Is there a wedding in your future? If so, congratulations
! Hopefully you've already been saving your money or have a solid plan for earmarking money for wedding expenses over the next year or more.
According to the Brides American Wedding Study, the cost of getting married has more than doubled from what it was just 10 years ago. In 2017, a typical wedding was estimated at $27,000. Only a year later in 2018, that cost had jumped to $44,000 (based on an average of 167 guests).
Such high costs make it nearly impossible for most young couples to finance the entire cost of a wedding on their own, which means parents are again contributing more often. In 2018, according to the same study, only 27% of couples said they had completely paid for their wedding without outside help from family.
The problem is that most people have no idea what a wedding will cost. It is likely the largest event that most people will ever host, so often there is very little experience in this area. Sticker shock is common when couples start comparing what they would really like vs. what they can afford. But that doesn't mean you can't still have a memorable wedding. Here are a few budgeting and planning tips to help keep your big day on track.
1. Agree on what type of wedding you want.
Will it be small and intimate with only close friends and family? Will it be casual and fun and perhaps outdoors? Or will it be elegant, large and include all the frills?
2. Have an honest conversation with your partner and parents to truly understand how much money is available.
Be sure to take out for life's necessities, such as food, rent and student loans to decide what's left over. And hopefully you'll still maintain the suggested three months of savings in the bank to cover any unexpected problems, such as the loss of a job, health problems or major repairs.
3. Estimate a guest count.
The number of guests has a huge impact on the total budget, so make you've honestly discussed who is getting invited and who is not.
4. Identify priorities between the two of you.
Perhaps your partner always dreamed of having a live jazz band or wearing a gown fit for a princess. Understand what you must have and what you're willing to do without.
5. Determine DIY options.
Could you stuff and address your own invitations? Do you have crafty friends who could make the centerpieces?
6. Get a reality check.
By understanding what constitutes the greatest costs, you're in a better position to know where to make smart cuts. According to apracticalwedding.com, the venue, food and beverages typically represent 42% - 50% of the total cost. Photography/videography represents about 18-20%, with decor coming in between 8% and 18% and stationery/paper goods at 3% - 7%.
7. Make a spreadsheet to track costs to see what is making the biggest impact on the budget.
Keep it updated and include everything so there are no nasty surprises.
8. Save deliberately.
Set up a separate savings account and arrange for direct deposits to ensure you have what you need without incurring too much debt.
9. Limit the use of credit cards.
Unless you know you can pay off the balance in 30 days, beware of overusing credit cards with high interest rates. If you must charge, use a card with cask-back rewards.
10. Get creative.
Brides.com recommends a number of savings tricks that can trim the budget without limiting the fun. For example, book your wedding at an off-peak time of year or considering having it on a Friday or Sunday. Host a brunch instead of a four-course, wine-paired dinner. Or you could always prolong your engagement to allow more time to save.
In the end, remember that the wedding is a one-day event and what matters is the lifetime you'll spend together. With the right planning and some smart decision making, you can hopefully start the lifetime without going underwater in debt.
The information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither Cortland Bank or its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering you any tax, accounting or legal advice.