Budgeting is hard enough. Now try to budget a wedding with 175 guests and an open bar, HA…that’s funny. But the truth is that it is realistic and do-able. You just need to know where you’re starting from and establish what you can afford.
Before you even book anything, sit down and talk with your fiancée about the financial preparation for the wedding.
Here are 5 things to think about before you start swiping your debit card…
- Discuss your current finances.
Most people have some form of debt (school loans, car note, etc.), which is not by any means a bad thing. However, this can hinder or even prevent one of you from being able to save towards the wedding. On top of those items (ahem… gentlemen) at this point you’ve purchased something very bright and shiny for her. Whether you paid out of pocket or via credit, it has impacted your finances. With all that in mind, evaluate and write down 1) how much money you have saved already; 2) any large expenses in the near future; and 3) your monthly contributions to pay off your loans.
- How much can you save and how long do you have to save for?
This step is not necessarily rocket science, but it does need to be considered. If you plan on getting married in three months, it is much different then planning for two years. The longer your engagement, the more time you have to save. Once you figure out how long you have to save for, I recommend setting up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account on each payday. Put away what you know you won’t miss, then as the time passes, log in to your online banking and manually move money from your checking account to your savings “wedding” account. Your wedding fund will start growing in no time.
- Are your parents chipping in?
Find this out ASAP! Please do not assume your parents will foot the bill, only later to discover they aren’t able to help. On the contrary, you might find out that they are willing to do more than you assume, or maybe your grandma wants to give you the wedding of you dreams… You don’t know until you ask. So check, and get a good grasp on how much your families are going to contribute.
- Do you plan on using credit cards?
Credit cards: your best friend or your worst enemy? These little guys can be very dangerous, but they can also help you out in tight spots. My recommendation is if you don’t need one, DON’T USE ONE! And if you are going to use one, do your research first. Check out a previous blog I posted on choosing the right credit card. Also, be sure to have an exit strategy. You should have it planned out exactly how you intend to pay off the credit card (or CARDS for the over indulgent). If you can’t figure out a realistic repayment plan or you already have thousands in credit card debt, please resort back to the original recommendation in this section…
- How big and how extravagant will this shindig be?
Now that you know
1) where you stand financially,
2) how much and how long you plan on saving,
3) how much your family can contribute, and
4) whether you plan on using credit to help pay for it,
… let the planning begin!
Put together a comprehensive list of wedding items and decide what you can and can not do without. (Guys, the dress is probably going to be off limits for an opinion on how much to spend… let her budget this one). Do your research on the venues and the catering. This will affect the number of people you invite, and vice versa. When it comes to the honeymoon, check out resorts and even wedding websites that will let you set up a registry for your honeymoon to help pay for excursions, food, and even your stay. You might find that your financial plan might not cover your dream wedding, so be sure to continually evaluate your financial plan so you can meet your wedding goal.
Oh and on a side note: do not try and pay for things on the fly without budgeting. Things will really start adding up quickly. Trust me, before you know it you’ll be two months from the wedding and trying to figure out who’s going to pay for the DJ, the photographer, the videographer, flowers, bar tab, remainder of the honeymoon, swimming with the dolphins, center pieces at the reception, the tux, the cake, the wedding favors… I think you get the idea. Good luck and happy planning!