So, you said "YES!"? Congratulations, you're getting married! Now it's time to get ready for one of the most exciting (read: expensive) events of your life.
The average cost of a wedding in Florida is $25,937. If you're an average Florida resident, you probably don't have that
much cash-burning a hole in your bank account. So how can people make their wedding budgets work?
Keep reading to learn more about financial tools and practical wedding budgeting tips.
Make a Plan
Making a wedding plan may feel overwhelming at first. There are many tasks to complete, dates to check, and people to coordinate. Take a deep breath, get out a tablet or pen and paper.
You can start by planning with your partner. Talk about your non-negotiables.
Are you set on Calla Lillies? Write it down. Does your partner insist on having a tacky cake topper? Put it on the list.
Consider this list a first draft. You'll have many more expenses arise but having a conversation about what's most important to each of you will help set the tone for a successful budget.
Set a Budget
How much do you have to spend on your big day? Do you have generous relatives or friends helping you out? It's essential to start with a realistic number.
Once you've decided what you can afford together, write it down and stick to it. You can make a wedding work for almost any amount of money. Wedding budgets work best when everyone is on the same page.
Clarify Outside Funds
Remember to have those essential but sometimes uncomfortable conversations. If Meema offered to "help out," what exactly does that mean? Be willing to ask for specific numbers without sounding entitled or tactful.
If your future mother-in-law wants to pay for your dress, respectfully ask for a price range. She may end up paying for part of the dress if your dream gown is more significant than her gift (and that's okay).
Prepare yourself to hear "no" or "we can only give this much." You should accept any gift with a grateful heart and thankful words. It's important to finalize gift amounts before you set a final budget.
Finalize Your Wedding Budget
Add your final amount with any gifts, and now you have your final budget. Do this step first (before you fall in love with that $15,000 dress or suit). A realistic budget helps set realistic expectations.
Set Up an Account
You may want to open a separate checking account for wedding expenses. Using a different
wedding account can help you stick to your budget and track expenses easier.
It can be easy to lose track of which vendor has been paid in full or only given a deposit. Set up a document to keep track of where your money is going.
Spreadsheets work great for some people. Others track their costs using online tools and apps. If you use digital banking,
ask about budget and expense trackers available to you.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure it's something that will work for you and your partner. Keep in mind that you probably won't use it if it's not functional.
Get a Head Count
The number of guests at your wedding will probably determine the venue and significantly influence the cost. Sometimes more guests mean more cost, but not always.
Once you have a final guest list, you can decide what (or if) you plan to feed everyone. You can also find the best location for your budget and wedding size. Now you can start calculating a wedding budget with a realistic picture of your finances and
number of guests.
Location, Location, Location
Your wedding costs can depend a lot on where and when you tie the knot. Most geographical regions have a wide range of average wedding costs, which means a Midwest country church won't cost nearly as much as a Manhattan event.
Venue and vendor availability can also vary quite a bit in different parts of the country. Explore your options when it comes to wedding locations.
Do Your Research
Suppose you've found that perfect online florist with a price that's too good to be true. It probably is. Scammers posing as vendors can take deposits and disappear. There are a few ways you can protect yourself from losing out to a scammer.
Are They Legit?
Check with the Better Business Bureau. Not every legit business is BBB accredited. However, the BBB should record company complaints and how they were
managed or resolved.
Ask for references. If the business is real, they should have at least two names to pass along to you. Email, text, or call these references to ask about the vendor.
Potential businesses can also fabricate references, so use your best judgment when contacting them. Never give out personal information about where you live or details about your wedding date.
Keep it Local
Local stores you can visit and meet face-to-face are easier to scope out. Seeking out local vendors gives you a better connection to a company's legitimacy.
Using credit cards can protect you against losing money to scammers. Cash and checks are difficult to track. Once you've paid the money, it's gone.
Your financial institution should have fraud protection set up on your credit and debit cards. Features like Card Control can allow you to lock or unlock your cards if you suspect fraud.
Ask About All Costs
Many wedding expenses have add-ons. You may find a killer deal on your dream flowers. But how much will they charge for delivery?
The cake decorator may also charge a delivery fee and a cake cutting fee. Ask each vendor about ALL involved costs before booking them. Always read contracts carefully before signing.
Surprises on your bill are rarely happy ones. Asking a few extra questions may help you avoid unexpected budget busters.
Think Outside the Box
If you're willing to be a bit unconventional, you could save money. For example, getting married on a weekday can increase your vendor and venue availability pool. Some locations may offer food discounts or reduced minimums on weekdays.
What Can You DIY?
Some couples are DIY savvy. They're excited to create their centerpieces, bouquets, or other wedding items. Do-it-yourself projects aren't for everyone.
Sometimes, DIY adds unwelcomed stress (and maybe expense) on the bride and groom.
Keep your DIY factor in mind when setting a wedding budget. Add the cost of materials and compare it to hiring a vendor. Sometimes, the savings are worth it, but not always.
Maybe you don't have the time to do something yourself, but your sister does! Perhaps your college roommate has some connections for free getaway vehicles. Wedding planning tasks can be too much for just one or two people.
If you ask for help, make your expectations clear. Will you provide cash or give a budget or reimburse your errand-runner when they bring you receipts? Before assigning tasks, be sure to outline these things and work all the costs into your budget.
Delegating sometimes means letting go of some control. If this seems scary to you, be very specific with your requests. Good, gentle communication goes a long way.
How many times have your plans changed in the last two years? The COVID-19 pandemic has taught everyone a lesson in flexibility. Consider protecting your wedding planning investments with wedding insurance.
Some policies are available for as little as $66. Just remember to do your homework to avoid a wedding insurance scam.
Sometimes, in all the wedding planning craziness, people forget to check in with each other—schedule regular dinner or lunch dates to talk about wedding costs.
Regular budget meetings will help you stay on track and communicate with each other. It's also a great habit to establish once you're married.
A Penny Saved
The best time to start saving for your wedding is as soon as you're engaged. How can you rework your regular budget to make extra room for wedding costs? Don't be afraid to pick up a side hustle to supplement your wedding budget.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you're also taking care of yourself. Burning yourself out to get married is hardly
a healthy way to approach your big day.
Couples Who Set Wedding Budgets Together
Setting your budget together helps set you up for financial success as a couple looking to get married. Wedding costs add up quickly. Without wedding budgets that work for them, couples can easily overspend. This pitfall can cause a lot of stress and
debt that becomes a burden.
Establishing a separate wedding account and using credit cards to make purchases can help you track spending. Paying vendors with credit cards can help protect you against losing money to scam artists.
At iTHINK Financial, we want to help you set your marriage up for success. Contact us today to learn more
about how our financial tools can help you manage your wedding budget.