Image Credit: Micheile Henderson
The average U.S. wedding costs about $34,000. That's just about half of the average annual income for U.S. citizens. As such, couples looking to tie the knot can quickly begin to struggle with the financial burdens and responsibilities associated with getting married.
These monetary woes can detract from the excitement and joy of planning a wedding. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money and enjoy the wedding of your dreams.
The Importance of Setting a Budget
Learning how to create and stick to a budget is one of the greatest challenges of adulthood. Figuring out how to take your budget and combine it with someone else's can be even trickier.
If you've never created a budget before, don't worry. There's never been a better time to learn.
There are tons of simple budget worksheets you can work through to help you set a reasonable limit on your weekly expenditures and begin saving money. While you may have a family member helping to pay for all or some of your upcoming wedding, it's crucial to make every attempt to keep costs low.
Setting a budget (and sticking to it) is one of the best ways to ensure that your wedding is memorable for all the right reasons. Worries about wedding plans, visiting relatives, and compounding costs can turn a happy engagement into a stressful affair.
Getting into debt before saying your vows can also cast a dark cloud over your marriage. If your partner isn't on the same page in terms of saving, it may be time to sit down and have a serious, meaningful talk.
After all, when you've figured out how to save for a wedding, you're far more capable of saving and spending wisely throughout your marriage and the rest of your life. This could help prevent future issues surrounding money and help to keep your relationship strong, healthy, and happy.
Creating a Savings Plan
Image Credit: Micheile Henderson
Creating a savings plan for your wedding doesn't have to be an uphill battle. With the right information and motivation, you can set a budget that allows you to express yourself, achieve your wedding goals, and start your marriage on a strong financial foundation.
Setting a wedding budget is a straightforward process. You'll need to:
Analyze current costs
Minimize those costs
Design your dream wedding
Keep to your budget
Consider alternative options
Look at what you can DIY
While these steps might seem overwhelming, they're manageable when taken one at a time. Take a deep breath, relax, and take a moment. Are you ready? Let's get started with step one, analyzing your current costs.
Analyze your current costs
The very first thing you'll need to do is create a personal budget. This will list your recurrent financial obligations, including rent, utilities, and groceries. It will also list your income. This data will help you find areas where you might be able to spend less.
You might also be able to estimate a minimum monthly savings amount. This number will come in handy a few steps down the line. Besides, having a budget (and adhering to it) is an excellent habit to begin practicing.
You may be able to save hundreds of dollars each year simply by cutting down on some non-essential expenses. And this leads us to the second steps, minimizing monthly costs.
Minimize your costs
There are some recurrent costs that are going to be nearly impossible to lower or alter. These costs include rent, insurance payments, and some utility costs. These types of financial obligations are often called fixed expenses.
Variable expenses are things like groceries, beauty products, restaurant meals, entertainment, and clothing. You can choose to spend more or less on these items, and you're not technically required to purchase any of them.
Minimizing your expenses means taking a long, hard look at your budget and finding areas where you might be overspending. For example, you may enjoy getting coffee at a particular cafe down the road. However, it could be costing you more than $100 every month just to do this.
By recognizing which spending habits you can change, you're already halfway there to becoming a smarter spender. And when you're spending wisely, you're also saving more for the wedding of your dreams.
Design your dream wedding
Image Credit: Mariana Acevedo
For many couples, this is one of the most exciting steps in the pre-wedding process. Choosing your venue, wedding dress, and wedding rings can be a joyous experience. However, when price tags begin to appear and they keep piling on, the entire planning process can begin to feel a little overwhelming.
One of the best ways to overcome this issue is to create a vision board or idea planner. Rather than focusing on singular items with pre-prescribed prices, identify styles, colors, and ideas that catch your attention. This can help to keep you focused while also freeing you from expensive, potentially over-budget options.
It may also help to set budget limits on all of your big wedding expenditures. Having a specific wedding dress budget, wedding ring budget, and venue budget can help keep you on track and resist overspending. This will also give you a wedding budget breakdown that you can reference.
If you're handy with spreadsheets, you could even choose to create a wedding budget spreadsheet. This can make it easier for you to keep track of potential items, their costs, and their anticipated 'due date'.
Once you've designed your wedding, it's time for the most difficult part of this process. Keeping to your budget is easier said than done, but there are a few handy tips and tricks you can employ to keep yourself honest.
Keep to your budget
Fortunately, keeping to your wedding budget isn't nearly as hard as it once was. There are plenty of budget apps you can download to help you track your spending, and you can quickly utilize digital bank statements, receipts, and price estimates to stay on top of things.
The real test here is willpower and figuring out how much to save for a wedding. Sure, you may have your base level of monthly savings, a dream map of the event, and a preset set of spending limits for major items, but how does that all work together?
If you're not receiving any financial assistance for the wedding, you may need to sit down with your partner and discuss a savings plan. If they're able to contribute to a monthly wedding savings goal, then you'll both be able to estimate the ideal cost for the event (and the honeymoon).
So, how long does it take to save for a wedding? You'll be able to find out once you've sat down and discussed this goal with your partner. And once you know how much to put away each month, you can begin planning the acquisition stage.
Keeping an open mind is one of the best things you can do to save money on your wedding. Rather than investing several thousand dollars in a dress you'll likely only wear once, you could choose to explore an alternative route.
There are thousands of gorgeous pre-owned wedding dresses which have only been worn for a few hours and are in excellent condition. You may find a designer and a style you love for a fraction of the price.
And when you're thinking about your preferred venue, you can employ the same practice. Want a beach wedding? Consider getting married on a lesser-known strip of sand that is equally pristine as your pricier first pick.
Being open to investigate alternatives could help you save thousands of dollars on your wedding without sacrificing your specific dreams and goals. Still, when the time comes, you'll need to be ready to invest.
If you've got an eye for arts and crafts, you might be able to save a little money by doing some DIY wedding decoration.
What can you DIY?
The sense of pride you feel after completing a project can be multiplied when you create DIY crafts for your wedding. The act of making these kinds of decorations and crafts is therapeutic, allowing you to rid yourself of a few pre-wedding jitters. It can also save you a reasonable amount of money.
When it comes to DIY wedding projects, there's almost no end in sight. This allows brides of all styles to choose crafts and decorations that fit within their wedding goals.
From homemade soy votive candles to elaborate guestbooks, there are no limits on your creativity or creative money-saving skills. So if you've been fretting over how to make your wedding truly yours, you may want to browse a few ideas for quick inspiration.
Key Wedding Costs
There are several key wedding costs that you'll need to consider during the budget and planning phases. They are:
While you can also choose to focus on family and transportation costs, the above categories represent the most common and challenging financial obligations associated with getting married. As such, we'll take the time to address them in more detail.
The cost of a wedding venue varies depending on the location and the number of guests. Outdoor weddings, for example, tend to be less expensive than those held in indoor spaces. However, if the guest list is lengthy, this initial cost could quickly begin to rise.
The least expensive wedding venue is likely going to be your local courthouse. However, getting married at the courthouse may not be your (or your partner's) preferred venue. In this case, a relative or good friend's home may be an excellent alternative.
If you're determined to hire a venue for your event, you will want to browse before you commit. Many venues require you to pay a wedding deposit to secure the location for your event. If you decide to choose a different location, you may never see that money again.
Take your time when choosing your venue and consider your guest list before finalizing your decision. Knowing how many people to expect can also help with your catering choices.
Small weddings may do well with either home-cooked meals or exceptional catering options. Fewer people in attendance often relieves a significant burden from the shoulders of those paying for the wedding. For example, you could order out for fine dining if you're only expecting ten or fewer guests.
Larger weddings are naturally harder to cater for. Some venues do offer discounted catering services, so be sure to ask your potential venue options about any pricing deals they may offer. If you prefer not to hire a caterer but would still like to invite dozens of guests, you could consider making your reception a pot-luck style affair.
Guests can bring dishes to share, lessening your financial expenditures. Besides, this style is a great way to get wedding guests mingling with one another.
The average wedding dress costs about $1,500. For something that you're probably only going to wear once, that's a large chunk of money. The same can be said for the groom's tuxedo. To reduce the cost of wedding apparel, you can do one of three things. You can:
- Wait for a great deal on a typically expensive dress or suit
- Buy used
- Choose an unconventional and affordable clothing option
If you've got months to spare, you may want to set your sights on finding a great sale or discount. But if the clock is ticking down, it might be time to consider purchasing a secondhand option or choosing more non-traditional outfits.
Another important cost to consider is your wedding bands. Whether you choose to have a small intimate ceremony or a larger more lavish affair, the moment you slide the wedding ring onto your soulmate's finger signifies a lifetime of love and commitment between you.
So how much should you spend on your wedding rings? According to a study by The Knot, the average cost of wedding rings for women in 2019 was $1,100 and the average cost of wedding rings for men was $510.
The amount you spend is personal to you and your circumstances. The good news is that Blue Nile offers hundreds of wedding ring styles for every budget. From classic metal wedding bands starting from $150 and couples wedding rings from $800 to decadent diamond platinum eternity bands worth over $30,000.
Flowers & Decorations
The average cost of wedding decorations is difficult to determine. Every couple has a preferred style and type of decorating, so the price associated is bound to vary. Still, it's common knowledge that decorations tend to be small and relatively pricey.
A $3 decorative vase might not seem like much, but when you multiply it by 50, you can begin to see how things can quickly add up. For larger weddings, decorations can become expensive. A series of wedding-focused DIY projects could help lower this cost while helping you inject a little of your own personality into the wedding. You can also hire these types of items for a one-off cost.
If you have friends and family members who enjoy crafting, you might want to ask them for their help. In most cases, they'll be more than willing to contribute a little of their artistry to your big day.
Flowers are another wedding cost which needs to be considered. From the bridal bouquet and boutonniere to table centerpieces, it's easy to see how costs can mount up if you are using fresh flowers. According to Brides.com, a good rule of thumb is to allocate 10% of your wedding budget to flowers with most couples spending, on average, between $6,000 and $11,000.
The choice of honeymoon location and duration is a very personal one. Local destinations or "staycations" are a great option that are often affordable and enjoyable, especially during this time when international travel is off the cards. You can try searching for interesting attractions or sights around your state for inspiration.
But perhaps the most worthwhile option for saving on honeymoon costs is proper planning. If you're able to begin saving for your wedding well ahead of time (one year or more), you can also book your honeymoon during off-peak sales seasons. This could help you save hundreds of dollars on a destination honeymoon. With the average honeymoon costing about $5,000, there's no reason not to save.
Each and every wedding is uniquely special and memorable. Stress surrounding money issues shouldn't bog you down or cast a gloom over your special day. By utilizing this information, you can budget, save, plan, and enjoy the ideal wedding celebration.
One of the key things to take away from this article is persistence. While your first choice of venue or caterer might be slightly out of reach, there may be a better and more affordable option waiting to grab your attention.
Be patient with yourself, and remember, there's no better way to start a life together than with plenty of money in the bank!