Planning a wedding can be one of the most exciting and stressful times of your life. You finally found your soulmate and have made the commitment to tie the knot and spend the rest of your lives together. So next comes the highly anticipated wedding! Although it’s fun to talk about that fantasy dream wedding (that’s right – grand entrance with fireworks, horse drawn carriages, you name it), in reality, it’s much more important to take a practical approach to planning your perfect day.
After all, a wedding is the beginning of a new chapter and can often mark the official start of your lives together. It’s important to think through what that life looks like, including the wedding, life goals and other financial obligations you will tackle together.
Although this may seem obvious, It’s alarming that one study found 74% of couples plan to take on debt to cover their wedding costs – of those, 61% planned to used credit cards and 21% planned to take out a personal loan.(1) Although a wedding is, and should be, the perfect day, there are some tips and tricks that can help ensure you plan a wedding day within your means so you don’t begin your life together in a financial hole. Here are a few to get you started:
- Set a budget: no matter how much money you have earmarked to spend on the big day, you still need to create a budget to ensure it covers all the necessary expenses. There are several different ways to do so. Dave Ramsey suggests breaking the total wedding budget down into the following categories: 55% to reception, 12% to ceremony, 10% to photography, 10% to a wedding planner, 8% to attire and 5% to miscellaneous/cushion. (2) There are also several free online resources and templates to help map out your spending. Simply Google “Wedding Budget Worksheet” for several examples.
Remember that each wedding is unique and the template you use may not be a perfect formula. Understand your wedding priorities and allocate your budget accordingly to make it your own.
- Time it right: not all days of the year cost the same (wedding-venue speaking). There are often very steep discounts for Friday or Sunday weddings, or even nonpeak times of the year (often depending on geographic location). Do your homework and ask questions to understand if there are some alternative solutions to get the venue you prefer.
Speaking of venue, a venue can often eat up a good chunk of the budget. Consider getting married, or just having the reception, at a park, community center or house/backyard.
- Do your research: hard work can really pay off when it comes to planning your wedding. Instead of going with the first vendor or recommendation you receive, do price comparisons to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Oftentimes you can negotiate a better deal based on competitive pricing.
Consider attending wedding shows to talk to vendors and sign up for special pricing or even free package giveaways. Although these events can feel overwhelming, they are a great place to gather ideas and get an understanding of what’s available in your local market. Plus there are often delicious free samples!
- You’re not alone: most people LOVE weddings, especially when it’s their family member or friend tying the knot. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It is completely appropriate to ask someone from the wedding party, relative or close friend for help. This can range from all sorts of tasks – flowers to officiant services to helping with invitations. Think about any special talents in the family. Is someone very musical? They could save you hundreds singing or playing an instrument in your ceremony or cocktail hour.
Make it fun! Consider grabbing some pizza and wine to put together any of your DIY items. Who can pass down that opportunity?
- Don’t get into guest list quicksand: creating the guest list can turn into a never-ending list if you’re not careful. Remember that each person you invite is part of the headcount, meaning you will usually be paying for their dinner, drinks, etc. There are tons of resources to help narrow down your list, such as do you want kids included? Have you talked to the person in the last 3 years? Etc.
Remember, your wedding is your day! Although you’re including family and friends in this celebration, it is still your decision on who attends.
- Relax and enjoy: the day is finally here! After all the energy and preparation to make the day happen, take it all in and enjoy being surrounded by your family and friends to celebrate your love.
- Focus on the wedding: some weddings have turned into weekend (and sometimes even week)-long celebrations. Although it is fun to throw accompanying festivities, such as a post-wedding brunch, keep in mind the main event - which is the wedding. These add-on activities or gifts can quickly creep into your wedding budget.
If you have family and friends from out of town you’d like to see the next day, consider doing a breakfast in which everyone covers their own bill. You may also consider having a family member or friend host the brunch the following day.
Honeymoon time: once the festivities wind down, many newlyweds take off for their honeymoon. The honeymoon often requires its own budget, which can quickly add up as you look to those all-inclusive tropical vacations, romantic dinners or memorable excursions. A honeymoon is a special time to unwind and relax from the wedding, but it’s also important to focus on what matters most to you. Especially if you stuck to your budget for the wedding, be cautious of keeping the honeymoon within your means.
Consider setting up a honeymoon registry where wedding guests can help contribute to your honeymoon. This is a great way to get some extra cash for this special trip.
Check out Banzai Direct and all the resources to help you with your wedding plans!
A wedding is a very exciting life milestone and deserves to be celebrated. With the right plan in place, you can accomplish the wedding of your dreams and avoid going into debt to make it happen. After all, when the wedding is over and you return home from the honeymoon, you will start a new chapter with your spouse – which can be the foundation for a future of love and happiness.