Planning a Wedding without Starting Your Marriage in Debt

You’re engaged! Congratulations! When’s the big day? Have you picked out your dress? May I see the ring? How many people are you inviting?

The questions keep coming. Being a bride can be overwhelming, which is why it’s no surprise that people end up spending more than they planned. How much does the average wedding cost? According to www.costofwedding.com, “U.S. couples spend $25,656 for their wedding. However, the majority of couples spend between $19,242 and $32,070. This does not include the cost of the honeymoon.” I don’t know about you, but where I come from, that’s a lot of money.

Why the Average Cost of a Wedding Doesn’t Matter

I just told you the average cost of a wedding, and now I’m going to tell you why you should ignore it. If a $25,000 wedding means that you’d start your marriage in debt, then you can’t afford that wedding. It’s not in your budget, and you shouldn’t spend that much on your wedding just because other people did. It’s trying to keep up with the Joneses – don’t do it.

The ABC-F’s of Wedding Planning

According to wedding and event planner, Jenna Culley, of www.JennaAEvents.com, everyone needs to start with “the ABC-F’s of wedding planning: A Budget Comes First.” Sit down with your fiancé and figure out what the two of you can reasonably contribute to the wedding without going into debt. Share the things that are most important about your wedding. Place priority on those things and skip the rest. If you have parents or family who are willing to contribute, then it’s important to have a conversation with them about your plans. Find out how much everyone is willing to contribute before you start looking at venues and planning your big day.

The Most Expensive Thing

People spend the most money by far on the venue, catering and rentals. According to Culley’s blog, this accounts for an average of 45.6 percent of a wedding budget. So if you’re looking at having a much more affordable wedding, try to find an affordable venue and do your best to keep your guest list small. Trimming these things can contribute to the largest savings. Another cost cutting idea: have the wedding and reception at the same location.

Pinterest Is a Bride’s New Best Friend

After slashing your guest list, food costs and venue, start researching other ways to save money. Pinterest is a great way to see what professionals have done and do something similar on your own for a fraction of the cost. If you have family and friends who want to help with the wedding, this may be a great way to involve them and save money on invitations, flowers, photographers, centerpieces, decorations and more.

Consider Hiring a Wedding Planner

This is going to cost some money, but if you are planning a fairly sizable wedding and you want help with all the details, a wedding planner can be invaluable. Planning a wedding can be overwhelming, and this is a great way to keep stress levels low. According to Culley, wedding coordinators have access to a network of vendors from various price points, which can help couples stick to their budget. The planner might offer tips and tricks on what areas to focus on and the ones that no one notices.

Don’t Get Married on a Saturday

Most weddings happen on a Saturday, so by getting married on a Friday or a Sunday, you can save more. If you have a Friday night wedding, you might have a cocktail reception instead of a full meal. Or if you get married on a Sunday, host a brunch afterward. Some brides choose to skip the meal entirely and host a dessert reception, like this bride. Another idea is to get married in the winter instead of May through October.

Combine Your Wedding and Honeymoon

The most important thing for my husband and I was the honeymoon. We went to Puerto Rico for a week with another couple and got married while we were there (we told our families first). We spent about $6,000 for a photographer, flowers, wedding planner, hotel, food and a fabulous vacation with our best friends. Then, a few months later, we had a party in my parents’ backyard. Everyone loved it and there wasn’t the stress of the wedding ceremony because that had already happened. My parents paid a few thousand dollars to rent a tent and chairs, as well as paying for my dress, wine and some decorations (my in-laws made the food). A family friend provided ice cream from his amazing ice cream shop for dessert.

It’s Your Wedding (Not Your Mom’s or your Mother-in-law’s)

I think it’s really important to spend your money on what you and your fiancé value and don’t go overboard trying to make everyone else happy. Please be polite and gracious, but also remember that this is your day and if you don’t want thousands of dollars in credit card bills afterward, then you have to say no to things.

The High Cost of Starting a Marriage in Debt

If you don’t stick to your budget and wind up with $10,000 in credit card debt after the wedding, guess how long it will take you to pay that off? Well, if it’s at a 15 percent interest rate and you pay $300 a month, it will take you more than 3½ years. That doesn’t include the emotional toll that debt can take on you and your spouse. Is that really the way you want to start your new life together? Stay out of debt for your wedding and lay the foundation for a happy marriage.

Published or Updated: July 31, 2013
About Sophia Bera, CFP®

Sophia Bera, CFP®, founded Gen Y Planning to bring financial planning to her generation. She's a is a tech-savvy CFP® who brings financial planning to people in their 20s and 30s for the price of your gym membership. She's not your father’s financial planner, but more like your financially savvy best friend!

Comments

  1. Alexa says:

    Great tips in this article! I recently did some research on weddings and was blown away from some of the $20000+ budgets! The ideal way to host the perfect wedding is to save up funds beforehand specifically with the intention of spending them on your wedding day. I would never wish to stop someone from pursuing happiness simply because they’re low on cash, but I would encourage them to spend their engagement period saving little by little towards all of the wedding and reception bills.

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