Ask my son Daniel about what he remembers from his wedding and he’ll likely give you a blank stare. “Uh… it was a blur. Everything happened so fast.” Ask our lovely daughter-in-law Jenn, and she’ll give you a slightly more informative response. “ I remember the flowers and the pretty chapel and the look on Daniel’s face when I walked down the aisle…” Seriously, though, the wedding day goes by extremely fast for most brides and grooms, so it’s important to plan for the rest of your married lives, not just for one day.
To maximize your wedding without borrowing from your future, you’ll need a budget you can stick to, as I talked about in my last post. This will both minimize the financial stress of planning the wedding and help minimize the overall stress in your marriage by not having to incur more debt. But that doesn’t mean you have to turn your reception into a potluck dinner. You can have your wedding cake, and eat it too!
Here are a few ways to better prepare for life beyond the big day:
- Plan ahead: The sooner you sit down and plan your budget, the better off you’ll be financially. I already mentioned online budget tools, but there are also a number of sites that let you figure out your schedule and other planning necessities. With a little organization, you can easily be your own wedding planner, which is an immediate savings in itself. Make sure you check out TheKnot and Wedding Wire and of course Pintrist!
- Find the right ring/dress for you: You know that saying where rings should cost at least a two months’ salary? It’s basically an ad created by salespeople. Diamonds are forever, but you don’t want to be paying off your ring forever. Find one that speaks to you, but only if you can afford it. The same goes for the dress/tux you’ll be wearing exactly one day out of your life, as well as other expensive items. Some sites to help review the kind of dress you want are: Style Me Pretty , Brides.com, or The Stylish Dresser
- Don’t go overboard on the venue: Daniel and Jenn got married in The Rose Chapel near downtown Fort Worth. It was gorgeous, but ended up being one of the most affordable options they found. The cost for venue arrangements can range anywhere from $0 to $10,000, so it’s important to research the best spot for you and your fiancé, whether it’s a hotel, club, restaurant, church, university or rental hall.
- Invite a safe number of guests: For budgeting purposes, you can safely assume that about 60 to 70 percent of your invited guests will attend the wedding and reception. A good way to manage your invitations is by creating a “must-have” A-list of guests and a “would-like-to-include” B-list. Choose carefully, because there are always a few add-on costs.
- Save on the reception: The reception is one of the easiest places to cut wedding costs. Fancy finger foods or hor’doeuvres are great (depending on the time of the day). But you can also cut costs in little areas , such as using an iPod instead of a DJ, buying half the napkins inscribed, half plain and using affordable yet attractive decorations like rose petals. You might try carats and cake or Lover.ly to find the extras in your neighborhood that others liked.
Basically, just try to remember that “happily ever after” is the reason you got married – not so you could blow your life savings on a one-day extravaganza. Or one big trip like the honeymoon, which is what I’ll talk about in my next (and final) wedding preparation.
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)