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"Cheap" wedding not easy to do

Mike and Kristina Starr wanted a cheap wedding. Then they paid for a dress, tuxes, a reception hall, a disc jockey, a cake, decorations, flowers and food -- and several other items -- and the expenses kept growing. "We found out it's almost impos...

Mike and Kristina Starr wanted a cheap wedding.

Then they paid for a dress, tuxes, a reception hall, a disc jockey, a cake, decorations, flowers and food -- and several other items -- and the expenses kept growing.

"We found out it's almost impossible to do a cheap wedding," Kristina Starr said. "Affordable is maybe a better way to say it."

Leah Moller, owner of Envision Wedding Studio in Sioux Falls, said the average wedding cost in South Dakota is between $20,000 and $30,000.That's not much lower than the national average, she said.

But weddings costs can vary greatly, depending on the couple.

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"What's important is so different," Moller said.

The Starrs got married April 21 at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Mitchell, and they had between 250 and 300 guests. Their wedding stayed well under the average cost, but they made a point to cut in several areas.

Moller said the food is the most expensive aspect, often using 50 percent of the budget.

But Starr was able to save there, as her parents helped provide the ham sandwich meal at the reception.

Starr said they spent the most on the reception. They paid $400 for the Moose Lodge in Mitchell and $700 for the DJ from WOW! Entertainment in Sioux Falls.

Other than that, they were able to keep the spending low. Starr bought a bridesmaid dress instead of a wedding dress, which saved quite a bit. She made their invitations, and a relative took their pictures. Starr worked for months prior to the wedding make their centerpieces, and she was happy with how it all turned out.

The cost to get married in a church tends to be one of the least expensive items -- especially in Mitchell.

The Daily Republic was able to contact 10 churches in Mitchell, and seven don't charge anything for weddings for members. Several said they do accept donations, depending on what the couple chooses to give. One said its rates start at $175, and then go up for additional services.

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According to the South Dakota Department of Health, there were 5,939 marriages in South Dakota in 2010, and 5,887 in 2009. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 2009 there were 138,000 marriages in the United States.

That's quite an industry.

But still, a wedding is one day, and Moller said it's up to the couple to decide what is wise to spend.

"I don't think that going into debt for a wedding is appropriate, but if it's something that's important to you, then of course it's worth it," Moller said.

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