Weddings are fun affairs, but they also cost a lot of money. In fact, couples routinely spend tens of thousands of dollars on a one-time affair. A third have even gone into debt, mostly in the form of credit card bills. You might be wondering, “Why do weddings cost a lot of money?” People often balk at the costs without considering that it’s not just your average house party. A wedding is an event, and it requires a lot of people to pull one-off.
For starters, every part of the event requires careful thought and skill. You don’t want a bouquet you can buy at the supermarket. Wedding bouquets often feature different flower varieties that are significant to the couple. The cake often takes hours to decorate, longer if the design is intricate. And you don’t want some rando to take photos of your special day unless you want to end up with blurry and poorly shot images.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to spend thousands of dollars on your wedding. But it pays to be realistic about its costs and to understand the hard work and artistry that goes into every element of your wedding. That said, there are ways to minimize the costs without affecting the quality of the event. Here are a few things you can do to ensure a debt-free wedding.
1. Settle the money conversation early on
Weddings are complicated financial affairs. In some cases, multiple people pool their money to pay for the entire event. Meanwhile, some families pass on specific costs (e.g., catering, flowers, venue) to different people. And there’s the rare instance where one person pays for everything. It’s important to settle the financial part early on to minimize confusion down the line. That way, you can focus on the planning part without having to think about money problems. You can also set your non-negotiables. For instance, if you know the kind of ring you want, buy a diamond wedding band.
Asking your parents to pay for a part of the wedding sounds straightforward, but it’s fraught with landmines. Let’s say you asked them to pay for the catering. Ideally, you want them to commit before you meet with the caterer. But you’re asking them to agree sight unseen, without knowing how much the entire thing will cost. The easiest way to go about this is to pool everyone’s contributions and use that as a tight budget for your wedding.
2. Scale back your plans
Your plans should follow your budget, not the other way around. It’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve with the resources you have. If you’re dead set on planning a debt-free wedding, then it means you’re ready to make a few sacrifices. But budget planning need not be a struggle. It’s all about knowing where to allocate the resources.
For instance, if you want a big reception, you need to make a few cuts in certain areas. You can downsize the ceremony or find a cheaper venue. Public parks are always a good place to check since you can rent one for a small fee. You can also ask friends or family with a rental venue or a big plot of land.
3. Involve the community
Some financial planners will say that the best way to lower costs is to cut the guest list. While that may be true to an extent, you don’t want to leave out a few people just because you want to pinch pennies. Involving the community is a great way to minimize costs without having to reduce the number of guests.
For instance, you can combine elements of a catered affair and a potluck dinner and ask some of your guests to bring dishes. You can also ask your friends and family to help out with certain aspects of the wedding such as the flowers or invitations.
4. Consider the timing
Prices for goods and services tend to fluctuate depending on the time of year, and the same is true for weddings. It costs more to organize a June wedding than one in January or November. If you want to minimize costs, you might want to plan an off-season wedding to take advantage of lower prices.
Afternoon weddings are more economical since you won’t have to spend as much on the catering. It also pays to plan ahead of time. You might secure special discounts if you hire someone eight to twelve months ahead of the date.
The bottom line
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can have the wedding of your dreams. With proper planning and preparation, you can plan a memorable wedding that won’t put you in debt. While you might make a few sacrifices along the way, at least you get to start your new journey without having to worry about bills and loans.