I’m coming to the end of a year of wedding planning, culminating in the big event in just a few days! I’ve been reflecting on my relationship and how it will change of course, but I also find myself reflecting back on the planning process. I’ll admit, at the beginning I thought – since I’m a Financial Planner and well versed in budgeting, how hard could that aspect of planning possibly be? I was humbled very quickly. Whether you are planning a wedding of your own, contributing to one, or just curious, I want to share the challenges I faced and suggestions for how to avoid or work through them.
Start with a Budget in Mind
Having an idea of how much you can spend in total on your wedding helps to rein in costs as you go. Start with a conversation with your and your partner’s families about how much they might be willing to contribute, as well as what the two of you can pitch in. If you are considering borrowing money to fund the wedding, think carefully about how much you borrow and a realistic timeline for how quickly you can pay it back. In coming up with the dollar amount my parents offered to contribute, my mom looked at what she had contributed to my sister’s wedding three years ago, and then adjusted it for inflation. I really appreciated this consideration since wedding costs rise quickly from year to year. For example, the average wedding cost increased by $3,000 from 2015 to 2016.1
Breakdown Your Budget into Categories
The 2017 Real Weddings Study by The Knot found that 45% of couples spent more than they had planned, by an average of $7,319.2 To prevent this kind of overspending, take your total budget and break it down for each category. Many websites recommend percentages of your total budget to go towards each item. For example – 40% on venue and catering, 3% on stationery. That way when you start shopping around for a service or product, you already know how much you have allotted.
Prioritize What Is Important to You
Let me be the first of hopefully many to give you permission to skip things you don’t want to do, even if they might be considered traditional. Focus your spending on the things you value. For myself and Pete, we really want our wedding to be a big party where everyone can relax, be themselves, and have a great time. Because of that, we put most of our budget towards food, drinks, and a band. We are spending very little money on flowers, because that wasn’t a top priority for us. Not having official bridesmaids or groomsmen helped save money as well. In place of flower arrangements, we opted to use a local plant rental service which also accomplishes another goal of ours – sustainability.
Don’t Forget the Little Things
Once you make your budget, as you track your spending in each category, include everything that you spend money on. This includes things you may not think of like stamps, miscellaneous décor, and tips. Trying to figure out the proper etiquette for wedding tips is, to be honest, maddening. So I won’t recommend who or how much to tip. However, once you make that decision (in advance!), build it into your budget. Make sure to track your budget as you go even though things will change. When we requested a tentative invoice from a vendor a few months ago, the response we got was “most people think in thousands, not hundreds.” Little did they know, but I think about my budget in dollars!
Ask for Help from Talented Friends and Family
My last tip is to make use of the talents of the people who love you. Of course, that should be within reason, but all of the friends or family we have asked to help with the wedding have been happy to contribute. One of my friends is great with graphic design, so she is helping me make signage. Another friend of ours is musically inclined, so he will play guitar during the ceremony. And especially helpful are family members that offered to help with set up and take down of tables and chairs so we don’t have to pay the rental company that additional fee. Think creatively about how someone’s time and talents might be able to save you some money, remembering that they are likely happy to give as a show of love and support.
Any opinions are those of Kathryn Beach and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Expressions of opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.