Bride at wedding dress fitting pinAccording to the Real Weddings Study commissioned by the creator of The Knot, the average wedding cost (excluding the honeymoon) in 2013 was just shy of $30,000.

That’s nearly $1,500 more than 2012 ($28,427), and close to 10-percent higher than 2011 ($27,021). In fact, the amount spent on weddings has been on the rise since 2008.

While things like the venue, food and dress are seen as essential wedding expenses, other traditional costs are increasingly unnecessary. As you look for ways to save money on your wedding before saying “I do,” consider saying “I don’t” to these costs (estimated by the Association of Bridal Consultants) and pocket over $1,000! Who says you can’t have a beautiful wedding on a budget?

Ceremony Programs – $110

People pretty much know the drill when it comes to wedding ceremonies. Unless you’re having an elaborate event featuring little-known cultural elements, a formal ceremony program is an unnecessary expense. If you want to offer a breakdown of the ceremony, opt for a chalkboard easel ($25 at Ikea, Target, or even a toy store) or a printed sign at the aisle entrance.

Limo Rental – $487

Your desire to get from the ceremony to the reception hall in style is understandable, but a limo ride feels just like a regular car ride after about 30 seconds. Ask a friend or relative with a nice car to be in charge of getting you from point A to point B. You can also peruse this list of alternatives and swoon at the pedicab and pickup options.

Table Name Place Cards – $84

Place cards are quickly set aside once guests find their seats, so avoid spending money on this element of your reception. Instead, commission members of your family or bridal party to create table name place cards the old-fashioned way – with pens and cardstock. For something more creative, check out this roundup of free wedding printables from

Reception Menus – $119

Since your guests likely selected their dinner preference when they received your invite, creating menus is redundant and a waste of money. If you’re going the buffet route, servers or cardstock labels can explain the options to individual guests. Plus, most people can distinguish carved beef from caprese salad.

Wedding Favors – $262

Pinterest seems to have inspired a resurgence in clever wedding favors, with guests pocketing everything from mini succulents to homemade jam. While these tokens look great in photographs, they’re not practical and should not be the most memorable takeaway for your guests.

Flower Petals – $88

Paying close to a Benjamin for something you’re going to step on is the epitome of a poor purchase. If you need something for your flower girl to do, consider these ideas from HuffPo Weddings.

Engagement Announcements – $150

Everyone on Facebook knows you’re engaged. If you’re sending save-the-date cards, avoid prefacing the pre-invite with engagement announcements. It’s a waste of money since guests will likely toss it once they receive your formal invite.

Check out more great ideas for weddings on a budget on our GoGirl Pinterest board!