Your wedding day will probably be one of the of the most expensive days of your life but it will be memorable. What if it didn’t have to cost so much and you could avoid getting into wedding debt.
Various different sources try to measure the cost of an average traditional wedding but it varies based on where you live and your preferences. Yet and still, it can be expensive no matter which way you look at it.
At CostofWedding their research indicates that a typical wedding runs couples anywhere from $19,984 and $33,306 which is pretty common when you consider the price of the dress and tux rental, food, flowers, the venue, music, table and chairs set up etc.
My question however, is who can afford to spend that much? I’ve heard of some couples spending even more around $50,000+ and I can’t wrap my head around how they are coming up with that much money.
Unfortunately, many couples resort to taking out a loan to pay for their wedding which is not ideal due to the higher interest rates personal loans tend to have. Not to mention, going into debt to pay for your wedding isn’t the best way to start a new marriage.
If you are engaged and planning a wedding that you want to pay for in cash without having to take out any loans, here are a few steps you need to follow.
1. Get Clear on Your Values
When my husband and I got engaged, we decided early on that our wedding would reflect what we valued and what made us happy.
Often times, friends and family try to butt in during the planning phase and make suggestions and requests. While they usually meant well, they can influence the cost of your big day.
This is why it’s important to realize that your big day is your day and should include everything that you value. It’s not about pleasing someone else and spending extra money in the process.
Sit down with your partner and make a list of what is important to you and what you would like your wedding day to look like.
Also, make a list of the things you can do without because they’re not that important to you.
My husband and I usually aren’t picky, but we know what we like so it was easy for us. Most important, we just wanted to be together and have an amazing night with our friends and family. We knew we wanted a pretty venue, good food, and awesome music because we like to dance.
We didn’t really care for providing alcoholic drinks for everyone through an open bar ordering glamorous wedding invitations because I knew most people just toss them out or lose them anyway.
We had some leftover invitations from the wedding but I haven’t even looked at them again yet since we mailed them out when we were engaged. Those things were nice, but they weren’t as important to us because they weren’t our bottom line.
2. Set a Budget
Setting a budget is a crucial step that you should take early on in the planning process. Even if you don’t like budgeting or don’t budget regularly, if you plan on keeping your wedding costs at affordable numbers, you need to draw out some sort of spending plan.
Talk to your partner about how much you both feel comfortable spending on your income and how paying for a wedding would affect your regular spending and budget plan.
Do you want to spend more than $5,000? Can you afford a $10,000 wedding? This is the perfect time to discuss what your financial limits are.
The easiest way to develop a realistic wedding budget is to lay out your income and deduct your necessary expenses to see what is leftover. If you can cut any regular expenses for the time being, you can add that to the amount left over and that will be how much you can both comfortably save each month.
For us, we knew we couldn’t afford to spend much more than $7,000 total on our big day but we also wanted to get married in 9 months so we had to divide our total cost up by the time allowed to save for it to determine a monthly savings rate.
If you have other savings, you can add that to your wedding budget to loosen up the financial pressure. For example, I already had about $1,000 in a savings account that we could put toward wedding expenses so that actually made our budget come out to $3,000 for each of us or $333 per month.
If your budget is higher and you need more time to save up the cash to cover all your wedding expenses, you can always push your date forward. This is why so many couples tend to take 12 months or more to plan their wedding.
3. Trim Unnecessary Expenses
Next is the fun part. It’s fun to cut unnecessary expenses out because it helps you save money. Since you made a list of your values and specified your budget already, you should have a good idea of what you can exclude from your wedding to save money.
For us, we didn’t have many flowers as a part of the decorations and we didn’t order boutonnieres for the guys because there were so many groomsmen, it’s a small detail that’s hardly ever noticed, and we easily saved $200+ by making this decision.
We also decided to have all our ceremony and reception at the same location so we didn’t have to pay for transportation to and from the next location.
When trying to trim the fat from your wedding expenses list, you may find that you would rather reduce certain expenses than cut them out completely.
For example, having a DJ at our wedding was a must but we only booked one for the reception. It would have run us $300+ extra if we wanted him at the ceremony which didn’t make sense because the ceremony was only about 30 minutes long.
To cut back, we relied on one of my husband’s DJ friends to bring speakers of his own and stream our wedding music from his phone for free.
Cutting wedding expenses can be tricky especially since you don’t want to sacrifice quality and convenience just to save a few bucks.
Luckily, I recently created a wedding guide that ever frugal bride-to-be should read. It’s called Save Thousands on your Dream Wedding and it includes many hacks, tips, and strategies I used to keep our wedding expenses under $10,000 and pay for everything in cash.
In the guide, I cover negotiation and bartering strategies, how to save on features you really want like a large reception with dinner or wedding flowers, and more plus, the guide includes many printable worksheets and a sample budget to keep couples organized.
You can preorder the guide here today for a discounted rate but it will go up just $5 on September 21, 2016.
4. Ask for Help If Applicable
My final step is one you should consider even if you have very low expectations. While some families offer to pay for the wedding in full, this isn’t the case for most couples these days.
It’s not really your parent’s responsibility to pay for your wedding and more and more couples are trying to pay for it on their own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accept a little help.
In my case, my parents couldn’t afford to pay for our entire wedding but they did want to help out. My in-laws felt the same so we allowed them to chip in on our venue. Between the four of them, they helped knock our venue price down by $2,000 and I was very grateful for that.
Overall our wedding was about $9,000 total but we saved quite a bit and we were able to stretch our budget by allowing our parents to chip in.
It may feel weird to ask for help at first, and you may even get rejected by some family members who can’t afford it, but it’s worth a try if you really want to save money. Most people will be getting you a gift for your wedding anyway, so if you’d prefer some assistance with wedding expenses instead, it’s important to speak up about it.
Avoid Debt at All Costs
The bottom line is to avoid debt at all costs. Follow these steps to get a clear understanding of your vision, your values, and your budget.
Your wedding day will be much more enjoyable when you realize you pulled it off and can enjoyed it stress-free without owing anyone money.
For more on saving money doing wedding planning, the website Newlyweds On A Budget has a couple of helpful articles:
Learn How To Get Free Stuff for Your Wedding
Selecting Frugal Wedding Finger Foods
What was or is the highest expense you have to consider for your wedding? Do you have any additional saving tips to add.
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