Did you know that the average cost of a wedding in the United States is nearly $28, 000? Or that wedding receptions are typically half the cost of the entire wedding? For many couples, their wedding ends up being an extremely expensive event that really hurts their finances.
My friend is actually getting married in a few months and we’ve been talking about ways to make it both memorable and affordable. What follows are some tips for planning your wedding without busting your budget.
Consider your budget before you start planning
For starters, who’s paying for the wedding? In some cases, the bride’s family pays for both the wedding and the reception. In other cases, the families share the cost. And in still others, the bride and groom are on their own. In my friends’s case, they’re sharing the cost with their family. Fortunately, they’ve been saving up money for this special occasion since before they got engaged. Planning ahead and saving is the best way to have your dream wedding without winding up in debt.
Choose your wedding date and time wisely
The date and time of your wedding has a huge impact on how much things will cost. The most popular (and thus expensive) months to get married are June through August. You can usually save a lot of money if you choose a less popular month.
In addition, the most expensive rates for reception halls are on Saturday nights. By choosing a different day, you can get the same reception hall and services for considerably less money. If you can’t switch days, try moving the wedding up to an earlier time so you can cut your reception costs by serving a lighter meal.
For example, have a cocktail reception, or just serve appetizers. In both cases, your guests can have a great time and the bride and groom saved a bunch of money.
Count and choose your guests thoughtfully
The bigger the reception, the higher the costs. Thus, you should focus on inviting guests who you truly want to be a part of your special day. While you may have pressure from your family to include distant relatives, it’s up to you whether or not you include them. We included a few such relatives to compromise with our parents, in part because they helped out with the wedding costs. However, the reception included our dearest and closest friends and family only.
Allocate money to important details, cut expenses elsewhere
Focus on details that matter to you and find creative ways to cut costs on other expenses. It’s all about prioritizing your budget and making it go further. Be sure to focus on your personal preferences rather than those of your friends.
Many brides choose to make their own wedding favors, both to save money and to give a personal touch to the occasion. You should also check on things like whether or not the reception hall will allow you to make your own centerpieces.
Another option is to have your friends use their unique talents to help with the wedding in place of giving you a gift. For example, we had a friend with appropriate experience who helped with the flower arrangements. She did a wonderful job and we saved quite a bit of money. We also had my husband’s grandmother make our wedding cake. It was special touch for us, and our guests loved it.
Of course, it’s important to do this only if you’ll both be happy with the arrangement. If you’re not happy with your friend’s portfolio, or if you’re worried that this might strain the relationship, then it’s probably better to pay someone else to handle it.
You should also think twice about items like chair covers at your reception. Do you think it’ll really make a big difference or are you just enticed by the sales pitch?
And remember… This is just the beginning of your marriage
Your wedding day is just the first day of a (hopefully) long and happy marriage. It’ll be a special day regardless of how much you spend. By all means, enjoy yourself, but do so without breaking the bank. Starting off your marriage on solid financial footing is the greatest gift you can ask for.