Imagine you and your partner celebrating your new marriage on the beach of Fiji. You have a cocktail in one hand and your lovers hand in the other. You take a sip, delighted at the crisp sweet taste of coconut rum. You doze off to a gentle breeze caressing your cheek, dreaming of your newfound life. But suddenly, your heart starts pounding. You can’t help but think about all the wedding bills that must be piling up at home, disguised in credit card statements and loan fees. You start crunching numbers in your head and think, “How am I going to pay for all this?” Frantically, you request a glass of water instead of that second cocktail you were craving.
UGGHH. I hate this y’all! Instead of enjoying your honeymoon you’re anxious thinking about how to pay for the wedding. This doesn’t have to be you.
The Status of Wedding Loans
Whatever your priority may be, wedding costs are at an all time high for couples. Especially millennials who are craving that Instagram-worthy wedding.
WeddingWire’s global wedding report states that nearly 28% of couples now take on debt for the opportunity to have their dream wedding. Furthermore, online lenders report that they are issuing up to 4 times the amount of loans they did just a year ago.
Reported as recently as June 2019, the average wedding cost in the United States is over $38,000, which is crazy considering the average HHI in the United States is $61,000. I don’t know many couples who are willing to cut their living expenses in half to pay for a wedding, but I’m willing to bet that with the right tools and resources, a couple would spend the time needed to figure out the right budget for one.
It may seem odd that someone like myself, someone who works in the wedding industry (I love cutting the rug and the cake as much as anyone!), is sharing this information. But I think it’s more important to understand that there are ways to celebrate your new life together without carrying the burden of debt. With a little intentionality, you can ensure a fruitful start to marriage, not a fretful one.
You may be considering taking out a loan or using personal credit to help cover costs, and while that is what society tells us is normal, I’d like to take a moment to talk through ways you can avoid going down the dark path of debt and still get the wedding of your dreams!
How to Stay the Course | Setting Your Wedding Budget
SET YOUR BUDGET
I get it, setting a budget isn’t a romantic walk in the park, but if you want to avoid debt and ensure a solid foundation for your marriage, you’ll want to do this! This can be as easy as looking at both of your incomes together on an excel spreadsheet. For me, I’ve lined out all of my expenses from rent to groceries, the gym and going out to eat. If you’ve never done this before, it can be eye-opening! If you’ve been doing this for awhile — then you may know exactly how much you can save each month. Remember, you’re in this together, so you can now combine your monthly savings to calculate what is possible.
Tip: Keep it fun by having wine and a charcuterie board, and make it a cute little date night. Trader Joe’s has amazing deals on this sort of stuff!
REORGANIZE YOUR BUDGET
It may be tough to stop going to Starbucks for that $5 latte every day, but cutting this habit could save you $1,800 in a year alone! Now imagine if you cut going out to eat and opted for home-cooked meals instead. You’d be able to afford a lot more of your wish list items.
Tip: This is a lifestyle thing and is not meant to keep you from enjoying life. It’s okay to reorganize but still have a special date night or a special day you have coffee. Just know your limits and set realistic goals.
FIGURE OUT YOUR PRIORITIES FOR THE DAY
I always tell my couples, the priority of your wedding day should be at the top of your list. If it’s lifelong memories through photography, then invest in a professional photographer with years of experience, but you may have to invest less in something else. Whatever it is, put your top three priorities on the list to understand where the majority of your wedding budget is going.
Tip: Be weary of “keeping up with the Jones’”. Remember why you’re doing this. <3
HIRE A PLANNER
Believe it or not, your planner can actually help you save money! Planners have the best connections and can often come in under your budget! Your planner will help you stay on course and will be your accountability partner during the planning stages, as well as on the big day.Can’t get much better than that, right?
Tip: Planners book early, so this may be one of the first vendors you hire along with your venue, photographer, and DJ.
EXTEND YOUR ENGAGEMENT
Extending your engagement is always an option! I know it’s hard to wait when you want to start a life with your forever person. But it may be worth saving a little extra money for a few more months versus putting that dream venue on a credit card.
Tip: Don’t fret! Most couples wait a year or more before officially tying the knot.
Planning a wedding can feel like a lot, but it doesn’t have to. Start with the basics, know what you can afford, and go from there. Remember, it’s possible to have an amazing wedding on any wedding budget.