How To Avoid Going In Debt For Your Wedding

Image by *_Abhi_* on FlickrIf you are planning a wedding, you are probably well aware of this statistic:  the average wedding costs over $25,000.  You think to yourself, “How do people afford that? I have nowhere near that much saved!”  Well, the average couple probably doesn’t either. Many couples go into debt in order to have their fairytale wedding; but you can have a fantastic, memorable, and unique day while staying within your predetermined budget.  But how?

Say you are going to have that $25,000 wedding: according to the WeddingReport, couples today pay about 58 percent of the total cost, or, for our example, $14,500.  The bride’s parents pay an average of 21 percent, or $5250, while the groom’s parents pay an average of 14 percent, or $3500.  One thing to remember is that more parents, who are typically baby boomers, cannot afford to chip in for the big day without sacrificing their retirement funds.  Not only are couples going into debt, sometimes their parents are as well.

That’s certainly not a great way to start off your married life, and it’s not fair to the people who have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars raising you!  Here are some steps you can take:

  • First, realize that life is not an episode of Say Yes to the Dress or Platinum Weddings.  You are not Kim Kardashian, so you’re not likely to get a bunch of free, and expensive, swag for the big day.  Look at what you have saved, and what family can realistically and comfortably contribute, and plan from there.  Yes, you can plan from there!
  • Go “vintage.”  This is a euphemism for used. Either way, you’ll save money.  Look for gently used dresses, rings and bands, and other accessories that can make your day special for less.
  • Be thrifty with the dress.  White dresses abound, particularly in the summer.  Just because something isn’t labeled “bridal” doesn’t mean it can’t be a wonderful gown.  Look at formal, cocktail, and tea length dresses.
  • Make a list of essentials that you must have for your wedding. If, for instance, you will not be happy unless you have a designer cake, then put that into your budget.  But then cut the non-essentials or the “nice-to-haves” to make room.  Stick to your list; it is very tempting, and easy, for brides to keep adding.
  • Be flexible. Would you consider a public park?  Could you take over someone’s backyard? Could you find a restaurant that would offer a reasonable price?  Can you do buffet instead of sit-down dinners?  Could you have the wedding on a Sunday or weekday, which is less expensive?  It might not be quite what you pictured, but it could be even better.
  • DIY.  Make your own centerpieces and wedding favors.  There are so many suggestions online and in forums that you will not be at a loss for a great idea. And you’ll save a ton.  If you have crafty friends, get them in on the fun.  Go with DIY wedding invitations while you’re at it to save another few hundred dollars, and do your own hair and makeup. You must have at least one friend who can be your personal stylist for the day.
  • Check Craigslist for vendors. Often, you can find professionals that charge less than other “bridal” or “wedding” vendors.  Check references as thoroughly as you normally would and you could snag a real bargain.
  • Be creative. You can do a lot with less if you take a little time to find creative ideas.  The internet is full of them; from buying white tulips for $0.88/stem and arranging them singly to using taper candles in lieu of flowers, you can cut costs dramatically without detracting from the elegance and beauty of your wedding.

In today’s economy, there are very few things worth going into debt for; your wedding is not one of them.  Save your money and use your imagination instead!

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