With my wedding in the not-so-distant past, I thought I’d take a break from the nitty-gritty technical topics and offer up a few thoughts on wedding budget tips..
First and foremost, the happy couple needs to avoid putting themselves into huge debt. In fact, I’ll gently suggest newlyweds have over spent if they carry any debt beyond their wedding day. We’ve all heard of couples still dealing with (or in a lot of cases, not dealing with) wedding debt years down the road. In throwing a blowout, no expense spared wedding, couples often end up sabotaging their marriage with undue financial strain for years to come. You heard it here first: upon reflection, that naked boy fountain you rented for a few grand will not be viewed as money well spent.
The best way to avoid taking on debt is by setting a realistic budget. You need to research first by talking to friends and family and visiting venues. Come up with an “all-in” number and avoid turning it into an upward moving target. If one or both of you have a fondness for other than fully thought out purchases, then set a dollar limit for items that require consultation prior to buying.
There are heaps of wedding cost savings ideas online and in print – those offered below barely scratch the surface. The goal is not a race to the bottom; rather it’s working within your means and getting the best value for money spent to ensure a fantastic day with lasting memories.
Opportunities to save…without detraction
- Use eBay style websites dedicated to weddings for “one-time-wear” type items. While buying a used wedding dress is quite common (one person wore it for one day – can the same be said of most tux rentals?), decorations also come to mind (i.e. money card boxes, vases for centerpieces, table numbers, etc). After the wedding put these items right back online for resale. Give yourself a pat on the back if you end up selling for more than you paid. Without any prodding on my part, my wife plans to sell her wedding dress through one of these sites. I’m all for it not collecting dust and tying up closet space for 30 years before the inevitable tossing! We liked http://www.bride.ca/wedding-classifieds/.
- Go for cupcakes over a cake. Big over-the-top wedding cakes seem to be less of a thing these days. Cakes quickly get into the thousands; cupcakes max out in the hundreds.
- Take advantage of discounted rates offered for Friday weddings. All involved will quickly forgive you for having to take the day off work once the open bar is in sight.
- Go lean on transportation. Doing away with the limos and/or rented Porsches translates into big savings. These costs can quickly get into the thousands…and for what? A few ten minute car rides. My wife and I aren’t car people so simply driving ourselves to the venue was no huge sacrifice. We put the money saved here into a top-notch photographer (see more below).
- Have an artist in family? See if they will help out with the flowers/décor rather than hiring a professional. My uncle did our flowers (with no compromise in quality) and saved us a bundle.
Where not to cheap out
- The aforementioned wedding photos. Consider the staying power of the photos in contrast to just about every other cost (at the risk of repeating myself the limo ride sure comes to mind). I mean, who doesn’t get a kick out of seeing their parent’s old wedding photos? These points in mind, my wife and I saw a lot of value in paying for a high quality professional photographer. Shop around to ensure you’re paying no more than market rates. As an aside, a lot of photographers will toss in a free engagement shoot to get you to ink that contract – so be sure to ask. A post wedding savings tip: with the photos out of the way and rings firmly stationed, drop your gym membership ASAP. I’m only three weeks removed from our wedding and half way to my goal of putting on a permanent 30 pounds of equal parts fat and gristle.
- Have professionals do hair and make-up for the ladies. It’s their day to look extra special! The wrong or poorly executed look can add unnecessary stress. Full disclosure: I panicked for 30 minutes or so when the Dippity-Doo went missing.
- For those considering the reception not only a celebration but a party, go for the open bar. Money wise, guests adjust their “envelope” accordingly and the cost nets to much less than initially advertised.
- Getting back to the idea of “one-time-wears,” our wedding party (guys) saw value in paying a little more to buy suits instead of renting tuxes. The key is to pay enough for something that still looks sharp and everyone will wear many times over (acknowledging that cost and “sharpness” aren’t on a 1:1 relationship).
A quick shout-out for the wedding website
I wouldn’t be offering up all my best wedding intelligence without plugging the increasingly popular wedding website. Me, my wife, and our guests all enjoyed the free website we set up. The pictures, bios for the wedding party (fun idea: write the bios on their behalf in a slightly disparaging yet loving tone), music requests, message board, etc. created great anticipation, sentiment and laughs leading up to the big day. The site also became a central place for conveying secondary info (hotels, shuttle buses etc.) beyond what could be crammed into the invitation. And hey, the online RSVP also saved us a little on postage and in theory was convenient for guests. We used www.mywedding.com but there are many other great options out there to sift through.
At the risk of sounding sappy, your wedding day is undoubtedly one of the most important and memorable days of your life. That said, it is only one day of the 30,000 or so the average person takes in; so save something for the other 29,999 eh? With proper planning and responsible spending, the so-called “dream wedding” absent of long-lasting ill financial effects is more than doable. Start your marriage on the right path by considering the above; in particular avoiding reckless spending sure to strain the relationship in time.
The author, Pat Kenney, is a Certified Professional Accountant. He has worked in public practice at a local boutique CPA firm in Mississauga for 9 years. He currently holds a senior management position.by