The average American wedding in America was around $32,000 in 2015. Thirty-two thousand! To me, this sounds crazy. Is it even possible to have a debt-free wedding?
If you have ever planned a wedding, you know that the cost adds up quickly. A typical American wedding seems to require at least one venue–sometimes two– in addition to a photographer, food, entertainment, flowers, an officiant, fancy clothing, jewelry, gifts, favors, a rehearsal party, and lodging. Then there are options that many soon-to-be-wed couples tack on: videography, a photobooth, websites, a wedding planner, and even special transportation.
I know that, when I was planning my wedding, I didn’t have, like, any money. And, at least at the beginning, I was paying fo the whole shebang by myself. But we got through planning and executing an amazing day with very little debt.
You can do it too.
Debt-Free Wedding: How To
I’m not going to lie. Having a debt-free wedding will not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done in your life. Think about it this way: You will likely be working the hours to make up for the money saved. If you’re okay with that, then go for it. If you’re not, then you may want to reconsider your endeavor. But, seriously, I encourage you to work for it. You’ll be glad you did after the flowers die, the food is digested, and all that remains is your memories. No debt–just memories. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Tip 1: Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses
Admitting we have a weakness is not easy. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we will save ourselves stress, heartache, and maybe even sleepless nights. Honest self-reflection can allow you to save money without you, instead, losing your flippin’ mind during the entire wedding-planning process.
Personally, I don’t like admitting that I am no good at pulling triggers. I am so glad my man is a trigger-puller. I’d have all sorts of plans in process without anything actually happening if I didn’t have someone to make sure I completed the task.
But your weakness may not be the same as mind. Maybe you’re seriously no good at calligraphy; don’t set yourself up for the kind of stress that is failing at something when you could have been honest with yourself about your shortcomings. Just don’t. Maybe you’re no good at planning an actual wedding ceremony. Don’t let your wedding ceremony suffer; find someone to help you organize that day’s goings-on. You won’t regret it.
On the other hand, if you’re really good at making slideshows, by all means: Do it! Especially if you are engaged for a while; this is one of the things you can do early in your engagement and have it knocked out early. Maybe you’re really good at creating centerpieces; many brides enjoy these sorts of crafts and do them in front of the television on weeknights so they can check them off the list.
Be honest with yourself. It’s not worth saving money if you’ll lose it over cake flavors or the reception favors.
Tip 2: Find out who can pay for what
After the new bling on your finger has settled in and the planning begins, sit down with all parties involved–individually, if necessary–and find out what or if they are willing to contribute to the joyous occasion. Maybe your future mother-in-law has only sons and would love to help pay for your flowers. Perhaps your man’s parents can’t float the dough to pay for a rehearsal dinner. Maybe your parents will totally float the bill for your reception. Find out these deets as soon as possible so you can plan your financial obligations appropriately.
Tip 3: Adjust your expectations
Depending on how the money talk goes, you may have to adjust your expectations concerning your big day. If no one feels they can contribute anything to your big day, you may be a little bummed. But think of it this way: What’s important is that you are married to this awesome human being by the end of the day. This may mean scaling down the big day–particularly parts of it that are more costly.
What’s important to you? Do you need a big party or would a medium one suffice? Maybe even a destination wedding would save you in the long run.
You may even get amazing and unexpected news that someone will contribute in a way that allows you to really save some cash and then you can even splurge on something you never thought you’d be able to have.
Either way, take a step back from the excitement and focus on what’s important: Starting your life together. Because, when you know, you want forever to start right now–or as soon as possible.
Tip 4: Delegate it and forget it
This one may be the toughest thing to do ever. Maybe. This also depends on the type of people who surround you. Search for those in your trusted circle who are reliable and willing to offer. If they offer to help with specific things, try to make that work. If they offer in general, which many people may do, keep a list of those who offer and those who you trust. It’s important to tune into the trustworthiness of a person. The last thing you want it to think you’ve saved money only to find out that you have to shell out some clams at the last minute to buy flowers or favors or centerpieces.
It’s important to tune into the trustworthiness of a person. The last thing you want it to think you’ve saved money only to find out that you have to shell out some clams at the last minute to buy flowers or favors or centerpieces. Or, worse, you may trust the person but find out that they are not really good at what they’re offering. And your centerpieces look like junk or don’t even match your preferences.
Tip 5: Ask vendors about payment plans
You might be surprised that a lot of wedding vendors–photographers, caterers, etc.–are open to payment plans. For some reason, we don’t always advertise this. Hm. But most of us are delighted to accept a payment plan. For us, it’s a steady, reliable source of income. And, essentially, we set up payment plans so that we are paid in full by the original final payment date, anyway, so it still works for us and helps you as you navigate the finances of wedding-planning.
Honestly, all of your vendors start spending money and time on your big day almost as soon as you book with them; that’s why we usually have some sort of retainer fee. So, depending on the vendor, you may find a payment plan much easier to process than the typical larger chunks.
Debt-Free Wedding: Final thoughts and warnings
Sometimes, on our quest to manage wedding day finances, we skimp on things that aren’t cool to skimp on. You might think I’m going to talk about photography, but I’m going to surprise you.
Don’t forget about all of the people who are spending money, traveling, and spending a ton of time on your wedding. Be generous in your gifts for them: whether it is time, service, tangibles, or words. People want to feel appreciated. Hopefully they are not loving you so you’ll give them something but don’t let them begin to regret offering to throw you a shower, buying that dress that they could have done without, or driving hours to help you or even just to be in your wedding. Be sure you budget for generous gift-giving to those who are sacrificing for your big day.
Remember: The goal is to only get married once. Make it a wedding you won’t regret and be sure it’s a day you enjoy!