Weddings are one of the most memorable and joyful occasions in life, but they can also be one of the most expensive. According to various surveys, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. ranges from $19,000 to $38,700, depending on the location, size, and style of the event. That’s a lot of money to spend on one day, especially if you don’t have a lot of savings or help from your family.
So how do you save for a wedding without breaking the bank or going into debt? How much do you need to save per month for your dream wedding? And how do you plan a wedding budget that works for you and your partner? In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will show you how to:
Estimate Your Total Wedding Costs
The first step to saving for a wedding is to estimate how much your wedding will cost. This will help you set a realistic goal and timeframe for your savings. To estimate your total wedding costs, you need to consider various factors, such as:
- The number of guests you want to invite
- The location and venue of your ceremony and reception
- The date and season of your wedding
- The style and theme of your wedding
- The vendors and services you need, such as catering, photography, entertainment, etc.
- The attire and accessories for you and your bridal party
- The invitations, stationery, and favors for your guests
- The rings, flowers, cake, and decorations for your wedding
- The transportation and accommodation for you and your guests
- The honeymoon and post-wedding expenses
To get a rough idea of how much each of these items will cost, you can use online tools like NerdWallet’s Wedding Budget Calculator. These tools allow you to enter your estimated guest count, location, and preferences, and then generate a breakdown of your expected costs based on national averages.
However, keep in mind that these tools are only meant to give you a ballpark figure. Your actual costs may vary depending on your specific choices and circumstances. For example, if you decide to have a destination wedding in Hawaii or a winter wedding in New York City, you can expect to pay more than the average. Likewise, if you opt for a backyard wedding or a weekday wedding, you can save some money on your venue and vendor fees.
To get a more accurate estimate of your wedding costs, you need to do some research and comparison shopping. You can start by browsing online directories like WeddingWire.com or TheKnot.com to find local vendors and venues that match your style and budget. You can also ask for recommendations from friends or family who have recently gotten married or hired similar services. Once you have a shortlist of potential options, contact them and ask for quotes or proposals. Compare their prices, packages, reviews, and availability before making any bookings or deposits.
Read More: How to Save Money on Your Wedding Dress
Set a Realistic and Flexible Wedding Budget
Once you have an estimate of your total wedding costs, you need to set a realistic and flexible wedding budget. A wedding budget is a plan that outlines how much money you have available for your wedding and how you will allocate it among different categories. A wedding budget can help you:
- Stay within your means and avoid overspending or going into debt
- Prioritize what matters most to you and your partner
- Negotiate with vendors and look for deals
- Track your expenses and adjust accordingly
To set a realistic and flexible wedding budget, follow these steps:
- Determine how much money you have available for your wedding. This includes any savings or gifts from yourself, your partner, or your family. Be honest and clear about how much each party can contribute and when they can provide the funds. Don’t assume or expect anything without having a conversation first.
- Subtract any pre-wedding expenses from your available funds. These include things like engagement rings, engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, etc. These expenses can add up quickly and reduce the amount of money you have left for your wedding day.
- Divide the remaining amount by the number of months or pay periods you have until your wedding date. This will give you an idea of how much you need to save per month or per paycheck for your wedding. For example, if you have $20,000 available for your wedding and 12 months to save, you need to save $1,667 per month or $417 per week.
- Allocate your funds among different categories based on your preferences and priorities. You can use a percentage-based system or a dollar-based system to do this. For example, you can allocate 50% of your budget to the venue and catering, 10% to the photography and videography, 10% to the attire and accessories, 10% to the flowers and decor, 10% to the entertainment and music, 5% to the invitations and stationery, and 5% to the miscellaneous expenses. Or you can assign a specific dollar amount to each category based on your research and quotes.
- Create a spreadsheet or use an app to track your budget and expenses. You can use tools like Google Sheets, Excel, Mint, or The Knot’s Wedding Budget Tracker to do this. Record every payment or deposit you make and update your budget accordingly. Keep track of your receipts and contracts as well.
- Review your budget regularly and make adjustments as needed. Your wedding budget is not set in stone. You may encounter changes or surprises along the way that require you to revise your budget. For example, you may find a better deal on a vendor or venue, or you may have to add or remove some guests from your list. Be flexible and willing to compromise on some aspects of your wedding if necessary.
Calculate How Much to Save Per Month for Your Wedding
Now that you have a realistic and flexible wedding budget, you need to calculate how much to save per month for your wedding. This will help you reach your savings goal and pay for your wedding expenses on time.
To calculate how much to save per month for your wedding, follow these steps:
- Subtract any savings or gifts you already have from your total wedding budget. This will give you the amount of money you still need to save for your wedding. For example, if your total wedding budget is $25,000 and you already have $5,000 in savings or gifts, you need to save $20,000 more.
- Divide the amount of money you still need to save by the number of months or pay periods you have until your wedding date. This will give you the amount of money you need to save per month or per paycheck for your wedding. For example, if you need to save $20,000 more and you have 10 months to save, you need to save $2,000 per month or $500 per week.
- Set up a separate wedding savings account and automate your savings contributions. A wedding savings account is a dedicated bank account where you keep all the money for your wedding. Having a separate account can help you avoid mixing up your wedding funds with your regular funds and spending them on other things. It can also help you earn some interest on your savings and track your progress.
To set up a wedding savings account, follow these steps:
- Choose a bank that offers high-yield savings account with no fees or minimum balance requirements. You can compare different banks online or ask for recommendations from friends or family.
- Open a joint account with your partner or an individual account in your name only. A joint account can help you share responsibility and access with your partner, while an individual account can give you more control and privacy over your funds.
- Link your wedding savings account to your checking account or payroll account. This will allow you to transfer money easily between accounts.
- Set up automatic transfers from your checking account or payroll account to your wedding savings account every month or every paycheck. This will help you save consistently and automatically without having to think about it.
- Monitor your wedding savings account regularly and make extra deposits whenever possible. You can check your balance online or through an app, and deposit any extra income or windfalls into your wedding savings account.
Cut Costs and Save Money on Your Wedding Expenses (continued)
- Hire a wedding planner. This may seem counterintuitive, but hiring a wedding planner can actually help you save money in the long run. A wedding planner can help you find the best deals, negotiate with vendors, avoid hidden fees, and stick to your budget. According to The Knot, hiring a wedding planner can save you up to 10% of your total wedding costs.
- Use a wedding budget tool. To help you track and manage your wedding budget, you can use a free online tool like NerdWallet’s Wedding Budget Calculator or The Knot’s Wedding Budgeter. These tools allow you to enter your available funds, estimated costs, and actual expenses, and then generate a breakdown of your budget by category. You can also adjust your budget as you go along and get personalized tips and advice.
- Trim your guest list. One of the easiest ways to save money on your wedding is to invite fewer people. The fewer guests you have, the less money you will spend on food, drinks, rentals, invitations, favors, and more. According to The Penny Hoarder, trimming your guest list by just 10 to 20 people can save you $1,000 on food, alcohol and rentals.
- Enlist a smaller wedding party. Having a large wedding party can also increase your wedding costs. You will need to buy or rent more outfits, accessories, bouquets, boutonnieres, gifts, and transportation for your bridesmaids and groomsmen. You will also need to pay for their hair and makeup services, rehearsal dinner, and thank-you cards. To save money, consider having a smaller wedding party or no wedding party at all.
- DIY responsibly. Doing some things yourself can help you save money on your wedding, but only if you do it responsibly. That means choosing DIY projects that are simple, affordable, and enjoyable for you and your partner. Don’t take on DIY projects that are too complicated, time-consuming, or stressful for you. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of materials, tools, and labor when deciding whether to DIY or buy something.
- Give your budget some wiggle room. No matter how well you plan your wedding budget, there will always be some unexpected costs or surprises that may arise along the way. To avoid going over budget or having to scramble for extra funds at the last minute, give your budget some wiggle room. Set aside 5% to 10% of your total budget for contingency or emergency expenses. This way, you will have some cushion to cover any unforeseen costs or splurges.
Enjoy Your Wedding Day Without Financial Stress
Saving for a wedding can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. By following these steps and tips, you can save enough money for your wedding without sacrificing quality or style. You can also enjoy your wedding day without worrying about financial stress or debt.
Remember that your wedding is not just about the money or the details. It’s about celebrating your love and commitment with your partner and your loved ones. Focus on what matters most to you and your partner and have fun planning your dream wedding.