1:10 A.M. — Stephanie Porter walked into Sunday's bridal show in Fort Myers with one thing on her mind, and it didn't include buying a $6,000 Couture wedding dress.
"I'm looking to cut costs for my wedding," said Porter, who works at Fort Myers Middle Academy during the week and as a waitress at a local restaurant on the weekends. "My fiance and I are each working two jobs to save money for the wedding. It's hard."
Porter and her fiance, Joseph Jones, want to spend $10,000 for their wedding, so keeping costs down is a priority.
Porter and Jones represent an emerging trend in weddings: the budget-conscious couple. Since the recession began, more couples are spending less on their big day. As a result, the wedding industry is taking a small hit as more couples look to do it on their own and cut costs.
The Knot Real Wedding Survey reported that about one-third of brides who got married last year said the economy impacted their wedding plans. Another survey by David's Bridal found that 68 percent of brides-to-be planned to spend less on their wedding. About 30 percent of those respondents said they would spend less than $10,000 on their wedding.
Porter, 24, said she planned to get help from her family and friends at her November wedding. Porter's friend, Janea Soliven of Makeup Artistry, will do her hair and makeup.
Another friend will be the DJ while Porter's grandfather will snap pictures.
"You can save a lot of money by using your friends' talents," she said.
Soliven, who plans to get married in February, said she planned to save money by having her rehearsal dinner at Golden Corral.
"It sounds chintzy, but as long as you can enjoy yourself with your family and friends, that's all that matters," Soliven said.
After looking at 10 different venues, Porter opted to hold her wedding at Plantation Country Club in Fort Myers because it was willing to work with her budget.
"I wanted to do it at Grandezza (Country Club in Estero) but that's too expensive," Porter said.
Mike Waite, owner of Waite Photography in Cape Coral, has noticed the shift toward cost-conscious grooms and brides.
"They seem to be more concerned about their finances and a lot of them are shopping around for deals," said Waite, who attended Sunday's bridal show at the Harborside Event Center.
Waite Photography lowered its prices because of the recession. The company's cheapest wedding photo package starts at $899. But the prices are negotiable, according to Beverly Waite.
Wedding retailer For the Bride in Fort Myers has also been impacted.
"Some of the girls will buy dresses right off the rack to take the discount instead of paying full price to get it fitted," said For the Bride owner Wendy Bennett, whose dresses range from $300 to $2,000.
Despite an uptick in frugal couples, Bennett isn't concerned about her industry.
"No matter how you cut it, the bride always has to have a nice dress," said Bennett, whose store opened 17 years ago. "Brides might cut back and serve cupcakes instead of a cake or change to a cheaper venue, but they will always have a nice dress."
Mike Waite, who has been a wedding photographer since 1979, shared the same optimism for the wedding industry.
"People are still going to get married," Waite said. "This is a one-time event and their parents will make sure of that. We know we're in tough times so we'll just try to accommodate them."