Thursday, November 23

Top 10 Tips for an Affordable Wedding

Ready to start planning your wedding?

Take it from me (I just got married!) planning a wedding will be one of the most exciting and hectic times of your life. But if you're not careful, it can also be one of the most costly times of your life.

And do you know what dooms a lot of marriages? Debt.


These ten tips are based on practical ideas to help you make sensible decisions about your big day.

Waking up to bills you'll have trouble paying or waking up to bills that drain your savings isn't the way to start married life.

A recent study conducted by Emory University found that couples who spend less on their wedding tend to have longer-lasting marriages than those who splurge.

That's why you need a plan—months in advance—to make your wedding a wedding you can afford.

A plan based on caution and common sense: These ten tips are based on practical ideas to help you make sensible decisions about your big day.

  1. Develop a Budget Before You Develop a Wedding Plan

    It's easy to rush right into planning but it's important that your budget, not your emotions, determine how elaborate your wedding will be. Make every decision based on that budget!

  2. Limit the Size of Your Guest List

    You're going to be tempted to celebrate with ALL of the people who love you.

    But, the bigger the wedding, the higher the cost.

    If you're having a hard time deciding on who will make "the cut," ask yourself the following questions:

    • When was the last time you spoke to this person?
    • Would you invite them over to your house for dinner?
    • Will this person be offended if they do not receive an invitation?
  3. Control Your Food and Beverage Cost

    If your budget demands it, skip the formal dinner and opt for a cocktail style reception. Serve a good wine or signature drink instead of providing a fully stocked open bar.

  4. Skip the Wedding Planner

    Prior to the 2001 movie "The Wedding Planner," most brides successfully planned their big day with the help of family and friends. Since then hiring a wedding planner has become the thing to do.

    Your life isn't a movie, and your wedding may not require a wedding planner.

    Yes, wedding planners can keep you organized and lower your stress but if a wedding planner does not fit your budget, do not use one. Explain your scenario to family and friends and ask for their help. If you struggle with organization or feel overwhelmed by the entire process, check out online software and other free planning aides. Among the hundreds of resources available, many have good advice but almost all are filled, even cluttered with ads, so go for good ideas but ignore the hype.

    If you still feel like you need professional help (and if it fits your budget) consider hiring a "day-of coordination" planner only. They're a lot cheaper.

    But whether you're hiring a planner or a day coordinator, be careful. Get at least three references and do a web search for reviews of each person's work. Insist on a written agreement that requires your permission before major spending. Ask for a detailed summary before you pay expenses and receipts upon payment.

  5. Find Multiple Uses for Items

    Your wedding day goes fast, but bills and debt linger. Try to avoid obsessing over minor details. Chances are that a few weeks into the marriage, you won't care about the minor details.

    Repurpose items used throughout the day. For instance, use the flowers from the ceremony for your reception. If you're giving favors, think about multiple-use favors (a place card could actually be a nice luggage tag).

  6. Take Advantage of Group Buying Sites

    I saved $800 on my own engagement shoot by booking a photographer I found on Groupon. I also found deals for bakeries, wedding stationery, décor, and photography on another popular group buying site.

    Don't allow yourself to be blindsided by the deal, do your research on the person or company offering the service before you decide to buy.

  7. Decorate It Yourself

    Do you or people you know have a good "eye" for decoration? Great! Do your own flower arrangements, invitations, decorations, and more. Creating items for your wedding adds a special touch because you created it and save money in the process.

    Not into decorating? Buy once-used wedding items. Caterers are always reusing things. Why can't you?

  8. Avoid "Wedding Loan" or "Lifestyle loan" Promotions and Gimmicks

    Don't fall for gimmicks. Don't finance your wedding with a credit card. Don't get an expensive personal loan. If you absolutely must have a loan to make your wedding happen, slow down! Try for a signature loan at a credit union or bank.

  9. Planning a Destination Wedding? See Beyond the Advertising!

    Search the web for reviews of the resort and separately for reviews of its wedding operation. When you choose a resort, request every detail in writing. And make sure the destination answers you in writing. Do not accept verbal answers.

  10. Don't Be Pressured

    Everybody pressures you in the wedding process, from family to caterers to wedding planners. Remember that it is your wedding and your budget.

    Deciding to have a courthouse wedding doesn't make your wedding any less special than a country-club wedding. If you are having too many guests for the courthouse, then remember that if you belong to a faith community, many make their worship space available free or at modest cost to congregation members for their weddings. If you're paying the bills, you must make the decisions—remember you and your new spouse will definitely have to live with the results of those decisions.

You can do this!

For More Information

Check out all resources on our special "Wedding on a Budget" page

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