Planning and Paying for a Wedding
Long gone are the days when parents automatically pay for their child's wedding. Increasingly, today's couples are footing the bill themselves. But regardless of who pays for what, a dream wedding doesn't have to break the bank.
The solution? Simply use the same principles of planning and budgeting that you apply to any other financial decision. With proper planning, you can celebrate your marriage with a wedding that reflects your personal values, that won't cause financial or emotional stress down the road, and that won't leave you with wedding-cost remorse as you struggle to reach your future goals.
Five ways to keep your wedding budget on track.
As tempting as it may be to spend lavishly on your wedding, try not to lose sight of your other goals. Here are some ways you can have a beautiful and memorable wedding while you stick with a budget.
- First, before you even think about your wedding or its cost, consider what is most important to you as a couple. Take a step back and imagine the things you'd like to accomplish and experience both individually and together. Ask yourselves, for example, if you're satisfied with your career paths, if you want to continue your education, whether you want to have children, and whether you want to settle down in a particular community. All of that costs money, so keep these larger and longer-term goals front and center as you start to plan your wedding. The best wedding is one that is not only true to what you want now, but also one that won’t get in the way of what you and your spouse hope to achieve in the future.
- Now come up with your maximum spend for your wedding. To keep everything in its proper context, start by ball-parking some numbers for all of your biggest goals. If buying a home is at the top of your list, how much do you have to save for a down-payment? Or how much capital do you need to launch a new business? This type of analysis can help you understand your trade-offs, and ultimately help you arrive at the total amount that you can or want to spend on your wedding.
- With your maximum wedding spend in mind, it's time to create a line-item budget. Take your time and include every detail from big-ticket items like the venue, food, music and flowers right down to postage for invitations. Don’t guess. Research and get real numbers. Be sure to identify 'must-haves' vs 'nice-to-haves', and be prepared to make some concessions. Also include at least 10 percent for overages, as unexpected items always appear.
- As you fine-tune your budget, be creative. From online printing for invitations to doing your own flowers, there are ways to trim costs and still have the beauty and style you envision. Does a friend have a large property that could be a perfect venue? Can you wear a hand-me-down dress? Do you know a novice photographer who would love to have your wedding in their portfolio? Or do you have a friend who can officiate? Think outside the box and don't be afraid to ask!
- And finally, be diligent about tracking your spending as you go. A spreadsheet can help you stay on top of each purchase as well as the growing total amount. Keep careful track as the days and weeks go by, and expect that you'll have to make adjustments along the way.
Don't get caught up in others' expectations
A budget is essential, but planning a wedding is part head and part heart. Money aside, only you and your fiancé can envision the type of wedding that will be most meaningful to you.
From bachelor and bachelorette weekends to a large wedding party and lavish reception, there can be a tendency for wedding one-upmanship. But it's your celebration, and it should reflect who you are. Don't let yourself get caught up in someone else's expectations or the image that you feel is expected by social media. If a backyard barbecue with your closest friends and relatives feels more appropriate than a lavish gala, go with it. Your wedding should be a lasting memory for you, not an exercise in impressing anyone else. There's no one right way to get married, only your way.
Build your relationship
For many couples, planning a wedding is the first time they deal with financial issues together. So use it as an opportunity to flex your communication muscles and build your relationship. Listen carefully to each other's perspectives and be willing to make compromises. As you work together to plan your wedding, you may also find yourself discussing the life you want to build together – at the same time that you strengthen the skills and empathy you'll need for a healthy and long-lasting relationship.