Move over summer; there’s a new wedding guest in town. According to a recent survey, wedding bells are now ringing more in the fall than the summer. September and October come in tops for most weddings. I can certainly vouch for the vivid array of colors and cool temps that the Smoky Mountains offer as an ideal wedding backdrop during this time. While the autumn equinox lends a picturesque setting, it may not be any kinder to your wallet than a summer wedding. Nevertheless, there are ways to actually have the wedding of your dreams on a budget in both summer or fall or any time of year. Here is my list, as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, of wedding budget tips to keep your expenses under control.
According to theKnot.com, the average cost of a wedding in the United States tops $35,000 in expenses. Couples typically spend anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000, not including the honeymoon! That’s a lot of money!
That amount could be 3 years worth of mortgage payments for some people! You could own a nice new car for that amount!
Honestly, there are several different ways you could spend $35,000!
Recently, I had a discussion with some friends of mine on how to save money on the big event. They have a large family with five young girls. With the custom that the bride’s parents foot the wedding bill, that could end up being almost $175,000 for all five weddings! (We won’t even get into the inflation scenario for their sake!) I told them if one of their girls were to get married today, they could actually do it for only $5,000.
If you’re like them, you are probably rolling your eyes right now. However, stay with me on this one, and I’ll make a believer out of you, as I did them. Obviously, the wedding day is an important event. It’s a day that will forever be etched in your memory, so you want to do right, but if you’re like my friends, you don’t want to spend $30,000, especially five times! Here are some wedding budget tips to help you to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Skip the high priced catering menu and settle for finger foods. If you’d rather do a meal, why not consider a fast food restaurant that caters like Salsarita’s. The Tex-Mex style meal can quickly fill you up. They even actually provide everything from plates and cups to chips and drinks. Everybody loves Salsarita’s! I mean who doesn’t like a burrito and a taco right? Obviously, it won’t be the finest china, but it will be just like any other party or an outing.
This suggestion can help with the #1 suggestion. When you limit the size of the venue, you can politely explain to those that don’t receive invites that space only holds X amount of people. Here in Tennessee, a trend that is taking off seems to be getting married in a barn. Perhaps you love the lake. Use a small pavilion on the grounds.
Not everyone wants to get married outdoors these days, so church weddings are still alive and well. If you’re a member of a church, you can typically use the church for free (or for a small offering) and even utilize a fellowship hall for the reception.
Saturday is obviously the most popular day of the week to host your nuptials, and for good reason. However, opting for another day to wear white could leave more green in your pocket.
Not only could you shave some rental costs at the venue, but your ‘yes’ RSVPs likely to drop too. Another great explanation for a limited guest list. Staying away from the high demand months and days will certainly help you avoid some additional costs.
While an open bar may sound like a good idea, sparkling cider or juice offers the illusion of champagne but at a fraction of the cost. Including any booze could blow your budget completely out of proportion. However, if alcohol is a must, maybe consider doing it on a cash bar basis. Some stores even allow you to return unopened containers. Checking that beforehand could save you tons.
Get your creative juices flowing and make your own invitations. I know printing companies do an excellent job, but by designing and printing your own, you will free up cash to use elsewhere. You can find invitation kits on Amazon or even find some at Hallmark. Check out fiverr.com and search for someone to design it for as low as $5. There are several ways to get top-notch invitations without paying top notch prices. Skip licking the envelopes and save on stamps by turning to a digital medium. Consider an email-only invite. Use a site like Evite to send your invitations. Or perhaps a Facebook event. Find what works for you in the amount you want to spend.
The average wedding hosts around 140 guests. I know at my wedding since my wife and I were both from rather large churches, there were close to 600 people there. You don’t have to do that! Sure you very well may offend some folks, but that’s okay! Don’t invite Aunt Margaret twice removed! Seriously, it will be ok! Keep your guest list small.
Flowers can get expensive. Don’t believe me? Order a dozen for a bride-to-be! Perhaps you ditch real flowers altogether and use silk in their place. If that idea seems way too cheap, check your local Sam’s Club or Costco. You may be able to spend $100 on bulk roses or calla lilies. Check the volume prices of your local grocery store too. If they are in season, wildflowers make a beautiful option. Perhaps the bride and groom make it a date and set out to collect a bouquet. You can save a significant amount of money just by doing so.
One note, some wildflowers last longer than others. So, test the longevity of different varieties.
Locally, in East Tennessee, we have a little store here called The Dollar Tree. Literally, everything in the store is $1. They sell gift bags, ribbons, your crafts supplies, etc. You name it. All for a buck!
Oriental Trading is a great, one-stop-shop for all your wedding decor needs—and the price is nice too. Check Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers. You may even find caterers at a discounted price on Groupon. Or a limo service on Living Social. Just doing your homework cuts costs.
You think I’m crazy right now, I know. However, wedding dresses are some of the most overpriced clothing you will ever purchase. You are only wearing it for a few hours once in your life, yet willing to plunk down thousands of dollars. Forgo traditional dress shopping establishments when making the actual purchase. Instead, consider a previously worn dress.
Unfortunately, every marriage doesn’t live happily ever after and the people get divorced. When they do, they often get rid of the dress. Try a boutique that specializes in pre-worn wedding dresses. One that I can suggest is Brides Against Breast Cancer.
Another way to keep this cost on the lower end is to rent a dress. There are different companies out there who will rent a wedding dress to you. Or maybe instead of buying an actual wedding gown, you choose a plain formal type dress, hop on etsy.com and find someone to spruce it up and make it your own. Some people even opt for a non-traditional wedding garb, and that’s another great way to save! So, instead of spending $5000 on a dress, get creative.
Have a friend or loved one that makes amazing cakes? Ask them to make yours. Ask friends and families for favors. That can save you and them money. Instead of asking them to shop on your registry, their time and services could be a better gift.
Photographers can be quite expensive. However, it is possible to get a really cheap photographer. Perhaps you may have a family member that is an amateur photographer. Ask them to do your wedding.
Now, this is the one thing that you may NOT want to skimp on. You know what they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words and videos are even better.” Having a good photographer may be the one area where you want to pour a little more money into. These are the memories you will cherish for a lifetime. Nevertheless, you can look for deals on Groupon or sites similar to it. Again though, photography is one of those things that if you can save some money elsewhere, do so.
Now let’s back up. The financial advisor side of me has another suggestion – take our original number ($35,000) and instead spend only $5,000 on the wedding and invest the other $30,000 in the stock market or equities. If we managed to pull in an 8% return for the next 30 years, you now have $328,000.
Or since the markets are doing well, let’s make the assumption that you averaged a 10% return. That gives you $595,000 from the $30,000 that you were considering plunk down on wedding costs for a marriage that may or may not have gone the distance of your investment.
Can you imagine people spending $300,000-$500,000 on a wedding? Absolutely not. For most of us, that sounds absurd, and it would be. I’m not against enjoying the big day or spending money to make dreams come true. What I am saying is you can have a very nice wedding on a budget by cutting corners—the right corners at least. You can get hitched AND have a nice nest-egg in place for your future!