Congratulations on your engagement! Planning your wedding will be a lot of fun, but it’s easy for prices to get out of hand. The average cost for a wedding is more than $30,000, (here in Montana, the average is “only” $20,814), and most newly engaged people don’t have that kind of cash. You’ll have to save up a little to afford it, but don’t worry—we’ve got a plan for you.
Set a Budget
Find an amount that you and your spouse-to-be can agree on, and stick to it. Try to determine an amount that makes sense for your current finances—you don’t want to put off buying a house because you spent everything on your wedding. You’ll also want to prioritize spending. Is it more important to have an amazing photographer or excellent catering? Both can be expensive, so make sure you decide what matters most.
Set a Date
Be sure to pick a date that gives you enough time to meet your goals. If you don’t mind a long engagement, it will give you more time to save up. Keep in mind that even if your wedding is a year away, you don’t necessarily have that much time to save up. Many venues require deposits, or the band might require half of their payment up front.
Your wedding date could also affect the price of the venue. Wedding season peaks from late spring to early fall, so that’s when prices are usually highest.
Start a Special Savings Account
Create an account that’s separate from your emergency and retirement savings. This way you won’t be tempted to spend your other savings on your big day. You can set up automatic transfers from your checking to savings, or you can add money a little at a time. This might also be the right time to set up your first joint account as a couple so you can both contribute and keep track of the total.
Make Your Wedding More Affordable
You don’t have to go all out on every aspect of your big day. Consider getting married at the courthouse so you can splurge more on the reception. Instead of hiring a live band or DJ, you could create your own wedding playlist. When it comes to dinner, consider going buffet style instead of a plated dinner. And it’s often cheaper to book your wedding day on a weekday instead of a Saturday.
This is all practical advice, but don’t forget that your wedding is about you and the person you love the most—don’t worry too much about anyone else’s expectations. And if you can’t afford the wedding of your dreams, that’s okay too. After all, a wedding is just one day, but marriage is for the rest of your lives.