Two savvy wedding planning tricks

The internet is FULL of tips for saving on the cost of a wedding, and this is not a wedding blog, so I will try to keep my posts on the topic to a minimum (even if I can’t, just remember this is only temporary!). Even though I am trying to limit the wedding chatter, there are a few things that I have done that I feel super savvy about, so I am going to share them anyway.

  • Negotiated with the photographer. So far the most confusing part of wedding planning is understanding the price ranges for things like photography. I have found prices between $500 and $4900 for the same deliverables- so the difference must be in the experience of the photographer (and theoretically the quality of the photos). My fiancé and I both agreed that photos are a budget priority- but can we get the same product if we spend $1000 vs $3000? We did a lot of research, looked at a lot of portfolios, and chose a mid-price photographer whose work we really liked. What was savvy about what we did (I think) is we looked at her packages and saw there were a lot of extras thrown in- things like engagement photos and money towards a photo album. We already have a ton of photos of the two of us together looking like we are in love-because we are!- so we didn’t feel like we needed engagement photos (plus we already ordered the save the dates). I also like to put together photo books on my own- they make great gifts, are easy to make and they aren’t expensive. So we asked if we could cut the price if we forgo engagement photos and the album credit and voila! $200 back in pocket!
  • Used “business marketing” postcards instead of “save the date” cards. I was looking at Vistaprint and saw that they had business marketing postcards (that you can customize and put photos on) at the price of 100 for $20. The save the date cards (virtually identical except you would need to buy a separate envelope to mail them in) are 10 for $4.86 (aka 100 for $48). That is over double the price for the same product! PLUS did you know that postage for a postcard is $.34 each, while postage for a letter (or a postcard put into an envelope that you also had to pay for) are $.49/letter? Buying 100 business marketing postcards and mailing them at the postcard rate will cost us $54 (well actually not quite that because I used a 50% off coupon I found on retailmenot but then decided to use 100% recycled paper, which cost a little more). But in THEORY it would have cost us $54, while if we had used the cards labeled as “save the date” cards, they would have been $97 plus the cost of envelopes! So I saved another $43.

$243 saved and all we did was get exactly what we wanted! Plus now we don’t have to stuff envelopes, hurrah!


Paying for a wedding

Not in love? Not engaged? Not even dating right now? Living on a desert island with no hope of meeting someone you want to marry?

This post is for you.

The average age that women marry is 27, the average age that men marry is 29. The median cost of a wedding is $18k. (The average cost is $28k, but the VERY expensive weddings out there skew the numbers for the rest of us).

The number two reason for divorce is trouble with finances.

If you start your marriage off with $18k of debt, you are starting your marriage off on rocky ground.

Now, I am not a wedding planning expert. I have never been engaged and I have never planned a wedding (but I do watch a lot of Bridezillas, guilty pleasure). From what I understand, weddings very quickly escalate to being out-of-control expensive, even if you are still keeping things simple and aren’t a bridezilla. So while there are some things you can do to save money, I am not the person to lecture future married people on how to do it. (Except for my sister’s wedding we bought 12 vases from Goodwill for $4 total for centerpieces! Goodwill is an amazing place to buy vases. That is my only trick. And also if you are a bridesmaid, you should look at this website to see if you can buy/sell your bridesmaid dress, because really….you won’t wear it again and someone else can.)

There are a few ways to pay for a wedding:

1. Her parents pay

2. His parents pay

3. Marry rich and your squeeze pays (word of warning: my mom always says it is cheaper (in many ways) to borrow money than to marry for it)

4. Win the lottery

5. Start your married life off with lots of debt

6. Plan for it

I hope you know me well enough that I am going to encourage strategy 6.

Strategies 1,2 and 3 are all things that may reasonably happen….but as a full-fledged adult, it isn’t smart to expect your parents to foot the bill, and I have already shared my mom’s wisdom about marrying rich.

So as an independent, financially savvy adult, you must PLAN for how to pay for your wedding!

Now, this may be less than appealing. Why would you start saving for your wedding when you are still in the OKCupid-induced “I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, cry or run” phase of your dating life? Because you are smart. And you know $18k doesn’t grow on trees. And one day you want to have a wedding with an open bar. 80% of people get married by the age of 40, so statistically speaking, you will probably be one of those people. (No pressure, I’m just reporting facts here).

Here is a hypothetical timeline:

Age 23: Go on date with man who tells you he used to have pet rabbits but he accidentally drowned them.* Swear off of dating forever.

Age 25: Meet man who makes you laugh.

Age 25.5: Begin to suspect that the man who makes you laugh might be the man you want to make you laugh forever.

Age 26: Get engaged.

Age 27: Get married. Have open bar at wedding.

So when should you have started saving for this awesome wedding? Well, it depends on the other factors in your life. If you are having trouble making rent, you need to focus on taking care of the basics. If you are taking care of paying your bills, paying off debt, building an emergency fund and saving for retirement and you still have some disposable income- you can add saving for your wedding into your budget.

If you recall from my amazing post about Billy and Lilly, they saved as though they were still saving for their emergency funds. This is actually the most painless way to save for a wedding- after you have your emergency fund set up, keep saving at that rate until you have set up a wedding fund. You won’t even miss the cashola, because you weren’t used to spending it anyway!

If you feel like one day you are going to get married it is wise to start planning for that financially. You might want to save on your own, if you aren’t sure about who exactly you are going to want to marry (this is very smart but it is not very smart to mention your wedding savings plan on a first date…I would keep it under wraps, if I were you!) or you might want to start saving as a couple. (If you save as a couple you can each save $9k and take some of the pressure off!) One benefit of a long engagement is that you can use the time to adjust your spending for a year or two to save up for your wedding.

The point is- you can take some steps now (regardless of your dating status) to give yourself a financial leg up in the happy marriage department. Starting married life without wedding debt is a wonderful gift to give to your partner and to your future self.




*True story. Them=plural rabbits. I ran away in the middle of the date.

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