Plan a wedding that you can afford
Congratulations, you're getting married! Now how will you pay for it? With the proper wedding budgeting, you can start married life without the burden of wedding debt.
What a wedding costs
The average wedding in the U.S. cost $19,580 in 2009. Half the wedding budget typically is for food, drinks and the reception, although photography, flowers, rings and the wedding dress also add up. Costs vary in different parts of the country, so for help estimating your budget, talk to vendors, wedding planners and newlyweds where your wedding will be taking place. Alternatively, a destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Caribbean may only cost a few thousand dollars.
Wedding budgets largely depend on how much brides and grooms save for their weddings. If you think your parents will contribute, discuss that upfront. Some families agree to give cash, while others pay for something specific such as a rehearsal dinner. Consider using a credit card to make your large wedding purchases and down payments, such as for the wedding gown and the reception venue, so you will be protected by your card's security features. For example, credit cards include purchase protection, which allows you to withhold payment on damaged or poor-quality goods and services. Also, if you do use a credit card, use a card with rewards, such as cash back or travel points, which you can redeem to help cover costs for both the wedding and the honeymoon. This is a good idea only if you have the savings to pay off the credit card quickly, so you can enjoy the rewards while minimizing interest charges.
Decide what you really want
Wedding costs rise quickly if you're not careful. Invitation lists have a tendency to grow, and small items (such as the ring bearer's pillow) can add up to big bills. Being clear about your budget protects you from being persuaded to overspend by wedding businesses or well-meaning family and friends. Make a list of priorities for your wedding: start with the items, events and experiences you most want, followed by the things that would be "nice to have." Once you start researching prices, you'll know what's worth spending money on, and where you can cut back.
Budgeting for your wedding
Our wedding budget planner can help you keep your nuptials affordable. Enter your estimated costs into the spreadsheet, and if the total is more than you have budgeted, review each item to think of ways to reduce expenses.
Here are savings tips to get you started:
- Invitations: make them yourself, or recruit a design-savvy friend
- Wedding dress: look for sales, discount stores and consignment shops, or shop online
- Flowers: choose in-season flowers rather than exotics
- Photography: hire a photographer for just the ceremony, and ask guests to take photos during the reception
- Music: invite a musical friend to perform at the ceremony, or have recorded music at the reception
- Reception: hold the reception on Friday or Sunday rather than the more expensive Saturday
- Food: opt for a buffet instead of a sit-down meal
- Honeymoon: consider a destination wedding that combines the wedding with the honeymoon
While planning your wedding, remember this is just the first day of your marriage. Create a wedding budget that lets you celebrate your new life together while allowing you to achieve future financial goals. Visit websites such as The Knot to get additional advice on managing wedding costs. When you wake up the morning after your wedding, it's a good sign if you're thinking, "that was money well spent."
What's next? How to approach savings as a couple