This article appears in Bride 2020 magazine.
A wedding is usually the biggest and costliest party of a couple’s life. Plan accordingly and set a solid budget.
“Setting a wedding budget is quite a challenge. While there are a lot of costs you can predict, like how much the venue will cost, there are other factors not so easy to predict, like how many guests will show up,” said certified financial planner Shannah Compton Game, host of Millennial Money Podcast. “Most wedding budgets turn out to be a loose guideline of how much the wedding will cost, which is why I always suggest adding a 20% to 30% pad in your budget.”
No matter how well-planned and well-intentioned a budget is, things change, so it’s important to stay on top of expenses, Game said.
“Set a goal number that you don’t want to cross. If you are inching close to that number there are always ways to be resourceful and save money,” she said.
While parents are often the No. 1 source of financing, couples also dip into personal savings, use credit cards and even turn to crowdfunding, Game said.
“Credit cards offer so many amazing perks these days that it’s hard to pass up. If you plan on using a credit card to bank points for your wedding expenses, always make sure you can pay off the balance in full within 30 days so you never incur interest expenses,” she said. Plan wisely, and you might be able to bank enough points to use for your honeymoon costs or a one-year anniversary celebration, she said.
Break it down
Start with a spreadsheet and break it down into three sections: expenses prior to the wedding, day-of expenses and after-the-wedding expenses, Game said.
When budgeting be sure to add in honeymoon costs.
“Most people do neglect including the honeymoon on their budget, which can be a sizeable expense,” she said. “If you are paying out of pocket for the trip, you want to make sure and include not only your airfare but the hotel, food, activities and any transportation on your budget.”
Where to cut
If costs are adding up, cuts need to be made.
“The most expensive costs for any wedding are the location, food, flowers and photography. Anytime a vendor hears the word ‘wedding’ they immediately add a surcharge to the price,” Game said.
There are hacks to cut costs.
“My suggestion is to pick one or two that really matter to you and then find ways to be resourceful in the other areas. For instance, you could go to a flower mart and get your flowers on the day of the wedding for a fraction of the price, or have guests use a wedding photography mobile app to snap pictures and then utilize your photographer for a half-day or select pictures,” Game said. “You could also turn to Airbnb or other vacation rental sites to book an alternative wedding venue or reception location.”
Take the long view
“I definitely discourage couples from going into debt for their wedding. It simply isn’t worth it at the end of the day,” Game said. “Figure out how much money you can realistically spend and create an amazing wedding within that dollar amount. ... Be realistic and remember marriage is about the lifelong commitment and not just the wedding day.”