Recently I was interviewed for an article about financial planning in regards to budgeting for a wedding. I was fortunate in the fact that my fiance took the ball and ran with it. She definitely scored touchdown after touchdown for our wedding.
She started the process by researching all of the "expert" tips and tricks about planning for a wedding. For example: Did you know that some event halls will charge you less if you don't say the event you are planning for is a wedding reception? Crazy, right?!
We were extremely blessed to have connections in where our wedding will be held and have leveraged those to the hilt to do our cut down as much as possible on our wedding plans.
Never be afraid to ask people for favors. This is your big day and photographers are more likely to give you a deal than with a regular photo shoot. Venues are more likely to come down on price. Vendors are more likely to throw things in for free if you just admit that your budget is constrained instead of trying to stretch it for all that it's worth.
The key to allocating your wedding money wisely is to be on the same page as far as financial priorities were concerned. We established a set budget and wouldn't budge, or go into debt, to get the wedding of our dreams. We knew that if push came to shove, we would drop some "luxuries" from our special day if we couldn't afford it.
We also changed some of the core things we wanted to accompany other things we NEEDED. For instance: We gave up the venue we wanted in order to cut costs, have more guests, have a less complicated wedding schedule, free parking for guests, get the photographer we wanted, get extra food for guests, and have more money for the honeymoon. The trade-off was more than worth it.
Instances where we were able to cut costs
1. I bought my suit from Combat Gentleman. It was about $165 not including tailoring. To rent a suit from Men's Warehouse is $155. I get to keep this one.
2. After sending my mother examples of our favorite photographer's work, she mentioned that we have multiple connections with him and he may bend a little for our budget. We contacted him and throughout the conversation gave him context of how many of his former clients and friends we knew. He ended up budging a little on the price by dropping some things from the package that we didn't really want in the first place.
3. We were able to use the wedding chapel for next to nothing because her parents are part of the congregation. This was huge! Because the places we were looking at were in the thousands for just a few hours. The wedding chapel was our last choice, and ending up being our favorite when all the pros and cons were tallied up.
Here is some of the Q&A:
How much did you pay for the sound guy and wedding coordinator?
We paid $600 for those two and the church added in utilities as well. We lucked out that my fiance's parents are members of the church, so we were able to get a member's discount on holding a wedding and reception there.
What's the lesson learned from your story -- is it use your connections, go inexpensive on certain things so you can spend more on others or something else?
The lesson I learned is to be flexible. Don't be afraid to ask for help and see if those people will accept alternative forms of payment (i.e. baked goods, crafts from Pinterest, help with a photo portfolio).
List out your priorities together. We decided that the honeymoon and photographer were the top priorities and those are what we put most of our funding towards (we had multiple connections with the photographer as well).
What are your thoughts on using credit cards to finance a wedding?
Unfortunately, the wedding industry is geared towards excessive spending. I do believe that if you run through and cut all reasonable costs and build a detailed budget, and you still come out in the red.
Financing should be a last resort. I would look into other options before charging to a card because of their high-interest rates. There are personal loans, websites like SOFI who make personal loans now, even services that will help you fund your wedding for free (you have to pay it back plus interest if you get divorced), wedding registries, and Go Fund Me is also an option I've seen before.
We were blessed that my fiancé's parents had already decided (before we were engaged) how much they were going to help us with. I cannot imagine what things would have looked like without them.
Do you ever see clients struggling to get out of debt they racked up for their wedding? How does this affect their financial lives?
Oh yes! If a couple is not on the same page to begin with, it can cause a lot of financial stress on the marriage from the get-go. That is why we sat down, created a detailed budget, and listed out our priorities. This way any debt that we accumulated for our wedding would be agreed upon way before we said: "I do".
What general advice would you give a client who was considering using credit cards (or otherwise going into debt) to pay for a wedding?
It helps to keep it all in perspective. A wedding is an amazing once in a lifetime celebration, but at the end of the day, it's still a five-hour event. This debt could be a burden for years (or decades) down the road, is it really worth it for a single event? I constantly reminded my fiancé every single dollar we spent on the wedding was money that we wouldn't have to start our lives together. She did a phenomenal job keeping that in mind and keeping our costs as low as possible.
How did you pay for your wedding? Was it worth the money that you spent on it? Tell us your story!