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Wedding Costs vs. Your Financial Goals – Don’t Blow All Your Money for One Day!

cost of wedding budget

Wedding Budget — It doesn’t need to make your day less special!

The price of a wedding, even a simple one, continues to climb every year. This is YOUR wedding. Plan it as a reflection of what is important to the two of you. Don’t do things to impress other people. If you do, you will probably not enjoy your wedding as much, you will have more stress, and you will probably spend excessively — for things that don’t really matter to you!

Make it a very special day — but know that going into debt for a wedding can actually increase your chances for divorce! (A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration September 2014 study from Emory University)

Guys are usually not very interested in the wedding details, but they are interested in the costs! (Watch for an article on this soon!) Work together to plan a wedding that you can both enjoy and that will be a reflection of your lives and the life you want to co-create together.

1. PRIORITIZE:
A) Financial Goals
B) What Is Most Important for YOUR Wedding

A) Financial Goals

wedding budget financial goals

A. The first thing is to prioritize, not for the wedding, but for your financial life and future together. (Even if you have already budgeted for the wedding and are deep into your planning, I encourage you to do this anyway!)

What are your financial goals?
What are your current and planned large expenses?
Do you want to plan to buy a home?  Start a family?  Pay for a child’s college?  Get rid debt you already have?

Your starting point is to create your individual Financial Vision for your life together and then combine them. Download Financial Vision

Creating your Financial Vision helps you get clear for what you want to build together and it can guide you both for many years. I encourage couples to review it once a year and decide if they want to keep it the same, add or subtract from what they have. The Financial Vision for your marriage helps you plan your budget for wedding. If saving for a down payment for a home or for a trip you both have always wanted to do, you may want to put less money into the wedding and use more toward what is important to you both.

Based on your financial vision, your current debt, and your current income, including what you expect to earn over the next year, what is a reasonable budgeted amount for your wedding and honeymoon that is based on YOUR priorities as a COUPLE? Talk through your dreams and concerns so that you can come to a place of being on the same page. One person spending and the other person resenting it or worrying about it will not only diminish the joy of your wedding day, but can create distress and disconnection in your marriage.

If your parents are contributing, how will the expense impact their life?
Even if your parents or other family members are paying for the wedding or contributing to it, you still need to come up with your planned budgeted amount. Your parents and other people who love you also have financial needs, concerns and goals. Are your parents saving for their retirement? Do you have siblings that will need help going through college or other career training that your parents need to consider. While it makes perfect sense to plan a beautiful and memorable wedding, it is not fair to yourselves as a couple or to your parents, family and friends to create debt for them or wipe out their savings.

B. Prioritize what is most important to each of you for your wedding celebration.listofprioritiessmall

1). What 3 things are most important to each of you in your wedding celebration?
Write these down separately and then talk about them — without interrupting. Listen to your partner’s longings, dreams, concerns and fears.  Don’t blow him or her off.  The wedding is about the two of you.

2) . What in the planning can best help each of you realize your most important priorities? Is your honeymoon more important to you than a fancy wedding? Do you need to spend less on fancy expensive invitations and postage, flowers on every tabletop, or would it make more sense to create much less expensive invitations at an office supply store and use candles instead of flowers? Would you rather spend a lot on a classy venue that limits you to 2-3 caterers or the venue’s food, or do you want to have a more flexible reception that costs much less?  Are beautiful professional photographs important to you?  Each couple is different, but talk it through as a couple.  One of the most beautiful weddings I’ve attended was held in the bride’s parents back yard.  They put a dance cover over the pool, a huge tent with flooring on the grass, elegant flowers on each table.  They hired the catering company they wanted.  It was gorgeous and everyone loved it — including them!  It was elegant, yet very personal. What is most important to the two of YOU as a couple to spend your money on — whether you have a small budget or a large one?  Think creatively about ways to make those things happen in less traditional and less expensive ways.  Splurge on the thing that is most important to each of you.

2. Budget for Your Wedding:
Once you have decided your financial priorities, and what is most important for each of you on your wedding day, start planning your budget. Use a wedding checklist to think about which items you want or need in your wedding? (Check online — there are many checklists and wedding budget calculators! Don’t think you have to have everything on the checklist. Scratch off what you don’t care about or that you can live without. Mark things that are most important to you. Better yet, use the online list to help you co-create your OWN list on your computer. There are apps that you can use on your smartphone to create shared lists of all kinds. (Anylist is the one I use, but I’m sure there are others.)

WHEN do you plan to have your wedding? The date you set can increase or reduce the costs 30-40%! For example, May, June, September, October are peak wedding months and you will pay more for nearly everything. If having a certain flower is important to you, plan your wedding when the flower is in season. Holiday seasons can sometimes add more to the cost, but in other situations, they may help reduce the cost. For example, if a church or a venue is decorated for Thanksgiving or Christmas, it can save you money in decorations. Time of day can also make a big difference in price!

Think carefully about your guest list. Invite the people YOU want. If a cousin will be upset because you didn’t invite another cousin, stick with what YOU want. Guest lists can get out of hand very quickly and shoot expenses through the roof. What kind of wedding do you want? Small and intimate? Your immediate family? Extended family? Close friends only? Co-workers? One of the best ways is to think first about the ‘feel’ of the wedding you want and how crowd size affects that. Then make List A and List B. Starting with List A make a short list of family that you most want to have there to celebrate with you. Then add a short list of your closest friends that you most want to have there. Then think of any other special people that you just have to have there and add them. Then anyone else that comes to mind, more distant family or friends, put on List B. Depending on the size wedding you want, and your budget, you can either slide a few from List B over if it fits with what you want.

Stick to your budget!  I saw somewhere that once you have a budget, cut it by 25% and use that number as your guide.  Things will go over budget, so plan for that. If you end up paying more for a photographer or something else, know that you will have to cut expenses in another area.

A great site for wedding planning ideas based on a fixed budget is  The Budget Savvy Bride . You can click on the amount you want to spend and find out ideas from other people how they created their weddings on that budget. Look at ones below your planned budget too. You might find useful ways to save money on one part of the wedding which then will give you more for other things that are more important to you.

3. Find Ways to Reduce Costs
Whether you have a small budget or a larger one, cost-cutting ideas can help you use your money for what really matters to you. I’m listing below some websites with ideas for cost-cutting. Even if you don’t plan to use a specific idea on the website, their suggestion might trigger a new idea for you. For example, if you want a chamber quartet to play at your ceremony, check with music departments at universities in your areas. You can often get very talented musicians for a decent price. There are many good ways to save and help you stay within the limits of your budget.

100 Creative Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

101 Best Cost-Cutting Tips

10 Creative Ways to Cut Your Wedding Costs
See how to reduce the costs of wedding planning without compromising the elegance of your big day

20 Ways to Cut Wedding Costs by 20/20

Wedding Experts Reveal Their Best Cost-Cutting Secrets

A few books you might want to look at:
Bridal Bargains: Secrets To Planning A Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget   by Denise and Alan Fields

A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebrationby Meg Keene “This book “helps you create the wedding you want”without going broke or crazy in the process. After all, what really matters on your wedding day, what you’ll remember ’til you’re old and gray, is not so much how it looked as how it felt”

Icons used with permission by Freepik.com

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