Did you know weddings are ridiculously expensive? They are. If you are planning one, I would recommend reading the book A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene (who also runs a blog by the same name). It details the history of weddings (and more importantly, the development of the wedding industry) and helped me feel really good about saying NO to things I felt weren’t needed and/or wastes of money (it turns out you can skip a lot of “wedding” things and still have a great party!)
That being said, my squeeze and I are still having a pretty big (simple, but big) wedding. We really wanted to celebrate with our family and friends. With an open bar. And cake! So we are going to- but of course we didn’t want to spend with abandon and wake up the day after our wedding with a new marriage and a boatload of debt, so here is what we are doing to prepare financially for our wedding:
- Remember how I told you you should start saving now for your wedding? Well, I wrote that post 5 months before I got engaged. Guess who hadn’t gotten very far in her savings plan yet? (I had one, though!) So I had an account with some money in it already that was earmarked. Getting organized is the first step, and I had already done myself that favor!
- My emergency fund was 80% complete (after saving aggressively for 2.5 years). D. and I decided that 80% of my goal combined with his emergency fund would be more than enough to cover us in case of emergency- so we felt we had a few thousand to be flexible with in our previously separate emergency funds. I started funneling the money I had been saving for my emergency fund into the wedding fund instead.
- Our engagement is 14 months long. We both decided to save $500 a month for the wedding (remember, this is money that I used to put towards my emergency fund, so my daily spending wasn’t impacted that much). 14 months x $500/month x 2- $14,000. Our budget goal is $12,000 but we expect it will be over budget by a couple thousand (I am a savvy savvy saver and even I can’t throw a wedding on such a tight budget without a big backyard and 25 crockpots, but believe me, I looked into it!)….but we have that spare few thousand in our dual emergency fund.
- We are registering for very few actual things because we both already had full households and are trying to downsize instead of build up. So instead of a traditional registry the main things we are requesting are donations to charity and support for the honeymoon fund, as well as activities that we can do together in the first year of marriage.
I know not everyone is in the same position as we are in, with an emergency fund built up and the ability to save so aggressively- but a long engagement can help give you time to save as a couple and prepare your financial futures together. Another thing that can be freeing is knowing that you don’t have to say “yes” to everything (or anything) that everyone else has in their weddings. Before spending money that you might not have on menus, matching shoes, aisle flowers or favors, ask yourselves:
- Is this one of our priorities for our wedding day?
- Will anyone other than me/us notice if I skip this detail?
- Can we afford it?
- Does it have meaning for us?
If you said no to any of these, you have my permission to skip it with zero guilt. Happy wedding planning!