More than a quarter of couples in the US report going into debt to pay for their weddings. You don’t have to be one of them!
If you don’t have a large budget for your wedding, you can still host a fun and memorable celebration at an affordable wedding venue without dipping into your savings or maxing out your credit cards. Read on for low-cost planning strategies, and tips to help you start your life as a team on sound financial footing.
1. Know you can have an affordable wedding anywhere
The average wedding cost in the United States costs just shy of $34,000. The average shifts by location—so the average wedding cost in Idaho is $16,366 while the average price in Manhattan is $96,910.
No matter where you are, however, you don’t have to spend the average—even in glamorous Manhattan. You just have to get creative with your choices and nab some of the strategies and ideas below.
2. Know where the money for your wedding is coming from
In 2018, nearly 10 percent of couples paid for their wedding entirely on their own. About another 10 percent had it entirely paid for them. Most couples—the 80 percent in the middle—had a mix of contributors. Sit down with all the financial stakeholders (not necessarily all at once) to establish who is contributing what.
Kindly establish boundaries at this point too. If your soon-to-be F.I.L. is contributing, it doesn’t mean he can add endless names to the guest list—that will quickly undermine your low-cost goal.
3. Commit to an affordable wedding and clarify your priorities
You’ve said ‘yes’ to each other. Now it’s time to commit to an affordable wedding. Set aside a time to discuss what you will use the money for later. This is much-needed conversation to have anyway; it helps you prioritize and understand what truly matters to each of you.
Decide together whether you are using the saved money to pay down student loan debt, or simply avoid accruing debt. Perhaps you will put it towards a nest egg to buy a house, or put it towards your kid’s college fund. Maybe you both like the idea of a long, multi-country European vacation more than an extravagant party.
4. Create (and stay within) a budget
This is absolutely essential. Almost half of couples (45 percent) say they went over their wedding budget. Nearly an equal amount stayed on budget, and just 6 percent say they came in under budget.
The takeaway? Once you establish a budget, it’s not likely the final tally will be much lower. Take a good, hard look at the numbers and set a budget you can live with comfortably.
5. Minimize the size of your guest list
A smaller guest list means a lower-cost wedding for so many reasons. You book a smaller venue (about half the cost of the average wedding). You also have a more modest cost for food, beverages, service, tables and table settings, linens, and invitations.
There are positives to big and small weddings, but because you’re opting for a small one, let’s focus on those! Smaller weddings allow you to relax and enjoy the day with your nearest and dearest, rather than a sprawling guest list that includes your mother’s book club besties. And while you love your friends from work, they’ll understand that you are keeping the event intimate.