Congratulations, you're getting married! While you're looking forward to the big day, chances are you're overwhelmed with all the planning you have to do...and how you can possibly afford the wedding of your dreams. After all, your wedding will probably be the priciest party you will have in your lifetime. According to a study conducted by The Knot, the national average price of a wedding in 2016 was $35,329, an increase of $2,688 from 2015.1
By following some basic budgeting, saving, and planning guidelines, you can estimate what your wedding will cost.
Figure out who's paying for the wedding
One of the first things you should do is have a discussion with your future spouse about how you will foot the bill for the wedding. Be honest about your expectations and agree on an amount you both feel comfortable spending.
If your families have expressed a desire to help cover the cost, talk to them next. Ask them exactly how (and what) they would like to contribute. One family might decide to give a set dollar amount, whereas another may commit to paying for a particular expense, such as the ceremony or the reception. Regardless of how your families may help, you should leave the conversation with a better idea of how much you and your partner will need to contribute toward wedding expenses.
Establish your budget
When you consider the venue, wedding dress, invitations, catering, cake, DJ or band, photographer, flowers, and more, it's no wonder that weddings are so expensive. This is why it's important to break down your budget at the outset of your planning to help make sure you don't break the bank.
The first step in establishing your budget should be to write down a list of priorities. For example, if you and your future spouse want to provide your wedding guests with a spectacular culinary experience, you will need to allot more money for food. Or perhaps you both want to have a more modest celebration and put most of your money toward a grand honeymoon. Your personal taste and how much you're willing to spend overall will help you figure out how much you need to save and what you want to splurge on. Search online for useful tools and calculators to help stay on track with your budget.
The sooner you start setting money aside specifically for your wedding, the better off you'll be. Set a goal and reserve a percentage of your monthly income to help you reach it. In addition, put an extra 10% aside in the event that costs are higher than expected.
In addition to stashing cash, stay in line with your budget by looking for hidden costs and being frugal. Expenses that may seem minor but add up over time include stamps for invitations and RSVP cards, favors, tips/gratuities, and marriage license fees, among others. If you find yourself spending too much in one area, make cuts in another. Trim down the guest list, choose flowers that are in season or grown locally, scale down your centerpieces, or opt for a lower- or no-cost venue, such as a park or family member's backyard. Use creativity and sensibility to see how much you can save.
Consider wedding insurance
Remember that bit about emergency funds? Depending on when and where your wedding will take place, that cash may come in handy. But even with careful planning, it's still possible that unforeseen circumstances could complicate your plans. Fortunately, wedding insurance coverage may be available. Coverage options and limitations vary, so you'll need to read the fine print carefully before you purchase a policy. Contact an insurance agent and each of your vendors to learn more about your options. You may find it's worth the peace of mind for your walk down the aisle.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.