The holiday season is over, which means the wedding-planning season has officially begun. If you were one of the countless couples that got engaged over the winter holidays, you have probably already picked up a few bridal magazines, scoped out a venue, and asked your closest friends to be in the wedding party – but have you given any thought to your wedding budget?
This is an exciting time in your lives, but if you get caught up in the anticipation of the big day without a financial plan you can risk adding the stress of excessive debt to your marriage. Before you begin planning a day filled with pomp, circumstance and extravagant expenses, sit down together and discuss the type of wedding you would like to have and how you are going to pay for it.
Whether you want an elaborate Cinderella reception, a destination wedding or a small and intimate backyard affair, it’s important to consider the seemingly endless costs associated with your dream day. By planning ahead, your wedding can be both memorable and affordable. Here are some tips and things to look into and discuss to say “I Do” to a debt free wedding:
Who’s footing the bill?
It’s becoming more common for the bride and groom to either share in the cost of their wedding with parents or pay for the entire event themselves. Once you understand how you will be paying for your wedding, begin saving about 20 per cent of your combined monthly income to cover your portion of the wedding costs.
What is important to the two of you? Do you want an elaborate gown, gourmet food, an open bar, designer flowers or a live band? Sit down together and prioritize the things that are most important to the two of you. Creating a small list of wedding “must haves” and a list of “nice to haves” will help you plan the day of your dreams while keeping costs down.
The last thing you want is to start your married life together buried in a pile of debt. This is why budgeting is the best place for couples to start when planning their wedding. Include the estimated costs of your wedding day “must haves” and your “nice-to-haves”. If the total is more than you can afford, cut back on the expenses that are not that important to the two of you. Use this work sheet to list all of your potential costs.
The easiest and most efficient way to reduce your wedding cost is to reduce the number of your guests. Do you really need to include Uncle John, who is the 2nd cousin of your mother that you last saw 12 years ago? Consider limiting the guest list to 100 instead of 150 to save money on food, drink, favours and stationary. Limit the number of attendants in the wedding party. Opt for a smaller wedding party with only a maid-of-honour and a best man. Ask other important friends and relatives to be involved in the day by making a speech, taking photos or baking your cake.
April to September is peak wedding season. In order to get more out of you budget, consider an off-season wedding date. Wedding vendors are not as busy in the late fall and winter months, which means you have more room to negotiate price and get discounted rates.
Skip tradition to cut costs
When it comes to planning your special day, there are no rules that say you must follow tradition. Instead of spending a fortune on stationary for invitations, consider sending out an electronic save-the-date or eliminate reply cards entirely by asking guests to RSVP via email. Go with simple and affordable wedding bands and upgrade to gold on your 5th anniversary, or shop for your gown online to save between 30 to 80 per cent on the dress you will only wear once.
Adding the stress of excessive debt to a new relationship is a risky proposition – the first year of marriage is hard enough. By following these tips and coming up with your own creative ways to cut the cost of your wedding day you will be able to save money, avoid debt and still enjoy every moment of your special day.
Start your marriage off on the right financial foot by downloading a copy of The Wedding Planner. Remember, it’s your special day – 10 years from now you want to look back on fond memories, not an over-the-top celebration you are still trying to pay off.