Money Smart Wedding Planning

Summer wedding planning on a shoestring budget.

Summer weddings are being planned so I thought this would be a good time to talk about wedding costs. Being smart about money is important if you don’t want to start your marriage with debt, and it can be easily avoided. The following is a story from one woman who ended up charging items for her wedding and reception, rather than seeking alternatives.  We will refer to the bride as Kristen to protect the innocent.

Kristen whipped out her credit cards to make-up for the difference of what she wanted and what she could afford. “My husband and I decided we wanted a small wedding; a traditional church service followed by a small reception in my parents’ backyard. A small wedding was not cheap. I decided, without my husband knowing, to use my credit cards help with the costs,” Kristen explained.

Like anything else, you should only plan to buy what you can afford when it comes to your wedding. If you’re working with a $10,000 budget, don’t plan a $100,000 affair. “My poor husband had no idea what anything really cost because I didn’t want him to say, “oh we can’t do that.” I wish I just listened to him, she sighed. “Then I thought to myself – we will make it all back at the wedding. Well we didn’t, and in the end, my wedding cost around $13,000 dollars. We received about $4,000 in gifts.”

The average wedding cost $19,000 and is based on 125 guests. If you can pare your guest list down to 65, you’ll already have shaved a hefty 50% off your reception/catering bill.

As for Kristen, once she started to think about their future she realized what a mess she had made by charging up her credit cards for a fleeting moment in time. “All in all I am almost 30 yrs old and $27,000 dollars in debt, with no plan and no way to pay-off the debt. “  Currently Kristen and her husband are on a budget, they are paying off their debt through a debt management program and they are on their way to a debt-free life.

Here is another bride confessing her wedding tale of charge and regret:
I must say that getting into trouble with credit cards can happen to anybody.  I was working toward a degree in elementary education.  I had one or two credit cards that I would use when I really needed something.  I didn’t go overboard with them.  

During my last semester in college “huge” changes were occurring in my life.  The first change was that I was getting married and wanted a memorable wedding. My parents had offered to pay for some of the wedding costs and therefore we went “all out” on everything.  

Unfortunately, my parents and I had a disagreement, and my fiancé and I decided to pay for everything ourselves.  Because we had already planned everything (the church, the pictures, and the reception), there was no turning back and we were left with a pretty hefty bill.  We paid for some of the bills with cash, but when it came time to pay for the reception hall and meals, I took out my credit cart and the spiral began. 

So here I was, student-teaching with no time for a job, and a huge wedding bill to go along with a growing student loan.  The money I made was never enough to bring down some of my ever-increasing credit card bills.  This went on for four or five months – I was completely lost and needed to do something about my situation.  I began to search on the Internet for a way to decrease my monthly payments for my debts and that’s when I discovered Consolidated Credit. I will have my whopping bill of about $14,000 paid off in about three and a half years. I truly am grateful as this service has helped me financially as well as mentally.  I no longer stress figuring out how to pay bills, which sure makes my life a whole lot easier. 

Here are some ideas to about how to save money for that great but thrifty affair:

  • Put 20% of your income away each month. This may sound like a lot, but if you cut out the extra costs you’ll be surprised how easy saving can be. For example, over the next year to six months depending upon your wedding date, if you bring you lunch three days a week, it may save you about $24 a week, you’d be $1,248 richer. Another way to save is to set a stringent entertainment budget for your engagement year. Limit yourself to one movie a month – renting movies is a lot cheaper — and have your friends over instead of going out.
  • If you already have a couple thousand or more put away to pay for your wedding, don’t just leave it in a standard savings account, earning you 1.5% interest. Instead, put your money in Certificates of Deposit. CDs are short-term investments, normally one-month to one-year, which means you put down a certain sum, usually a minimum of $1,000, and the bank will tell you just how much you’ll earn after the CD matures.
  • CD rates vary with how long you’re investing the money. The longer you leave your funds in, the higher the interest rate. Shop around because CD interest rates vary widely.  There are two disadvantages with CDs, you can’t add funds to them as you save more and you’re penalized if you dip into the money before the maturation date. For someone starting off with $3,000 or more this may be a good option, since you can lock all of the money away in a CD for the bill-paying month before the wedding and then keep $1,000 or so in your bank account as an emergency fund.
  • Another option is a money market account.  Rates are better than savings accounts and you get to write checks! Shop around as rates vary widely, as do the restrictions. For example, the number of checks you are allowed to write each month and minimum-balance requirements.  Happy planning…