How to save for a wedding
You probably know that weddings aren’t cheap even if you’ve never been married before. There is the cost of the venue, the music, the caterer and much more. Consequently, it’s easy to overspend. Everyone wants the best, but if you’re not careful you could place a financial burden on your marriage from the very beginning. So that this doesn’t happen, here are some ways to keep your wedding in line with a realistic budget.
Research how much a wedding costs
The national average cost of a wedding in 2019 in the U.S. was $33,900 (a number that also includes the cost of the engagement ring), according to the wedding site The Knot.
Prices, of course, vary depending on the location of your wedding. A wedding in New York costs an average of $83,000, while a wedding in St. Louis costs about $24,000, according to The Knot’s analysis. But no matter where you hold your nuptials, it’s worth figuring out how much to set aside for your wedding and what steps should be taken to succeed in saving for your big day.
Calculate a wedding budget
To start, create a budget ahead of your wedding. First, pick the components of your wedding that are most important to you.
It helps to ask, “What are your top three most important purchases for your wedding?” says Michael Dickey, co-owner of the financial coaching firm Fiscal Fitness Phoenix. “These are non-negotiables and are the top priority when creating your budget.”
Maybe there is a particular dress you have in mind, or a band you want to hire. No matter what it is, write it down and determine its cost. Then add up all your non-negotiables and compare them to the average cost of weddings in your area. This process will help you establish a budget and give you a good starting point.
Look for ways to save on expenses
Next, after you have decided on your must-haves, look for ways to save on the other expenditures. Each choice comes with a cost, and if you’re not careful you can easily max out your budget before you have everything you need.
- Sending out wedding evites instead of paper invitations.
- Picking a date that’s not in peak wedding season.
- Buying in-season flowers.
- Buying a department store wedding gown.
- Choosing a venue that provides a lot of amenities.
While we’re on the topic of venues, many wedding specialists caution against having a particular wedding venue on your list of must-haves:
“We see so many couples exhaust the majority of their budget on a venue and not have enough financial resources left over to hire their vendor team,” says Lee Dyson, owner of the Hey Mister DJ wedding entertainment service in Burbank, California. “Make sure you understand exactly what your venue provides and includes — catering, lighting, sound system, tables, chairs — as these additional hard costs really add up fast.”
As a general starting point, Dyson recommends that the combined costs of the venue and catering should comprise no more than 30-50 percent of your total budget.
Determine how best to save for a wedding
To make your savings goal more feasible, give yourself as much time as possible to save up for your wedding. Schedule a “financial date” with your spouse-to-be to create a realistic savings goal that includes how much you should save a month and whether you need to make changes to your everyday spending to hit these goals.
“Sit down at a table with your laptops, log into all your accounts, and start sharing,” says Lauren Anastasio, CFP at SoFi in Claymont, Delaware.
“Do you really need a parking garage for the car you share, or can you park it on the street?” she says. “Can you agree to bring your lunch to work? Then crunch those numbers and put that toward your shared goal.”
If there are specific cuts you just can’t make, it’s fine. Just make sure your partner knows. “If you’re not willing to give up your wine club membership, that’s OK, but you want to be transparent with your partner about it to avoid resentment,” Anastasio says.
As you budget for your wedding, get specific and plan for payment deadlines for services, like a band or caterer. Though your wedding may still be months away, certain bills will arrive ahead of the big day and you don’t want to be caught off guard.
Where to stash your wedding cash
Where you keep your wedding fund is also important to consider. You have options.
You can park your money in traditional savings accounts and money market accounts that offer you competitive interest rates to help you grow your savings faster. You may also want to consider a certificate of deposit (CD) if your wedding date is at least a year away. In exchange for locking your money away for a certain lengthf of time, a CD may pay more interest than a savings or money market account. Just be sure the CD matures before you need your money to avoid an early withdrawal penalty.
Whatever account you choose to park your savings, experts recommend keeping your wedding fund separate from your overall savings.
“Weddings are a big enough expense that it may be a good idea to open a separate savings account either with your future partner or individually, depending on how you both have decided to handle finances,” according to Chicago Planner Magazine’s Dalka.
Importantly, whatever money you put into your savings account has to be on-hand, not hypothetical money that you’re expecting as a wedding gift. “You never know if that family member may suddenly experience financial hardship and have to rescind or lower their initial offer,” she says.
As expensive as weddings can be, couples shouldn’t put off saving for the big day. With a plan in place, you can set yourself up for success. Just remember, that the event is only a day, and you want to start your marriage on strong financial footing.