Top Affordable Wedding Tips

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Here are a few things I didn't know when I proposed to my girlfriend last year:

The average American wedding costs over $27,000 before taking the honeymoon--$53,000 if you live in Chicago like me. Most of us will entertain over 140 guests and have a wedding party of at least ten, all of whom will need a new dress, tie or token of some sort for the ceremony.

Over 2.3 million couples will get married this year, most of whom will compete for a Saturday in September. If they can't get that they're willing to settle for October. An average rehearsal dinner alone will cost more than $1,000.

Why am I telling you all of this? In part it's because these are all facts I didn't fully appreciate when I decided to propose on the first month of a year-long trip around the world. Laura and I had the brave idea that we would coordinate everything via Skype and e-mail from south Asia, which pretty quickly ran into the hard realities of planning a wedding in 2012.

In part, though, it's to reassure all those couples out there that they are absolutely not alone. Planning a wedding is complicated, draining and above all expensive. Fortunately, there are people who can help.

One of those people is Meg Keene, the founder and executive editor of the blog A Practical Wedding. On her site Keene writes about how to have a wedding in the real world, when issues like time, strength, cash and patience actually matter and conversations begin with "but can we actually afford it?" The site grew out of Keene's experience trying to keep her own wedding on a budget when everyone else just seemed to take the extraordinary costs for granted.