Wedding Planning 101
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Whether planning a grand affair of 300+ guests or an intimate backyard ceremony with the closest of family, New Jersey brides are always looking for smart ways to save money. And since setting a budget and sticking to a budget are two wildly different things, we thought we’d offer you a few clever tips for shaving a few extra dollars off where it matters the most.
Weddings are generally one of the first big expenses in a couple’s financial life together. And unfortunately, North/Central New Jersey is the second most expensive area in the U.S. to get married ($62,074, including the honeymoon), behind Manhattan ($76,944).
The following 10 tips and strategies are for easing the financial burden and related stress associated with planning your wedding:
1. Be honest and talk about money. Couples should talk about personal finances which includes income and debt. Decide that you are going to work together and how much you will spend on your big day. Having an open and honest discussion can preclude disagreements later and lay the foundation for this important dialogue throughout the marriage.
2. Start a savings fund together. As soon as you become engaged, determine what each of you will allocate to the fund each month. Even if you don’t end up spending all of that money on the wedding itself, you will be able to start off your marriage with a little cushion.
3. Create and stick to an actual budget–not a vague idea of how much you have available to spend. Put aside money in a separate savings or checking account and pay all of your wedding related bills from it so you can easily track your spending and how much you have left. Consider also dedicating a single credit card for all wedding-related expenses (and build up loyalty points while you’re at it).
4. And then, save a little more. Once you have your budget on paper, set aside some extra money for any last minute changes, additions or emergencies. They are inevitable.
5. Prioritize what is most important to you. Make a list of those aspects of the wedding that are most/least critical. Is it a gourmet menu and top-shelf liquor? Is it your flowers and table décor? Music? Most people can’t afford everything they want, but by clarifying what is most important, couples will know what they need to spend and where they might need to economize.
6. Stand firm; it’s your wedding. Don’t be pressured into things you don’t want or because they are a family tradition. This will help you stick to your priorities.
7. Don’t let your wedding bankrupt you. It’s one day and shouldn’t take years to pay off. Besides budgeting, consider some creative ways to shave costs. For example, as a wedding present, ask for travel rewards points to offset the cost of your honeymoon. Ask family members with a particular skill–think hairdresser, tailor or photographer–to provide their services in place of giving you a gift.
8. Limit the guest list. Keeping the headcount in check is the best way to keep your budget in check. That means be specific when addressing invitations. Stipulate whether your single friends can bring a guest or your married friends can bring their children. Also, bear in mind the kind of event you are aiming for. You can’t have an “intimate” wedding for 200 people.
9. Meet with a financial adviser. Work with a professional who can develop a comprehensive financial plan for your wedding day and, at the same time, help you plan for your financial future beyond the big day.
10. It’s going to be a beautiful day. Always keep in mind that no matter how much you spend on your wedding—be it $10,000 or $50,000 or more—it will still be a beautiful day for you and your new spouse.