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Saving for a Wedding

Dec 3, 2019

Saving for a Wedding
Many people spend years daydreaming about their wedding, wedding dress (or tux), theme, venue, flowers – the list is endless. But what they don’t daydream about is the hefty price tag that often comes with a wedding.

When it comes to a major milestone like a wedding, it’s best to start saving money as soon as you can, because the last thing you want is to start married life with debt. To kick off your wedding planning, you and your partner should create a thorough budget of everything you’ll need and want to make your big day special. When sitting down to have this talk, you should also consider any other financial milestones that are on your horizon like saving for a home, a car, or a baby. Then you can begin talking about things that will impact the overall price of your wedding, like how many guests you’ll invite, how formal the wedding will be, and where it will be held. The earlier you and your partner can answer these questions and factor your decisions into your budget, the better.

When creating your budget, you should anticipate spending more than you want to, because it’s always better to be under budget rather than over. To help you prepare for this major financial milestone, we’ve answered some questions about wedding planning and budgeting you may have below.

How much money should I save for my wedding?

According to the Brides 2018 American Wedding Study, the average wedding cost $44,105 in 2018, but how much your wedding will cost ultimately depends on your personal taste. A formal black-tie wedding with hundreds of guests will be more expensive than a casual, intimate wedding. Also, when choosing the date, you may want to consider that peak wedding season begins in late spring and continues through early fall, which means booking a venue for a June or September wedding will be more expensive than one during the off season.

How much should I spend on my dress/tux?

The same study from Brides also found that brides are spending considerably more on their dress—from $1,562 in 2017 to $2,260 in 2018. For some brides, the wedding dress may be their top priority, but keep in mind that a beautiful wedding dress doesn’t have to break the bank! Consider shopping for a discounted dress or shopping at a bridal consignment store to save some money that can be spent on other things for the big day.
The amount that grooms spend on their attire is also up, with an average cost of $602 in 2018 versus $328 in 2017. To save some money, grooms can also shop at a consignment store or rent their tux rather than buying it.

Where should the money come from?

Brides.com suggests that you pull funds from three different sources: you and your fiancé’s individual savings, any extra money you can spare from your current income, and any contributions parents or loved ones are willing to make.

How long does it take to save for a wedding?

Once you have a short list of potential venues, you should call to ask how far in advance you’ll need to confirm vendors, as most are booked 6-12 months in advance. If you want a venue that’s extremely popular, you may have to book more than a year in advance.

Though you may be booking a year in advance, saving may need to begin earlier. Considering the current state of your savings and income, as well as family contributions, take the estimated total cost and how much money you estimate you will be able to add to those sources over time. For more expensive weddings (over $50,000), it could take five years or more to save enough money. Take all costs and expected income into consideration when starting the wedding planning, as most people will not have that much time to plan ahead.

What other costs should I consider?

The amount of money you’ll spend on invitations will be directly impacted by the number of guests you invite, but according to The Wedding Report, on average, couples spend between $300 and $700 to send invites out to 100 people. One way you can save money—aside from shortening the guest list—is to send paperless invitations. Websites like Greenvelope offer the option to customize your invite, and pricing begins at $39. There are many benefits to paperless invitations: they’re cost effective, environmentally friendly, and they streamline the RSVP process as it’s much easier for guests to RSVP from their phone than to fill out a response card and mail it back.
Another expense you’ll definitely want to consider is how much you want to spend on food and beverages. This depends on how formal or casual you’ll want your wedding to be, as fewer service staff are required for buffets than for seated meals. If you want a formal sit-down dinner, you can save some money by having a dessert buffet with donuts, cupcakes, or an ice cream sundae bar – this will also help you avoid any “cake cutting fees.” The simpler you keep things, the less expensive it’ll be to staff your event. And remember – every server gets tipped!

When it comes to drinks, an open bar will be more expensive than a limited bar that has only a few options for guests; limited bars also require fewer bartenders to maintain, which helps you save some money in tips. Another way you can cut beverage costs is by skipping the champagne toast.

There are so many things to think about when planning a wedding, and starting as early as possible can offer you enough time to get as organized and informed as possible. Getting married marks a major financial milestone for you and your partner, so it’s best to be as prepared as you can to avoid being overwhelmed. Even if you’re not currently engaged, you should consider opening a PFCU savings account so that you can begin stashing small amounts of cash that can grow over time. That way, when you do get engaged, you can speed up the planning process a bit.

Erin Ellis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
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