When her sister got married a few years ago, Carissa Kruse’s eyes opened to the jaw-dropping cost of weddings.

According to a study conducted by The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the United States was more than $30,000 last year and it seems those costs only continue to climb.

It’s too much, Kruse said. “It shouldn’t be this expensive.”

Between the venue, photography, attire, food, drink and all the little details, the bill quickly added up. When her sister looked for an affordable invitation designer, she struggled to find a quality option within her budget, so she went to Kruse for help.

Kruse, a graduate of Mount Mercy University with a marketing and management degree and a 6-year-old business, Carue Marketing, saw an opportunity to help ease the financial burden on brides and grooms by opening a second business, Weddings by Carue, in 2014.

The idea was to offer high quality products — including wedding stationary, photo booths, photography and most recently videography — at a more affordable price.

“You can still get a great product without spending thousands of dollars,” she said, adding that they can fit their services to “any type of budget.”

Similarly, Carue Marketing offers cost effective marketing solutions to small and medium businesses, she said.

Although technically based in North Liberty, both businesses don’t have store fronts, which helps them cut some of the overhead costs that would otherwise increase the price of their products. They also offer discounts when booking more than one of their services, Kruse said.

Since there’s no store front, Kruse typically meets with clients at coffee shops to discuss what they’re looking for, what they like and what she can provide within their preferred price range.

“We’re helping people with something they need, but helping them save money at the same time,” she said.

And with wedding planning already taking a toll on brides, Kruse said she tries to make the process fun and easygoing.

“Brides are already really stressed. so we make whatever they’re doing with us an easy process,” she said. “We try to take the stress out of it.”

TOP WEDDING/FORMAL

WINNER: Weddings by Carue
LOCATION: North Liberty
CONTACT: (319) 431-3256; weddingsbycarue.com
RUNNERS-UP: UV films, 719 26th St. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 423-0370, https://uvfilms.co/; Spielman’s Event Services, 1380 Stoney Point Rd. SW, Cedar Rapids, (319) 366-3443, http://spielmans.com 
ONLINE: To view the Top Shelf magazine, go to hooplanow.com/topshelf
PICK IT UP: Top Shelf is available at Hy-Vee, Casey’s and Fareway stores in the Corridor.