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Create a Budget and a Plan
Whether you want an Instagram-worthy wedding, or a small intimate gathering, begin with a realistic budget. If, for example, you want to spend no more than $25,000 for a wedding in one year, divide that amount by 12. You’ll need to save about $2,083 per month – assuming you get no help from family or friends. If saving that amount is not realistic, you have options. Among them: lower your budget expectations, extend your planning horizon, or reduce expenses elsewhere and redirect those savings to your wedding.
Even in today’s modern society, however, many parents still help with their children’s weddings. On average, according to WeddingWire, the bride and groom’s parents together contribute about two-thirds of the total cost. As the outset of your planning, get a clear understanding of what you can expect.
Consider the Location
That swanky country club or downtown rooftop may be a breathtaking setting, but it will come at a cost. Be realistic when considering location and venue. According to The Knot, a New Mexico wedding averages $17,000, for instance. Move that to New York City, and be prepared to shell out an average $76,944.
Hotels, country clubs and wedding venues may charge hefty rental fees. To bypass those, research parks, community and neighborhood amenity centers, beaches and of course churches that offer low-cost space for both the ceremony and the reception. While few churches provide wedding space at no charge these days, a ceremony at your church or a college campus chapel may cost only a few hundred dollars.
Keep it Small
Do you really need to invite great-great-aunt Sally and her third husband you’ve never met? If so, get ready to fork out about $71 on average for each of them to attend your reception. Multiply that by 50 guests and you just upped your wedding budget by $3,550.
Keeping your wedding intimate and your guest list selective is the single best way to control wedding costs. With smaller numbers, you’ll have greater options for venues. And, the bride and groom will get to spend quality time with the people most special to them, rather than playing busy hosts to a roomful of acquaintances.
A traditional Saturday evening wedding may be what you always dreamed of. But if you are flexible, the wedding of your dreams can come at a more affordable price tag. Saturdays are the most popular, and most expensive, wedding days. Seven in 10 couples opt for a Saturday wedding. While a weekday or Sunday wedding may be less convenient for guests, booking on those days could shave 10 to 20 percent off your costs.
Likewise, time of year can play into your wedding costs. Avoid the typical wedding season generally from late spring through early fall — if you are looking to save money. Also watch out for holidays and local events that could cause travel and hotel rates to increase (for instance, a local music festival, major football game or Christmas/New Year’s holidays). The venues you are considering may happily discount fees to fill their space during slow seasons, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Save and Spend Wisely
Now that you know your budget and monthly savings goals, consider opening a wedding savings account earmarked for accumulating those funds. Once your account balance has grown to at least $2,500, you can move those funds into a money market account to earn higher interest rates and have access to them for paying bills as the wedding approaches.
Along the way, it is likely you will need to make deposits for wedding services — the photographer, cake, flowers, venue. A credit card will come in handy for those, especially one with cash back or travel rewards. Just be sure to pay off balances each month from your savings fund so that when wedding day arrives, you can enjoy it wedding-debt-free.
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