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Ah, the season for pumpkin patches and freshly fallen leaves is upon us. Then it’s parkas and snow shovels for a while — but more importantly, one of the most significant events of your life is on the horizon.

It’s also going to be one that could land you up to $30,000 in the hole, if you’re the average North American bride. Luckily, you can stand out from the crowd (and out of debt’s way) by holding an off-season wedding that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Fall weddings
The leaves aren’t the only things changing. Fall is becoming increasingly popular as the choice season for holding weddings. According to a survey commissioned by XOXO Inc. in partnership with The Knot and Wedding Channel, the number of fall weddings rose six percentage points to 36 per cent in 2011 compared with 30 per cent in 2010 and 2009.

It might be because global warming is discouraging some summer brides; or it might be because fall-themed weddings can encourage some very frugal and creative ideas. Of course, let’s not forget the colourful backdrop an autumn landscape can provide for those lovely wedding photos.

Tips for holding a fall wedding

  • Stay neutral. There’s no need to be too elaborate with the decor or the venue when Mother Nature is already providing you with a colourful plethora of options for hosting your wedding.
  • Hang out with your significant other and take a power drill to gutted pumpkins to create unique centrepieces.
  • Buy stand-up bamboo lanterns from the dollar store and set them up by windows, doorways, tables and the altar — anywhere that looks good.
  • Don’t overspend on your bridal jewellery — go for pearls instead of the more blingy stuff as they’ll match your wedding’s neutral colour palette better.
  • Use colourful fall leaves and bare branches in place of expensive flowers — you can even handpick them yourself if you’re feeling up to the task.

Winter weddings
It might be a little nippy out, but your bankbook will thank you for holding a wedding in winter. According to MSN Money, the total costs for weddings held between January and March can be anywhere from 20 to 50 per cent lower than usual. Brides and grooms can save on photographers, videographers, live music, transportation, and venues just by holding their wedding in the winter months.

It’s a simple case of supply and demand — since most brides prefer a warm and gentle breeze to a frigid blast of cold wind under their veil, peak seasons for weddings fall in the spring, summer and autumn months.

In 2008, just 6.1 per cent of brides said their vows in January compared with 10.8 per cent in July, according to AFWPI.

Tips for holding a winter wedding

  • Go simple. Stick with a white and transparent theme.
  • Go to the dollar store and stock up on white floating tea candles, several clear bowls, and holiday decorations.
  • Transform rugged into ritzy by evenly coating plastic decor in glossy white spray paint.
  • If you hold your wedding after the holidays, you can score bargains on holiday decor at big department stores.
  • Instead of splurging on colourful floral arrangements, opt for baby’s breath instead. These little green stems with white pockets can look like beautiful billows of snow if used in extreme bounty.

Spring weddings
Spring is said to be the season for love. The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming and no one’s about to rain on your wedding parade — if you do it right.

As with winter weddings, many vendors offer discounts on spring weddings as they’re just before peak season and after a long lull of slow traffic.

Tips for holding a spring wedding

  • Keep it fresh. Hold an outdoor wedding at a landscaped park or choose a venue with lots of natural lighting.
  • Let the environment impress your guests and take a minimalistic approach to other aspects of the wedding.
  • Place a single trimmed daisy (one of the less expensive options at the florist shop) upright in a small pastel-coloured bowl — something you can get at the dollar store in bulk for cheap.
  • Decorate the venue, if you go that route, with vines, wicker baskets and watering pails. Keep in mind — less is more.
  • Consider that flowers, decor and accessories account for $1,193 of the average wedding budget, according to Consolidated Credit.

Have a dream wedding without the nightmarish costs
You’ll have a lot more money left at the end of your wedding just by choosing to hold it in a slower season. With all the money you save, you can splurge on that honeymoon you’ve been looking forward to — and even that will be cheaper.

According to Cheap Tickets, the most cost-effective month to visit Hawaii is in May — right before peak wedding season. February is the cheapest month to visit Ireland and the Netherlands, March is optimal for visiting Italy or Spain, and April is the most cost-effective month for a Jamaican getaway.

Now you’ll have even more to celebrate when you’re romanticizing in the hotel room with your beau.

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