Congrats on your engagement! The time leading up to your wedding is going to be stressful. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Choosing and coordinating the venue, florist, DJ, photographer, videographer, (and trust me, there are many more) will be time-consuming and expensive.The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $26,720. If you plan to spend $25,000, you can easily end up spending $50,000 or more with all the add-ons from every given vendor.
This will be the most expensive party you will ever throw, and it's easy to get carried away. Being recently married (July 2017) and working as a professional financial advisor, I want to help my fellow millennials get through this daunting period by providing some advice based on my own experiences.
Step #1: Figure out how you will pay for the wedding.
Traditionally, the Bride's family would pay for the entire wedding, but this is almost never the case anymore. Weddings are not what they were when our parents got married in the 70's and 80's. So, first figure out who is going to pay for what elements of your big day.
Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Sometimes the venue you select will have a minimum that you must spend. Open bar, drink upgrades, and even extending the reception hours will increase the price.
- There will be compromises and there will be give and take (Get used to it!).
- Get way ahead of the planning deadlines. For example, it's never too early to start looking at wedding and reception venues. They get booked years in advance, so get this task completed and out of the way first. This isn't like booking airline tickets. Trust me, prices don't get any cheaper in the days leading up to your actual wedding day.
- Check out more great tips for saving money on your wedding at this link.
If you are like me, you may be expected to pay for part of the wedding. If so, lay out a plan to get there without breaking the bank:
- If you don't have one already, I recommend setting up a joint checking and savings account. For my wife and I, we use our joint checking account to pay our mortgage and utilities and used our joint savings account specifically for the wedding costs. We were fortunate enough to know how much we had to contribute, so we calculated what that would take each week and set up automatic deposits into the joint savings account. It was painless and very simple.
- For ease in tracking all wedding expenses, I suggest using one credit card. If necessary, consider opening a joint credit card with 0% APR — some cards even have 0% APR for 21 months after opening, which may be enough of a cushion to pay off the balance without any interest charged.
Step #2: Consider best use of post-wedding monetary gifts.
Once the wedding is over, you might be blessed with an influx of cash and checks from family and friends. If so, talk to your significant other about how to best utilize the money, together. A few ideas that make good financial sense include using the money to pay down debt (especially credit card debt), establish an emergency fund, contribute to a retirement account, or start saving for your first home.
Also, consider continuing your automatic weekly deposits into your joint savings account. You likely may not even miss the weekly withdrawal from your paycheck, so why not keep that going? It could even help you save for your first vacation as a married couple!
Be sure to look for my next blog on the topic of purchasing your first home and tips for first-time home buyers.