A: Congratulations on your engagement! First, luxuriate in the news before you freak out that your guest list can fill a 500-line spreadsheet. Fiddle with your engagement ring in disbelief, daydream about married life, celebrate with friends and family. No doubt, visions of pricey perfection will soon bombard you from magazines, Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards. You’ll learn the average U.S. wedding cost $35,329 in 2016, according to The Knot’s Real Weddings Study . But let go of everyone else’s expectations, starting now. Create a thoughtful, realistic budget and forget widely cited figures like The Knot’s; a few lavish celebrations drive up the average. A solid 44 percent of U.S. weddings in 2016 cost less than $10,000, according to The Wedding Report , a wedding research company. Here’s how to plan nuptials that leave you smiling so much your face hurts, not grimacing at the specter of credit card debt.
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