Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the best days of your life. And maybe that’s why so many people are willing to bury themselves in debt to make it happen.
One survey found that 21% of Americans have gone into debt to finance their wedding. And when pressed to explain why, most people pointed to family pressure and social expectations.
Of those who went into debt, 40% did it because one or both partners had a large family, and they felt like they had to. And 32% wanted to impress their friends and family members.
Guys, please don’t put yourself through the stress of taking on loads of debt just to impress other people. It’s not worth spending the first few years of your married life trying to dig yourself out of a financial hole just for that one day.
Plus, going into debt to fund your wedding isn’t necessary. There are tons of ways you can plan a memorable wedding that you and your partner will be proud of without breaking the bank.
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If you’re struggling to plan your wedding on a budget, here are six steps to get you started:
1. Start saving early
If you know you’re getting married, but you have some time before the actual wedding planning process begins, then you should start saving now. Having money set aside specifically for your wedding will save you a lot of stress down the road, and it will lessen the temptation to rely on credit cards.
If you’re unsure where to start, I recommend using the CIT Savings Builder to automate your wedding savings. If you deposit at least $100 per month, you can earn a generous 0.45% interest rate. And unlike other savings accounts, CIT never charges any maintenance or transfer fees.
2. Agree on a budget from the start
I think so many weddings get out of control because there isn’t a clear plan from the beginning. When you don’t have a plan for your money, things can get out of control very quickly.
Have you ever gone to Target without a grocery list, thinking you’ll only buy one or two items, and then 30 minutes later, you’ve spent $300? Well, the same thing can happen to your wedding. Only instead of overspending by a few hundred bucks, you’re spending thousands of dollars that you never planned on.
Sit down with your partner and anyone else involved in paying for the wedding and have a serious conversation about the budget. Yes, this talk may feel a bit uncomfortable. But the good news is that it will set you up for future budget conversations once you’re married.
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3. Identify your non-negotiables
The challenging part about planning a wedding is that different things are important to different people. And if you don’t articulate these things from the start, this can be a breeding ground for arguments and resentments.
So talk to your future spouse about what the non-negotiables are for your big day, no matter how seemingly trivial they may be. Knowing what is important to both people will help you prioritize what to spend money on and where to cut back.
4. Keep the guest list to a minimum
The easiest way to keep wedding costs down is by keeping the guest list to a minimum. The more people you invite, the larger your expenses will end up being.
That’s because the more guests you have, the larger the venue will need to be. And the more seating you’ll need to account for. And the more people you’ll need to pay to feed.
If your guest list keeps creeping up, take a serious look at it and ask yourself who you really want to be there. Chances are, many of the people are on that list because you feel obligated to invite them. Try to cut your list by at least 50% and see how much more manageable it makes your budget.
5. Stick to a small wedding party
It doesn’t seem like having a big wedding party would add much to the overall budget. But if you have five to six bridesmaids, think about how much it’s going to cost to pay for the dresses, hair, and makeup for all of them.
You’ll also spend more money on photography because it will take longer to get photos of everyone. Not to mention, you’ll need to buy each of them a bridesmaid’s gift.
Sure, you could ask them to pay for those things themselves. But do you really want to ask your friends and family to spend a small fortune for the honor of standing at your wedding?
If you can, try to stick to just one or two bridesmaids and groomsmen each. You may have a couple of friends who feel hurt that they didn’t get asked, but your financial future is more important.
6. Skip the wedding reception
Many people spend the most money on the wedding reception. Serving everyone dinner and paying for an open bar is not cheap, especially if you have a large guest list.
That’s why you’ll save yourself a lot of money by skipping the reception altogether. On the invitation, let your guests know that you aren’t holding a reception and that they should feel free not to bring gifts.
Or if you still want to have a reception, keep it intentionally small. Schedule your wedding at a time when your guests won’t be expecting dinner and serve beverages, snacks, and wedding cake instead.
Planning a wedding is personal, and different things are important to different people. So above all else, figure out what the non-negotiables are for you and your partner.
What do you need to make the day special for both of you? By being intentional and planning ahead, you can create a wedding you’ll be proud of on a budget you can afford.
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