Weddings can be beautiful, fun … and costly.

So whether you’re planning on spending a few hundred dollars for a simple ceremony or tens of thousands for something elaborate, it’s important to plan ahead, set a spending goal, then cut back if expenses get out of control.

After popping the big question, the next step will involve what kind of wedding you want to have - and who’s going to be paying for it. While tradition has the bride’s and groom’s parents paying portions, it could boil down just to what the couple can afford on their own.

Either way, it’s likely that people will need to start saving money and tracking costs.

Experts recommend that you think about what’s most important to each of you, and then start allotting your available funds as necessary. As you plan your costs, here are some items to put on your checklist:

  • Reception, including number of guests, food and beverage costs, and venue
  • Photography/videography
  • Clothes, including the wedding dress
  • Flowers
  • Entertainment
  • Rings
  • Ceremony
  • Invitations and announcements

And those costs don’t include the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the rehearsal dinner or the cost of the honeymoon.

You’ll find that you can save a chunk of money by reducing your guest list if necessary, controlling your photo expenses, or even what day of week or time of year you schedule the wedding.

And unless you’re willing to spend the time and are good at organizing, you might consider working with a wedding planner who can help you find everything from your venue to the photographer and caterer. Also, don’t hesitate to ask friends and family for recommendations and advice.

Planning will be the key, so start saving and controlling costs as soon as possible so you don’t get overwhelmed.