The average wedding costs $35,329 according to The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study.1 This figure is up 8% from the national average in 2015 and does not include the honeymoon. On average, 42% of wedding costs are now covered by couples rather than their parents.2 As you consider marriage and long-term happiness, I encourage you to get off on the right foot by paying for your wedding without going into debt or spending all of your retirement savings. The steps below will help increase your odds of success.
1. Determine the type of wedding you want.
Couples have more options than ever for their wedding celebrations as made apparent by articles like the one from Shutterfly promoting 100 Unexpected Wedding Themes.3 This trend can feel like a blessing, and a curse, when making the many decisions required for planning a wedding.
Destination weddings can be more expensive in terms of time and money for the other guests. It may be best to consider the exotic location for your honeymoon instead. You may also benefit from taking some extra time to save for your honeymoon and celebrate your first anniversary at the shore or at the Poconos for a few days.
2. Design a budget and stick to it.
An agreed upon budget will alleviate some of the stresses of decision making involved in the wedding planning process. Begin your budget research by gathering costs for desired vendors, venues, attire and headcounts. Venue options, in particular, should be thoroughly explored. This line item will likely have the most impact on your budget, with an average cost of $16,107.2
Ask three critical questions with respect to this event. First, what do we really care about? Second, for the sake of what are we having this wedding? Third, how much is enough? The answers to these questions will help guide you down the most desirable path.
3. Examine your savings habits and create new ones.
Many Millennials have commendable spending patterns, with 16% reporting $100,000 or more in savings and 47% having $15,000 stored away.4 If you have managed to build a nice nest egg, or rainy-day fund, try to avoid using this money. Designate separate savings accounts for the wedding and the honeymoon. If available, use your employer’s direct deposit option to place a dedicated percentage of your earnings into these accounts.
Evaluate your daily and weekly routines for potential luxuries that you could live without for a while. These items may include eating out, salon visits, clothes shopping, sporting events, concerts and more.
4. Consider living with your soon-to-be spouse or another roommate.
Approximately 18 million US adults were in cohabiting relationships in 2016.5 Sharing living expenses can result in significant savings, and many resources are available to help determine how to split the costs.
If you choose to live with your soon-to-be spouse, you will gain invaluable insight into one another’s daily habits and behavior. This knowledge will lead to the success of your marriage should you still decide to spend the rest of your lives together. If you learn that you cannot live well together during the process, then it’s best that you discover and deal with the issues before you walk down the aisle.
5. Allow adequate time to save money and be flexible with your plans.
Once you’ve settled on a wedding budget and savings methods, you will have a better estimate of the time required to pay for the wedding in full. Even if it takes an extra year to save for the wedding of your dreams, you’ll benefit in countless ways from this additional time. The critical practice of working in a partnership toward one of the many financial goals you will encounter as a married couple serves as a solid foundation to increase your odds of success.
Be flexible as you and your fiancé continue to review, and possibly revise, your wedding plans. Your priorities may change. Your salaries may change. You may discover additional ways to save as you go forward. Life involves constant change. Developing new habits can be challenging as well. Try to be mindful of one another’s limitations. Remember, this marriage is something you both want and working toward a debt-free wedding is your goal to get the marriage off to a promising start!
If you would like to explore any of these topics in more detail, contact me. I can help you think outside of the box and connect you with your long-term concerns.