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What’s Worth the Investment for Your Wedding (and What’s Not)

According to a 2012 study by and, the national average cost of a wedding is $28,427. Sadly, it's hard to keep a wedding at around the $20k mark these days. However, in the wedding planning game, knowledge is power; and discerning important purchases from frivolous ones makes all the difference. The following list explains of what's worth the money—and what's not.

Worth It: Beer, Wine, and One Signature Cocktail

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Unless you (or your family) live a temperate life, you should provide some form of libations at the reception—it is a party after all! Select one red, one white, and a couple of beers. If you want to take your beverages up a notch, ask your caterer to supply one mixed drink—in a hue matching your color scheme—and give it a cute moniker. Offering one hard liquor option gives guests the feeling of being pampered with potables yet keeps the cost down for you. Finally, don’t forget about the celebratory champagne; one half-glass per guest is usually enough to cover the night’s toasts.

Not Worth It: Open Bar

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Providing guests with a fully stocked open bar is a slippery slope that leads to exorbitant costs and highly inebriated guests. Don’t feel like you have treat family and friends to a smorgasbord of spirits. Most are happy with a glass of wine—or bottle of beer—in hand to toast to you and your new life together. In fact, most are just happy to be there.

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Worth It: Appetizers

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The window of time between the beginning of the ceremony and the first course can be long—longer still if the ceremony is fairly involved and if guests are required to drive from one location to another. During this time, loved ones will get hungry, so it’s important to satiate appetites with finger foods and passed hors d'oeuvres. Besides, if you insist on having drinks before the sit-down meal, appetizers are a must, as you don’t want guests drinking on empty stomachs.

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Not Worth It: Dessert (Excluding the Cake)

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While the idea of having mini cupcakes, an ice cream sundae bar, or a decadent chocolate fountain with bite-sized dipping pieces, sounds appealing, the extra dessert isn't needed—and isn’t worth it. If you have guests who don’t like cake, they can simply pass—and I’m betting they wouldn’t think twice about it.

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Worth It: Servers

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Although some would argue against this point, I’m of the mindset that servers are incredibly valuable. Wedding guests are spared having to wait a long time at their seats before being called and trekking it to the buffet table where they have to stand and wait again. Besides, who doesn’t like being waited on? Plus, strangely enough, they’re not terribly more expensive than buffet service, where extra food is purchased and prepared since there’s no way of determining how much guests with heap onto their own plates.

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Not Worth It: Service Plates

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Service plates, commonly referred to as chargers, are decorative plates onto which dinner plates are set. Food never touches the charger, so its purpose is purely aesthetic. Undoubtedly, chargers give a table setting depth and a touch of opulence; however, these mealtime accents can cost upwards of $5 each in rental fees—that’s $750 for an average-sized wedding of 150 guests! With all the pretty and ornate options for dinner plates available nowadays, brides don’t need an extra layer of decorative dishware—or the extra expense.

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