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How to Say “I Do” Without Emptying Your Bank Account

Maitland Greer



Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting and stressful times in a person’s life. You grow up picturing your perfect wedding day, but once the planning actually starts, you have to face the reality of what your dream wedding is going to cost.

With the pressure to make your big day perfect, everyone from your partner to your family will have an opinion on ideas, budget and priorities. Avoid the stressful pressure points of wedding planning and have a financially responsible mindset. Start your journey into marriage off on the right foot and work with your partner to get down the aisle without going broke.

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Identify who is paying for the wedding. 

After you get engaged you should have an open and honest conversation with your fiancé about where you both stand financially. That will help you determine your mutual short- and long-term savings goals. Do you plan on having kids, buying a house or changing careers?

Once you know where you stand financially, you can decide the amount that you can afford to put toward your budget wedding. Keep in mind that a wedding is just one day — you don’t want to start off your life in massive debt, and things like buying a house are a better investment and provide years of enjoyment. Also, remember that you can have a long engagement and save up together for a wedding down the road. Eat out a few times less a month, cut back on shopping, or pick up odd jobs, like babysitting or dog walking.

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In this day in age, there are no more traditional norms for who pays for a wedding. If you are hoping to get money from family, never approach the situation demanding or expecting anything. Of course, if you are offered money, be appreciative. Be sure to be clear about the amounts you are getting. If your in-laws offer to pay for the music, then find out from them what their expectations are for what the music will cost.

Set a realistic budget.

Once you know the total amount for your wedding, set a budget that makes sense. If you have a $10,000 budget, then you can’t expect to have a 500-person affair at a 5-star hotel, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have your perfect wedding. No matter what you plan on spending, start setting your budget by thinking about all of the costs that will be involved and setting an amount that you feel comfortable spending on each item. Start with the basics, like food, beverages, music, flowers, photography, videography, rentals, clothing and accessories, hair, makeup and don’t forget about a honeymoon.

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Stick to your spending goals.

Prioritize what is important to you and save money where you can. Consider outside-of-the-box or free locations, like a backyard or park (check into nominal permit fees). You can get creative with the food at your wedding and do a dessert-only party or something fun, like BBQ. Cut down on alcohol costs by having beer and wine only. Host your wedding at non-traditional times like brunch, a Friday or Sunday night, or winter months from January to March. Wedding contracts can be confusing, so be sure to understand exactly what you are getting and what you owe up front. Wedding vendors expect you to negotiate so always see if you can lower the price or get add-ons thrown in for free.

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