Throwing a Financially Friendly Wedding
The season of weddings is upon us and whether you are recently engaged or a parent of someone who is, I would expect the financial burden of throwing a wedding in the near future is weighing on you. In 2014 the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. was $31,213 – a substantial increase from 30 years ago when weddings were smaller affairs involving a church potluck and a sheet cake made by the groom’s aunt. Having recently thrown a wedding myself, I know all too well how the costs can add up, which is why we thought we’d pull together some financially friendly advice for how to celebrate in style without breaking the bank.
In the spirit of financial planning, let’s begin with a quick economic lesson about debt. Debt is a weighty word in the financial world because it can have a big impact. Debt can allow you to buy a home and get a better education, but it can also ruin a financial plan for retirement and has caused many to fall into bankruptcy. While there are good and bad aspects of debt, what is possibly even more important to remember about debt is that it is binding – it has to be paid back. For this reason, debt should only be used on things that have the potential to generate economic benefit. What I mean by this, is that you should only use debt to buy something that can help you earn more (and thereby help pay off the debt). It is more acceptable to use debt to buy a house than a TV. because the house will appreciate in value, but the TV will not. Likewise, a wedding is a single day event. Unlike borrowing to get a better education, borrowing to pay for a wedding will not help you get a higher earning job. Because it will not earn you money, it’s generally a bad idea to pay for a wedding using debt.
Instead of taking out debt to pay for a wedding, we highly encourage you to figure out what you can afford to spend without causing your current financial situation too much pain and then build a budget off of that amount. We recommend using theknot.com which has a budgeting tool that allows you to input how much you want to spend and then allocates the money to various expenses accordingly. Once you’ve done that, it’s important to stick to the budget. This is the hardest part (only 26% of couples are successful at staying under their budget), but it can be done. Here are a few tips to help you stay under budget.
Instead of doing a plated dinner, consider doing a buffet style meal. You’ll save on the cost of having to hire extra wait and clean up staff.
Instead of buying a brand new dress, consider renting a designer dress or altering an antique dress from a relative.
Instead of paying for a florist to do table arrangements, consider buying flowers in bulk from a local flower market ahead of time and creating your own arrangements using cheap vases from a craft store.
Instead of paying for a DJ, consider creating a dance playlist on your iPod and asking a friend to act as a stand-in DJ.
My husband and I were married in Malibu, California. It was a beautiful, perfect day that cost less than $25,000 and we have no regrets about it. Because we were thrifty and willing to do some things ourselves, we were able to save and as a result of smart financial decisions, are now in the market to buy a house. To learn more about being financially savvy with your wedding, check out these articles: