You’ve fallen in love and are now planning the day when you can say “I do.” But you’re starting to realize that anything with “wedding” attached to it is costly.
1. Create a budget
While it’s nice for parents to foot the bill, 73% of couples contribute to their own wedding, according to a 2016 study from Brides. The best way to know how much money you’ll be spending is to put a cap on it right from the start.
Ellie Thompson, CEO of Venyou, a company that helps make your property an event venue, said you should start making a budget before you even look at anything related to weddings.
“You don’t want to fall in love with something you cannot afford,” she said. “Once you establish your wedding budget, you may realize some things will have to go. Be prepared to make sacrifices.”
Decide on the one thing that matters most to you. Do you want your wedding at a resort or specific destination? Do you want food from a certain restaurant or caterer? Pick your one must-have and work around it.
2. Don’t use the ‘w’ word
My husband and I had already been married for eight months when we planned our reception. As I researched caterers, locations, and other bedvendors, I made sure to avoid saying we were having a wedding-related party. It was true for me, and you can bend your truth a little to save a lot. Others have done the same.
“We purposely avoided anything marketed as a wedding venue when we looked for a place to hold our event because that made the price exponentially more,” said Eric Roberge, founder of financial planning firm Beyond Your Hammock. “We ended up renting a large beach house on the water for our ceremony and reception, and it was probably a third of the cost of what nearby wedding venues rented for.”
3. Pick a different day or time
Unless you have to get married on a specific date, shoot for getting hitched on any day but Saturday. Better yet, opt for a nighttime ceremony between Monday and Thursday. Weekends are convenient, which means they’re expensive. My best friend saved $10,000 by getting married on a Thursday instead of a Saturday night.
If you can’t budge on the wedding date, try changing the time of day. My bed-and-breakfast locale took off $2,000 when I said I wanted a brunch reception instead of dinner. I was also able to save on food since breakfast and lunch are cheaper than dinner.
4. Cut the guest list
Creating the guest list might be one of your biggest stressors, especially if you’re feeling pressured by family and friends about inviting people you wouldn’t otherwise consider. But stand firm in your decisions. Tiffany Hayden, a Los Angeles-based wedding planner and owner of Detailed, suggested keeping your guest list small.
“There’s no need to invite everyone you know,” she said. “Only invite the most important friends and family to surround you on your special day.”
Skip invites for anyone you don’t actually want to see on your wedding day. Every person needs a chair and a meal, so budget accordingly.
5. Rent and borrow — don’t buy
You know what you’re never going to use again? Anything from your wedding. Unfortunately, everything for weddings is notoriously overpriced.
See if your venue includes essentials, such as linens, tables and chairs, and dinnerware. If it doesn’t, shop around for party rental supplies instead of buying them. You could also rent or borrow your wedding dress or tuxedo — unless you plan to wear it again.
6. Limit your alcohol
Open bars are nice, and guests appreciate them, but liquor is expensive. While your friends will love you, your bank account won’t.
Stick to beer and wine or create a signature drink. At my brunch party, we served mimosas and coffee. You don’t need to have unlimited choices. In fact, giving your guests a small number of options shows you put in work to pick the right drinks while also being conscious of what you can afford. If guests are up in arms about it, let them bring their own drinks.
Weddings don’t have to break the bank
Your wedding day doesn’t have to be the day you go into debt. It’s great to invest in the things that matter most, but be careful about throwing money at everything. It can be tempting to say “It’s my wedding day!” to justify an expense, but your postnuptial bliss will fade when you see those bills.
You can get a wedding loan if you need to, but try your best to budget carefully. You can have a great wedding day while also going into your marriage debt-free.
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