When you’re caught up in the fun of planning a wedding and shopping from what’s become a huge range of enticing products and services, staying on budget can be a challenge.
If you’re having a hard time keeping your wedding expenses in check, you’re far from alone. In 2017, the average cost of a U.S. wedding was a whopping $33,391, reports Theknot.com, while a category of so-called “high spenders” invested an average $105,130 each. Spending per guest rose from $194 in 2009 to $268 in 2017.
“Couples aim to create the ultimate guest experience with photo booths, sparklers, selfie stations, games, musical performances, wine and liquor tastings, magicians and more,” the article reports.
That said, there’s no reason to get so distracted that you end up paying wedding bills years after the big day. Consider these tips for staying the course and planning a beautiful-but-budgeted affair.
- Be clear on funding. It’s important to have open and honest discussions with everyone who may contribute financially so you understand your exact spending limits. You’ll also need to know when in the planning process those funds will be provided.
- Prioritize. Create a wish list of everything you could want, then number each item as a first, second or third priority, asking your fiancé to do the same. That will help establish your most important expenditures.
- Don’t forget about little costs that tend to add up, like stamps, marriage license fees, guest books, cake serving tools, etc.
- Think beyond the traditional. Don’t hesitate to rule out expensive customs that don’t apply to your personalities.
- Stick with your guest limit. A wedding ceremony need not be proof of the number of friends you have.
- Don’t shop at high-end venues. The temptation may be too great to splurge on pricey items you’ll only use once.
- At least attempt negotiation. Some vendors may not publicize their willingness to barter, and you have nothing to lose by asking for a deal.
- Scan the fine print. Contractual contingencies and restrictions can cost you dearly if you aren’t aware of them. Pay particular attention to the amount of time service providers agree to be on site before overtime rates kick in.
- Hire talented amateurs. Recruiting a friend or acquaintance for entertainment, design work, photography, decorating, officiating or other functions may feel more meaningful, and could be a financial win for all involved.
- Factor in tips. Forgetting gratuities can lead to last-minute scrambling.
- Shop around. Check the web to see whether retailers and service providers are offering fair prices, and whether there are lower-cost options. Handy tip: Leaving items in online shopping carts sometimes spurs e-tailers to send coupons. You can also try this budget calculator tool from The Knot, which provides some typical price ranges and helps you track your expenditures.
- Wait for sales. Ask whether sales are pending before buying and wait to buy when you can. You may even wish to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday, when products are on sale across retail categories.
- Factor in weather issues. Consider the likelihood that you and your guests will need umbrellas, fans, space heaters, additional awnings, etc.
- Give yourself a range. To maintain peace of mind and prepare for contingencies, budget for at least 5 percent more than you really plan to spend.
- Separate wedding money. Wedding funds and expenses will be easier to track if they’re handled through their own account instead of your everyday one.
- Earn rewards from spending. Consider earning perks by charging everything to a credit card that provides mileage, rewards or cash back. Then set up automatic payments through your bank so you’re never charged interest.
Wedding costs need not be astronomically high if you go into the planning process forewarned and forearmed.