Summer time is here, and that means wedding season is upon us. Weddings are important life events and can also be large financial expenditures. I’ve been engaged to my fiancée for a year and a half, and our big day is coming up this Sunday, July 3. Here are some thoughts about financing a wedding, based on our experience.
Build a budget for your ideal wedding.
Think about what your dream wedding would look like, then plan out what it would cost. There are several online tools available to help you do this from websites, such as weddingwire.com and theknot.com. Celebrating our commitment to each other with our family and friends was the starting point for our dream wedding. We looked at venues we were interested in around the Boston area, had an idea of the number of people we wanted to invite, and then started plugging numbers into the online tools. This exercise proved to be quite shocking (hint, the dollar figures can add up quickly)! These tools were great at helping us identify all the expenses that go into hosting a wedding, including some of the hidden costs that were not top of mind (such as tipping for vendors). The online tools also allowed us to do other tasks to plan the rest of our whole wedding– invitations, a wedding website, RSVP tracker, gift registry, thank you notes, etc.
Assess your resources.
In many US traditions, the bride’s family pays for the wedding, while the groom’s family covers the rehearsal dinner (personal, family, and religious values vary). In our case, we didn’t expect our parents to pick up the entire tab or stick to traditions, so we approached them with our initial idea of what the wedding would cost, and asked each of them if they would be willing to contribute. We then added in some of our personal savings to cover some of the shortfall.
Be prepared to cut costs.
When we looked at the total of our resources and the rough budget of what our wedding would cost, we found a gap. So we revised our top-line number and then went about looking for ways to save on wedding costs. We looked at things like using a DJ instead of a band, designing and printing our own programs for the ceremony, and revising our original budget for flowers.
Remember that family and friends might be willing and happy to help assist with items that you may normally pay for. Among your guests you may have people who can help with invitations, decorations, photography or baking the wedding cake.
Keep in mind too that where wedding costs are concerned, everything is negotiable. If a certain vendor’s services are more expensive than what you have budgeted for, they may be willing to provide you a modified level of service to help you stay within your budget.
If the gap between your dream wedding and what you can afford is still too high, there are other ways to find more substantial cost savings. The time of year you have your wedding can dramatically affect the cost, with January – April being less expensive than the summer months. The day of the week can also produce substantial savings with mid-week days generally costing less than weekends. Probably, the biggest cost driver is the size of the wedding – a small wedding rather than a large one can be a great way to save on costs.
Consider debt only as a last resort.
Weddings are such important events that you might want to consider the judicious use of debt to cover a gap in funding. There are different types of debt you may consider – a personal loan, credit card debt of home equity line of credit. If you do take out some debt, look at all your options first, find the best terms, and have a plan for how and when you’re going to pay it off. If there is a need to borrow to fund your wedding day, having a plan to pay off the debt within a year from the wedding is advisable.
Remember to have fun!
Planning a wedding can be costly and stressful if you let it. Guests may remember your crazy dance moves and beautiful ceremony, but they won’t be able to appreciate all the little details that you’ve painstakingly planned for. Focus on what you can control and understand that things may not go exactly as planned on the day of. Smile, have fun, and make the most of your big day!