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Wedding budget: 8 ways to save
How to save money on a wedding without making sacrifices.
The average cost of a wedding is $33,900 according to The Knot — which is why most couples end up making huge sacrifices for their big day. But by creating a wedding budget, you can avoid the same situation while also building a financial foundation that will remain in place for many years to come. If you’re wondering how to save money on a wedding by building a budget, here are 8 steps to get you started.
1. Get the big picture on your finances
Before you do anything, take a good look at your financial situation. Take note of your savings and any other assets you want to put toward your wedding. Then, add up your sources of income so you can start putting together a budget.
2. Determine what’s important
Figure out what you want out of your wedding. Think about how many guests you want to invite, what food you want to serve, what to do for entertainment, what you and your guests will be wearing and whatever else is important to you and your future spouse. Then, shop around and compare options for every purchase, so you know what to expect.
3. Estimate costs and break down expenses
Once you’ve figured out what you want your wedding to include, create a list of all of your expenses. Keep track of the cost of each expense so that you can keep a running tally of your grand total.
4. Create a budget
After you’ve estimated prices for everything, think about how you’ll pay for each of your expenses. Create a spreadsheet to map out all costs and where your money will go.
If you don’t know where to start, try out the zero-based budgeting method. It requires you to put every dollar of your income toward a specific expense or savings goal until there’s nothing left over.
To use this method, start by adding up your mandatory monthly expenses. Then subtract the total from your monthly income. From there, take the leftover money and put it toward fun expenses, savings or into a general wedding fund.
How much you should budget for your wedding depends on how much you can set aside each month to meet your specific wedding goals.
|Spending||Average cost||Time until wedding||Monthly savings needed|
5. Set goals with timelines
Once you’ve broken down all of your expenses and made a budget, create a timeline with goals to pay each of them off. This can help you break up the cost of your wedding by spreading out your expenses over time rather than paying for everything at once.
Stay on top of your finances with monthly reviews. If your income shifts or your expenses change, you may need to adjust your spending to ensure you reach your goals on time.
6. Set up a registry
Your loved ones will want to celebrate by contributing to your new life together. Use your registry to offset the costs of items you know you’ll purchase after the wedding or look for a cash registry to fund wedding costs directly.
7. Cut back where you can
There are a handful of ways you can put aside more money for your wedding. Try to limit eating out, vacations and buying new toys to trim down on current expenses. Or, lower your wedding costs by spending less on certain unnecessary “luxuries.”Here are five tips to cut back on costs:
- Ask for discounts. Your venue or suppliers may allow you to shave savings off your costs depending on your total guests, weekday, start times and more. It’s always wise to ask.
- Use third-party vendors. Look for a venue that allows you to choose your own vendors and staff before booking. That way, you’ll have more control over quality and costs.
- Get creative with food. Catering is only one option. Hire a talented friend, make some of the food yourself or ask if your favorite restaurant is willing to take a large order.
- Stay local. Save money on transportation and accommodations by keeping your ceremony and reception in a convenient location.
- Be coy with suppliers. Many companies bank on your willingness to invest heavily for a perfect wedding. Say that you’re putting on a party only to potentially save more.
8. Start saving
Start setting money aside in your savings account or consider setting up multiple accounts to organize your savings goals.If you don’t already have one, a joint savings account dedicated to wedding expenses can help you and your partner save and earn interest together while keeping you from going over budget and dipping into long-term savings. Take advantage of features like autosave or roundups to make regular contributions toward your savings.
What should my wedding budget be?
The location of your ceremony will directly affect your overall spending, so here’s a breakdown of the average cost by state:
Average wedding costs
Based on a wedding with 100 guests, here’s how much you can expect to spend on the core expenses:
|Flowers and decorations||$2,000|
|Ceremony venue and officiant||$2,700|
|Clothing, makeup, hairstylist and accessories||$2,110|
|DJ or entertainment||$1,200|
|Favors and invitations||$990|
|Cake and cutting||$500|
Data from theknot.com
Keep in mind that these numbers are only an average. Your costs could vary greatly depending on your number of guests, date of the wedding, choice of entertainment, food and more.
Other wedding-related expenses
Costs beyond those for your big day can affect your budget, including:
|Bachelor and bachelorette parties||$350 to $850 a day|
|Alterations||$150 to $750|
|Invitations, cards and postage||$590|
|Hotels and other accommodations||$250 to $2,000|
Data from theknot.com
7 factors to consider when looking for a savings account for your wedding
Once you start looking for savings accounts, you’ll want to compare your options to find the best one for your situation. Consider factors like:
- Fees. Find out how you’ll be charged to keep the account open and if there are any ways to waive the fee. Also look out for service charges for transfers, overdraft protection and more.
- Access. Find out how you can withdraw and deposit money with the account. Compare branch, phone and ATM access along with online and mobile banking capabilities.
- Interest rates. The higher your interest rate, the more money you’ll earn toward your savings goals. Look for the best rate you can find, but remember that other factors also matter.
- Account features. Look out for account features that could help you reach your goal. Things like autosave, budgeting tools, round up applications and other similar features are all great to have.
- Bonuses and rewards. If possible, try to find accounts that offer opening bonuses or rewards programs, as they could give you a head start on saving and provide an incentive to keep going.
- Eligibility requirements. Keep an eye out for eligibility requirements that could limit you from opening an account or getting a signup bonus.
- Initial deposit requirements. Find an account with an initial deposit requirement that meets your financial situation.
Compare accounts to help you save money on a wedding
Looking for a place to stash your wedding funds while you plan your big day? Compare savings accounts based on their interest rates, fees and minimum opening deposits.
3 alternatives to pay for a wedding
Not everyone has $35,000 in cash lying around, which is why many people turn to credit cards to cover expenses. While this approach could help you earn travel miles or other rewards, paying 20%+ APR can set you back in the long run. If you aren’t able to save up for all or most of your wedding expenses, consider these last resort options:
1. Wedding loan
Some lenders offer personal loans that are specifically designed for weddings. And with APRs that start as low as 6%, you could end up saving more money than if you were to use a credit card.
2. Cash registry
Instead of asking for appliances and other gifts for your wedding, consider using a cash registry website to offset some of the costs.
3. Line of credit
Personal lines of credit can have APRs as low as 5%, much lower than most credit cards.
7 tips to keep your wedding budget to a minimum
- Send invites via email. You’ll not only save on postage and printing, but you’ll also save a ton of time.
- Use a dummy cake for photos. You might not be able to smear it on your spouse’s face, but it’ll certainly cut your cost on confections.
- Rent jewelry instead of buying it. Why pay through the nose for jewels you’re unlikely to wear again?
- Buy a sample wedding dress. It’s never left the showroom, and no one will know the difference.
- Don’t get married on a Saturday. Save thousands of bucks by tying the knot on any other day of the week.
- Hire an emerging photographer. Up-and-coming shutterbugs might not have decades of experience, but that doesn’t mean they lack talent or ambition.
- Replace flowers with candles. They’re available at a fraction of the price and can look just as elegant.
With an average cost of nearly $34,000, weddings are one of the biggest expenses out there. Instead of making sacrifices or going into credit card debt to get your dream wedding, start saving early and explore other tips to cut costs along the way. Once you’re ready to start saving, compare your options to find a savings account that can help you reach your goals.
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