I'm Getting Married! But How Can I Afford the Wedding?
It may be impossible to buy love, but a fantastic wedding is easier had if you can pay for the basics. Unfortunately, rising costs of venues, food and other expenses mean couples might have challenges planning a wedding that meets their expectations. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, but it can be expensive. Here are ways to save enough to pay for the wedding you want.
A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your wedding goals and needs.
What Is the Average Cost of a Wedding?
A couple getting married can expect to pay $30,000 for their wedding, according to the Wedding Wire. The largest expenses for your big day will include the venue, catering, alcohol, live entertainment and photography. Your guest count can also drive up wedding costs. In addition, location affects the price of a wedding. For instance, a city wedding can cost more than twice that of a wedding in the country.
5 Steps to Save Money for Your Wedding Expenses
Most engaged couples don’t have $30,000 lying around. Fortunately, you can follow these five steps to save money, spend where it counts and afford an enjoyable wedding.
Decide on a Budget
An essential step to achieving any goal is to create a plan, and a budget is exactly that. Sitting down with your partner and defining your expenses – such as a specific venue or flower shop – will help you see where your money will go. By listing every expense, from a videographer to invitation stationery, you can decide how much to spend on each facet of the wedding.
This first step can also help you understand where you can save. For example, if you don’t need a wedding planner or live band, you can eliminate these from your budget, giving yourself more to spend in other areas. In addition, you can find savvy ways to reduce costs without skimping. For instance, a buffet with two protein choices is less expensive than individually plated cuts of beef tenderloin.
Cut Unnecessary Wedding Expenses
Your completed budget will give you a savings target to shoot for in the coming months. You can kickstart your progress by removing unnecessary spending from daily life in the meantime. For example, you can stop paying for several streaming subscriptions or cook dinner at home more often. Or, you could cancel your gym membership and work out in your basement or living room. Cutting these expenses can have an enormous impact, saving you hundreds of dollars per month.
Whether you start a side hustle, earn a raise at your day job, or find more lucrative employment, increasing your income is an excellent way to make your wedding dreams a reality. A few hundred dollars extra every week can boost your savings, especially when you pair your new income with a trimmed-down monthly budget.
Pinpoint Expenses to Sacrifice
In most cases, you’ll likely have to sacrifice a couple of luxuries for your wedding. In other words, be ready to cut back on what doesn’t matter much to focus on what matters most. For example, top-notch photography and videography can jointly take up about 15% of your budget – and that’s completely okay if that is a big priority. However, paying for these services might mean less fancy place settings or trimming your guest list. The takeaway here is to balance what you most want against what you can live without, and spend accordingly.
Use Your Credit Card (Wisely)
Your wedding expenses can become credit card points that can earn you cold, hard cash to offset some of the costs of your nuptials. For instance, since the venue is likely your biggest expense, you can pay for it with a credit card that earns a generous percentage on purchases. Or, if your caterer or venue is a restaurant, you can use a card that gives a high reward for spending at restaurants, like the U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card.
Since most financial institutions provide reward credit cards, it’s an easy win to use one for wedding expenses (as long as the vendor takes payment by credit card). In addition, you can use a new credit card to pay up front and have up to 18 months with 0% APR, giving you ample time to pay for your wedding.
However, it’s crucial to ensure that you pay all credit card balances before they incur interest charges. Otherwise, you’ll offset your financial gains by paying interest to the credit card company. Plus, entering marriage with a mountain of debt makes for a stressful time and can ruin your first months as a married couple.
Where to Save Your Money
Saving for a wedding involves allocating your cash to various investment vehicles. Depending on your timeframe and risk tolerance, you might prefer one of the choices below over the others. Additionally, the following assets are liquid, meaning you can withdraw cash as needed as you near your wedding date. On the other hand, you might consider stocks if you’re two years or more from your wedding. Be warned, though, that long-term investments generally carry more risk.
Bonds are loans to governments and corporations. They usually are less risky than other investments. Bonds from the U.S. government are particularly reliable, allowing you to capitalize on the economy’s rising interest rates with minimal risk. On the other hand, you might lose money on corporate bonds since companies go under and fail to repay their loans every year.
High-Yield Savings Account
While savings accounts generally don’t have excellent interest rates, the rise of the high-yield savings account allows consumers to earn more for stashing away money. Specifically, you can find banks offering high-yield savings accounts with interest rates of 3% or more. Plus, since the FDIC insures savings accounts, this is a risk-free way to have your money work for you.
Certificate of Deposit (CD)
A certificate of deposit (CD) is like a savings account with a better interest rate and a maturity date. For example, you might find a CD that provides 4% interest and matures after six months. So, you can put your money into a CD and expect a return in the stated timeframe.
CDs can be more profitable than savings accounts, and the FDIC insures them, eliminating risk. However, CDs require minimum deposits ranging from $50 to $10,000. As a result, you might not have enough money to purchase a CD, making a high-yield savings account a more accessible choice.
11 Tips to Cut Wedding Costs
If you’re earning extra income, trimming your monthly budget, and socking away money, you might still not have enough to pay for the ideal wedding. As stated previously, you may have to cut back on specific parts of the wedding. Here’s how to do it while affecting your special day as little as possible:
Choose an Unpopular Date
While a warm, sunny June wedding sounds like paradise, winter weddings are picking up steam as couples look for cost-effective options. In essence, trading warm weather for thousands of dollars in savings for the venue alone can be worth it. To save even more, pick a day other than Saturday for your wedding.
Haggle With Your Vendors
Everything is negotiable, and that includes wedding costs. For example, if your venue includes a weirdly high shuttle fee, ask if there is wiggle room on the pricing. The worst response you can get is “no” and you might save yourself several hundred dollars.
Forget the Stationery
Invitations and save-the-dates can be digital and still be beautiful. Furthermore, you can find them online for free. This option can save you hundreds and is faster and more reliable than paper mail.
Skip the Bridal Shop for More Affordable Options
Bridal shops typically charge the most for dresses. Instead, head to local department stores for a selection of more affordable dresses. In addition, you can visit consignment shops for used dresses and save even more.
Ask Newlyweds for Help
If you recently went to friends’ weddings, you might be able to score free decorations from them. Or, you can search Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to score essential pieces for cheap, such as table number card holders.
Be Savvy With Flowers
Like any expense, flowers can get out of control if you’re not careful. Asking your florist for in-season flowers can drive down costs. Or, you can opt for flowers with big, sturdy blooms, such as ranunculuses.
Be Flexible With Dinner
While tradition calls for plated dinners at your reception, several cost-effective options can excite palates and satisfy guests. For example, hiring food trucks or having a buffet can decrease costs while serving excellent fare.
Alcohol Can Be a Money Sink
Like with dinner, an open bar is the most expensive way to accomplish a wedding staple. However, you can keep the libations flowing without breaking the bank by only offering a limited drink selection (such as a few beers and wines) or a signature cocktail.
Opt for a Modest Cake
Nothing beats photos of couples smushing frosting in each other’s faces – and fortunately, you don’t need a 22-tier cake to make that joyous moment possible. Instead, a small cake for cutting and sheet cakes for guests will be less expensive without sacrificing any of the fun.
Be Selective With Plus-Ones
Shortening your guest list can reduce costs, and restricting plus-ones to your family and closest friends can help. This choice will keep you from going over budget and help you spend your wedding solely with those who matter most.
Make the Most of Your Guest List
Similarly, your guest list can benefit from a general sweep for distant acquaintances and family. Reducing your guest list by 10 or more people can save you thousands. So, taking a few second cousins off the list might be painful, but your wallet will thank you.
Saving for your wedding can be daunting, especially as inflation continues to make life more expensive. However, various savings techniques, including strict budgeting and low-risk investing, can help you afford the high price tag. In addition, you can reduce the wedding cost through numerous methods and focus your spending on what matters most.
Tips to Save for a Wedding
A financial plan can make saving for your wedding easier. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
If you plan on purchasing bonds and CDs to enhance your savings, use SmartAsset’s free investment calculator to see how your money could grow, given a set rate of return.
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