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This post comes from Abby Hayes at partner site Credit.com.
Weddings are expensive. The national average cost of a wedding (excluding the honeymoon) is a whopping $28,427, according to a 2013 survey from TheKnot.
With costs so high, it seems impossible not to go into debt for your wedding — or at least settle for a 20-year engagement so you can save up!
But you don’t really need to spend anywhere near $30,000 to have a beautiful wedding. And you can save up for your wedding in less than a year. Here’s how.
1. Set realistic expectations
Here’s the thing: TheKnot’s annual survey takes into account both super-frugal, backyard weddings and high-end, million-dollar Kardashian-style events. So that, in and of itself, drives up the average cost quite a bit. A million-dollar wedding can make a big difference when you’re averaging costs.
But you can have a perfectly beautiful, memorable event (and one that, most importantly, has you married by the end of the day) for a few thousand bucks — or even less, if you’re creative.
So don’t start with that mind-blowing $28,000 figure in mind. Instead, start by examining your finances to set a realistic savings goal.
For instance, if you and your betrothed make $60,000 in a year, do you really want to spend six months’ worth of income on a one-day shindig? Probably not. But maybe with some scrimping you could realistically set aside 15 percent of your income through the course of a year — giving you $9,000 to work with.
So start by looking at your income, and then figuring out where you can cut back on spending to increase savings for your wedding. While you’re at it, consider asking your parents (politely and in a non-demanding way, obviously) if they’re planning to contribute, and, if so, how much. Add those contributions to your overall savings goal.
2. Cut back on your spending
Now that you have a plan to save for your wedding, you have to actually follow through. This means doing the tough work of cutting back on your spending.
First, though, you and your partner (especially if you’ve already combined finances) need to decide just how much your wedding is worth. Not in terms of dollars, but in terms of sacrifice.
For instance, is the wedding dress of your dreams worth giving up dining out for six months? Is that expensive photographer whose work you adore worth cutting your cable subscription for a while?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’ll just depend on your priorities. If having a gorgeous wedding is important to you, you’ll be willing to make serious sacrifices to get there. If your main goal is to gather family and friends for a simple party that sees you married by the day’s end, then you may not need to sacrifice as much for your wedding savings.
And both of those things are OK.
But as you decide where and how much to cut back on spending, you may need to adjust your wedding savings goals. The more you sacrifice, the more you save, and the more you get to spend.
3. Set a wedding budget
Lastly, before you spend a dime on your wedding, set a per-item budget. For instance, you’ll spend $500 on your wedding gown or $2,000 on your photographer or whatever.
Before you can set a realistic budget, you will, of course, need to do some research. So get to looking around, calling for prices, and seeing what’s available in your area. Then, set realistic budgets based on your research, and stick to your budget.
When you set your budget, be sure to add a 5 to 10 percent contingency, because you will overspend on some areas. And even if you only overspend by a little bit, you need to be able to cover that spending.
Once you have your savings plan rolling and your budget in place, you can begin to slowly spend on your wedding. Buy centerpiece fixings when they’re on sale at the craft store. Purchase your wedding gown during an annual sale. Spreading out your wedding spending can save you money.
By starting your wedding savings plan from the back end — figuring out what you can afford instead of what you want to spend — you can make saving for your wedding in less than a year an achievable goal. And if you take things slowly, plan carefully, and find ways to save, you can have the wedding of your dreams for way less than the national average.
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