For many of us, getting married is one of our major life events, a period filled with a range of emotions that may include stress over how to pay for the big day. Even simple weddings can easily add up to a pretty penny. Once the engagement is official, it’s time for a heart-to-heart talk about the financial implications of planning for a wedding.
How much can we afford to spend?
The first thing to discuss is how much you and your significant other can afford to spend. Consider the amount of savings you can comfortably devote to a wedding without starting your marriage in the red. Set up separate meetings with both sides of the family to see if parents and other relatives are able to help with some of the costs. If they are, be sure to get a firm commitment to avoid any misunderstandings at the date approaches.
Start a wedding budget
Having a firm idea how much money is available for your wedding is the first step. The second is creating a wish list of the things you’d like to do or have, and then see which ones are realistic under your budget. Prioritize your list so the must-haves are at the top. For example, is location the top priority? The wedding dress? How about the catering, entertainment, decorations or wedding cake? There are no wrong or right priorities, just preferences for your unique and special day.
Start planning early
Many people start planning a wedding a year in advance. This gives you enough time to search, select and contract services and goods as well as to save money for these expenses, particularly for vendors. The key to finding the right person or company is to shop around. Interview at least three vendors for each function such as photographer, caterer, baker, etc.) While the lowest bid may be the logical choice remember to consider your first impression of the vendor and what references have to say about customer satisfaction. If your heart is set on another vendor who costs more see if you can negotiate a lower price. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
When booking a vendor, you’ll likely be required to make a non-refundable deposit and to sign a contract. Be sure to read it carefully and to understand exactly what you’re getting in the deal. Also pay attention to cancellation charges and other fees. If there are changes later, be sure to get them in writing so everyone is on the same page. Check in with your vendors regularly, especially if you’ve booked them six months or more in advance, to be sure everything is on track for your day.
Ways you can save
Because there are so many components to a wedding there are several ways you can save money. Here are a few cost-cutting tips that may help keep your wedding budget intact and on track.
Many venues are booked a year ahead so this should be among the first things you do once the engagement begins. Saturdays are the busiest wedding days so you may want to consider a Friday or a Sunday. While traditional wedding halls are great venues, also consider parks, restaurants, community centers or the backyards of friends or families. If the reception is at a hotel ask if there’s a discount if you also reserve a block of rooms for guests.
Hand-made invitations take more time to make but they evoke a personal touch. If you’re good with computer design programs, you can create your own formal invitations and send them out for printing. If you plan on buying them, don’t forget to check office supply and copier stores along with stationary and party supply stores. The Internet is a great place to find companies that do discount wedding invitations.
Along with bridal stores, check the formal dresses in department stores. Ask if there are any last season dresses or any samples around that may be for sale. Ask family and friends if they have a dress you can buy or borrow.
You can find vases and other decorations at craft and thrift stores or through networking with family and friends. Flowers that are in season are usually less expensive compared to those ordered from far away. If you’ve got a green thumb, you can grow your own flowers or get them from an online wholesaler. To make your table decorations more memorable, consider less expensive alternatives to floral centerpieces.
Check with friends and family members for referrals of wedding photographers. If you really want to pinch pennies, contact local photography clubs or schools to see if any budding photographer would is interested in shooting a wedding. With smartphones so popular these days, you could ask your guests to email any photos they take. Just remember this option isn’t the best way to obtain formal photographs. Selecting a digital photo album instead of a printed one will save you money on prints.
Source: BALANCE Financial Fitness Program