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“Timing is everything. You could save up to 40 percent on the reception by picking a Saturday afternoon in April instead of doing a Saturday night in September,” Ms. Naylor says.

Another big trend is in-kind help from family and friends. For example, someone with great handwriting offers to do the invitations and a superorganized person deals with the vendors.

“Tap into people's talents and skills,” Ms. Naylor says. “It can be their wedding gift to you.”

All this means one thing for vendors, Mr. McMurray says. “They have to rethink their strategy.”

For example, he predicts that DJs and photographers the hardest-hit wedding vendors will take on more of a consulting role as opposed to doing all the work themselves.

Some segments of the wedding industry are doing well, however, including spa treatments, live music and honeymoon travel.

In the end, there is no formula for right or wrong when it comes to weddings, Ms. Naylor says.

“Build your own priority list,” she says. “It's a game of math where you get to splurge where you need to.”