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Whenever I think of summer, I think of weddings.
Typically my calendar is full of weddings between June and August, with a few sprinkled throughout the later months.
Attending all of these weddings had me thinking about how one successfully budgets for their wedding.
I’ve been to a lot of different weddings, from the extra extravagant to the rustic, bare minimum kind of wedding.
Every event has been wonderful and it has proven that no matter what budget you have, you can still have a great wedding.
Wedding planning is all about making smart decisions before the big day arrives. And those decisions all start with the money you plan to put into the event.
Below I’ve listed 10 tips on how to successfully budget for a wedding.
Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy your wedding and have financial peace of mind after the party too.
The first thing my husband and I did after getting engaged was examine our finances. Since we weren’t combining our income at that point, we needed to see where each of us stood financially.
This can be hard if couples haven’t been open about their finances before. Now is the time to lay it all on the table. Share your checking, savings and even the amount of debt you have.
You can’t budget for a wedding if you don’t even know what you can afford. If one partner has a lot of debt, start working to pare that down first before making wedding plans.
While you are examining your finances, you should look over your bills and see where you could save more money.
Perhaps coming together on a family phone plan will save you cash or maybe it means one person cancels their Hulu account while the other keeps Netflix.
Once you have a clear indication of your finances, you will be able to figure out exactly what kind of wedding you can realistically afford.
2. Make A List
Now that you know how much money you have, it is time to start working on the dreaded wedding list.
This list should include all of the things you want in order to have the perfect wedding. This could be an epic cake, a killer venue, a thousand roses, doves, etc.
Now make a second list of all of the things you can actually have and afford. Weddings can get ridiculously expensive if you don’t reign in your impulse to get everything you want.
You may want a thousand roses, but come to find that a thousand wildflowers can save you hundreds of dollars.
Or you had your heart set on a cool, modern venue, but could save a few grand by having your wedding in a garden instead.
Along with this list you should clearly note pricing so that you can get a budget together. But, the smarter thing to do would be to establish your budget before you even make a list.
If you know you only have a limited amount of cash to work with, your wedding list will be a lot easier to put together. And this is true whether you’re putting together a $500 wedding or a $50,000 wedding.
3. Start Setting Money Aside
If one partner makes more money than another, see if they are okay with contributing extra to the wedding fund.
When I planned my wedding, we had an equal contribution and it helped us meet our wedding fund goal that much faster.
Most people don’t have money set aside for a wedding before they are even engaged, so it generally becomes a work in progress as you lead up to the big day.
From this point on you and your partner should have a clear idea of how much you want to save and work on saving a little with each paycheck. If your goal is to save let’s say $10,000 within a year, then you’ll need to save on average $833 a month.
You will want to meet your savings goal before you have to start paying anything. That way you aren’t left floundering for cash when the invoices start rolling in.
Also, fair warning, when saving money for a wedding, you will drastically need to cut down on your spending in other areas.
This will be a time of less eating out, socializing and maybe even changing the way and where you grocery shop.
4. Ask Parents to Help
Not everyone planning a wedding will be able to do this, but if your parents are willing, ask them for financial help.
I don’t mean that you should follow the old fashioned idea of the bride’s parents paying for the wedding.
While that would be amazing, it’s pretty unrealistic in most wedding planning situations.
Some parents opt to match what their kids are savings as a means of contributing to the wedding. Or your parents may offer to cover the cost of the caterer only.
Whatever handouts come your way, graciously accept them and move on.
If you know in advance you will be getting cash from your parents, be sure to include it on the budget you put together.
5. Look for Free Stuff
The thing to remember about weddings is that they only happen for you once…hopefully. This means there are a lot of things that are purchased that will never be used again.
But that’s where you can gain some sweet wedding items either for free or at a steal.
Don’t be afraid to buy a used wedding dress, or to use old flowers that were being tossed from a restaurant or even from a florist who has to pitch some items.
6. Keep A Spreadsheet
Putting together a wedding can get out of hand really fast. And it can get confusing.
You may not remember who you paid and when, and don’t want to toss money around unnecessarily.
A spreadsheet, either physical or digital will help you keep track of everything you are spending.
Plus it will allow you to budget for future expenses or to make changes if things start costing more than you expected.
Putting together a wedding is all about adapting with the fluctuating cost of things.
7. Work Overtime or Take On A Side Hustle
If after following several of the tips above and you still find yourself coming up short on cash, then it is time to ask your boss if you could work overtime.
If overtime isn’t an option at your job, then your next best bet is to take on a side hustle or two to earn extra income.
A side hustle is something you should be able to do in addition to your regular job, without compromising work performance.
Here are a few easy side jobs you can pick up to earn money fast:
- Drive for Uber or deliver with UberEATS
- Work freelance through Fiverr
- Look for quick projects or tasks through TaskRabbit or Gigwalk
- Pick up pet, senior or child caregiving jobs via the Care site
- Take surveys:
In addition to earning cash, you should also take advantage of all the ways you can save money too.
And this is something you should do whether you are planning a wedding or not.
I find an easy way to save money is to use money saving apps. I love these because they do all the work for you and let you save in a fun way.
There are a lot of money saving apps out there, but a few of my favorites include:
- Ibotta ($10 sign-up bonus)
- Acorns ($5 sign-up bonus)
- Digit ($5 sign-up bonus, but does cost $2.99 a month after one month trial)
- Charlie Penguin
If apps aren’t your thing, you can always contact your payroll department to set up automatic savings.
Doing this will guarantee that you are setting aside a certain amount with each paycheck.
It’s a given that you will have to spend money in order to put together a wedding. I’ve yet to hear of someone getting married at zero cost because there will always be a fee for something.
But since you do have to shop for things, like a dress, suit, makeup, shoes, gifts, and more, you might as well earn cashback for your efforts.
Like money saving apps, there are a lot of cashback apps available too, from the tried and true to the new guys on the scene.
I think most of them are worth checking out in order to maximize your earning and saving potential.
- BeFrugal ($10 sign-up bonus)
- Ebates ($10 sign-up bonus)
- ShopAtHome ($10 Amazon gift card with first purchase)
- Pei (use promo xfaytz for a $5 sign-up bonus)
10. Keep It Casual
For those working with a limited income, I advise you to keep your wedding as simple as possible.
Get married in your backyard with a basic menu of barbecue and beer.
Or head to the courthouse for a private ceremony and then join friends and family at your home afterward for light appetizers and champagne.
You have complete control over how fancy your wedding is and how expensive you want it to be.
If you don’t have the cash, then opt for a casual, low-cost wedding where you spend very little but still enjoy the reward of sharing your special day with loved ones.
At the end of the day, a wedding is what you make of it and the extravagance is all up to you.
If you can’t afford to do something, don’t jump through hoops trying to make it happen. In reality, simplicity is key when it comes to getting married on a budget.
The less you have to do and worry about, the less money you will likely end up spending.
Enjoy your special day but remember it is every day after that one that really counts. So put your money to good use on your future, versus blowing it all on one event.