A wedding is the start of a new chapter and a special event that many people look forward to all their lives. As a milestone, it’s no surprise that a typical wedding also comes with a big price tag. In 2020, the average cost of a wedding was $ 19,000 – lower than in recent years due to the fact that many couples were hosting smaller-than-normal weddings to comply with health and safety measures in the event. pandemic.
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While planning a wedding is an important financial endeavor, you don’t have to sacrifice your long-term financial goals to organize the celebration of your dreams. Brooke Harycki, VP Consumer Banking Regional Manager at Johnson Financial Group, shares some savings strategies and planning tips for newly engaged couples.
Define your budget
Before you dive into planning, the first step is to set your budget. Set a budget for each category of the day – location, dress, food, entertainment, etc. Setting up an initial budget will set certain parameters to ensure you stay on track throughout the planning process.
Determine your guest list
At the start of the process, determine an estimate of the number of guests you plan to invite. This number will have a huge impact on the rest of your wedding budget and decisions. Many expenses like food and entertainment will be multiplied by your guest list.
Research, research, research
A wedding is not the time to make impulse purchases. Make sure to research different suppliers so that you can make informed decisions. This can help minimize the “shock” factor by painting a realistic picture of the average price you can expect for different categories of suppliers and must-have items.
Map your options
Consider creating a high and low budget option for each category in your budget. For example, what would be the impact on the overall cost with 100 participants versus 200? Or, how would the budget change if you choose to organize plate-based rather than a buffet? Play around with your options to see what’s best for you and your future spouse.
Be sure to take into account potential contributions from friends or family who wish to contribute to your special day. Have these conversations early to understand expectations and let them know their input is appreciated.
To be realistic
Unexpected expenses are likely to arise, so you may want to add various âwiggle roomâ to your budget.
Respect your budget
- Get a planner– Templates and planning tools can provide recommended guidelines to keep you organized. Many include checklists to help you determine which priorities to focus on at each point on your schedule.
- Use free online tools and resources– If you are not used to spreadsheets, download or print a budget template from one of the many free online wedding planning websites. It is not necessary to recreate the wheel.
- Have fun!Write down your goals and check in with your partner frequently to see how your day comes to life. Take breaks and remember – now is the time to enjoy!
Select your location
The venue is often a big part of the budget. Here are some helpful questions to keep in mind when evaluating your potential venue.
Your personal style
Is the location sentimental for you as a couple? How long is the trip for the guests? Does the aesthetic match the theme and style of the wedding?
Your budget and financial goals
A simple, but essential, question is “What is included?” Â»For example, are the decorations part of the packaging? Are staff responsible for installation and cleaning? Will you need to rent tables, chairs, and silverware? Is food included or will you need to hire an outside caterer? These finer details could make the difference between $ 500 and $ 5,000.
After the venue, other key vendors may include a photographer and / or videographer, ceremony and reception entertainment, and flower arrangements.
Examine the samples
Do not hesitate to request samples or portfolios of previous work. Is the price worth it?
Who do you know?
Do you have friends or family who could provide services at a lower cost? For example, instead of paying a musician for the ceremony, do you know someone who plays the piano? Or, maybe a family member has a large backyard for accommodation, potentially saving you money on the site. In addition to the cost savings, your day will be even more special by having friends and family during the day.
Establish your priorities
It’s the first day to build a life together. The decisions you make and the way you work throughout the budgeting process will be an important stepping stone in your financial planning journey. Getting off on the right foot with open and honest communication can ensure that you are both comfortable with the process and that you fully understand each other’s expectations.
Some wedding traditions may be important to you and your future spouse, while you may choose to forgo others. Talk to your partner about what’s high on the list for each of you. With less important items, consider buying discounts or better deals. Suppose you’ve both dreamed of having a live band, but you didn’t prioritize traditional paper invitations. Consider saving on shipping costs with digital invitations and put the cost savings on the entertainment budget.
- Wedding favors and gifts– Wedding favors for guests can add up quickly, depending on the number of guests and the type of gift. Additionally, some couples may choose to give a gift to the wedding party and key family members as a thank you note.
- Tips– Remember to factor in tips for various vendors, including your officiant, musicians, caterers and waiters.
- The pre-wedding festivities– Don’t forget the pre-wedding festivities and their impact on your overall budget.
- Honeymoon– If you and your partner are planning to travel on their honeymoon, also consider how it fits into your finances.
Other tips for saving
- Something borrowed, something blue …Consider borrowing or doing second-hand shopping from family and friends who are willing to lend or sell decorations at a discounted price.
- Ask for help and advice âTalk to those you trust who are recently married. Is there something they wished they had done differently or expenses that caught them by surprise? Where did they find offers?
- DIY– Enlist the help of your family or friends and create memories with DIY projects. For example, instead of ordering centerpieces, can you create a unique variation yourself? Do you have a family member on hand who can build a photo booth instead of renting it from your photographer?
- Alternative schedule– Certain seasons, like summer or fall, can be more expensive to organize a wedding. Choosing a less popular season or day of the week may be a cheaper alternative. For example, Saturday is traditionally the most popular wedding day, but choosing a Friday or Sunday could result in cost savings.
- Recover your expenses– If you don’t want your wedding decoration left in a closet after the wedding, sell the items online or to someone you know.
- Plan a more intimate event– If you are ready to narrow down your guest list, having an intimate wedding with your closest family and friends can be one of the best ways to save money.
Beyond the big day
How does your marriage fit into your overall financial situation as a newly married couple? Discuss other short- and long-term goals, such as buying a home, raising a family, and saving for retirement. Keep in mind that marriage is only part of your financial future together.
Financial tools to help you save
- Automate savings– Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account and reserve these funds only for wedding expenses.
- Cash back– Designate spending categories and enjoy reward points with a cash back credit card. Some couples may even choose to strategically use these rewards to pay for a honeymoon.
Your Johnson Financial Group advisor can provide you with information about other options that may be relevant to your personal financial situation, such as a personal loan, certificate of deposit (CD), or home equity line of credit (HELOC).
For more saving and budgeting tips to help you plan the wedding of your dreams, contact an advisor today.
Article by Brooke Harycki, Johnson Financial Group
About the Author
Brooke Harycki, is the Regional Senior Vice President of Consumer Banking at Johnson Financial Group. As Vice President, Regional Director of Consumer Banking Services, Brooke is responsible for providing exceptional service to customers in Northwestern Wisconsin. She encourages her team to develop long-term relationships and develop a true understanding of your needs.