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The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings: Getting Your Money Right

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Soon after couples announce their engagement, planning the wedding becomes one of the first financial obstacles that the couple has to overcome together. The best thing to do is to learn about typical trends when it comes to planning a wedding and what mistakes lead to the most financial failures among couples during this process.

Realistically, the best thing to do when planning for a wedding is to start small and as early as you can. Today’s world is full of couples that are getting engaged within the first year to year and a half of dating, which doesn’t leave much time to save before the planning starts for the big day. Here are my tips to help you spend less and be empowered financially:

  • - Keep a spreadsheet keeping track of all of your expenses, so you know what you are spending and where.

  • - Be sure to look at the big picture, what really matters to you both. Instead of wanting the best of everything, simple try to have the best of what you can afford and for what is important to you.

  • - Take advantage of the skills your family holds.

  • - Of course, everyone would love for their one of a kind special dress but buying a pre-owned dress is much cheaper and can still be your very own. Think about buying pre-owned then changing a few things on the dress to make it “customized and original.”

  • - There has been a common trend of starting a “wedding account” among financial advisers these days.  Even if you are not engaged, it's not early to start saving. If a person has even the slightest desire to get married some day, he can start saving before dating someone. I guess you could call it the “401-Wedding,” if you get what I mean.

Invest in your marriage, not in your wedding day. There is nothing more stressful for a couple than starting their marriage broke because they had a big lavish wedding day. If the decision is to have more flowers, the perfect venue or something else that is over the top, take the road less traveled and spend less. Having a little nest egg going into your marriage will make things a little easier and less stressful through the first few months.

Still need more info? Should you put everything on credit cards, or create a separate checking account specifically for wedding expenses to avoid overspending? Check out more tips on Credit Card Insider’s community page. Also, try the wedding budget calculator here.

Related articles:  “How Much Does a Wedding Cost?” and “I’m Engaged! Now What? - First Steps for Newly Engaged Couples.”

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How Much Does a Wedding Cost?

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The love of my life and I got married just outside of Atlanta, GA where the average couple shells out anywhere between $21,956 and $36,593 for a wedding (from The Wedding Report).  Paying the equivalent of a house down-payment was not on our agenda!  The total for our wedding (including our bling, a buffet-catered reception, a beautiful festival center venue, ceremony site, gifts, and all other associated costs) ran us just around $7,500.

According to The Wedding Report, the average US couple spends $26,000 for their wedding - sans honeymoon!  This nationwide average doesn’t take into account larger expenditures spent on wedding fêtes thrown by relatives of the bride or groom with much deeper pockets.  However, (this should set you free) knowing how much people spend on a wedding and knowing how much a wedding costs are two very different things.  Your dream day does not have to cost anywhere near that amount - even if you’re in the middle of a major city.  

The final tally of your wedding will depend on three key factors:

  1. Resources you have at your disposal
    • Work from first the standpoint of what you have available.  Such resources may include personal finances, highly reliable vendor connections, dependable friends who’ll contribute their time + talents, other-contributed funding, and online resources.
    • Cost-effective wedding websites can help greatly.  For instance, GetWedforLess.com allows brides and grooms to find top-rated vendors with the most competitive prices - saving time, money, and some stress.  The Budget Savvy Bride is a great resource with tons of inspiration.
  2. How flexible you are with your expectations and budget
    • Regarding flexibility on expectations:  
      • This is where making a list your negotiables and non-negotiables is crucial.   Are you flexible on the type of reception and vendors? Will the reception be “dry” or with alcohol?  In a decorated hall vs. pricey grandiose venue?  Will you have a simple cake or one decked out in sugar art?  Are you willing to order centerpieces, flowers, and other supplies online or in bulk?  Do you need a high-end cinematographer or can anyone with the skill to record and deliver raw footage suffice?
    • Regarding budget flexibility:  
      • There’s usually a difference between what couples have available to spend and how much of it they’re willing to part with.  Will you be willing to shift money budgeted for the reception in order to buy that dress you tried and instantly knew was “the one?”
  3. Your ability to say, “No”
    • Wedding costs have a way of getting out of hand when we have the “need to please” syndrome.  Unless one is a bridezilla, the last thing we want to do is offend people who are trying to help.  When suggestions are made that will inevitably increase costs, reply with a cordial, “If we had the money to spend on that, we’d consider it.  However, we don’t.”  Be OK with leaving it at that.

Lastly, here's a nifty tool we found online that allows your to customize your expected expenses:  Wedding Cost Estimator.  Try it out!

Until next time...

Happy Planning!

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