Wedding Budget Tips
published March 16th, 2014
The cost of the average American wedding is $28,000, with around half of that total being spent on the ceremony and reception venue. However you break it down that’s a lot of money to spend on one event. That’s not to say you should forgo your big day and take a year long vacation, but there are ways to slice that bill if you’re willing to make a few compromises, and maybe even some sacrifices.
The golden rule here is that you should never ever go into debt to fund your big day. You may have a lot of available credit on your flexible friend, but it’s a really bad idea to start married life sitting at the breakfast table having a debt crisis meeting. Especially if you have debt to begin with, and according to statistics the average American is more than $225,000 in debt with many having less than $500 in savings. Bearing in mind that the average cost of a wedding dress is around $1,000 - that 500 bucks would probably only cover the stationary.
So how do you pay for your wedding on a budget? First you should figure out exactly how much you have available. Maybe ask family if they’d be willing to contribute. Every little helps. Beg, borrow and steal to raise as much money as possible.
Actually, don’t borrow - that’s still going into debt. Also, don’t steal - that’s actually a criminal offence. Starting out married life with one (or both) of you behind bars is probably not ideal. So just beg - like a dog, but with a little more self respect and dignity.
Create a budget spreadsheet with a set dollar limit for each part of your budget (attire, reception, flowers, etc.).
Once you have your budget then cut it by 10%. This will allow you to slightly exceed your budget without going into the red. Just think of that 10% as an overdraft cushion. A safety net, or whatever analogy floats your boat.
There’s a per-head cost for food and drink, and these two are typically the biggest expense in the whole wedding, so make an A list and a B list. On your A list you’re going to have people who really must be there at any cost, and on your B list - people you haven’t spoken to for two years but you’re inviting them because you think it would be rude not to.
Now take your B list - and toss it in the fire. Forget them. These people don’t need to be at your wedding. Yes, you’re going to upset a few people but the worst they can do is call you less than they already do - or maybe unfriend you on Facebook.
If you don’t have a fireplace then a shredder will probably suffice. You just don’t want to go fishing around in the trash at 3am with pangs of guilt. It’s for your own good.
Cutting down on your guest list will have a ripple effect on the rest of your budget. You can have a smaller venue, and less decor, stationary, favors, food and drink. You’ll be amazed at how much money you can save - all by destroying a few friendships!
Seriously though, invite them over for coffee a few weeks later, tell them it was nothing personal, they’ll understand!
The setting of your wedding is also a big cost factor. Major cities are bound to be more expensive, but then again so is some obscure town in the middle of nowhere - as it’ll cost more to have everything shipped there. It’ll also be a major pain getting there if the nearest gas station is 500 miles away. So maybe go and scout a few locations.
Date and time is also an obvious consideration. Getting married on a Saturday in the middle of summer is obviously going to cost more than a Wednesday in the middle of winter. So maybe compromise with a Friday afternoon in the spring time.
Finally, it’s great if you want a formal affair but this will have to reflect on the venue, food and entertainment. Therefore maybe an informal affair is a viable option?
Don’t think that because your wedding budget is $10,020 you need to spend $10,020. If it comes in at $9,000 just save the surplus money for your honeymoon. There’s no need to order $1k worth of liquor to celebrate saving $1k on your wedding budget!
So cut down on the guests, don’t be too sniffy about the location and don’t feel bad that a few of your friends may have to take one day of their paid work vacation in order to attend.