening and it is always the most talked about after your event. While wedding DIY can and does work, it is better to avoid any activity that has you working up to (and on) the day of the wedding. No bride or groom ever anticipates how much emotional drain comes from just being in the wedding, let alone planning it. Leave food to the people who really know what pleases.

If you want to do some of the work yourself, make sure it’s complete at least a week ahead so you have plenty of time to unwind. Food is one of those things that will require last-minute (and last-second) touches, so leave it in the hands of someone with wedding experience.

Have the Reception at Home

Your parents have a huge house with the perfect backyard for a reception—and they love to entertain. What better way to save money on a wedding than to skip the Utah reception hall and have the event at home?

The one thing most brides and grooms aren’t prepared for is how much preparation and clean up goes into a wedding. While the excitement of the day might make setting up and decorating seem fun, there is very little that’s fun about cleanup afterward when everyone is exhausted. Talk to any family that has done this. They will all agree it cost more in dollars and effort that they ever expected.

You also have to bear in mind that transforming a home into an event hall is a costly affair. Unless your parents also have tables and chairs, linens, serving ware, and enough decorations to go around, you’ll have to rent supplies from a vendor, which always costs more than you realize. It really isn’t a burden you want to place on your friends and family.

Find Great Last-Minute Deals

Everyone else plans their weddings months or even years in advance, and they often pay full price for services. But what happens when a couple cancels at the last minute? All of a sudden, the Utah reception hall is in a hurry to fill their space, and the caterer has a cake and nothing to do with it. Save money by snatching up these great deals at a fraction of their full cost.

There’s a reason why weddings are booked and planned months in advance—and that’s because brides and grooms need the reassurance of everything being in place and ready to go. When you’re talking about an event with hundreds of guests, there is a high level of coordination that goes into the process.

Don’t wait for things to fall into place, because chances are good that they won’t. Plan ahead, expect to pay for the services you require, and enjoy knowing that your wedding day is likely to be the most memorable 24 hours of your life.