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Wedding Planning

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Wedding Planning From a Planner's Perspective

June 19, 2018

Getting engaged is really exciting, but it is also the beginning of a stressful and expensive journey to your wedding. The average price of a wedding today is around $35,000. My wedding was less expensive than that, but still the most money I’ve spent on anything without financing involved. It is important to know what, if anything, your parents and future in-laws will be contributing to your big day.  To assume the bride’s parents will pay for the wedding and the groom’s parents will pay for the rehearsal dinner is no longer a given like it was in the past.  Many “children” are getting married in their late 20’s and early 30’s with established careers, and with the inflated cost of a traditional wedding, no assumptions should be made about the family’s financial contribution.  My parents pitched in about half of the cost of the wedding, which I thought was extremely generous. Some parents will pay for all of the wedding and some will pay for none - it depends on their situation. Before you can decide on a budget, it is important to know how your parents and future in-laws are able to help financially.

Once you know what your parents will contribute, assess what you have available. I had an investment account for three years that I had been saving for this day. This allowed me to generate a decent amount of interest on my savings, far greater than what my bank would have provided. It also kept the money separate from my normal bank accounts so I didn’t spend it. The next thing I did was discuss with my fiancé what he could contribute. Accounting for parental support, my investment account, and his savings, we decided what our budget would be for our big day. 

Here are some tips from my experience as a financial advisor planning a wedding.

1) Priorities: Discuss what is important to you and your fiancée for the big day. We valued a cool venue and amazing food, so that was a big chunk of what we spent. If you run out of room in your budget, you may have to make some sacrifices. For example, we did not send out “save the dates”. We also didn’t want a big expensive cake, so we had “buntinis,” which were much less expensive and everyone loved them! Also, I did not want to allocate a large budget to the flowers. Our wedding planner, who was so helpful, put together beautiful bouquets for us at a reasonable cost. Find creative ways to get things accomplished for less money.

2) Budget. After deciding on your budget, work backwards from your largest expenses: the venue and food. From there, look into hiring a photographer, DJ, and start searching for the perfect dress. Once you get the cost of the big purchases on paper, you can fill in the rest of your wedding budget with other miscellanies items from most important to least important.

Feel free to download the same budgeting spreadsheet that I used to track my wedding expenses here:

Budget Spreadsheet

3) Shop Around: It’s part of my “type A” and frugal personality, but I almost always shop around to compare prices of different vendors. I found out that combining a hair and makeup stylist was less costly than hiring each separately. When I found out that I needed to rent dishes, silverware, and glassware weeks before my wedding, I found someone through Facebook Marketplace with a small rental company and got what we needed for a quarter of the price of a large local rental company. Certain things, like my photographer, were worth paying full retail price because she did a fantastic job and our pictures will always be memories for us of our big day. 

April 28 was a very special day for us with our friends and family. For the most part, we stuck to our budget and we entered our marriage without taking on unnecessary debt for our wedding. It is possible if you take the time to plan.