Wedding bells might not be all that’s ringing on your big day. If you’re not careful, alarm bells could be, too...in your bank account. According to The Knot, the avg wedding now costs about $34,000.
That’s just a liiittle more money than I have sitting around.
Which is why you need a wedding budget. Plus a lot of open conversations, starting with who’ll be footing the bill. The Knot found most couples get help with wedding costs, but don’t assume anyone’s chipping in. Talk to your parents and future in-laws to see if – and how much – they’ll contribute.
Sounds like a fun convo I can’t wait to have.
If you survived the birds and the bees talk, you’ve got this.
Step two is figuring out whether you’ll throw in some of your own money. You can pull from cash you’ve already set aside, or save some every month between now and the big day. Or both. But hands off your emergency or retirement funds. Those are for later.
Add whatever you come up with to any fam contributions, and you’ve got your budget.
The fun part: talking about what parts of your wedding you’re most excited about. Maybe that’s the band, menu, flowers, your dress, the venue, etc. Having a few priorities in mind can help you decide where you’re okay spending a little more vs. where budget-friendly options are fine.
Okay, so how do I actually break it all down?
Start with the biggest stuff – that’s usually your venue, food, and drinks – and estimate what everything on your list will cost. Use averages from your city or contact vendors you’d like to work with and ask for quotes. Don’t forget taxes, tips, and service charges. Oh, and add 5-15% extra for random, unexpected expenses.
Once you’ve done that...pour a glass of champagne. You deserve it. Then compare your estimated total to your budget.
Oh heyyy, sticker shock.
Yeah, that’s a real thing. Here are some ideas on how to make the numbers work.
Stick to your A list. At an avg of $70 per person for catering, dropping 15 names from your guest list can save you $1,000.
Stay put. Having the ceremony and reception at the same place can help you save on transportation, staff you pay by the hour, and chair rental fees.
Go off-peak. That doesn’t just mean a Friday or Sunday wedding...although that almost always lowers the bill. Booking a date in the slower season (typically November-April) might also get you a discount.
Pick in-season flowers. Think: peonies in the spring, hyacinth in the winter. More supply = lower costs.
Cut back on the booze. Sticking to beer and wine could cut your alcohol bill by almost half.
Talk to wedding planners...unless it’s J.Lo and your fiance is Matthew McConaughey. Then avoid. But some planners have relationships with vendors and know cost-cutting strategies you probably don’t that can save you a lot of money.
Your budget is probably the most important part of your wedding...other than the whole ‘finding your fiance’ part. Celebrate your engagement – and the start of a happy marriage – with a little financial planning. So you can focus on having and holding each other for richer instead of poorer.