Your Dream Wedding: Avoid a financial nightmare

Most girls have been dreaming about their wedding for as long as they can remember. Much thought is devoted to the dress, the ring, and of course, the man. What isn’t given much thought amidst all this dreaming, however, is the price tag attached to this fantasy wedding. With the average wedding in the U.S. costing around $19,000, this is no small oversight. While planning and budgeting can kill the fantasy, they prove important when you consider that a few hours of your life may cost the equivalent of a nice down payment on a house. Overextending a wedding budget is easy to do, as various costs get overlooked and budgets are not managed effectively.

But eloping isn’t for everyone and a memorable wedding doesn’t have to bring financial devastation. With forethought and organization, your wedding can be a dream come true, not a financial nightmare.

Preliminary Planning

Although one-third of all brides hire a wedding consultant, many couples choose to plan their own wedding. This can be done with little stress. Ideally, before spending a cent, engaged couples should sit down and work through some important considerations together.

This is a big day in your life and you want to be happy with the outcome. First, sit down and talk about what each of you desire for the wedding – a big or small affair? A destination wedding? A summer or holiday wedding? A sit-down dinner or a more casual cocktail reception? Establish priorities and create a list.

Know What You Are Getting Into

After preliminary discussions as a couple, do some research on the various costs associated with a wedding. A great online resource is, providing advice, ideas, resources, and budgeting tools to make your wedding affordable and amazing.

Before establishing a budget for your wedding, it is crucial to determine who will be paying for what. Will the bride’s parents pay for the entire wedding and if so, make sure you know exactly how much they are willing to put into your big day. There should be no gray area here – when it comes to family and money, don’t make assumptions.

If there will be several parties contributing to the wedding, you will need to immediately establish who will pay for what and write it down. Also, know exactly when you will get the money and in what form. Can you access the money if you come across your ideal wedding dress on your lunch break? Even details such as the rehearsal dinner need to be clear from the beginning. A rehearsal dinner can cost hundreds of dollars, and while it is traditionally considered the responsibility of the groom’s parents, don’t assume they will pick up the tab.

If it is unclear whose family will pick up what, it is always recommended that the bride sit down individually with her parent(s) or guardian(s) and the groom with his, and ask them about what contributions they are willing to make. If you suspect that one or both families are unable to financially contribute, don’t ask. Establish a budget without expectation of any contribution from them. If they are able to contribute at some point, consider it a bonus but don’t make them feel obligated. The last thing you want tainting your wedding day is animosity regarding money.

Making Your Budget Work

Being resourceful can save you a lot of money. Having family and friends help you create floral arrangements, favors, and reception decor alone can save you thousands of dollars. Even if you prefer to hire professionals, diligence in researching and calling around for numerous estimates can save you more money than you realize.

Track all Spending

Even the best intentioned couples find themselves over budget. Sometimes the impulse to go over budget just a little for the dress, and then again for food, adds up to hundreds, even thousands of dollars. If you choose to spend more on one expense, immediately readjust your budget.

Managing your budget regularly will prove vital and will give you the peace of mind necessary to ensure that your wedding day truly is one of the happiest days of your life.

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