March 25th, 2013
Wedding Planning and Your Budget: Making it Work
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**Today’s guest post is contributed by Shannon.**
Getting married is one of the most exciting things that can happen in your life. But for those of us who work hard to maintain a solid financial plan, it can also be a scary financial endeavor. How do I know? Because I’m on that road myself.
I’ve had a major shift in my financial philosophy since my early 20s that has led me to track all my spending and avoid buying anything I don’t technically need.
Now I’m struggling with the amount of money it takes to have a wedding – and I know I’m not alone in this! That’s why I’m sharing a few of the things I’ve learned along the way with you.
Determine Your Priorities
One of the first things I’ve realized about wedding planning is that ideas (and costs) can get out of control – fast! As soon as you and your fiance are ready to start planning, sit down and discuss what you want. Write down every little thing you can think of! Then ask your family for their list of desires. Combine the lists and start prioritizing. What can’t you live without and what are you willing to cut if necessary?
This list will be your beacon of reality as the months go by and new ideas pop up. As nice as it would be to incorporate everything you desire, the unfortunate truth is that even the simplest of weddings can be very expensive. Unless you’re working with an unlimited budget, choices will have to be made. This list will help you and your fiance (and your families) stay on the same page at all times.
Set a Budget that Everyone Can Agree On
With your list in place, now you can create a budget. You may need to shorten your list again after setting the budget, but don’t do this right away. There are many ways to save money on a wedding – from using an iPod instead of a DJ to creating DIY centerpieces to setting your date on a day other than Friday or Saturday, and so on. You may even be able to find a venue that charges a flat fee for ceremony, reception, food and decorations. So before you cut things off your list, do your research by reading blogs and tips from wedding experts like Martha Stewart.
Whatever you decide to keep as a budget for the wedding, make sure to communicate your decision. I can’t stress how important it is for everyone to be on the same page when it comes to wedding planning. Ask your fiance and each other’s parents how much you’re comfortable spending overall. Then plot how much each item on your list can cost at the most and least expensive and keep tweaking until your list adds up to your total.
*Personal note: this part of the process can be one of the most difficult if you’ve been working to maintain a frugal financial philosophy. It will be a challenge to reconcile your need to spend with your desire not to. But you’ll also want to make sure that this spending doesn’t bleed into other areas of your life and cause you to lose the financial habits you’ve worked so hard to maintain.
Avoid Debt If Possible
If you and your fiance are working to get out of debt, then make sure to take that into consideration when you set your budget. Will paying for the wedding interfere with your debt payoff goals or will you be able to save up for it separately? Whether you do or don’t have debt, try to avoid going into debt to pay for your wedding at all costs. While this is a once in a lifetime event, you may not want to start your marriage off with this financial difficulty. As with everything else, don’t make any decisions for or against anything until you and your fiance have talked it out and decided your priorities together.
Wedding planning can be one of the most stressful things you and your fiance will do as you start your lives together. But the result is something that you’ll likely never forget! If you two can stick to the guidelines you’ve set for yourselves, then you’re sure to have a wedding that you’ll love while maintaining the budget and financial philosophy you’ve worked so hard to keep.
Shannon is the Community and Customer Support Manager at ReadyForZero, a site dedicated to helping Americans manage and pay off their debt – for free.
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