The cost of saying “I do”
It’s official – getting married is expensive, and is getting more so every year. Here are some statistics from a 2016 survey conducted by The Knot, a wedding magazine and website:
The cost of the average wedding in the United States is $35,329, up $12,333 over just five years. And that figure doesn’t even include the engagement party or honeymoon. Costs vary by where you get married, though. If you tie the knot in Manhattan, New York, your average cost is $78,464. Getting married in Arkansas will only cost you an average of $19,522.
The most expensive and most variable component of a wedding is the venue where the reception will be held, which averages $16,107 for an average number of 141 guests. Wedding rings (including the engagement ring) run an average of $6,163. Flowers are usually over $2,500. A band for the reception can be over $4,000. And don’t forget the ceremony site and officiant – upwards of $2,500.
How to save
Fortunately, with an average engagement length of 15 months, couples have time to plan and save. There are oodles of ways to cut the cost and here are a few.
A modest venue
If you are flexible about the date, you can save by having your wedding outside the traditional May– October time frame. A winter wedding (although NOT December) can get you discounts on most wedding services. But if you live in the Southwest, a June/July wedding might get you the best discounts because of the hot weather. Check around and see when the cheapest months are in your area. Monday thru Thursday weddings are cheaper than Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Consider a non-traditional venue for the reception. Do you have any friends or relatives with a big yard? Are any of your area’s public parks suitable? You will still need to rent portable toilets, chairs and tables, as well as hire a caterer, but you will realize significant savings.
Spend less on the wedding gown
The average amount of money plunked down on a wedding dress, according to The Knot survey, is $1,564. For a dress that will only be worn once! That’s why some savvy brides turn to alternatives like pre-owned or rented wedding dresses.
Bridal salons often have sample sales. They do this to clear out last year’s designs to make room for the new. Markdowns can be as much as 75%. There are also trunk sales, which is when a particular designer brings their entire collection (in trunks!) to a bridal shop. You can save upwards of 20% if you are willing to buy on the spot. Finally, many brides choose a fancy gown that isn’t a wedding dress, saving hundreds of dollars.
Have fewer friends
Although the average number of wedding guests in 2016 was 141, that doesn’t mean you need that many. If your budget is an issue, just invite fewer guests. With a $71 average cost per person for food and drink at the reception, you can save $3,500 by inviting only 90 guests.
How to pay
So you’re engaged – congratulations! Hopefully your wedding is set far enough in the future to properly plan, and just as importantly, to figure out how to pay for the big event. It boils down to simple financial planning and budgeting. Here are some ways to pay for your nuptials:
Set up a wedding savings account
Just a regular savings account, like this one at White Sands FCU, should do the trick, thought you may want to consider a separate account from any other savings accounts you have. From your budget, determine how much you need to put into the account each month or payday to reach your goal. Use direct deposit from your paycheck to make it easier.
Cash instead of gifts
The average marrying age for brides is 29 and for grooms is 31. At that age, most people have already established a household and may not need china, towels and appliances. Set up a GoFundMe account and give your wedding guests the choice of giving cash along with the gift registry.
Take out a wedding loan
A personal loan from White Sands FCU can help you pay for your dream wedding. The rate you get is determined by your credit score and history, but rates can be as low as 7.70% APR.1 If you own a home, you can take out a loan against the equity to meet wedding expenses. Take a look at the Anything Loan at White Sands FCU with rates as low as 6.70% APR1 – it may be just what you need.
Get family to pay for some of it
If you want to go for the traditional cost splitting, parents and families of the bride and groom pay for some, if not all of the wedding expenses. The bride’ and her family usually pays for the ceremony, the reception, flowers, his ring, wedding gown, invitations, photographer and bridesmaids’ expenses. The groom and his family pay for the engagement ring, her wedding ring, marriage license, the honeymoon, rehearsal dinner and groomsmen expenses. Of course, all this is negotiable – every wedding is different.
While weddings can cost as much as your annual salary, they don’t have to. The most important action to keep the costs under control is to set a realistic budget and stick to it. Your marriage will be happier for it.
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I’d also recommend hiring a DJ instead of a band if you’re trying to save some money. Instead of $4000 for a band you can pay a DJ $1400-$2000 for close to the same experience – especially if your music taste leans more on the pop side!