Even Staff

2015-10-27

Don't Derail your Wedding Budget

You’ve probably been hearing since you were a kid that your wedding day is the biggest, most important day of your life. And while it will probably rank pretty high on your list of momentous occasions, “biggest, most important” really packs on the pressure, both to your psyche and your wallet. What is supposed to be a celebration of your relationship can turn into a financial nightmare if you haven’t been saving since adolescence or don’t have rich parents bankrolling the affair. Aside from the obvious costs, like booking a venue, finding a good caterer, and hiring a photographer, wedding expenses can quickly spiral out of control. And if you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses on Pinterest? Forget it. All of those wedding craft and gift ideas will have you up to your sweetheart neckline - or well-fitted cummerbund - in debt before you know it. The Knot reported that weddings in the U.S. average roughly $30,000. Even when you take the budget or DIY route to avoid dropping the equivalent of a year’s tuition at a private university on a single-day’s party, unexpected costs crop up. Michelle Barrow at The Financial Diet wrote recently that despite her determination to get married for under $5,000, she ended up deciding to splurge on a hairdresser, more flowers, and a photographer at the last minute. Because she and her partner had kept a lid on spending in so many other areas, they were able to make the numbers work, but the lesson remains. Wedding costs can easily get away from you, regardless of how frugal you are. Some newly weds go the route of putting part of their wedding day costs on their credit card, however this often leaves them paying hundreds of extra dollars due to interest. An alternative to that is to take out a low interest personal loan to help with wedding day costs - as opposed to a credit card. Here’s a look at three of the areas most likely to derail your big-day budget, and what you can do to avoid starting married life in a state of financial ruin.

 

1. Dress and tuxedo: Many brides see their weddings as their opportunities to spoil themselves, which often means spending exorbitantly on their gowns. Splashing out for a great dress is one thing, but it’s easy to get carried away when you see yourself in a $5,000 designer piece for the first time. And that doesn’t even include the cost of a full tuxedo, which can also escalate quickly if you’re going the designer or custom-made routes.

 

When you’re budgeting for your wedding-wear, don’t forget to account for accessories such as shoes, wraps, jewelry, and other touches. One bride featured on A Practical Wedding shared that she and her fiancé were surprised at how much they spent on clothes even though she went for a lower-priced non-traditional dress and he wore a vintage suit. Alterations, dry cleaning, and footwear can drive up the total bill faster than you’d think. Consider looking at consignment bridal shops or vintage boutiques for less costly but still elegant items.

 

2. Bridal party proposals: You can thank our social media-driven culture for the pressure to make sure every step between engagement and vows is Instagram-worthy. This includes an elaborate bridal party proposal, whether that’s with personalized cupcake jars, mini champagne bottles, coffee mugs, or scratch-off cards. These gifts and cards are sweet ways to rally your bridal party, but like the site Bridal Guide notes, when you’re trying not to blow your savings before you’ve walked down the aisle, every little expense counts. And don’t think this one’s just a concern for the ladies - apparently groomsmen proposals are a thing too, only they might involve bowties, shaving kits, and bottles of liquor.

 

3. Stationery: Bridal Guide warns against going all-out on save-the-dates and invitations, only to find yourself over budget when it comes time for menu cards, seating chart cards, programs, thank you notes, and other stationary needs. They recommend building those costs into your initial spending plan, although some couples opt to skip them altogether.   While you can eliminate unnecessary expenses - trust us, your girlfriends will be just as excited to be your bridesmaids whether you give them presents or not - weddings are costly events. If you’ve budgeted down to the last entrée and are still sweating about the numbers, consider taking an alternative finance loan to cover the venue or a couple of the vendors. Companies such as LightStream, which is part of SunTrust Bank, OneMain Financial, and SoFi offer good rates on personal loans that can be used toward wedding expenses. A wide range of alternative borrowers offer personal loan products, which are often a better bet than racking up credit card debt to pay for your flowers and catering. Combined with smart budgeting, alternative loans help create some financial breathing room for you and your soon-to-be spouse as you start your married life. But planning for your wedding should begin with a realistic assessment of what you can afford, which elements you want to prioritize, and which traditions you’re willing to abandon. Just because it’s an important day in your life doesn’t mean it has to be the most expensive. 

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