Expensive vs. Going on the cheap (or other things you could do with the wedding budget)

09/02/2017 Author: Ginny Foster

If you or someone you know is planning a wedding, congratulations!  This is an exciting time, when two individuals commit to a lifelong partnership.  We asked several couples who are in the planning stages of their union to to share their thoughts and experiences on the one topic that determines everything: the wedding budget.  Here is an overview of the talking points.  Many of the points shared were common sense guidelines, but the most poignant ones reflected a common theme: commitment to each other through a common vision of what is important to the other person.

Matching Your Values to Your Wedding Budget

Many couples today are highly conscious of the costs associated with big ticket wedding items, such as the venue, the catering, the band, the photographer, and the wedding attire.  One of the first questions that friends will ask a newly engaged bride: “Have you picked out your dress?”  Then they step closer, and in a softer voice ask: “Where did you find it…and how much did it cost?”  It is not so much the style of the dress that becomes the topic of conversation, it is the procurement of a dress within a price range.

  Put the voices of other people on pause right now.  What is important to you?  What is important to your partner?  Making a list of important things – these can be tangible or intangible – can help you in the initial planning stages.  You can do this together or separately.  Your combined list is going to be your guiding beacon through the planning process.  

Often a firm budget is set, only for couples to find it blown out of the water.  For example, having a great band is not on every couples’ list of important values.  Music is crucial, but live music is not always high on the list of priorities.  The couple may set a music budget at $1,000.   As options are explored, the couple may realize that they want a good band.  Suddenly the budget is looking at $2,000 for a good band.  Then a highly influential family member steps in and wants a great band.  You see where this is going.  It is at this point that your budget is derailed, and you are looking at a plan many thousands of dollars over budget.

This is where your list of important values and a great planning tool come in handy.  A fantastic resource for planning your wedding budget is Payleaf.  By answering some questions about what is important in your wedding vision, Payleaf will help you determine if you are anticipating a high, medium or low dollar spend on your wedding.  Then, Payleaf will help you save for your wedding budget.  Payleaf is an online account that helps you set a financial goal and a timeline for reaching your goal, and then rewards you when you reach your goal on time.  You can share your goal with your future life partner so that the two of you can work together to save for your big day.

Taking Advantage of the DIY and Indie Wedding Markets

While planning a wedding may seem overwhelming, you are in fact fortunate to live in times such as these.  The DIY and Indie Wedding Markets are blossoming.  If you find that the traditional wedding industry services do not match your vision, style, or budget, you need not worry!  Our engaged friends tell us that there are many ways to find solutions by utilizing online resources.  

The Knot has an entire section of its website dedicated to DIY ideas for your wedding.  From the decorations to the stationary, there are lots of inspirational stories and advice from couples who have saved money by making their own favors, decorations and accessory accents.  The DIY route allows couples to have more creativity and express their values more directly in their wedding plans.  However, our engaged friends want to make it very clear that with great creativity comes great time commitment.

The Wedding Wire has an online vendor management portal that allows you to build your own wedding vendor team.  In addition to being a resource for wedding planning, The Wedding Wire also has a step-by-step guide from the time you are first engaged all the way up to the big day, with tips and advice in live forum format.

Many people reign in their budget by having a smaller event.  Out of all the big ticket items in a wedding budget, our engaged friends tell us that head count is the one that will have the most effect on the bottom line.  These days, with cost-conscious couples planning their own weddings, the emphasis on less expensive weddings is high.  Many couples choose to have small weddings.  These events are intimate, because they only include the people closest to the couple.  Pintrest has a page dedicated to inspirational ideas for small, intimate weddings.

Some brides consider non-traditional wedding dress options.  You can buy a pre-owned wedding dress, rent a wedding dress, or resell your used wedding dress online.  The Knot has a blog article that reviews the various reseller and renter venues.

Additionally, there are a multitude of tools available online to help match your vision to your wedding budget.  Are you leaning from a high dollar spend to a more frugal solution?  The Simple Dollar has a great article with tips on how to have a frugal, but not cheap, wedding.   Get Started

The Other Things You Could Do with The Wedding Budget

As our engaged friends tell us, a lot of time, energy and money goes into planning a wedding.  Your wedding is a celebration!  It is at time for people to come together and have a good time!  The downside of throwing a party is that, within a matter of hours, it is over.  Of course, it is a lot of fun to throw a big party, especially when the party is meant to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.  However, consider your wedding day as the day of a business merger.  Are there other areas in your life where the money for the wedding budget can make a greater impact, and improve your overall life together long-term?  

Consider your honeymoon.  For some couples, a few small changes in the wedding plan might give an extra $500 to $800 back into their spending budget.  This amount could be set aside for honeymoon travel money.  The Knot shares advice on how to limit spending too much on your honeymoon trip.

In 2016, Time Magazine reported that divorce statistics in the United States had dropped to a 40 year low.  This is promising news for couples planning a marriage.  Depending on your cultural and religious background, you and your spouse-to-be could boost your likelihood of matrimonial success.  You may want to use some of your wedding budget for a guided retreat or pre-marriage counsel.  To get an idea of the topics you may cover, The Knot has a list of conversations to have before getting married.  Most people should know how their significant other feels about money, insurance, finances, sharing of bank account, and how you feel about eachother’s spending habits.

Additionally, you may need to reserve some of your wedding budget to complete your registry purchases.  There may be items on your registry for which you will receive half of what you need.  Half of the utensils, half of the towels.  Perhaps you receive two blenders, but not a coffee maker.  Our engaged friends tell us that they are absolutely grateful to receive wedding gifts, but they understand that wedding guests may choose not to give an item on the registry.  It is difficult to budget for these scenarios, so the rule of thumb here is always “half”.  You need to be able to support the purchase of half of your registry items in the event that they are not gifted.  Better to be prepared for life after the wedding than to be caught flat-footed when starting married life together.

What If You Receive Money as a Gift

Speaking of gift registries, weddings are often events in which the couple receives a gift in the form of cash or check.  For many couples-to-be, the ability to accept a check requires jumping over some hurdles and answering some simple, but potentially sticky questions.  To whom should the check be written?  Will the last names be the same?  Will there be a joint bank account?  What if you receive checks prior to establishing a joint account, or you set up an account, only to receive a gift in which the name on the check is wrong?  

Get Started

Having a Payleaf account together as you plan your wedding can help you eliminate all of these concerns.  You can set up your Payleaf account so that both parties can contribute to your wedding savings together.  On your wedding invitations, you can list Payleaf in addition to your other gift registries.  This way, if you have family and friends who wish to contribute to your wedding budget (perhaps they want to support a great band instead of just a good one) they can send the amount to your Payleaf account.  Or they can simply make a deposit to your Payleaf account in lieu of a gift.  

Many couples strive for self sufficiency.  They may want the pride of knowing that they saved for and paid for their own celebration.  So this begs the question…What do you do if you receive money as a gift, such as through Payleaf?  While you could allocate this money into your overall wedding budget or your honeymoon budget, Payleaf offers you other options.  With a bucketed savings feature, you will be able to treat gifted money as the windfall it should be, and you can re-allocate gifted funds into other buckets for future savings.  You could create a bucket called “New House” or you could start your “Saving for Baby” bucket.  Some may even want to start a “Second Honeymoon” bucket.  The Tough Nickel has a great article with savings ideas for what you could do with your gifted money.  

In summary, planning for your wedding is a fantastic way to flush out your money values together.  To those who are engaged, congratulations!  We deeply appreciate the couples who opened up and shared their wedding planning and budgeting experiences to make this article possible.

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