Getting married can be expensive. If you’ve ever seen a wedding episode of a TV show or gone to well-off relatives’ weddings, you may be left with the impression that you have to go into massive debt to have a day worth remembering. Even determining what your budget should be can be a daunting task, especially if you’re hoping to put a downpayment on a house or move into a new apartment soon after you get married. But making the most of your wedding budget can be made easier by following some simple tips and tricks. Here are some easy ways to make the most of your wedding budget.
1: Don’t Reach for the Credit Card
When planning your wedding, it can be easy to assume that you’re going to go into debt – for many people, that’s just what a wedding is. But you don’t have to reach for your credit card as a matter of course, and budgeting with the intention of only using your credit card for unexpected expenses can make the entire process far less stressful. Starting off your marriage with a massive amount of debt from a wedding you couldn’t actually afford is definitely not the best idea. Planning for a low- or no-debt wedding starts your marriage off on better financial footing and gives you more options for other common newlywed expenses, such as a new home or apartment or a new-to-you car.
2: Talk Honestly About Your Wedding Funds
The first step to budgeting your wedding is finding out what your budget can realistically be. This means talking honestly about your potential wedding funds with everyone involved – this will include your partner, of course, and also both you and your partner’s families. The wedding funds talk isn’t fun, especially since talking honestly about finances is often seen as gauche in our society, but having that talk honestly early on in the process will make setting and keeping a budget that much easier.
3: Research Wedding Budget Spreadsheets
There are a multitude of wedding budget spreadsheets available online that can help you decide how to best divvy up the money that you do have. For example, finding out that, on average, 5% of the wedding budget is spent on outfits (including your wedding dress, a suit or tux rental, and bridal party attire) while 40% is spent on venues (including both the reception and the actual ceremony) can help you to narrow down where you’re planning on spending your own budget. You don’t have to follow these spreadsheets to the letter, of course – some couples choose to prioritize some areas over others – but it’s a good place to start breaking down the numbers when it comes to planning and budgeting out your wedding.
4: Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
Have an honest chat with your partner about where they want to prioritize when it comes to your wedding, and consider your own feelings as well. For example, some couples will choose a smaller or less expensive venue, such as a VFW hall, in order to make room in their budget for a better caterer or an open bar. Other couples will choose to have a smaller event in order to make the budget stretch further in every direction. According to Palm Springs Palate, wedding caterers in Palm Springs, “the best way to approach your catering budget is at a price per person and figure your budget based on that cost,” and this approach often goes for other elements of your wedding as well. You will have to decide where to prioritize when planning a wedding of any budget, but prioritizing doesn’t mean giving up on every element of your dream wedding.
5: Learn the Tricks of the Wedding Trade
Even in the early stages of your planning, you’ve probably heard about what’s jokingly referred to as the “wedding tax” – the tendency for businesses to hike up the prices on their services, goods, or locations when they hear that it’s for a wedding. This is sometimes completely reasonable – a professional photographer is probably going to be wrangling wedding party members or dealing with inebriated guests at a wedding, which makes the increased cost make sense both for them and for you. But there are ways to game the system and make it so that your wedding is less expensive than it would be otherwise. Choosing a small guest list, an off-peak wedding date, or one location for both the ceremony and reception early in the process can shave hundreds if not thousands off the price tag of your wedding.
When it comes to planning individual elements of your wedding, there are many ways to shave off expenses there as well. Used wedding attire (with a good tailor), a small wedding cake supplemented by a sheet cake or cupcakes for your guests, or a buffet rather than a plated dinner at the ceremony are great ways to economize on the details without compromising on the specifics.
Photo by Davide De Giovanni