It seems like the wedding season is never ending this year. According to a report by The Knot, a leading wedding magazine, the average American wedding costs $33,900. That number includes the cost of an engagement ring, but not the expenses from a honeymoon.
Whether you have $100,000, $10,000 or $1,000 to spend, with careful organization, zealous budgeting and a few money-saving tricks, you can have the wedding you always wanted. From the flowers and the dress to the venue and band.
Here are six tips to budget and save on the cost of your big day!
1. Decide Who's Paying
Talk with your families about who will pay for what: Some brides' families still pick up the entire tab, but more and more groom's families are participating too. When you do talk, here are strategies for determining your initial budget.
Ask both of your folks if they're planning to contribute to the cost of the wedding. If so, ask them to commit to a specific dollar amount, and then add up all the contributions to create your budget.
Alternatively, it may be easier to ask each set of parents to finance a particular aspect of the wedding (such as the ceremony, honeymoon, or catering) instead of just committing to a dollar amount.
Decide how much you two can contribute between now and the wedding.
2. Schedule Smart
Saturday is the most common day of the week for weddings. It's naturally attractive since everyone has the day off and most churches aren't available on Sundays. Because of this popularity, venues are often more expensive on Saturday than on other days.
While the appeal of a weekend might not apply to a random Wednesday, you can pick a date that offers some of those same benefits without paying the Saturday premium. More people are finding Friday weddings are a great compromise. Try setting up your special day before a holiday, like July 3, or on the Sunday of a long weekend, like Labor Day. Your guests will still have time to enjoy themselves, and you can save as much as 15% on the cost of your venue.
Time of day can make a big difference too. A buffet lunch is less expensive to provide than a sit-down dinner—and appetizers and champagne in the afternoon cost even less.
3. Cut Down the Number of Guests
Size matters. The number one thing you can do to keep your wedding costs down is to keep your guest list down. Average spending per guest has reached $204, according to theknot.com.
If that sounds like a lot, remember that each invitee gets an invitation, a catered meal, a piece of very pricey cake, and a whole lot of champagne—and that's without a lot of frills.
4. Untether Yourself
When it comes to picking a venue, the first obligation should be to find a place that speaks to who you are as a couple. Practically, though, there are several important factors that should influence your decision. Most importantly, pick a venue that allows outside vendors for food, music, and photography (or negotiate with the venue you already selected). Places that do a lot of business in weddings may have existing relationships with businesses that can charge more because they're not competing.
If you can get this kind of flexibility, shop around for better prices on some of the more costly parts of the wedding. You also gain the flexibility to get exactly what you want out of these services. If you want a signature cocktail instead of a full bar, for example, contracting with an outside party may be a necessity.
5. Keep the 'W' Word to Yourself
From cake decorating to flower arranging, everyone has a "special" wedding price. Many vendors know they can get away with charging more for a service if it's wedding-related than if it's for another occasion. You can catch some savings if you keep the reason for the occasion to yourself.
For example, when shopping for a dress, buying a formal gown that's not specifically labeled as a "wedding dress" can translate to savings. Getting a custom-decorated sheet cake (or buying a big cake and decorating it simply yourself) can save a few hundred dollars. By not mentioning the word "wedding," you can easily save 30% at various vendors.
6. Spread Out The Cost
One of the biggest challenges for newlyweds is coming up with that much money all at once. All the wedding bills come due at the same time. For many couples, that means using credit cards and wedding loans to finance the whole cost of their wedding. Doing so can make your dream wedding all the more unaffordable, as interest and financing charges add up.
Instead, consider setting up a club account to help cover costs. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account into a dividend-bearing savings account. When the bills start coming in for the big day, you'll have money set aside to pay for the costs. Remember, a dollar you don't have to finance is a dollar you don't pay interest on. Even if you can't absorb the whole cost of the event out of savings, why not borrow less?
Keep your eye on the prize. The biggest savings suggestion is to focus on what you're doing, not the things you'll have around you. Perfect flowers or not perfect flowers, surf and turf or a modest brunch, your wedding day is likely to be magical. Starting out your new life without a bunch of leftover debt from a wedding is a magical place to start from!
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