More couples are looking to plan budget weddings in this economy. They are getting creative with decorations, location, honeymoons, dresses, food and so much more. Budgeting for your wedding, however, can start with your first trip to the jewelry store. Remember, the less you spend on the diamond engagement ring the more you have to set aside for the big day.

That’s not to say you don’t want to find the perfect diamond ring. Your wedding is one day of your life, but you will wear that ring on your finger for the rest of your days. Thinking outside the box when you do your shopping will help you find the ring you want and still be able to put some aside for the flowers and the cake.

The first thing you need to do is study up on diamond jewelry. When purchasing a diamond you want to consider cut, clarity, color and carat. Decide what cut and color you like. Understand how the carat is going to affect the price. As the carat weight goes up so does the price and a small increase in carat can mean a large increase in price. Opting for a slightly smaller carat that won’t look that different on your finger can save a lot of money.

Once you have an idea of exactly what it is you’re looking for start your comparison shopping. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the traditional retail jewelry store. For example many pawn shops have expert gemologists on staff and an excellent selection of diamond jewelry. They will frequently offer custom designs if you can’t find what you’re looking. Many pawn shops also offer jewelry repair. An old family heirloom that’s not in the best shape could be fixed up into something beautiful and meaningful. Remember, the idea is to save money but still get the perfect ring. You are likely to spend less for something better at a pawn shop.

Difficult financial times don’t mean you have to put your life on hold. If you have to do your wedding budget style, starting with the ring can help you stretch your dollar a bit further.