The average American wedding costs about $30,000 these days, about the same as a down payment on a house. If you and your spouse-to-be are getting cold feet from the prospect of managing that bill yourself, you have two choices: spend less or save more. Here are some practical tips to help you do both:
- Plan Ahead
A wedding two years from now will be easier to pay for than one happening next month. The further away your special date is, the more time you’ll have to save up enough to pay for it. And the more rushed you are, the more likely you are to pay a premium for the hall or the musicians that you want.
- Set Your Priorities
Some people wouldn’t think of getting married anywhere but Maui, while others are happy with the church near home but want the best photographer money can buy. Before booking anything, decide what is on your “must have” list and what can fall to the “this would be nice” list. That will make it easier when you have to start cutting items to fit your budget.
- Negotiate Everything
Since you’ve started early, you’ve had time to identify several different vendors for each service you need. Remember, the first quote you get is just a starting point, and as long as you have alternatives, you have the upper hand. Don’t bully anyone; be pleasant and respectful, but stand your ground, and you’ll likely get them to lower their prices.
- Do It Yourself
Rather than contracting everything out, figure out which items you can handle yourself, like programs or table décor. Think outside the box on your expenses and try something like hiring a food truck – with the idea that you’ll pay only for what people actually eat - rather than bringing in a caterer.
- Start a Special Account
Open up a separate savings account just for wedding expenses. You can put things like your tax refund in there or any other “found money” that comes along, and you won’t be tempted to spend it elsewhere.
- Bring in Extra Money
It’s not a lot of fun to think about, but you can always take on a side hustle with that extra income being earmarked for wedding costs. Look for a freelance or part-time gig, or consider holding a garage sale or selling old clothes to a consignment shop.
- Crowdfund It
It’s becoming less tacky to ask other people for money, through reputable sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe. Your guests are planning to buy you a gift anyway – maybe they’d be willing to put some or all of that money toward paying for the wedding itself. There are online gift registries that offer a cash option to make it easy on your invitees.
- Borrow Money
Let’s say it up front: Borrowing money to pay for a wedding should be a last resort. Having said that, there are places like LendingTree that offer special personal loans for weddings, with interest rates far below that of credit cards.
Credit cards are helpful here if you can pay the balance every month and are doing it only for the rewards. Otherwise, they should be avoided if at all possible. You could be paying off the last of your wedding expenses somewhere around your 25th anniversary.
Want to make sure your marriage starts out on a sound financial footing? Your Baird Financial Advisor can help you sort through the planning options and ensure that your day is as special as possible – without jeopardizing your future.